Home Blog Education A Quick Guide to Presenting an Online Master’s Thesis
A Quick Guide to Presenting an Online Master’s Thesis
It’s often said that your Bachelor’s degree represents a broad field of study, while the Master’s degree is your opportunity to focus on a specific part of that field of study. It’s your chance to become an expert in something. The Master’s Thesis is the way you show your professors, peers, and the world your new expertise.
Traditionally, Master’s degree students present theses to a committee of professors and researchers, in front of peers, friends, and family. However, as globalization grows and global pandemics affect the world, we’ve had to adjust to a new concept of presentation: the online thesis defense.
Before we get too far into the specifics of presenting Master theses, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.
Master’s Degree Versus Bachelor’s Degree
Like we mentioned above, your Master’s degree is a narrowing focus compared to what you studied in your Bachelor’s degree. In fact, you don’t always have to get your Master’s degree in the same exact field as your Bachelor’s degree. Many universities value a demonstrated interest and base knowledge in a certain field over a Bachelor’s degree in that field on paper, but little passion for the subject.
That being said, the Master’s degree will always be more specific. It will require you to already have a general understanding of the field. If you’re looking to study a little of everything related to a field or industry, then a Bachelor’s degree will probably serve you better.
Most Common Master’s Degrees
Some of the most common Master’s Degrees in the United States include the MBA Degree (Master’s of Business Administration), Computer Science, Master of Marketing, Master’s in Financial Management, Doctor of Education (Ed.D) , and Master of Education.
How Important is the Master’s Thesis to the Degree?
Depending on your specific program, the thesis will be a very important hoop to jump through or it will be the endeavor that the entire program revolves around.
The subject you choose for the thesis will depend on what you and your faculty advisor decide. Ideally, it will be a subject that you are extremely passionate about, since you will be spending the next couple years joined at the hip with it.
Make sure you don’t confuse thesis and dissertation. The thesis is what you conduct for a Bachelor’s degree or, more commonly, a Master’s degree. Dissertations are the even larger undertakings required for a PhD.
How Big is the Master’s Thesis?
Average theses range between 60 – 100 pages and roughly 20,000 – 20,000 words . Beyond the page count, many Master’s theses involve some kind of research and/or experimentation that you’ll base the entire document on. Some Master’s programs will devote much of the second year of study to preparing for and writing your thesis. For some students, they’ll work on their thesis only after they’ve completed the rest of their program.
How to Structure your Master’s Thesis
After you’ve conducted the research and executed the experiment at the heart of your thesis, you’ll work on putting it all on paper. Generally speaking, you’ll follow this outline: title page, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusions. Find more detail for the specifics of structuring your Master’s thesis on this handy guide .
The Master’s Thesis Presentation
After you’ve done all the work to prepare for your thesis, conduct the research, and write it out, all that’s left is to present it to your committee and get final approval. This presentation is often seen as the ultimate representation of your new expertise in your field of study. It’s the final requirement needed to graduate with your Master’s degree.
Online Versus Live Thesis Presentation
Online thesis presentations have been occurring more frequently over the last decade, as online Master’s programs have risen in popularity. Additionally, in 2020 and 2021 the need and preference for online thesis defenses exploded, due to the global pandemic. It has been more important than ever to prepare a solid online presentation that will make sense, effectively demonstrate the important aspects of your thesis, and visually engage your thesis committee.
Online thesis defenses are very different from live presentations. For one, your voice and body language carries less weight in an online thesis presentation. For another, your thesis PPT will consume more of your viewer’s attention compared to live, where you more easily dominate the stage.
Good Practices for Online Master’s Thesis Presentations
We’ve shared some tips for how to present your thesis PPT during a live defense . Here, we’ll adjust those tips for an online thesis defense.
Online Tip #1 – Don’t skip the introduction
It’s very natural to introduce yourself and your thesis when presenting live. When online, however, we tend to feel more awkward because we can’t physically relate to the people in our audience. Overcome this discomfort by practicing a solid introduction of both yourself and your thesis title and basic concept.
Online Tip #2 – Avoid reading thesis notes or a script
It might be tempting to read notes or write yourself a detailed script when presenting a thesis online since your audience can’t see what’s beyond your webcam view. However, we urge you to not do this. Taking the time to memorize your thesis defense will ensure a much more natural presentation than if you’re reading it off of a second screen.
Online Tip #3 – Speak clearly and enunciate
We all know how difficult it can be to understand people during online presentations, especially if the web connection isn’t perfect. You don’t have any control over the quality of connection or speaker that your audience has, but you can do your best to be understandable by speaking clearly, enunciating your words, and not speeding up. However, be careful when speaking slower. Make sure you still add sufficient emphasis and inflection to your presentation to avoid droning on.
Online Tip #4 – Be prepared for internet interruptions
There is absolutely nothing worse than getting into a good rhythm on your presentation, only to realize that the internet has cut out and you’ve lost your audience. Don’t let this kind of interruption faze you. Don’t let it make you lose your nerve or train of thought.
First, make sure you are presenting your thesis in an environment that is quiet, private, and has the best internet connection possible. If an interruption in the internet does happen, don’t lose your cool. Keep calm and wait for the internet to return. Write your faculty advisor immediately, explaining what is happening.
Once your internet connection returns, backtrack to a good re-starting point as opposed to picking up where you left off. This will help you get back into the rhythm of presenting, as well as make sure your audience is able to follow along. The key is remaining calm and not getting embarrassed. Everyone knows what it is like to suddenly lose internet connection! It’s a part of our daily lives now. Just continue on as best as possible.
Online Tip #5 – Make your PPT even more engaging for an online thesis presentation
Often, when one member of an online meeting or presentation is sharing their screen, the screen with their webcam view becomes smaller, while the PPT becomes the focus. There is a fine balance here. You don’t want your thesis defense PPT to take over the presentation. You, or at least your voice and words, should always be the main focus. Nevertheless, technology is what it is. This is the way online presentations are currently set up. That means your thesis PPT must be very good, because it will be noticed.
How to Elevate your Master’s Thesis Online PPT
With so much pressure on your PowerPoint during an online thesis defense, you’ll want to make it as professional as possible. Here are some guidelines for setting up your thesis PPT.
Avoid putting too much information on each slide
You don’t need to fit your entire thesis document on your PPT. Add main points and outline only. This will keep your audience by getting overwhelmed with too much information at once. It will let you keep control over the order that information is presented. Finally, it keeps their attention on you and your presentation, as opposed to reading the slide.
Use infographics to demonstrate results
Charts, graphs, and infographics are excellent ways to do more “showing” and less “telling”. Even if your audience doesn’t completely grasp the significance of the numbers you are talking about, they can understand if the line on your graph increases or decreases. They can see the comparison between two factors in the height of your bars.
Use high quality images
Depending on the subject of your Master’s thesis, the images will be a main point or will just be adornment. Either way, use high resolution images so they don’t appear blurry or pixelated in the presentation.
Stick to a single design style and theme
Your presentation will be so much more professional if you follow a single design style and theme instead of mixing colors, fonts, and text sizes. Similar to business branding guidelines , your thesis presentation should have a consistent color palette, font, and appearance.
Conclusion: Online Master’s Thesis Presentations
You’ve done so much work to complete your Master’s degree and craft an exceptional thesis. Do all of that work justice with a masterful thesis defense, no matter if it’s live or online. With the right preparation and attitude, your online thesis presentation can be a success and set you on course for the rest of your life!
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- What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples
Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.
A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.
Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .
You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
Table of contents
Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.
You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.
- A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
- A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
- In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
- In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.
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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:
- Your discipline
- Your theoretical approach
Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.
In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section , results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .
We’ve compiled a list of thesis examples to help you get started.
- Example thesis #1: “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
- Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.
- Example thesis #3: “An Introduction to Higher-Order Frames in Communication: How Controversial Organizations Maintain Legitimacy Over Time” by Kees Smeets
The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:
- Your full title
- Your full name
- Your department
- Your institution and degree program
- Your submission date.
Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.
Read more about abstracts
A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.
Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.
Read more about tables of contents
While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.
Read more about glossaries
An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:
- Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
- Define the scope of your work
- Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
- State your research question(s)
- Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed
In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.
Read more about introductions
A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:
- Selecting relevant sources
- Determining the credibility of your sources
- Critically evaluating each of your sources
- Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:
- Addressing a gap in the literature
- Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
- Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
- Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
- Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
- Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
- Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
- The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.
Your results section should:
- State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Explain how each result relates to the research question
- Determine whether the hypothesis was supported
Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.
Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.
For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.
Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.
Read more about conclusions
In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.
Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.
Read more about appendices
Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!
Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.
Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.
After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.
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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
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