Graduate School (MS-MBA) in USA – Thesis vs. Non-Thesis option. What is good for me?

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Once you are in USA for Graduate school, either MS or MBA, in the first few weeks, you will be asked to complete your academic plan for MS or MBA by working with your Faculty Advisor or Academic advisor. Depending on the school and their program, you will have two options Thesis and Non-Thesis.  In this article, we will go over some of the key things of both options and help you make an educated decision.

What is Thesis option in Graduate School in USA ? 

Depending on the school and program, this can be structured differently. But, in general, thesis option is where you would be diving into research on a specific area, after you complete your core courses required for your graduate program.  Usually, you will take this over a course of at least two semesters working under a professor on a specific research area. Thesis is like a preview of PhD program. You would work with your chosen professor and try to publish a small paper for conference or journal. You will have to submit your thesis and do the thesis defense in front of your thesis panel.

Who should pursue Thesis Option in MS or MBA ?

If you are interested in pursuing PhD after MS or MBA, it is the best thing to do. You will get a sneak peek of your life as a PhD Student.  If you apply for PhD programs, the prospective schools would be very keen on your Thesis paper and topics as it will be foundation for your PhD. You can get admits in your dream school, if you have done the Thesis in MS or MBA and accomplished something. Also, it will be very helpful, if you are pursuing research oriented jobs in any of the companies. If you have thesis in Artificial intelligence, you have better chance for a Google Graduate fellowship. Do NOT choose thesis option because you are getting funding like TA , GA or RA from professor, it could make you restless and ruin your peace. Be clear on your goal and then take up thesis, if it fits your goal of PhD.

What is Non-Thesis Option in Graduate Schools in America ?

Well, as the name says, it does NOT involve the above mentioned thesis section. After you complete your program’s core course requirements, you are free to choose any of the electives and complete the requirements of your degree. Depending on the school, you may have to do a Master’s Degree Capstone project in your final semester.  Depending on the school, it could include reviewing of your previous courses in the program and maybe a comprehensive exam or a summary project/ seminar corresponding to the same.

Who should pursue Non-Thesis option in Graduate schools in US ?

If you are not looking to pursue any research positions or PhD program, this would be the best choice. It is the most preferred option by many graduate students, who are not keen on research. Personally, I took non-thesis option in my MS and we did a capstone project as a team.

Does Thesis or Non-Thesis option in Graduate program make difference in Job Search in USA ?

In general, NO. It will NOT have any impact in your job search, unless you are applying to a specialized research oriented position.

What did you choose in your graduate program ?

What was your experience ? What is your advice ?


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