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. You see both of these options more often in a MS program than in MBA program, but it all depends on the school. 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 ?
In general, thesis option is where you would be diving your entire Masters program into two parts, one is going to be focused on research on a specific area and other is your core courses required for your graduate program. Usually, you will take thesis related work 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 paper for conference or journal. You will have to submit your thesis and do the thesis defense in front of your thesis panel. You may be tempted to take thesis option as they come with funding at times, but be clear on the goals, do not pursue it, if you are not passionate about research. Not all schools have this same structure for Thesis and this varies by school and their program structure..so, you need to check with the school you plan to apply to to be clear on the program.
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, any publications as well…all these topics will be considered as foundation for your PhD. You can get admits in your dream school, if you have done the Thesis in Masters program 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 Machine Learning or any Artificial intelligence topics, 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 Masters ?
Well, as the name says, it does NOT involve the above mentioned thesis section. There is no specific research focus in your program. 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 (final project) 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. Non-thesis option is the regular option for most of the students who complete their degree.
Who should pursue Non-Thesis option ?
If you are not looking to pursue any research positions or PhD program in future, 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 make difference in Job Search?
In general, NO. It will NOT have any impact in your job search, unless you are applying to a specialized research oriented position. So, you do not have to worry much on this.
What did you choose in your graduate program ? What was your experience ? What is your advice ?