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Many students at US graduate schools will find themselves writing a thesis before graduation.
Candidates for both master’s degrees and doctoral degrees are expected to produce an original and substantial research project. A doctoral student’s thesis (also called a dissertation) is typically much longer. In both cases, the thesis showcases a student’s expertise in a particular subject or discipline.
A thesis often explores in depth something only touched upon in class. Students who choose a thesis subject this way begin with both a foundation and a context for their research. Familiarity with at least some aspects of the topic prove beneficial.
Some students, however, find themselves intrigued by a topic not directly covered in class. An English major specializing in the classics, for instance, might explore how those classics have been re-shaped by contemporary writers. You can often get support for these research topics through your department in the university.
Likewise, an interdisciplinary approach puts a creative spin on familiar themes. History majors might turn to popular music for interpretations of social and cultural change, while philosophy majors might study film for insights into perception and self-consciousness. Cross-departmental studies commonly yield richer, more imaginative work.
No matter how you choose your thesis subject, it is essential to explore something that is meaningful to you. Instead of writing a thesis about something you think will impress your graduate professors, write about what excites, provokes, and challenges you.
The single most important tip while writing a thesis? Have an argument.
That is, have something definite you want to say, and then say it in a clear and organized fashion. Be sure your argument is supported by relevant evidence and that every digression serves a function.
Your thesis should also be reader-friendly, meaning your argument should progress naturally from one point to another. Build upon points you’ve already made. Indeed, each paragraph can be envisioned as yet another brick in what is intended as a solid wall of rhetoric. Weak spots (such as digressions, repetitions, and irrelevancies) should be cut. These tips will make your thesis shine when you’re ready to submit it or present your graduate study work in conferences with your peers.
There’s no question that writing a thesis can be intimidating, but tackling a topic that you’re passionate about can also be enlightening and deeply satisfying.