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What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 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 .

Thesis template

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.

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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 .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short 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.

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

Theoretical framework

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.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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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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How to survive your master thesis.

finish my masters thesis

By Chanoknun Wannasin

Updated on: 10 January 2023

After finishing coursework in the first study year, the next step to fulfil the requirements of a master’s degree at Wageningen University is to conduct an individual thesis project.

For many students, doing research sounds fascinating yet frustrating, especially if it is their first master’s programme. I am writing this article during my deserved holiday after surviving an intensive 6 month period for my master’s thesis. If you are about to start off your thesis (or even if you already started), I have some useful advice for you based on my own experience.


Choose a topic that boosts your endorphins

Choose the topic that you think it will make you wake up motivated in the morning.

A thesis is a huge task. It is like a job, not homework anymore. Imagine that if you are looking for a full-time job, you would rather commit to your dream job than a random job you don’t feel interested in, wouldn’t you? Hence, it is important to pick a thesis topic that you are passionately excited about because you have to spend several months living with it. Choose the topic that will make you wake up motivated in the morning!

In some cases, it might not be possible to choose a topic that completely fulfils your expectations. In that case, my advice is to brainstorm with your supervisor about what ways there could be to make it more suitable for your interests. Maybe a type of analysis you want to try or look up what are the gaps in current research related to your field that you could address in your project.

Set up your “thesis o’clock”

Don’t postpone the alarm 10 times and end up arriving in the office at noon.

During the first months of a thesis period, many students think they have plenty of time. Then in the last few months, they go to work like zombies because they don’t get enough sleep trying to finish everything by deadlines (me either!). One lesson I have learned in the past 6 months is that managing your thesis time professionally will make your life much easier later on. If you set up your thesis o’clock at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays, build it up as a routine. Don’t postpone the alarm 10 times and end up arriving at the office at noon. Work productively during your thesis hour and after that, allow yourself to have some free time to do anything you want, either hang out with friends, practice some sports or be as lazy as you desire.

Decorate your thesis corner

I believe that if your working environment is inspiring and relaxing, people’s productivity will increase.

I believe that if the working environment is inspiring and relaxing, people’s productivity will increase. If you receive a personal desk at an office, decorate the desk in your favourite style. For example, I had some little cacti, an inspirational quote, a picture of my idol on my thesis topic, colourful highlight pens, and chocolate supply. I loved working in that small space. When I felt bored, watering the cactus and looking at the surroundings would improve my mood. If you don’t have your own office, just seek your favourite space. It may be at home, at a coffee shop, or at a computer desk with a good view of the library. You know yourself the best, so please don’t choose a home sweet home if you know you would be distracted by a fridge or a comfy bed very soon!


Always set goals and have plans

They will pull you back on track and remind you those old intentions you had at the beginning of the thesis.

Similar to thesis o’clock, it is very helpful to have goals and plans to keep you on track and on time. Write down not only long-term plans for the final thesis results, but also short-term doable schedules, and always keep them updated. What do you expect to derive from the final report? How much work should you complete within the first 3 months? What will you achieve at the end of this week? And therefore, what do you have to finish today? But remember, set realistic goals and allow yourself to modify your plans if needed. Thesis work can be unpredictable.

At some points, you may feel lost. Sometimes experiments fail, unexpected problems occur, or you suddenly become inactive and bored. It can be stressful, and then you start to wonder what you are doing and why unlucky situations happen to you. At that stage, having strong goals and plans will benefit you. They will pull you back on track and remind you of those old intentions you had at the beginning of the thesis. Keep in mind that even though you might fall down several times, you can always get up and continue running to the finish line!

Allow yourself to have some timeouts

Being a hard-working researcher is nice but after all, you should know your limit and treat yourself well. You may have limited time and huge pressure to finish your thesis according to your scholarship or graduation plan. However, health comes first. Don’t force yourself to run to the finish line when you know you are about to faint. It is not worth it in the end. If you cannot solve a problem, leave it behind for a while and just spend time enjoying something else. Working with zero motivation will take you nowhere.

Seek for motivations

Motivations are everywhere but they are hard to see when we are upset. Visiting your friends’ thesis colloquiums can fill up your dry motivation tank. It helps you realize that you also want to stand there, talking proudly about what you discovered in your thesis research. If they can do it, why can’t you?

Another way is to talk to your friends who are also currently doing theses. I bet they will tell you that they also face some difficulties and crazy problems. Share yours and support them.

Reading some published papers or news within your study field is also a good idea. There are many researchers out there that succeed in their studies after they have failed many more times than you have ever tried. This is your chance to prove you are the other one.

Celebrate little things

A big achievement comes from many little successes. So cheer yourself up when you accomplish a small task. Be an encourager for yourself and I can guarantee that in the end, you will feel thankful.

Good luck with your thesis. You will proudly survive!


If you would like to know more about other students’ experiences writing their theses, you can also watch the video below by student Lotta who tells you everything about her experience with writing her Master’s thesis at Wageningen University & Research.

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There are 10 comments.

Great advice to keep in mind as I navigate this unfamiliar path.

That’s a great article Mo and I loved it Thank you very much I take the advice and use it wisely

good article

Nice article for the international students to survive the master thesis. Thanks for sharing.

Nice article

Very good article with many good ideas to live while you do your thesis.

Thank you for those precious advices and ideas 🙂

Thank you Wided for your comment!

Really nice tips and relatable, thank you!

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finish my masters thesis

My Master’s Thesis Journey: How to Finish a Research Paper in Four Months (1 Term)

By vivomigsgee in Event Features June 11, 2021

The moment I got the thesis hardbound in my hands, I thought “Oh boy, I am so done with my master’s thesis!” Yes, the seemingly daunting and never-ending research journey is finally over. That means no more sleepless nights… Independence Day is just around the corner, what better way to celebrate it than concluding that it’s a great day to BOOK my way to FREEdom (Abas, 2021).

Looking back 2 years ago, I initially wanted to enroll in a non-thesis program but it’s no longer offered. I was left with no choice. Fast forward today, I personally think I made the right decision. In just four grueling months, I managed to endure both proposal hearing and oral defense – all in one research-packed semester – making me the first and only MSA-IA candidate in USC to defy the odds. So, if you are planning to take a master’s study or currently undertaking a master’s thesis this semester, then this article is for you.

Thesis writing involves two major stages – proposal hearing and oral defense. These stages are normally taken in two separate semesters or terms with the exception of my chosen graduate program’s curriculum (I’m one of the few students under the pioneering batch and holds the title of the sole graduate of said program in USC who successfully completed a thesis in a super tight timeline ~ 1 term). 


finish my masters thesis

Despite being busy at work and blog activities, I managed to come up with a thesis proposal at a short time as I have a “research-o-clock” in place. It means you really need to allocate time working on your thesis as it is really a demanding task ~ especially researching related articles online and visiting libraries and reading books. If you’re working from 9 to 5, then you may set your body clock to start writing from 8pm onwards on a daily basis. You have to sacrifice your weekend and prioritize your thesis.

Another thing, don’t hesitate to ask help from your thesis adviser. I wouldn’t have done my reasearch proposal if it weren’t for my thesis adviser’s guidance from Chapter 1 to 3. You really need to meet periodically with your thesis adviser, whether physical or virtual, to prepare you for the proposal hearing. In fact, there is a thesis advising monitoring sheet wherein your adviser will review, sign and submit to the Graduate Program Office (GPO).

By the third week of March, I applied for a proposal hearing (with endorsement from my thesis adviser) and was accepted by the research committee. And so, the day has come and my first ever thesis hearing proposal, albeit done virtually, was a success. I can really say it was all worth it. I’ve never imagined ending a very hectic month with a bang! Tired but glad to know that I’m moving forward on to the next chapter!

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How to Write a Master's Thesis: A Guide to Planning Your Thesis, Pursuing It, and Avoiding Pitfalls


Part 1: Initial Considerations

Who needs to write a master’s thesis.

Thesis writing is one of the more daunting challenges of higher education. That being said, not all master's students have to write a thesis. For example, fields that place a stronger emphasis on applied knowledge, such as nursing, business, and education, tend to have projects and exams to test students on the skills and abilities associated with those fields. Conversely, in disciplines that require in-depth research or highly polished creative abilities, students are usually expected to prove their understanding and independence with a thesis.

What's Your Goal?

Do you want to write a thesis? The process is a long one, often spanning years. It's best to know exactly what you want before you begin. Many people are motivated by career goals. For example, hiring managers may see a master's degree as proof that the candidate is an expert within their field and can lead, motivate, and demonstrate initiative for themselves and others. Others dream of earning their doctorate, and they see a master's degree as a stepping stone toward their Ph.D .

finish my masters thesis

No matter what your desired goal is, you should have one before you start your thesis. With your goal in mind, your work will have a purpose, which will allow you to measure your progress more easily.

Major Types of Theses

Once you've carefully researched or even enrolled in a master's program—a feat that involves its own planning and resources —you should know if you are expected to produce a quantitative (which occurs in many math and science programs), qualitative (which occurs in many humanities programs), or creative (which occurs in many creative writing, music, or fine arts programs) thesis.

Time and Energy Considerations

Advanced degrees are notoriously time and energy consuming. If you have a job, thesis writing will become your second job. If you have a family, they will need to know that your thesis will take a great deal of your attention, energy, and focus.

finish my masters thesis

Your studies should not consume you, but they also should not take a back seat to everything else. You will be expected to attend classes, conduct research, source relevant literature, and schedule meetings with various people as you pursue your master's, so it's important to let those you care about know what's going on.

As a general note, most master's programs expect students to finish within a two-year period but are willing to grant extra time if requested, especially if that time is needed to deal with unexpected life events (more on those later).

Part 2: Form an Initial Thesis Question, and Find a Supervisor

When to begin forming your initial thesis question.

Some fields, such as history, may require you to have already formed your thesis question and to have used it to create a statement of intent (outlining the nature of your research) prior to applying to a master’s program. Others may require this information only after you've been accepted. Most of the time, you will be expected to come up with your topic yourself. However, in some disciplines, your supervisor may assign a general research topic to you.

Overall, requirements vary immensely from program to program, so it's best to confirm the exact requirements of your specific program.

What to Say to Your Supervisor

You will have a supervisor during your master's studies. Have you identified who that person will be? If yes, have you introduced yourself via email or phone and obtained information on the processes and procedures that are in place for your master's program? Once you've established contact, request an in-person meeting with him or her, and take a page of questions along with you. Your questions might include:

  • Is there a research subject you can recommend in my field?
  • I would like to pursue [target research subject] for my thesis. Can you help me narrow my focus?
  • Can you give me an example of a properly formatted thesis proposal for my program?

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help (to a Degree)

Procedures and expectations vary from program to program, and your supervisor is there to help remove doubt and provide encouragement so you can follow the right path when you embark on writing your thesis. Since your supervisor has almost certainly worked with other graduate students (and was one at some point), take advantage of their experience, and ask questions to put your mind at ease about how to write a master’s thesis.

That being said, do not rely too heavily on your supervisor. As a graduate student, you are also expected to be able to work independently. Proving your independent initiative and capacity is part of what will earn you your master's degree.

Part 3: Revise Your Thesis

Read everything you can get your hands on.

Whether you have a question or need to create one, your next step is simple and applies to all kinds of theses: read.

finish my masters thesis

Seek Out Knowledge or Research Gaps

Read everything you can that relates to the question or the field you are studying. The only way you will be able to determine where you can go is to see where everyone else has been. After you have read some published material, you will start to spot gaps in current research or notice things that could be developed further with an alternative approach. Things that are known but not understood or understood but not explained clearly or consistently are great potential thesis subjects. Addressing something already known from a new perspective or with a different style could also be a potentially valuable project. Whichever way you choose to do it, keep in mind that your project should make a valuable contribution to your field.

finish my masters thesis

Talk with Experts in Your Field (and Don't Be Afraid to Revise Your Thesis)

To help narrow down your thesis topic, talk to your supervisor. Your supervisor will have an idea of what is current in your field and what can be left alone because others are already working on it. Additionally, the school you are attending will have programs and faculty with particular areas of interest within your chosen field.

On a similar note, don't be surprised if your thesis question changes as you study. Other students and researchers are out there, and as they publish, what you are working on can change. You might also discover that your question is too vague, not substantial enough, or even no longer relevant. Do not lose heart! Take what you know and adjust the question to address these concerns as they arise. The freedom to adapt is part of the power you hold as a graduate student.

Part 4: Select a Proposal Committee

What proposal committees are and why they're useful.

When you have a solid question or set of questions, draft a proposal.

finish my masters thesis

You'll need an original stance and a clear justification for asking, and answering, your thesis question. To ensure this, a committee will review your thesis proposal. Thankfully, that committee will consist of people assigned by your supervisor or department head or handpicked by you. These people will be experts who understand your field of study and will do everything in their power to ensure that you are pursuing something worthwhile. And yes, it is okay to put your supervisor on your committee. Some programs even require that your supervisor be on your committee.

Just remember that the committee will expect you to schedule meetings with them, present your proposal, respond to any questions they might have for you, and ultimately present your findings and thesis when all the work is done. Choose those who are willing to support you, give constructive feedback, and help address issues with your proposal. And don't forget to give your proposal a good, thorough edit and proofread before you present it.

How to Prepare for Committee Meetings

Be ready for committee meetings with synopses of your material for committee members, answers for expected questions, and a calm attitude. To prepare for those meetings, sit in on proposal and thesis defenses so you can watch how other graduate students handle them and see what your committee might ask of you. You can even hold rehearsals with friends and fellow students acting as your committee to help you build confidence for your presentation.

finish my masters thesis

Part 5: Write Your Thesis

What to do once your proposal is approved.

After you have written your thesis proposal and received feedback from your committee, the fun part starts: doing the work. This is where you will take your proposal and carry it out. If you drafted a qualitative or quantitative proposal, your experimentation or will begin here. If you wrote a creative proposal, you will now start working on your material. Your proposal should be strong enough to give you direction when you perform your experiments, conduct interviews, or craft your work. Take note that you will have to check in with your supervisor from time to time to give progress updates.

finish my masters thesis

Thesis Writing: It's Important to Pace Yourself and Take Breaks

Do not expect the work to go quickly. You will need to pace yourself and make sure you record your progress meticulously. You can always discard information you don't need, but you cannot go back and grab a crucial fact that you can't quite remember. When in doubt, write it down. When drawing from a source, always create a citation for the information to save your future self time and stress. In the same sense, you may also find journaling to be a helpful process.

Additionally, take breaks and allow yourself to step away from your thesis, even if you're having fun (and especially if you're not). Ideally, your proposal should have milestones in it— points where you can stop and assess what you've already completed and what's left to do. When you reach a milestone, celebrate. Take a day off and relax. Better yet, give yourself a week's vacation! The rest will help you regain your focus and ensure that you function at your best.

How to Become More Comfortable with Presenting Your Work

Once you start reaching your milestones, you should be able to start sharing what you have. Just about everyone in a graduate program has experience giving a presentation at the front of the class, attending a seminar, or watching an interview. If you haven't (or even if you have), look for conferences and clubs that will give you the opportunity to learn about presenting your work and become comfortable with the idea of public speaking. The more you practice talking about what you are studying, the more comfortable you'll be with the information, which will make your committee defenses and other official meetings easier.

Published authors can be called upon to present at conferences, and if your thesis is strong, you may receive an email or a phone call asking if you would share your findings onstage.

Presenting at conferences is also a great way to boost your CV and network within your field. Make presenting part of your education, and it will become something you look forward to instead of fear.

What to Do If Your Relationship with Your Supervisor Sours

A small aside: If it isn't already obvious, you will be communicating extensively with others as you pursue your thesis. That also means that others will need to communicate with you, and if you've been noticing things getting quiet, you will need to be the one to speak up. Your supervisor should speak to you at least once a term and preferably once a week in the more active parts of your research and writing. If you give written work to your supervisor, you should have feedback within three weeks.

If your supervisor does not provide feedback, frequently misses appointments, or is consistently discouraging of your work, contact your graduate program advisor and ask for a new supervisor. The relationship with your supervisor is crucial to your success, especially if she or he is on your committee, and while your supervisor does not have to be friendly, there should at least be professional respect between you.

What to Do If a Crisis Strikes

If something happens in your life that disrupts everything (e.g., emotional strain, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member), ask for help. You are a human being, and personal lives can and do change without warning. Do not wait until you are falling apart before asking for help, either. Learn what resources exist for crises before you have one, so you can head off trauma before it hits. That being said, if you get blindsided, don't refuse help. Seek it out, and take the time you need to recover. Your degree is supposed to help you become a stronger and smarter person, not break you.

Part 6: Polish and Defend Your Master's Thesis

How to write a master’s thesis: the final stages.

After your work is done and everything is written down, you will have to give your thesis a good, thorough polishing. This is where you will have to organize the information, draft it into a paper format with an abstract, and abbreviate things to help meet your word-count limit. This is also where your final editing and proofreading passes will occur, after which you will face your final hurdle: presenting your thesis defense to your committee. If they approve your thesis, then congratulations! You are now a master of your chosen field.

Conclusion and Parting Thoughts

Remember that you do not (and should not) have to learn how to write a master’s thesis on your own. Thesis writing is collaborative, as is practically any kind of research.

finish my masters thesis

While you will be expected to develop your thesis using your own initiative, pursue it with your own ambition, and complete it with your own abilities, you will also be expected to use all available resources to do so. The purpose of a master's thesis is to help you develop your own independent abilities, ensuring that you can drive your own career forward without constantly looking to others to provide direction. Leaders get master's degrees. That's why many business professionals in leadership roles have graduate degree initials after their last names. If you already have the skills necessary to motivate yourself, lead others, and drive change, you may only need your master's as an acknowledgement of your abilities. If you do not, but you apply yourself carefully and thoroughly to the pursuit of your thesis, you should come away from your studies with those skills in place.

A final thought regarding collaboration: all theses have a section for acknowledgements. Be sure to say thank you to those who helped you become a master. One day, someone might be doing the same for you.

Image source: Falkenpost/Pixabay.com 

We’re Masters at Master’s Theses! Make Yours Shine.

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A Scribendi in-house editor, Anthony is happily putting his BA in English from Western University to good use with thoughtful feedback and incisive editing. An avid reader and gamer, he can be found during his off hours enjoying narrative-driven games and obscure and amusing texts, as well as cooking for his family.

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finish my masters thesis

/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="finish my masters thesis"> Cornell University --> Graduate School

Filter by category, can i finish my m.s. degree early.

Date: July 2018

Hello Deans,

I have completed two semesters of my M.S. and have been working over the summer towards my thesis. My research so far has been going pretty well, and I believe I will be able to finish my experimentation before the fall semester starts. In this situation, I was hoping to graduate by December. (Generally, M.S. students take four semesters or two years to graduate as far as I know.) 

I asked my GFA, and she says the thesis is the only requirement of my degree. There are no course requirements. Hence, as long as I take my M exam on time, submit my thesis by the deadline, and my advisor is fine with the progress, I can graduate in December. I asked the same question to the Graduate School Student Services Office; they said their requirement of M.S. students is minimum one year or two semesters. However, before I take the major decision and pace up for this work, I had few questions:

  • Although my GFA told me I can graduate in three semesters, I just want to make sure if this works well with the Graduate School or not? Any official problems that may come in my way? Is it okay if an M.S. student finishes the thesis in three semesters and graduates?
  • There is no course requirement for my degree, but I still wish to take one course along with thesis credits in the fall semester. Can I do that?
  • I have been appointed a TA for a course, which I am excited about. However, my TA letter says the appointment dates are 15th August to 30th December, 2018. The December Graduation Ceremony happens on 15th December. Although the course will be finished before 15th December, is there any technical problem that can arise here later?

I need to be sure of all the above questions before I finally decide to wrap up my work, focus on writing, and graduate by December.

Waiting for your answers eagerly.

Graduating Early

Dear Graduating Early,

While your graduate field or special committee may set specific requirements for the completion of your M.S. degree, the basic degree requirements of the Graduate School are pretty simple. A M.S. or M.A. student must be registered for a minimum two semesters, must schedule and pass a thesis defense exam (M exam), and must submit an approved thesis. The Graduate School does not impose any course requirements so the only courses that you need to take are those that your special committee members require. As the folks in the Graduate Student Service Office told you, there are no barriers to completing your M.S. in three semesters, so you should be good to go!

If you are registered for the fall semester you may certainly enroll in courses. It’s great that you have an offer to receive funding as a TA as well. As long as you pass your defense and submit your thesis by the December 1 st deadline your degree will be officially conferred on December 31 st . The December recognition ceremony is on 12/15/2018, but you’ll remain a student through the end of the month when your degree is conferred so there’s no problem with dates of your TA appointment.

I wish you all the best!

Jason Kahabka Associate Dean for Administration

Academia Insider

Is writing a masters thesis hard? Tips on how to write a thesis

Graduate school quite often requires its students to create a thesis showcasing the research work they have done throughout their course.

It’s funny that quite often students do not have any practical guidance on how to complete a thesis with the least amount of stress.

Writing a master’s thesis can be incredibly difficult if you try to write it without any structure or knowledge of the process. However, by focusing on structure and story first you’ll be able to significantly cut down the effort required to produce a Masters thesis.

I was able to write my master’s thesis in a couple of months due to the fact I had all of my data already collected and readily available for interpretation.

This article will go through everything you need to know about writing a Masters thesis and how to make it as easy as possible.

What is a master’s thesis?

A master’s thesis is an academic document that is produced in a postgraduate masters degree that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent research within a specific field of study.

It is written and submitted to the University as evidence that the candidate can provide a deeper analysis into the chosen topic than what is expected from undergraduate studies.

It is typically between 30 and 100 pages or 25,000 to 50,000 words in length. However, the exact length can be very different depending on the field of study.

The thesis can include:

  • research and findings from previous studies – in order to provide a background and justification for the current study.
  • original work developed by the student – highlighting the student’s ability to formulate a research question, develop methodology to answer that question, create data and analysis, and present the work in a clear and logical fashion.

A faculty member or academic supervisor typically guides the student throughout the entire Masters process, providing feedback on ideas and drafts and ensuring academic robustness.

In some cases, students may be required to present their thesis to a panel of faculty members for review and evaluation before graduation. For example, when I finish my masters in chemistry I was required to present my computational chemistry research project to my peers and faculty members who then questioned and critiqued my work.

Having their work critiqued in front of others can be quite confronting process for many students, however, this is a normal part of academia and learning to navigate this process will help you in your future career.

Why is writing a thesis or a dissertation hard? Thesis writing tips

There is no doubt that writing a thesis or dissertation is a difficult challenge for many graduate students. That is because they have, quite simply, not done anything quite like this before.

Not only are they required to conduct research, but they must also use their technical writing skills in order to organize their thoughts and turn them into an effective paper. Not something that is explicitly taught in universities.

Quite often we hope that students will absorb the thesis writing skills by a process of osmosis and by doing.

Writing your thesis requires a large amount of time and effort, as it involves:

  • researching and gathering relevant data,
  • formulating an argument,
  • conducting analysis and evaluation, and finally
  • organizing the results into a report.

All of these tasks can be daunting for someone who may not have had much experience with academic writing before.

Most graduate students will also need to learn how to correctly cite sources in order to avoid plagiarism. As such, this is not a task that should be taken lightly and requires significant dedication from the student in order to complete successfully.

In order to complete your thesis successfully this is the order in which I go through tasks:

How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined? Submit a thesis successfully

A Masters thesis is typically submitted to the University for review by an internal review panel or is sent out to experts in the field for a more thorough peer-review.

Exactly what process is used is dependent on the University policy and guidelines.

For example, my chemistry master’s thesis was reviewed internally whereas my friend who went to another UK institution for his masters had his thesis sent out for peer review in other institutions.

Understanding exactly what would happen to your thesis before you submit is important part of having your thesis passed.

Institutions may require different criteria for assessment and examination, such as originality of content and how well it meets the objectives set out in the initial proposal.

Universities may also require submission of supporting evidence if needed by the examiners.

The examiners can:

  • pass the thesis with no corrections
  • pass the thesis with minor corrections – common in academia
  • suggest a major rewrite of the thesis – this happens if there are major scientific or research-based mistakes throughout the thesis
  • rejected the thesis – if the examiners are not confident that the thesis provides enough evidence for submission into the degree the reviewers may outright reject and suggest that it gets downgraded.

Your supervisor should do everything in their power to ensure that you are passing with minor or no corrections.

If you want to know more about a Masters’s thesis you can check out my other articles:

  • How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]
  • How to write a masters thesis in 2 months [Easy steps to start writing]

How long should a thesis or a dissertation be? Effective tips 

A Masters thesis should be an original work of research and writing, typically between 30 and 100 pages in length.

Whereas a PhD thesis can be anywhere between 50 and 450 pages and between 60,000 and 80,000 words.

The exact length will vary significantly depending on the subject and specific requirements set by your university or department.

While a thesis may be shorter than a dissertation, it will still require a significant amount of research and analysis. And sometimes it is easier to write words than to try and condense what you are trying to say into a smaller thesis.

If you want to know more about how long a thesis or dissertation as you can check out my other article – click here – it will give you all of the juicy data.

It is important to thoroughly develop your argument and provide sufficient detail to support your claims. To ensure that you have covered all necessary information, it is best to consult with faculty members or colleagues who have gone through the dissertation or thesis process before.

How long should a master’s thesis be? Tips on how to write

A master’s thesis can be a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly.

It is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long a Masters thesis should be. My thesis is 60 pages long however a more theoretical thesis may be much shorter.

It is much better to break down the thesis into sections and make sure that you provide enough information to satisfy a reviewer. That focus on length rather focus on making pass peer-review for your subject.

It should include:

  • a title page,
  • table of contents,
  • introduction, including a literature review
  • main body, presenting all of your results and findings in a logical fashion
  • conclusion and discussions
  • references.
  • Appendices (optional)

Depending on the subject matter and the research methodology used, some theses may be longer than others.

As a general rule of thumb, most master’s theses are between 50 and 100 pages in length including citations.

Writing a master’s thesis can be an intimidating task but it doesn’t have to be too daunting if you start writing early and break down your project into smaller chunks.

I always start with the heading outline and you can check out my exact process in my YouTube video, below.

Make sure you review all guidelines given by your supervisor or instructor before starting your thesis so that you will have an idea of what needs to be included in order to fulfill all criteria successfully.

What is writing a masters thesis like? 

From experience I can tell you that writing a master’s thesis can be both exciting and daunting.

That is because the skills to complete a thesis without losing your mind are not specifically taught in undergraduate.

It requires dedication, focus, and hard work to complete a successful thesis. Many students find themselves combating imposter syndrome as they write because there are many stages where you feel like your writing is rubbish and you are not clever enough.

However, with continual improvements and feedback from your supervisor, you’ll be able to overcome this hurdle and if it is good enough you supervisor – it is good enough for you.

The general steps of a Masters means that you’ll need to identify your research topic, develop an outline of your project, write drafts of each chapter, edit your work thoroughly, and potentially defend the final product in front of a panel of experts.

During this process it is important to stay organized, keep track of deadlines, and remember to take time for yourself while also staying focused on your studies.

With determination and effort you can successfully complete a master’s thesis that will be rewarding not only academically but also personally as you reflect on all the hard work that went into it.

Can I finish masters thesis in 2 months? Your advisor will be the road block

Completing a master’s thesis in two months is an ambitious goal, but it is not impossible.

As long as you are able to work continuously little by little breaking up the big goal into small achievable chance you can get there.

I wrote my master’s thesis in two months by locking myself in the University library and fuelling myself with chocolate and V (caffeine energy drink).

I’m not saying that this is the best way to do it – I just needed to get it done and this was how I survived.

No matter what the path you choose writing a Masters thesis in two months requires determination, organization, and dedication to make it happen.

You will need to create a detailed plan which incorporates the research process, writing style and pace, and any necessary revisions.

It’s very important that you also set aside time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed or exhausted with the task and it remains manageable. 

Additionally, enlisting the help of friends, and any other academic that you trust (even outside of your field) to provide feedback on your drafts can be very beneficial in ensuring that your final product meets your expectations.

With careful planning and hard work it is possible to finish a master’s thesis in two months.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about how hard it is to write a Masters thesis.

The skills required to complete your thesis are not explicitly taught in universities, but following a process of setting out the headings and chapters, placing bullet points under each heading and chapter with data, turning the bullet points into words and sentences, seems to be the only way to ensure that you complete your thesis without going insane.

Remember to factor in some time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed.

finish my masters thesis

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

Thank you for visiting Academia Insider.

We are here to help you navigate Academia as painlessly as possible. We are supported by our readers and by visiting you are helping us earn a small amount through ads and affiliate revenue - Thank you!

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finish my masters thesis


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    Add X,Y,Z and send it back within 48 hours. Do this over, and over, until you graduate. If someone ever makes the X/Y/X = "success", and all that is left is "success" you can go to the campus ombudsperson and say "This person / company / group is holding my research and degree hostage for results". This is not allowed.

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