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How to Write a Master's Thesis

Last Updated: June 1, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 607,189 times.

Students learning how to write a Master's Thesis will first learn that a central thesis question must be presented and subsequently answered. A Master's Thesis will be the most prominent piece of your graduate work up to this point, and a pertinent thesis question that forms the spine of this work elevates it from the prosaic to the significant.

Choosing a Topic

Step 1 Think about the objectives of writing a thesis.

  • To get a degree - topic should be difficult enough, but manageable too.
  • To enjoy the work - topic that you are truly interested in, something that you will not grow bored of after a short period of time.
  • To get a job afterward - if you know what specifically you want to do after your studies and/or for which company, it might be useful to choose a topic, that will help with this goal.
  • To be useful - thesis might actually be useful to help to make the world a little better place.
  • Try thinking about your favorite subject of study - it may be a particular author, theory, time period, etc. Imagine how you might further the study of that subject.
  • You might consider skimming through papers you wrote for your graduate courses and see if there is any apparent topic that you tend to gravitate towards.
  • Consult with faculty members, favorite professors. They might have some good suggestions to write about. Generally, you'll be required to meet with your thesis advisor at least once before you start working.
  • Consider consulting with industry partners. Your favorite company might have some work to do which might be done as a master's thesis. This might also help you get a job within the company afterward and maybe even some money for the thesis.
  • If you want to help the world to be a better place, you might want to consult with your local non-profits and charities or check the Internet for possible thesis topics to write about.
  • 3 Choose the right topic. From the possible topics generated in the previous step, find the one which best fits the objectives from the first step, especially the objectives most important to you. Make sure that you have a clear, specific, and organized plan on how to write a master's thesis which you will be able to then defend.

Step 4 Choose your thesis question.

  • Make sure that your question and the answers provided will provide original content to the body of research in existence. A judicious question will also keep research focused, organized, and interesting.
  • Once you've formulated your topic and direction of inquiry, try formulating 5-10 different questions around your intended research. This forces you to think flexibly about your topic and visualize how small changes in wording can change the trajectory of your research.

Step 5 Conduct your research.

  • Usually, your committee chair will be in place before you formally start your thesis. They can help guide you and provide input into your project, so the earlier you can get their commitment, the better.
  • Nothing is more frustrating than your thesis progress being held up by a professor who has too many obligations to make time to meet with you.

Selecting Your Texts

Step 1 Complete a literature review.

  • For example, a novel written by Ernest Hemingway or a scientific journal article in which new results are documented for the first time would both be considered primary sources.

Step 3 Choose your secondary sources.

  • For example, a book written about Ernest Hemingway's novel or a scientific journal article examining the findings of someone else's experiment would both be considered secondary sources.

Step 4 Manage your citations.

  • Use the in-text citation format appropriate to your discipline. [3] X Research source The most common formats are MLA, APA, and Chicago.
  • Create a coordinating works cited or reference entry for each source you cite in the text of your document or in a footnote.
  • Consider using a citation management software such as EndNote, Mendeley, or Zotero. These will enable you to insert and move citations within your word processor program and will automatically populate a works cited or reference page for you.

Planning an Outline

Step 1 Know the requirements for your field/department.

  • Qualitative. This type of thesis involves completing a project that is exploratory, analytical, or creative in some way. Usually, students in the humanities will complete this kind of thesis.
  • Quantitative. This type of thesis involves conducting experiments, measuring data, and recording results. Students in the sciences usually complete this kind of thesis.

Step 2 Nail down your thesis idea.

  • Signature page (with the completed signatures of your advising committee - usually attained at the defense, or after the project is deemed complete )
  • Abstract - this is a short (one paragraph or so) description/summary of the work completed in your thesis
  • Table of Contents (with page numbers)
  • Introduction
  • Body of paper
  • Works Cited or Bibliography
  • Any necessary appendices or endnotes

Moving through the Writing Process

Step 1 Make a schedule.

  • If you do not already have a review of literature written, it’s time to do your research! The review of literature is essentially a summary of all of the existing scholarship about your topic with plenty of direct quotations from the primary and secondary sources that you’re referencing.

Step 8 Contextualize your work.

Finalizing Your Thesis

Step 1 Compare your draft with your university's requirements.

  • Many departments or programs provide a document template for theses and dissertations. If you have one of these, it may be easiest to use such a template from the beginning of your work (rather than copying and pasting your writing into it).

Step 2 Re-read the entire thesis for correctness.

  • Alternatively, ask a trusted colleague or friend to read over your thesis to help you catch any minor grammar/spelling/punctuation errors and typos.

Step 3 Follow all printing guidelines according to your department's policies.

  • Some institutions require you to submit your thesis for a formatting check prior to uploading the document to ProQuest. Be sure to check with your department’s Director of Graduate Studies for specific instructions.
  • Be aware of thesis submission deadlines, which are often well in advance of your graduation date. Late submission of your thesis may force you to push back your graduation date, which may affect your employment or continuing graduate studies.

Masters Thesis Outline

write master thesis

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

  • Remember why you are writing a Master's thesis and who will want to read and use the material. You write a Master's thesis for members of your community, so keep in mind that they will have extensive knowledge and experience before reading your work. Don't bore them with unnecessary material. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Choosing the perfect question before starting research will prevent frustration and save time. Rigorous effort on finding the perfect question is probably the most important task when learning how to write a Master's thesis. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Consult other people who have completed a Master's thesis and obtained a Master's degree. It can be a long, grueling process, and having the support and advice of someone who has already done it can be very valuable. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

write master thesis

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Write a Thesis Statement

  • ↑ https://umb.libguides.com/PrimarySources/secondary
  • ↑ https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/in-text-citation-styles/
  • ↑ https://www.unk.edu/academics/gradstudies/admissions/grad-files/Grad%20Files/ThesisGdlnsFinal08.pdf
  • ↑ https://u.osu.edu/hackingthethesis/managing-stuff/your-content/outline/
  • ↑ http://www.imm.dtu.dk/~janba/MastersThesisAdvice.pdf

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

To write a master's thesis, make it a goal to write 500 words every day, which will help you meet your deadline without having to rush at the last minute. It's also helpful if you work in 25-minute increments and take a 5-minute break in between, which will make your work sessions less overwhelming. Also, figure out a writing time that works best for you, whether it's in the morning or at night, and stick with it so you're more productive. For more help writing your master's thesis, like how to make an outline, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.

A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.

A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.

When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.

Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.

Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.  

Descriptive thesis (not arguable) 

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence) 

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim 

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim 

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis 

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
  • picture_as_pdf Thesis

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

#scribendiinc

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 .

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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.

write master 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 

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How to Write a Master's Thesis

How to Write a Master's Thesis

  • Yvonne N. Bui - San Francisco State University, USA
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See what’s new to this edition by selecting the Features tab on this page. Should you need additional information or have questions regarding the HEOA information provided for this title, including what is new to this edition, please email [email protected] . Please include your name, contact information, and the name of the title for which you would like more information. For information on the HEOA, please go to http://ed.gov/policy/highered/leg/hea08/index.html .

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“Yvonne Bui’s How to Write a Master’s Thesis should be mandatory for all thesis track master’s students.  It steers students away from the shortcuts students may be tempted to use that would be costly in the long run. The step by step intentional approach is what I like best about this book.”

“This is the best textbook about writing an M.A. thesis available in the market.” 

“This is the type of textbook that students keep and refer to after the class.”

Excellent book. Thorough, yet concise, information for students writing their Master's Thesis who may not have had a strong background in research.

Clear, Concise, easy for students to access and understand. Contains all the elements for a successful thesis.

I loved the ease of this book. It was clear without extra nonsense that would just confuse the students.

Clear, concise, easily accessible. Students find it of great value.

NEW TO THIS EDITION:             

  • Concrete instruction and guides for conceptualizing the literature review help students navigate through the most challenging topics.        
  • Step-by-step instructions and more screenshots give students the guidance they need to write the foundational chapter, along with the latest online resources and general library information.          
  • Additional coverage of single case designs and mixed methods help students gain a more comprehensive understanding of research methods.           
  • Expanded explanation of unintentional plagiarism within the ethics chapter shows students the path to successful and professional writing.       
  • Detailed information on conference presentation as a way to disseminate research , in addition to getting published, help students understand all of the tools needed to write a master’s thesis.    

KEY FEATURES:  

  • An advanced chapter organizer provides an up-front checklist of what to expect in the chapter and serves as a project planner, so that students can immediately prepare and work alongside the chapter as they begin to develop their thesis.
  • Full guidance on conducting successful literature reviews includes up-to-date information on electronic databases and Internet tools complete with numerous figures and captured screen shots from relevant web sites, electronic databases, and SPSS software, all integrated with the text.
  • Excerpts from research articles and samples from exemplary students' master's theses relate specifically to the content of each chapter and provide the reader with a real-world context.
  • Detailed explanations of the various components of the master's thesis and concrete strategies on how to conduct a literature review help students write each chapter of the master's thesis, and apply the American Psychological Association (APA) editorial style.
  • A comprehensive Resources section features "Try It!" boxes which lead students through a sample problem or writing exercise based on a piece of the thesis to reinforce prior course learning and the writing objectives at hand. Reflection/discussion questions in the same section are designed to help students work through the thesis process.

Sample Materials & Chapters

1: Overview of the Master's Degree and Thesis

3: Using the Literature to Research Your Problem

For instructors

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Doing Your Masters Dissertation

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Guide to writing your thesis/dissertation, definition of dissertation and thesis.

The dissertation or thesis is a scholarly treatise that substantiates a specific point of view as a result of original research that is conducted by students during their graduate study. At Cornell, the thesis is a requirement for the receipt of the M.A. and M.S. degrees and some professional master’s degrees. The dissertation is a requirement of the Ph.D. degree.

Formatting Requirement and Standards

The Graduate School sets the minimum format for your thesis or dissertation, while you, your special committee, and your advisor/chair decide upon the content and length. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other mechanical issues are your sole responsibility. Generally, the thesis and dissertation should conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field. The Graduate School does not monitor the thesis or dissertation for mechanics, content, or style.

“Papers Option” Dissertation or Thesis

A “papers option” is available only to students in certain fields, which are listed on the Fields Permitting the Use of Papers Option page , or by approved petition. If you choose the papers option, your dissertation or thesis is organized as a series of relatively independent chapters or papers that you have submitted or will be submitting to journals in the field. You must be the only author or the first author of the papers to be used in the dissertation. The papers-option dissertation or thesis must meet all format and submission requirements, and a singular referencing convention must be used throughout.

ProQuest Electronic Submissions

The dissertation and thesis become permanent records of your original research, and in the case of doctoral research, the Graduate School requires publication of the dissertation and abstract in its original form. All Cornell master’s theses and doctoral dissertations require an electronic submission through ProQuest, which fills orders for paper or digital copies of the thesis and dissertation and makes a digital version available online via their subscription database, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses . For master’s theses, only the abstract is available. ProQuest provides worldwide distribution of your work from the master copy. You retain control over your dissertation and are free to grant publishing rights as you see fit. The formatting requirements contained in this guide meet all ProQuest specifications.

Copies of Dissertation and Thesis

Copies of Ph.D. dissertations and master’s theses are also uploaded in PDF format to the Cornell Library Repository, eCommons . A print copy of each master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation is submitted to Cornell University Library by ProQuest.

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Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

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The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.

Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]

This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.

Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)

This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.

Creating a Roadmap (PDF)

Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.

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How to write a masters dissertation or thesis: top tips.

How to write a masters dissertation

It is completely normal to find the idea of writing a masters thesis or dissertation slightly daunting, even for students who have written one before at undergraduate level. Though, don’t feel put off by the idea. You’ll have plenty of time to complete it, and plenty of support from your supervisor and peers.

One of the main challenges that students face is putting their ideas and findings into words. Writing is a skill in itself, but with the right advice, you’ll find it much easier to get into the flow of writing your masters thesis or dissertation.

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to write a dissertation or thesis for your masters degree, with top tips to consider at each stage in the process.

1. Understand your dissertation (or thesis) topic

There are slight differences between theses and dissertations , although both require a high standard of writing skill and knowledge in your topic. They are also formatted very similarly.

At first, writing a masters thesis can feel like running a 100m race – the course feels very quick and like there is not as much time for thinking! However, you’ll usually have a summer semester dedicated to completing your dissertation – giving plenty of time and space to write a strong academic piece.

By comparison, writing a PhD thesis can feel like running a marathon, working on the same topic for 3-4 years can be laborious. But in many ways, the approach to both of these tasks is quite similar.

Before writing your masters dissertation, get to know your research topic inside out. Not only will understanding your topic help you conduct better research, it will also help you write better dissertation content.

Also consider the main purpose of your dissertation. You are writing to put forward a theory or unique research angle – so make your purpose clear in your writing.

Top writing tip: when researching your topic, look out for specific terms and writing patterns used by other academics. It is likely that there will be a lot of jargon and important themes across research papers in your chosen dissertation topic. 

2. Structure your dissertation or thesis

Writing a thesis is a unique experience and there is no general consensus on what the best way to structure it is. 

As a postgraduate student , you’ll probably decide what kind of structure suits your research project best after consultation with your supervisor. You’ll also have a chance to look at previous masters students’ theses in your university library.

To some extent, all postgraduate dissertations are unique. Though they almost always consist of chapters. The number of chapters you cover will vary depending on the research. 

A masters dissertation or thesis organised into chapters would typically look like this: 

Write down your structure and use these as headings that you’ll write for later on.

Top writing tip : ease each chapter together with a paragraph that links the end of a chapter to the start of a new chapter. For example, you could say something along the lines of “in the next section, these findings are evaluated in more detail”. This makes it easier for the reader to understand each chapter and helps your writing flow better.

3. Write up your literature review

One of the best places to start when writing your masters dissertation is with the literature review. This involves researching and evaluating existing academic literature in order to identify any gaps for your own research.

Many students prefer to write the literature review chapter first, as this is where several of the underpinning theories and concepts exist. This section helps set the stage for the rest of your dissertation, and will help inform the writing of your other dissertation chapters.

What to include in your literature review

The literature review chapter is more than just a summary of existing research, it is an evaluation of how this research has informed your own unique research.

Demonstrate how the different pieces of research fit together. Are there overlapping theories? Are there disagreements between researchers?

Highlight the gap in the research. This is key, as a dissertation is mostly about developing your own unique research. Is there an unexplored avenue of research? Has existing research failed to disprove a particular theory?

Back up your methodology. Demonstrate why your methodology is appropriate by discussing where it has been used successfully in other research.

4. Write up your research

Your research is the heart and soul of your dissertation. Conducting your actual research is a whole other topic in itself, but it’s important to consider that your research design will heavily influence the way you write your final dissertation.

For instance, a more theoretical-based research topic might encompass more writing from a philosophical perspective. Qualitative data might require a lot more evaluation and discussion than quantitative research. 

Methodology chapter

The methodology chapter is all about how you carried out your research and which specific techniques you used to gather data. You should write about broader methodological approaches (e.g. qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods), and then go into more detail about your chosen data collection strategy. 

Data collection strategies include things like interviews, questionnaires, surveys, content analyses, discourse analyses and many more.

Data analysis and findings chapters

The data analysis or findings chapter should cover what you actually discovered during your research project. It should be detailed, specific and objective (don’t worry, you’ll have time for evaluation later on in your dissertation)

Write up your findings in a way that is easy to understand. For example, if you have a lot of numerical data, this could be easier to digest in tables.

This will make it easier for you to dive into some deeper analysis in later chapters. Remember, the reader will refer back to your data analysis section to cross-reference your later evaluations against your actual findings – so presenting your data in a simple manner is beneficial.

Think about how you can segment your data into categories. For instance, it can be useful to segment interview transcripts by interviewee. 

Top writing tip : write up notes on how you might phrase a certain part of the research. This will help bring the best out of your writing. There is nothing worse than when you think of the perfect way to phrase something and then you completely forget it.

5. Discuss and evaluate

Once you’ve presented your findings, it’s time to evaluate and discuss them.

It might feel difficult to differentiate between your findings and discussion sections, because you are essentially talking about the same data. The easiest way to remember the difference is that your findings simply present the data, whereas your discussion tells the story of this data.

Your evaluation breaks the story down, explaining the key findings, what went well and what didn’t go so well.

In your discussion chapter, you’ll have chance to expand on the results from your findings section. For example, explain what certain numbers mean and draw relationships between different pieces of data.

Top writing tip: don’t be afraid to point out the shortcomings of your research. You will receive higher marks for writing objectively. For example, if you didn’t receive as many interview responses as expected, evaluate how this has impacted your research and findings. Don’t let your ego get in the way!

6. Write your introduction

Your introduction sets the scene for the rest of your masters dissertation. You might be wondering why writing an introduction isn't at the start of our step-by-step list, and that’s because many students write this chapter last.

Here’s what your introduction chapter should cover:

Problem statement

Research question

Significance of your research

This tells the reader what you’ll be researching as well as its importance. You’ll have a good idea of what to include here from your original dissertation proposal , though it’s fairly common for research to change once it gets started.

Writing or at least revisiting this section last can be really helpful, since you’ll have a more well-rounded view of what your research actually covers once it has been completed and written up.

How to write a masters dissertation

Masters dissertation writing tips

When to start writing your thesis or dissertation.

When you should start writing your masters thesis or dissertation depends on the scope of the research project and the duration of your course. In some cases, your research project may be relatively short and you may not be able to write much of your thesis before completing the project. 

But regardless of the nature of your research project and of the scope of your course, you should start writing your thesis or at least some of its sections as early as possible, and there are a number of good reasons for this:

Academic writing is about practice, not talent. The first steps of writing your dissertation will help you get into the swing of your project. Write early to help you prepare in good time.

Write things as you do them. This is a good way to keep your dissertation full of fresh ideas and ensure that you don’t forget valuable information.

The first draft is never perfect. Give yourself time to edit and improve your dissertation. It’s likely that you’ll need to make at least one or two more drafts before your final submission.

Writing early on will help you stay motivated when writing all subsequent drafts.

Thinking and writing are very connected. As you write, new ideas and concepts will come to mind. So writing early on is a great way to generate new ideas.

How to improve your writing skills

The best way of improving your dissertation or thesis writing skills is to:

 Finish the first draft of your masters thesis as early as possible and send it to your supervisor for revision. Your supervisor will correct your draft and point out any writing errors. This process will be repeated a few times which will help you recognise and correct writing mistakes yourself as time progresses.

If you are not a native English speaker, it may be useful to ask your English friends to read a part of your thesis and warn you about any recurring writing mistakes. Read our section on English language support for more advice. 

Most universities have writing centres that offer writing courses and other kinds of support for postgraduate students. Attending these courses may help you improve your writing and meet other postgraduate students with whom you will be able to discuss what constitutes a well-written thesis.

Read academic articles and search for writing resources on the internet. This will help you adopt an academic writing style, which will eventually become effortless with practice.

Keep track of your bibliography 

When studying for your masters dissertation, you will need to develop an efficient way of organising your bibliography – this will prevent you from getting lost in large piles of data that you’ll need to write your dissertation. 

The easiest way to keep the track of all the articles you have read for your research is to create a database where you can summarise each article/chapter into a few most important bullet points to help you remember their content. 

Another useful tool for doing this effectively is to learn how to use specific reference management software (RMS) such as EndNote. RMS is relatively simple to use and saves a lot of time when it comes to organising your bibliography. This may come in very handy, especially if your reference section is suspiciously missing two hours before you need to submit your dissertation! 

Avoid accidental plagiarism

Plagiarism may cost you your postgraduate degree and it is important that you consciously avoid it when writing your thesis or dissertation. 

Occasionally, postgraduate students commit plagiarism unintentionally. This can happen when sections are copy and pasted from journal articles they are citing instead of simply rephrasing them. Whenever you are presenting information from another academic source, make sure you reference the source and avoid writing the statement exactly as it is written in the original paper.

What kind of format should your thesis have?

How to write a masters dissertation

Read your university’s guidelines before you actually start writing your thesis so you don’t have to waste time changing the format further down the line. However in general, most universities will require you to use 1.5-2 line spacing, font size 12 for text, and to print your thesis on A4 paper. These formatting guidelines may not necessarily result in the most aesthetically appealing thesis, however beauty is not always practical, and a nice looking thesis can be a more tiring reading experience for your postgrad examiner .

When should I submit my thesis?

The length of time it takes to complete your MSc or MA thesis will vary from student to student. This is because people work at different speeds, projects vary in difficulty, and some projects encounter more problems than others. 

Obviously, you should submit your MSc thesis or MA thesis when it is finished! Every university will say in its regulations that it is the student who must decide when it is ready to submit. 

However, your supervisor will advise you whether your work is ready and you should take their advice on this. If your supervisor says that your work is not ready, then it is probably unwise to submit it. Usually your supervisor will read your final thesis or dissertation draft and will let you know what’s required before submitting your final draft.

Set yourself a target for completion. This will help you stay on track and avoid falling behind. You may also only have funding for the year, so it is important to ensure you submit your dissertation before the deadline – and also ensure you don’t miss out on your graduation ceremony ! 

To set your target date, work backwards from the final completion and submission date, and aim to have your final draft completed at least three months before that final date.

Don’t leave your submission until the last minute – submit your work in good time before the final deadline. Consider what else you’ll have going on around that time. Are you moving back home? Do you have a holiday? Do you have other plans?

If you need to have finished by the end of June to be able to go to a graduation ceremony in July, then you should leave a suitable amount of time for this. You can build this into your dissertation project planning at the start of your research.

It is important to remember that handing in your thesis or dissertation is not the end of your masters program . There will be a period of time of one to three months between the time you submit and your final day. Some courses may even require a viva to discuss your research project, though this is more common at PhD level . 

If you have passed, you will need to make arrangements for the thesis to be properly bound and resubmitted, which will take a week or two. You may also have minor corrections to make to the work, which could take up to a month or so. This means that you need to allow a period of at least three months between submitting your thesis and the time when your program will be completely finished. Of course, it is also possible you may be asked after the viva to do more work on your thesis and resubmit it before the examiners will agree to award the degree – so there may be an even longer time period before you have finished.

How do I submit the MA or MSc dissertation?

Most universities will have a clear procedure for submitting a masters dissertation. Some universities require your ‘intention to submit’. This notifies them that you are ready to submit and allows the university to appoint an external examiner.

This normally has to be completed at least three months before the date on which you think you will be ready to submit.

When your MA or MSc dissertation is ready, you will have to print several copies and have them bound. The number of copies varies between universities, but the university usually requires three – one for each of the examiners and one for your supervisor.

However, you will need one more copy – for yourself! These copies must be softbound, not hardbound. The theses you see on the library shelves will be bound in an impressive hardback cover, but you can only get your work bound like this once you have passed. 

You should submit your dissertation or thesis for examination in soft paper or card covers, and your university will give you detailed guidance on how it should be bound. They will also recommend places where you can get the work done.

The next stage is to hand in your work, in the way and to the place that is indicated in your university’s regulations. All you can do then is sit and wait for the examination – but submitting your thesis is often a time of great relief and celebration!

Some universities only require a digital submission, where you upload your dissertation as a file through their online submission system.

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What Is a Master’s Thesis & How to Write It: Best Tips

It’s longer than your Bachelor’s thesis. It’s more stressful. It’s more important. And you have no clue how to write it. We understand that a lot comes with the responsibility of creating a Master’s thesis from scratch. But no need to stress out; you can get all the help you need here!

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

Here is a complete guide on one of the most important pieces of paper in your life (or not…). It includes detailed instructions about every step of the writing process so that you don’t miss anything! Just think about it, you only need to spend ten minutes reading this article by Custom-Writing.org experts, and it can save you hundreds of precious brain nerves.

  • 🔤 General Information
  • 🤯 Starting Your Work
  • 📑 Outlining a Thesis
  • 🤓 Organizing the Process
  • ✍️ Writing Your Thesis
  • 🏁 Final Advice
  • 🔗 References

🔤 Master’s Thesis: General Information

What is a master’s thesis.

A Master’s thesis is the last paper you need to submit before you get your degree. In order to pass, it needs to demonstrate your skills in a specific field.

A Master’s thesis is the last paper you need to submit before you get your degree.

You should include all the results of your original research in your Master’s thesis. The main focus of the thesis goes to the thesis question and the answer.

How Long Is a Master’s Thesis?

The requirements usually vary from university to university. Moreover, it depends on the topic and methodology you chose. However, on average, a Master’s thesis should be around 50-90 pages. If you have any doubts, check the requirements you received or ask your supervisor to help. In any case, it’s a massive task, so don’t wait until the deadline!

Do All Master’s Programs Require a Thesis?

Some practical Master’s programs, such as those that require more application, don’t necessarily need a thesis. However, you might still receive a chance to choose whether to write it or not. Instead of the thesis, you can be asked to participate in an internship or do some project. Usually, at least one kind of work is mandatory.

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🤯 Starting Your Master’s Thesis

Here are four useful tips on thesis writing that will prepare you for the process.

Master’s Thesis Title: Bad & Better Examples

Bad examples, better example, master’s thesis topics.

  • Explore the connection between the globalization of markets and financial stability.  
  • Describe and analyze the most widespread Ponzi schemes and the ways to prevent them.  
  • Study the problem of climate change in environmentally vulnerable countries and how to mitigate it.  
  • Write a master’s thesis on the use of grid technology for the development of an electronic supply chain.  
  • Analyze the different situational theories of leadership and their application in healthcare settings. 
  • Explore the impact of personal income tax increase on personal savings and work effort.  
  • Examine the impact of a diversified investment portfolio on profitability. 
  • Write a master’s thesis on investment in the oil and gas sector. 
  • Study the effectiveness of policies that address childhood obesity .  
  • Compare the effect of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in treating patients with mild depression.  
  • Master’s thesis on the nature of international credit and its role in modern economies.  
  • Write a comparative study of the Eurozone and Switzerland banking systems structure and differences. 
  • Analyze the efficacy of contemporary international organizations’ cooperation in resolving global environmental crises .  
  • Compare the benefits and threats of deforestation to the global ecosystem.  
  • Examine the traffic situation and safety concerns in Saudi Arabia . 
  • Examine whether a global economy is a basis for business expansion or a possible global crisis.  
  • Write a master’s thesis on the impact of organizational policies on decision-making. 
  • Explore the influence of corporate mergers and acquisitions on the effectiveness of employees’ performance.   
  • Analyze the driving force for changes in special education . 
  • Discuss the efficacy of Mobile-Assisted Learning for studying English as a second language.  
  • Study how climate change affects the blue crab population and what can be done to mitigate the harm.  
  • Master’s thesis on the specifics and problems of disaster management in nonprofit organizations .  
  • Examine how the level of emotional intelligence influences the leadership style.  
  • Write a master’s thesis on the connection between asthma and smoking among immigrants .  
  • Describe the impact of learners’ isolation in distance education on students’ performance. 
  • Explore how teachers and principals can deal with bullying at school effectively.  
  • Analyze the use of further virtual technology development for the medical field.  
  • Master’s thesis on the socialization of people with disabilities in the workplace .  
  • Study the effect of technology use in nursing practice on patients’ care quality.  
  • Examine whether reading interventions are necessary for children’s cognitive development.  
  • Evaluate the benefits and problems of wind energy projects.  
  • Write a master’s thesis on the positive and negative impact of mass media-raised issues on society.  
  • Explore how different forms of art describe the theme of religion in society.  
  • Study the effects of bilingualism on cognitive development .  
  • Examine the issues of real estate fund management. 
  • Analyze the changes in the labor market due to digital technology development.  
  • Study the concept of empowerment according to interpersonal theory and its role in healthcare practices.  
  • Research the benefits and threats of furniture business investment in the United States.  
  • Examine how the use of artificial intelligence changed modern economics.  
  • Describe the role of environmental and cultural circumstances on the linguistic development of children.  
  • Research and compare the EU and the US tax treaty networks.  
  • Explore the housing policies in California and their impact on the homelessness problem.  
  • Analyze the role of computers in primary school education. 
  • Evaluate the factors that influence actual and potential economic growth and its threats to the environment.  
  • Examine the role of digital Earth services and tools in studying the global warming issue.  
  • Write a master’s thesis on the connection between the choice of rhetorical tools in American literature and American social issues.  
  • Study how the pragmatic theory of truth is represented in different religions.  
  • Analyze the role of cultural diversity issues in therapists’ practice.  
  • Study the tax effects on stock price behavior around dividend dates. 
  • Examine the scope of unequal opportunity of urban youth issue and its impact on the American unemployment crisis.  

📑 Outlining a Master’s Thesis

Let’s go through the process of creating an outline for your Master’s thesis step by step.

A Master's thesis outline consists of: title page, signature page, abstract, TOC, introduction, body, conclusion, & references.

🤓 Organizing the Writing Process

  • Schedule your writing process . Do that on a week-to-week basis. Breaking this huge assignment into small manageable tasks is a tremendous help because you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
  • Write at least something every day . Don’t put it off until you have less than one month till the deadline because it’s almost unrealistic to finish a Master’s thesis in such a short term.
  • Give yourself little breaks . Sometimes students think that the more you do per day, the better. However, it’s the opposite. If you deprive yourself of rest, your productivity falls, so schedule 10-15 minutes of break every hour!
  • Figure out what time works best for you . Try to find your most productive time, which can be morning as well as the evening.
  • Start writing an introduction . Remember that it’s okay to go back and change it throughout the writing process!
  • How can your research contribute to the field of study ? Think of this question. Then write a few sentences on what you are adding to it with your paper. Never be afraid to change anything, even if you’ve already written a lot. If it means that the text will get improved—go for it. Tools like assignment rewriter may greatly help during the process.
  • Write the main body of your thesis . The content varies depending on your department and methodology.
  • Finish with a powerful conclusion . Include some comments about further research on the topic.
  • Add all the necessary information in the appendices. They should consist of charts, graphs, and pictures.

✍️ Writing Your Master’s Thesis

Your work will consist of two fundamental parts: theory and practice, or possible practical use. This section contains writing tips for both parts of your Master’s thesis. We’ll start from the literature review and then continue with the practical section.

Master’s Thesis: Theoretical Part

Gathering information.

In a literature review, you discuss your topic based on what other authors and experts have already covered. The first thing you’ll need to do is to study the sources . How and where should you start looking for information for the theoretical part?

If you have some questions about the resources for your project, you can turn to a library for advice or help, or watch some issue-related lessons. Nowadays, using various academic search engines and websites makes your paper writing much easier than ever before.

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Here are some suggestions on online resources you can use:

You can also use Google by entering the direct form of the keyword you’re looking for. For example, search for “m-learning” along with “PDF.” With PDF placed next to your word, there will mostly pop-up articles.

You can change the keywords you’re looking for to get more results: m-learning, mobile learning, mobile devices in education, etc. Every result, reference, or page you discover can take you to loads of other sources via the included links or their own reference lists.

You should avoid adding to your reference list the authors of Master’s theses and term papers whatever University they are representing: they are usually not experts.

Going to offline libraries is another option for any student.

Get an originally-written paper according to your instructions!

Writing Your Review

After you’ve studied the sources and made some notes, it’s time to connect them into a coherent narrative. The development between subsections should be logical, i.e., it should consist of the evolution from general to specific, defining principal concepts that could appear.

In the example about learning with mobile devices’ help, you could present the following subsections in a hypothetical framework:

  • The concept of mobile learning
  • History of mobile learning
  • Features of mobile learning
  • Advantages and disadvantages of m-learning
  • Mobile learning in the USA/Spain
  • Mobile learning during the … stage
  • M-learning in the class of …

Master’s Thesis: Practical Part

The theoretical part is followed by a practical part of the work or a possible application suggestion. Though this section is to be an original, one the starting point of it is your literature review. Your suggestion or practical part doesn’t appear out of the blue. You have to base it on that previous study of the literature that you have done.

Let’s imagine you are studying the use of mobile devices in the classroom . Then, while preparing your literature review, you’ll find studies and experts discussing these issues:

  • How to introduce mobile devices in the classroom?
  • How to avoid problems that could potentially arise?
  • What kind of use of mobile devices could be interesting for students?

When you come to the practical part, you can specify your suggestion about the way to use

mobile devices in a classroom or about a specific application that can be utilized, basing your proposition on a theory included in this part of your project.

🏁 Final Recommendations

To summarize, we have simply provided you with general tips. However, you should follow the advice and guidelines that your instructor/tutor/professor provides you.

In any case, make sure to:

  • Communicate with your tutor/instructor throughout the entire writing process
  • React to their messages
  • Trust your tutor/instructor
  • Ask anything that’s unclear to you
  • Get acquainted with all the proposed information
  • Assist all the scheduled classes
  • Correct your mistakes across all your paper
  • Stay consistent in formatting
  • Organize your time
  • Stay constant
  • Watch your writing
  • Avoid plagiarism
  • Avoid other studies affecting your research: your experience should be personal, different, and unique

It’s clear that most of you work, have family, other classes that need your attention, and many other commitments. But you have to be proud that you’ve come to where you are now. Writing a Master’s thesis is your last effort.

So keep up your spirits!

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  • Thesis/Dissertation Submission – Graduate School Website, USC
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Effective Academic Writing: Resources & Rules

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How to Write a Master's Thesis Proposal

How to Write a Master's Thesis Proposal

How to write a master’s thesis proposal is one of the most-asked questions by graduate students. A master's thesis proposal involves a copious amount of data collection, particular presentation ethics, and most importantly, it will become the roadmap to your full thesis. Remember, you must convince your committee that your idea is strong and unique, and that you have done enough legwork to begin with the first few drafts of your final thesis. Your proposal should serve as a foundational blueprint on which you will later build your entire project. To have the perfect thesis proposal, you need to have original ideas, solid information, and proper presentation. While it is a good idea to take assistance from thesis writing services , you still need to personally understand the elements that contribute to a master’s thesis proposal worthy of approval. In this blog, we will discuss the process of writing your master’s thesis proposal and give you tips for making your proposal strong. Stay tuned!

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Article Contents 8 min read

How to decide the goals for your master's thesis.

If you are pursuing a master’s or a PhD , you will be undertaking a major research paper or a thesis. Thus, writing a thesis proposal becomes inevitable. Your major objective for pursuing a master’s degree is to improve your knowledge in your field of study. When you start your degree, you delve deeper into different concepts in your discipline and try to search for answers to all kinds of questions. If you come across a question that no one can answer, you can select that question as your research thesis topic.

A master's thesis proposal will have multiple sections depending on your decided layout. These sections will continuously support your argument and try to convince the reader of your core argument. The structure will also help you arrange the various parts of the paper to have a greater impact on the readers. A paper should always begin with you giving a brief summary of the topic and how you have come across it. The introduction is particularly important because it will give the readers a brief idea about the topic of discussion and win their interest in the matter.

After the summary has been given, slowly you need to progress into the body of the thesis proposal which would explain your argument, research methodology, literary texts that have a relation to the topic, and the conclusion of your study. It would be similar to an essay or a literary review consisting of 3 or 4 parts. The bibliography will be placed at the end of the paper so that people can cross-check your sources.

Let's take a look at the sections most master's thesis proposals should cover. Please note that each university has its own guidelines for how to structure and what to include in a master’s thesis proposal. The outline we provide below is general, so please make sure to follow the exact guidelines provided by your school:

Restate your primary argument and give us a glimpse of what you will include in the main master\u2019s thesis. Leave the reader wanting more. Your research proposal should talk about what research chapters you are trying to undertake in your final thesis. You can also mention the proposed time in which you will complete these chapters.  ","label":"Conclusion and proposed chapters","title":"Conclusion and proposed chapters"}]" code="tab1" template="BlogArticle">

A thesis proposal needs to be convincing enough to get approval. If the information is not enough to satisfy the evaluation committee, it would require revision. Hence, you need to select and follow the right methodology to make your argument convincing. When a research proposal is presented, the reader will determine the validity of your argument by judging the strength of your evidence and conclusions. Therefore, even writige:ng a proposal will require extensive research on your part. You should start writing your thesis proposal by working through the following steps.

Interested in a summary of the points covered below? Check out this infographic:

Exploring your topic in detail

You need to delve deeper into your chosen topic to see if your idea is original. In the process of this exploration, you will find tons of materials that will be supportive of your argument. When choosing your research topic and the problem you want to explore, you should always consider your primary research interest (yes, the one which you had mentioned in your research interest statement during grad school applications) for a better master’s thesis. You have a high probability of performing better in an area that you have always liked as compared to any other research area or topic.

Reviewing the literature

You have to include all the sources from where you have formed your argument and mention them in the thesis proposal. If you neglect to mention important source texts, the reader may consider it to be plagiarism. Furthermore, you want to keep track of all your research because it will be easier to provide references if you know the exact source of each piece of information.

Finding opposing arguments for your study

You should also mention any texts that would counter your argument and try to disprove their claims in the thesis. Make sure to use evidence if you try to disprove the counterarguments you face.

Emphasizing the importance of your research

At the end of the thesis proposal, you need to convince the reader why your proposal is important to your chosen field of study, which would ultimately help you in getting your topic approved. Thus, it is essential to outline the importance of your research thoroughly.

Drafting your proposal

After doing proper research, you should go ahead and draft your proposal. Remember you will not get it right in just one draft, it will take at least 50 attempts to come up with a satisfactory proposal. You should proofread your draft several times and even have a fellow student review it for you before sending it further to your research supervisor.

Getting your proposal evaluated by your supervisor

After you have written sufficient drafts, you need to get your proposal evaluated by your research supervisor. This is necessary to meet the graduate research requirements. It will ensure the clarity and correctness of your proposal. For your supervisor to evaluate your proposal, you should complete the research methodology part along with sufficient proposed work.

Since your supervisor will play a crucial role in your master's research thesis, you must choose a supervisor who can be your ultimate guide in writing your master's thesis. They will be your partner and support system during your study and will help you in eliminating obstacles to achieving your goal.

Choosing the ideal supervisor is a pretty daunting task. Here’s how you can go about the process:

You should approach your professor with an open mind and discuss the potential goals of your research. You should hear what they think and then if you both mutually agree, you can choose them as your supervisor for your master\u2019s thesis. "}]">

Length of a Master’s Thesis Proposal

The length of a master’s thesis proposal differs from university to university and depends on the discipline of research as well. Usually, you have to include all the above-mentioned sections, and the length is around 8 pages and can go up to 12-15 pages for subjects such as the liberal arts. Universities might also define the number of words in the guidelines for your master’s thesis proposal and you have to adhere to that word limit.

Are you debating between pursuing a Masters or a PhD? This video has details that can help you decide which is best for you:

How to Format a Research Thesis Proposal Correctly?

Now that you know how to write a thesis proposal, you must make it presentable. Although your school might give your specific instructions, you can keep in mind some of the general advice:

  • You can use some basic font like Times New Roman and keep the font size to 10 or 12 points.
  • The left margin should be 1.5 inches and all other margins should be 1 inch each.
  • You should follow double-spacing for your content.
  • The first line of paragraphs should be indented 0.5 inches and the paragraphs should be left or center aligned.

Tips to Write a Strong Master's Thesis Proposal

When you are writing your master’s thesis proposal, you should keep these tips in mind to write an excellent master’s thesis proposal with all the correct elements to get approval from the evaluating committee:

Select your research objectives wisely

You should be clear on what you wish to learn from your research. Your learning objectives should stem from your research interests. If you are unsure, refer to your grad school career goals statement to review what you wanted out of grad school in the first place. Then, choose your objectives around it.

Write a clear title

The title of your research proposal should be concise and written in a language that can be understood easily by others. The title should be able to give the reader an idea of your intended research and should be interesting.

Jot down your thoughts, arguments, and evidence

You should always start with a rough outline of your arguments because you will not miss any point in this way. Brainstorm what you want to include in the proposal and then expand those points to complete your proposal. You can decide the major headings with the help of the guidelines provided to you.

Focus on the feasibility and importance

You should consider whether your research is feasible with the available resources. Additionally, your proposal should clearly convey the significance of your research in your field.

Use simple language

Since the evaluation committee can have researchers from different subject areas, it is best to write your proposal in a simple language that is understandable by all.

Stick to the guidelines

Your university will be providing the guidelines for writing your research proposal. You should adhere to those guidelines strictly since your proposal will be primarily evaluated on the basis of those.

Have an impactful opening section

It is a no-brainer that the opening statement of your proposal should be powerful enough to grasp the attention of the readers and get them interested in your research topic. You should be able to convey your interest and enthusiasm in the introductory section.

Peer review prior to submission

Apart from working with your research supervisor, it is essential that you ask some classmates and friends to review your proposal. The comments and suggestions that they give will be valuable in helping you to make the language of your proposal clearer.

You have worked hard to get into grad school and even harder on searching your research topic. Thus, you must be careful while building your thesis proposal so that you have maximum chances of acceptance.

If you're curious how your graduate school education will differ from your undergraduate education, take a look at this video so you know what to expect:

Writing the perfect research proposal might be challenging, but keeping to the basics might make your task easier. In a nutshell, you need to be thorough in your study question. You should conduct sufficient research to gather all relevant materials required to support your argument. After collecting all data, make sure to present it systematically to give a clearer understanding and convince the evaluators to approve your proposal. Lastly, remember to submit your proposal well within the deadline set by your university. Your performance at grad school is essential, especially if you need a graduate degree to gain admission to med school and your thesis contributes to that performance. Thus, start with a suitable research problem, draft a strong proposal, and then begin with your thesis after your proposal is approved.

In your master’s thesis proposal, you should include your research topic and the problem statement being addressed in your research, along with a proposed solution. The proposal should explain the importance and limitations of your research.

The length of a master’s thesis proposal is outlined by the university in the instructions for preparing your master’s thesis proposal.

The time taken to write a master’s thesis proposal depends upon the study which you are undertaking and your discipline of research. It will take a minimum time of three months. The ideal time can be around six months. 

You should begin your master’s thesis proposal by writing an introduction to your research topic. You should state your topic clearly and provide some background. Keep notes and rough drafts of your proposal so you can always refer to them when you write the first real draft.

The basic sections that your master’s thesis proposal should cover are the problem statement, research methodology, proposed activities, importance, and the limitations of your research.

A master’s thesis proposal which clearly defines the problem in a straightforward and explains the research methodology in simple words is considered a good thesis proposal.

You can use any classic font for your master’s thesis proposal such as Times New Roman. If you are recommended a specific font in the proposal guidelines by your institution, it would be advisable to stick to that.

The ideal font size for your master’s thesis proposal will be 10 or 12 points.

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion

Published on September 6, 2022 by Tegan George and Shona McCombes. Revised on November 20, 2023.

The conclusion is the very last part of your thesis or dissertation . It should be concise and engaging, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your main findings, as well as the answer to your research question .

In it, you should:

  • Clearly state the answer to your main research question
  • Summarize and reflect on your research process
  • Make recommendations for future work on your thesis or dissertation topic
  • Show what new knowledge you have contributed to your field
  • Wrap up your thesis or dissertation

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Table of contents

Discussion vs. conclusion, how long should your conclusion be, step 1: answer your research question, step 2: summarize and reflect on your research, step 3: make future recommendations, step 4: emphasize your contributions to your field, step 5: wrap up your thesis or dissertation, full conclusion example, conclusion checklist, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about conclusion sections.

While your conclusion contains similar elements to your discussion section , they are not the same thing.

Your conclusion should be shorter and more general than your discussion. Instead of repeating literature from your literature review , discussing specific research results , or interpreting your data in detail, concentrate on making broad statements that sum up the most important insights of your research.

As a rule of thumb, your conclusion should not introduce new data, interpretations, or arguments.

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Depending on whether you are writing a thesis or dissertation, your length will vary. Generally, a conclusion should make up around 5–7% of your overall word count.

An empirical scientific study will often have a short conclusion, concisely stating the main findings and recommendations for future research. A humanities dissertation topic or systematic review , on the other hand, might require more space to conclude its analysis, tying all the previous sections together in an overall argument.

Your conclusion should begin with the main question that your thesis or dissertation aimed to address. This is your final chance to show that you’ve done what you set out to do, so make sure to formulate a clear, concise answer.

  • Don’t repeat a list of all the results that you already discussed
  • Do synthesize them into a final takeaway that the reader will remember.

An empirical thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

A case study –based thesis or dissertation conclusion may begin like this:

In the second example, the research aim is not directly restated, but rather added implicitly to the statement. To avoid repeating yourself, it is helpful to reformulate your aims and questions into an overall statement of what you did and how you did it.

Your conclusion is an opportunity to remind your reader why you took the approach you did, what you expected to find, and how well the results matched your expectations.

To avoid repetition , consider writing more reflectively here, rather than just writing a summary of each preceding section. Consider mentioning the effectiveness of your methodology , or perhaps any new questions or unexpected insights that arose in the process.

You can also mention any limitations of your research, but only if you haven’t already included these in the discussion. Don’t dwell on them at length, though—focus on the positives of your work.

  • While x limits the generalizability of the results, this approach provides new insight into y .
  • This research clearly illustrates x , but it also raises the question of y .

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You may already have made a few recommendations for future research in your discussion section, but the conclusion is a good place to elaborate and look ahead, considering the implications of your findings in both theoretical and practical terms.

  • Based on these conclusions, practitioners should consider …
  • To better understand the implications of these results, future studies could address …
  • Further research is needed to determine the causes of/effects of/relationship between …

When making recommendations for further research, be sure not to undermine your own work. Relatedly, while future studies might confirm, build on, or enrich your conclusions, they shouldn’t be required for your argument to feel complete. Your work should stand alone on its own merits.

Just as you should avoid too much self-criticism, you should also avoid exaggerating the applicability of your research. If you’re making recommendations for policy, business, or other practical implementations, it’s generally best to frame them as “shoulds” rather than “musts.” All in all, the purpose of academic research is to inform, explain, and explore—not to demand.

Make sure your reader is left with a strong impression of what your research has contributed to the state of your field.

Some strategies to achieve this include:

  • Returning to your problem statement to explain how your research helps solve the problem
  • Referring back to the literature review and showing how you have addressed a gap in knowledge
  • Discussing how your findings confirm or challenge an existing theory or assumption

Again, avoid simply repeating what you’ve already covered in the discussion in your conclusion. Instead, pick out the most important points and sum them up succinctly, situating your project in a broader context.

The end is near! Once you’ve finished writing your conclusion, it’s time to wrap up your thesis or dissertation with a few final steps:

  • It’s a good idea to write your abstract next, while the research is still fresh in your mind.
  • Next, make sure your reference list is complete and correctly formatted. To speed up the process, you can use our free APA citation generator .
  • Once you’ve added any appendices , you can create a table of contents and title page .
  • Finally, read through the whole document again to make sure your thesis is clearly written and free from language errors. You can proofread it yourself , ask a friend, or consider Scribbr’s proofreading and editing service .

Here is an example of how you can write your conclusion section. Notice how it includes everything mentioned above:

V. Conclusion

The current research aimed to identify acoustic speech characteristics which mark the beginning of an exacerbation in COPD patients.

The central questions for this research were as follows: 1. Which acoustic measures extracted from read speech differ between COPD speakers in stable condition and healthy speakers? 2. In what ways does the speech of COPD patients during an exacerbation differ from speech of COPD patients during stable periods?

All recordings were aligned using a script. Subsequently, they were manually annotated to indicate respiratory actions such as inhaling and exhaling. The recordings of 9 stable COPD patients reading aloud were then compared with the recordings of 5 healthy control subjects reading aloud. The results showed a significant effect of condition on the number of in- and exhalations per syllable, the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable, and the ratio of voiced and silence intervals. The number of in- and exhalations per syllable and the number of non-linguistic in- and exhalations per syllable were higher for COPD patients than for healthy controls, which confirmed both hypotheses.

However, the higher ratio of voiced and silence intervals for COPD patients compared to healthy controls was not in line with the hypotheses. This unpredicted result might have been caused by the different reading materials or recording procedures for both groups, or by a difference in reading skills. Moreover, there was a trend regarding the effect of condition on the number of syllables per breath group. The number of syllables per breath group was higher for healthy controls than for COPD patients, which was in line with the hypothesis. There was no effect of condition on pitch, intensity, center of gravity, pitch variability, speaking rate, or articulation rate.

This research has shown that the speech of COPD patients in exacerbation differs from the speech of COPD patients in stable condition. This might have potential for the detection of exacerbations. However, sustained vowels rarely occur in spontaneous speech. Therefore, the last two outcome measures might have greater potential for the detection of beginning exacerbations, but further research on the different outcome measures and their potential for the detection of exacerbations is needed due to the limitations of the current study.

Checklist: Conclusion

I have clearly and concisely answered the main research question .

I have summarized my overall argument or key takeaways.

I have mentioned any important limitations of the research.

I have given relevant recommendations .

I have clearly explained what my research has contributed to my field.

I have  not introduced any new data or arguments.

You've written a great conclusion! Use the other checklists to further improve your dissertation.

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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In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.

The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.

While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.

All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.

For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:

  • A restatement of your research question
  • A summary of your key arguments and/or results
  • A short discussion of the implications of your research

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

George, T. & McCombes, S. (2023, November 20). How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion. Scribbr. Retrieved March 8, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/write-conclusion/

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    A thesis could consist of an average of 70 to 100 pages, including a bibliography, citations, and various sections. It is written under the guidance of a faculty advisor and should be publishable as an article. Your master's thesis reflects the literature in your field, challenges, evidence, and arguments around your writing topics.

  12. Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

    The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.

  13. How to Write a Thesis: A Guide for Master's Students

    Tip #2: Begin Work on the Thesis Statement and Break Up the Thesis into Manageable Sections. After selecting an appropriate topic and developing a central research question for the thesis statement, it is then necessary to apply the research and writing skills you have learned throughout your degree program.

  14. How to Write a Dissertation or Masters Thesis

    Writing a masters dissertation or thesis is a sizable task. It takes a considerable amount of research, studying and writing. Usually, students need to write around 10,000 to 15,000 words. It is completely normal to find the idea of writing a masters thesis or dissertation slightly daunting, even for students who have written one before at ...

  15. PDF Guidelines for the Preparation of Your Master's Thesis

    observe all the procedures governing the preparation and submission of the thesis. The master's thesis provides the opportunity for students to acquire first-hand experience in research methods under competent direction. Writing a thesis is equivalent to six hours of credit, and must be indicated as such in the program of study.

  16. How to Write a Master′s Thesis

    "This is the best textbook about writing an M.A. thesis available in the market." -Hsin-I Liu, University of the Incarnate Word The Third Edition of How to Write a Master′s Thesis is a comprehensive manual on how to plan and write a five-chapter master's thesis, and a great resource for graduate students looking for concrete, applied guidance on how to successfully complete their master ...

  17. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    Writing a proposal or prospectus can be a challenge, but we've compiled some examples for you to get your started. Example #1: "Geographic Representations of the Planet Mars, 1867-1907" by Maria Lane. Example #2: "Individuals and the State in Late Bronze Age Greece: Messenian Perspectives on Mycenaean Society" by Dimitri Nakassis.

  18. HOW TO WRITE YOUR MASTER THESIS: THE EASY HANDBOOK

    Writing a Master's thesis is a challenging mission in higher education. This work requires in-depth research executed by motivated students. At this level students have to prove their skills ...

  19. What Is a Master's Thesis & How to Write It: Best Tips

    STEP #2 Prepare your thesis question. By now, you should be ready to write down the main question you intend to answer in your thesis, which serves as the main idea of the whole paper. However, if you find it hard to do, try to reevaluate the topic you chose, and maybe you can pick something better.

  20. How to Write a Master's Thesis Proposal

    A master's thesis proposal involves a copious amount of data collection, particular presentation ethics, and most importantly, it will become the roadmap to your full thesis. Remember, you must convince your committee that your idea is strong and unique, and that you have done enough legwork to begin with the first few drafts of your final thesis.

  21. PDF How to write a good master thesis

    Week 1: defining subject of master thesis, collect and read publications (keypapers), design writing plan (chapters, keymessages, references) Week 2: discuss and adjust writing plan, start writing Due date writing plan: Tuesday 1 September Week 3: writing Week 4: Finishing the first version Due date first version: Thursday 17 September

  22. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  23. Masters Thesis Writing Group

    Masters Thesis Writing Group Apr 2024 Mon 22 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Masters Thesis Writing Group May 2024 Mon 6 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm. Masters Thesis Writing Group Previous Events; Today Next Events; Related Stories. See all news. Method rapidly verifies that a robot will avoid collisions. Nicole McGaa: Ensuring safe travels in space ...

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    6 likes, 1 comments - fiftyafter50 on March 8, 2024: "New podcast episode! Carlene Thissen is an American singer-songwriter who is the daughter of a ge..."

  25. How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation Conclusion

    Step 1: Answer your research question. Step 2: Summarize and reflect on your research. Step 3: Make future recommendations. Step 4: Emphasize your contributions to your field. Step 5: Wrap up your thesis or dissertation. Full conclusion example. Conclusion checklist. Other interesting articles.