Do You Have To Write Thesis For A Masters?- Find out

According to a study carried out in 2015, about 25.4 million Americans have degrees in advanced education (McWhirter). One of the perks of having a master’s degree and higher, salary benefits, is advancements in higher and overall a wider range of job opportunities. Let’s find out, Do You Have To Write Thesis For A Masters?

Do You Have To Write Thesis For A Masters

This is why a lot of students have been seen to opt for a master’s degree. However in choosing a program, one of the important factors to consider is; a course or project-based master’s or a thesis-based one.

In attempting to answer the question above, the answer depends on several factors. 

one’s career path

The first factor to consider in deciding on whether or not writing a thesis is mandatory is; one’s career path. If your career is based on carrying out research a lot and writing reports, then one might have to consider opting for a thesis-based program.

This is because writing a thesis will show employers and future employers that you have the necessary research skills to succeed in the field. It also shows that you have amassed some knowledge in the particular area your thesis is based. However, if your career field does not require research or writing, then opting for a course or project-based master’s program might be preferable.

academic progression

The second factor to consider is academic progression. A student who hopes to pursue a Ph.D. sometime in the future has a better chance with the admission panels as spots for Ph.D. applicants are almost always limited. Showing that you wrote a thesis during your master’s program gives more advantages. Not to mention the process is a bit easier.

strengths and weaknesses

The third factor to consider is its strengths and weaknesses. Writing a thesis is no small feat. It requires careful research, writing skills, careful planning, and a whole lot more. If writing might not be one of your strengths then opting out of a thesis-based master’s program might be preferable.

In general, the decision to write a thesis rests solely on the individual. Fields like nursing, and business may not require a thesis however if one wishes to go into academics and research-heavy career paths then writing a thesis should be highly considered.

What Is A Thesis?

A thesis is an original piece of writing that allows a student to choose a topic of interest often related to the program being offered. It allows the student to carry out a lot of research on the said topic and produce the knowledge that has been gained in writing. Depending on the subject matter of the thesis, it may require carrying out interviews, carrying out surveys to buttress points raised in the writing.

A thesis is usually written during the last semester of the degree program. They usually range between 50-80 pages. Because of how overwhelming of a task writing a thesis might be, a supervisor is usually required. The job of this supervisor entails providing guidance, and offering advice from selecting a topic to how the thesis is structured. 

At the end of writing the thesis, the student is expected to carry out what is called thesis defense. This involves speaking on the work done on the thesis; explaining their work to a group of professors in a similar field. In turn, these professors pose questions to the student based on the defense and this shows the student’s skills, their mastery of the subject matter as well as their speaking skills.

Because a thesis should be of publishable quality, quality work should be put into writing the thesis. From choosing a relevant topic to how the document is structured. At the end of the defense, the student may decide to publish said thesis to gain accreditation in their chosen field.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Writing A Thesis?

Contrary to popular belief, writing a thesis is not mandatory for completing a master’s program. It does however have its advantages and disadvantages. Some of which may include;

  • When you decide to write a thesis for a master’s degree, it prepares you for the next level of research if you decide to go on for a Ph.D. degree. It also gives a head start for your future research topic if you do decide to build up on the thesis already written. It also gives a special advantage when it comes to the admissions panel as securing spots for pursuing a Ph.D. degree is quite competitive as well as limited.
  • Writing a thesis teaches several skills that can be transferred to everyday life. It teaches research skills that will be very helpful if you decide to follow the career path of a heavy research field. It also teaches writing skills. A lot can be deciphered from a piece of writing put together by a person. How the thesis is structured and delivered in writing can be improved when you decide to write a thesis during the master’s program.
  • It also improves one’s ability to be flexible. In writing a thesis, sourcing information, and carrying out interviews and surveys may be necessary. However, there may be situations when some data sources might fall flat and you are forced to re-think as well as re-strategize.
  • When writing a thesis it is important to know how to be authoritative to get your point across. It is important to know how to be fluent in writing to be understood and not misconstrued. Your communication skills which you apply in writing your thesis will be very useful in whatever career path you decide to follow
  • During the thesis defense, it is important to be able to speak fluently and confidently in front of professors and peers when defending and answering the questions posed based. Writing and defending your thesis will improve your speaking ability as well as boost your confidence when speaking to an audience.
  • A thesis paper is required to be of publishable quality. A thesis is an original piece of writing which contains a well-calculated view on a topic after several research, interview, and surveys and as such it could be published which is a recognition that may boost your CV whether or not you decide to follow an academic path. On the other hand, writing a thesis during a master’s program may have some disadvantages. 
  • Writing a thesis can sometimes be a herculean task. It requires a lot of research and attention to detail. You may get exhausted and out of focus which may result in deterioration in the quality of writing which will unavoidably lead to having a weak thesis.
  • It could lead to stagnated ideas. You could have close-minded ideas since a thesis is written solely by an individual and there is only so much a supervisor could assist with. Not having someone to give relevant insight on the subject matter or someone to bounce ideas off of could result in repeated mistakes in writing and a one-sided dissertation.
  • A thesis is usually written towards the end of the semester but early planning is required to have a substantial paper. However, students may sometimes become complacent and keep procrastinating because of the false thinking that they still have a lot of time ahead to begin working on the thesis. What this results in is rushed research, and rushed writing which will inevitably provide a mediocre thesis paper.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Non- based Thesis?

  • Embarking on a non-thesis-based master’s program could afford you the time to go after more learning opportunities like internships. Instead of worrying about carrying out research for a thesis and bothering about methodology and thesis statements and the like of it, you can have more time to experience what it is like to work in your field through internships.
  • You also have time to experience what it is like to receive lectures in a different country for a semester.
  • It also gives you the chance to network. Networking is important in one’s career and doing a non-thesis-based master’s program may afford you networking opportunities to connect with like-minded people in your field of study which will be very beneficial to your career. 
  • Depending on the program of study, having practical experience might be more beneficial than carrying out a research project.

Masters Programs that are Thesis based and Non-Thesis based.

Thesis-based Master’s ProgramNon-Thesis based Master’s Program
MSc in Plant SciencesMaster in Public Health
MSc in Molecular BioengineeringLLM in International law and Human Rights
Hydrology MScMedia Design MA
MA in Nonprofit Management & leadershipMS in Chemistry
Master of Information TechnologyEcology and Evolutionary Biology MA
Master of EducationElectrical Engineering MS
Economics MALLM in Public Law


A thesis is without a doubt a very significant part of a master’s program. However, it is also important to realize that a thesis-based master’s and non-thesis-based master’s both end with the same degree so it will be beneficial to know the extent to which writing a thesis will be relevant to you in several aspects. 

It is important to not rush the decision-making process to come to the conclusion that will best serve you.

Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Is a thesis always required for a master’s program?

No. a thesis is not always required when you want to pursue a master’s program. When deciding as to wharam you want to undertake for your master’s, it is important to select options that are tailored to give you the best result you desire. For instance, if you plan to pursue a Ph.D. program in the future, it might be beneficial to choose a thesis-based program for your master’s as you would reap the benefits much later.

  1. How do I make the best-informed decision when deciding on a master’s program?

When deciding on what master’s program to pursue, you may want to carry out research online to find the program that best suits you. You may also want to speak to academic counselors to also guide your research as well as speak to people who have pursued similar degrees to the ones you may be considering.