Graduate Research: Committing to a Thesis or Dissertation

WRiting-a-thesis-in-Chinese-universityThere are a lot of reasons to do a thesis or dissertation, and probably just as many not to.  In my graduate program, International and Intercultural Communication, students have the option to complete a thesis or an internship. Here are a few reasons you might consider writing a thesis.
  1. You plan to do a doctorate or another master’s degree and original research will improve your application.
  2. You’d like to work as a researcher or writer in public policy, grants administration, tech or many other industries.
  3. You already work part- to full-time and squeezing in an internship just isn’t feasible.
  4. You are passionate or at least very, very interested in some question, problem or issue and you can see yourself committing a lot of time to studying it.
  5. You are organized, self-motivated and can create structure for yourself.
When I selected to do a thesis, numbers one and three were the driving factors. Over time I realized that I could also work as an editor, writer or researcher in other industries. It’s good to be realistic about how you can use graduate research, particularly a Ph.D. since traditional tenure-track jobs are very competitive. Versatile Ph.D. is a great resource to use if you are exploring careers outside of academia. Through the thesis process, I also developed the ability to structure my time toward a single goal which, at the outset, may seem gargantuan. As for passion and interest, these are essential to both getting started and finishing the thesis.
Once you’re committed, you will be looking at this material from hundreds of angles for at least one to two years – even longer if you continue onto a Ph.D. So, make sure you really care about this topic, that you get excited discussing it and it gives you that “spark”. If you ever find yourself rambling a bit and noticing that others aren’t’ nearly as excited or interested in the topic as you are then 1) you are pretty into it – that’s a good sign and 2) work on your research elevator pitch and be able to explain your project in 30 seconds or less (don’t want to hog that elevator conversation time).

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