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Master's Students

Thesis or Non-Thesis Option?

Master's programs in CLAS can be either thesis plan or non-thesis plan, and many allow students the option to choose. So when should you opt for the rigors of a thesis?

Understanding What's Required

The Master's Thesis

  1. requires rigorous literature survey of existing research in the topic chosen;
  2. generates new knowledge, or improves significantly on existing techniques;
  3. requires students to take a minimum of 3 credits of thesis course work, with a maximum of 6 credits allowed to count toward the master's degree;
  4. includes a thesis document that follows the rigorous format set by the UCD Graduate School;
  5. culminates with an exam, also referred to as a thesis defense;
  6. may or may not exempt the student from a comprehensive examination (this depends on the degree program).

When Research is In Your Future

Generally speaking, students are advised to pursue a thesis if they plan to pursue a doctoral degree. That's because many Ph.D. programs use research as one criterion for admission. The experience of a thesis should also help you in the dissertation process.

It is also typically advisable to pursue a thesis in disciplines where non-academic careers involve research -- such as anthropology and chemistry.

If you are unsure after a course or two in your degree program, schedule a time with your faculty advisor to explore the potential return on your thesis investment.