What is a Thesis?

During an education, you’re likely to see the term “thesis” used in a variety of ways. However, while it is a central statement that guides the direction of an explicatory essay, it’s also a central principal around which higher education is formed. Below, we’ll explore the nature of what this means for students, and discuss the value of working with a common theme.

Weaving a Coherent Cloth

For a moment, let’s run with the concept of higher education as a piece of fabric. It’s crafted from many different threads, especially in the US, where lower division requirements ensure every student receives instruction in basic subjects such as English, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Social Sciences, and History. No matter what your major, during an undergraduate degree for which a senior project is required, every student will study a variety of subjects, but the senior project and upper division coursework will be the warp and weft of that fabric. They are the stout, central threads—the dominant themes that run throughout the cloth which give it structure and stability.

The senior coursework and central theme of an undergraduate education will allow any student to make use of these diverse fields in order to craft a finished product. You will have something to show for your years at the university, and also prove that you are capable of inductive, critical reasoning—seeing how ideas come together and using the conceptual tools with which your studies have provided you.

Beyond Undergraduate Work

However, many are electing to pursue further studies in the forms of terminal master’s degrees and PhD programs. For these individuals the term takes on a slightly more concentrated meaning. Master’s coursework forms the first several years of all PhD. Programs, so even those going on to craft a dissertation will have to participate in this culmination of the master’s coursework. The thesis project and paper are quite similar to a senior seminar in undergraduate terms.

Working with an advisor and a committee, you will construct a project with a central question or group of closely related questions, which will serve as the guiding core of your investigation. Although this project will differ quite a bit, depending on your field and the requirements of your program, the purpose of it will not. You will conduct a major project or study and craft a substantial paper that explains, explores, and attempts to answer the questions you established at the outset of the endeavor.

After review and revision with guidance from your committee is completed, you’ll generally be expected to present your conclusions before your committee. The resulting assessment will determine whether or not you graduate from the master’s portion of your education. While this can be a challenging experience, it can also be extraordinarily rewarding. You’ve now posed questions, to which you’ve derived answers based on the many seminars you must complete, crafted a presentation, a coherent narrative explaining the process, and presented your findings before a board of experts. If you can do that, you can do anything.

It is important to know that you can review the requirements for a graduate degree before entering the program. Universities and Institutes will almost always clearly outline what they expect of prospective students, which includes the requirements for this portion. If a program that doesn’t require a thesis project has the features you want from your higher education, explore it as a possibility, because this is your future, your money, and your journey.