[FoRK] Re: master's thesis or master's project

Jim Whitehead ejw
Mon Sep 19 09:33:28 PDT 2005

In general I tend to recommend that my students perform a Master's  
project, rather than a Master's thesis, even if they are going on to  
a PhD.

There are many prestigious schools that do not require a MS thesis,  
so just claiming a MS on a vita is ambiguous -- it might mean a  
thesis, it might not. Let that ambiguity work in your advantage.

Generally a MS thesis has a higher threshold of novelty and  
thoroughness, but these come at high time cost. If you want a MS for  
career advancement, the time vs benefit tradeoff is not that great  
for a thesis vs project (lots more time, incremental advantage).

A MS thesis could be a plus if you're applying for a job in a  
research-oriented environment, where the thesis will be considered  
evidence of having been socialized in the ways of doing research. For  
most industrial R&D situations, my guess is knowing how to code a  
linked list during the interview will be considered more valuable  
than the thesis vs project distinction.

Finally, like your BS GPA, the project vs thesis distinction will be  
pretty moot after a few years.

The big difference is BS vs MS, not MS thesis vs MS project.

- Jim

On Sep 19, 2005, at 5:29 AM, Corinna wrote:

> What about the prestige angle?  Does anybody besides academics care  
> about
> that? Say I want to work for Amazon (data mining or some such).  
> Would they
> care if I had done a theses or not?
> -Corinna
> "Stephen D. Williams" <sdw at lig.net> wrote in message
> news:432C5499.1090208 at lig.net...
>> If you aren't interested in that kind of research, thinking, and  
>> writing
>> right now and you want more experience, then do the projects.
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