How Do You Structure a Thesis?


Many graduate students are lost when it comes time to start writing their thesis. As a master’s level student, you may choose to take a comprehensive exam, complete a project, and/or write a thesis after you complete your coursework, depending upon your program’s requirements. If you choose to write a thesis, you may be confused about how to get started, or even about what you are required to do. It may be helpful for you to look over a thesis written recently by another student in your program. This can give you an idea of what the requirements are and how you may want to proceed. The guidelines of the graduate school regarding the format of the thesis can also be helpful, as can your thesis committee and recent graduates of your program.

The structure of the thesis varies from one field to another and from one institute to another, but typically the thesis begins with an introduction. Some students find that it is easier to write the introduction after the thesis is written and they know what the total research project entails, while others may start writing the introduction earlier in order to have an idea of the direction of the project. A literature review, or a summary of previous research on the thesis topic, is generally required. The thesis also often includes a discussion of the research methodology, or a description of the statistical methods and approach as well as the data and/or sample used. The thesis also includes the results of the research study, which is viewed by some as the most important part of the thesis since its purpose is to contribute to the literature. Your thesis is also likely to have a chapter focused on the conclusions and implications of the research. The graduate school at your university probably has specific requirements regarding the format of the document, table of contents, list of figures, and so on, so it is important to view their documentation prior to submitting your thesis.

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