What it’s REALLY like to Write your Master’s Thesis

I think a lot of people have some sort of preconception as to what it’s like to write a thesis or conduct some big research project. Whether it resembles reality is another question. While many may never get the opportunity (or wouldn’t ever want the opportunity cause let’s face it… it ain’t fun), and while each and every experience is unique, I wanted to share with you all how my experience has been so far.

I made a video a couple weeks back but with all of the moving hoopla, I never got around to sharing it with you all on my blog. So in a not so subtle attempt at a touch of comedy, this video will hopefully shed some light on my experience writing my thesis.

I’m sure there will be a couple of common questions and so I’ll just preemptively answer them here. If you have any questions that I didn’t anticipate, let me know in the comment section and I’ll get back to you once I’m all settled in at home.

How can you write your thesis if you’re not in Frankfurt?

One of the biggest perks about the Frankfurt School, aside from the schedule that lets you work while you are studying, is the fact that they structure the thesis process so that you can write it abroad. The biggest difference from other universities is that we do not have to present or argue our thesis. Once our paper is finished, we submit it to the university and our advisors grade them basically like they would any other paper. This way, the uni isn’t making all of their very international student body come back to Frankfurt since so many of us leave during our final semester to study abroad or already have jobs.

Why are you working on it during the summer?

The thesis writing period at FS is three months and there are various start dates ranging from spring (for those who took an early block week as their final class) to summer (for those studying abroad at uni’s with semesters ending later than FS). You do not have to wait until the end of the three months in order to submit you thesis, but you are not technically allowed to begin working on the paper until your writing period has begun. This scheduling puts most FS students writing their thesis during the summer but allows for people to get it done earlier or later if they need to.

But what exactly is a Master Thesis?

There are minimum requirements for a university to meet in their accreditation process in order to offer a master degree and a thesis is one of them. Depending on a schools accreditation those minimum requirements might be different but Frankfurt School is AACSB accredited which is the main accrediting body for the United States meaning that our thesis cannot be too different from that of US universities.

At FS we are expected to write a paper that contributes to our field of research. Our suggested page count is 60 pages and our paper is submitted as a hardbound book. It’s a meaty paper and a lot of hard work. However, the thesis at Frankfurt School is really nice because the university actually stays out of most of the process. It’s more of an agreement between you and the advisor you pick.

If your advisor approves of your paper, even if it’s shorter or of limited contribution, it is still possible to pass or even get a good grade if your thesis advisor can see the value of your work. Instead of arguing your paper to a board who might not be fully immersed in your topic, you are graded by someone that you trusted to be knowledgable enough on the topic to advise you in the first place.

So it’s not a dissertation?

I actually get this question a lot; mostly from my European friends. I’m not sure if more traditional European universities use the same word for both a thesis and a dissertation or if it’s a bad Google Translate moment but the two are very different. A thesis is basically a large paper that is more than a summary or report. I have written an Honor’s Thesis before in my bachelor university and so there are even different types and intensity levels for a thesis. Overall it’s meant as a cumulating work to a study or degree.

A dissertation, to contrast, is only written in conjunction with a PhD. Some PhD programs consist entirely of a dissertation and don’t even include coursework. A dissertation is a massive undertaking and consists primarily of original research and must be found to contribute original and new knowledge to the field. Basically every dissertation has to bring something new to the table whereas a thesis can greatly examine a well know and discussed topic so long as it goes beyond the known in some sense. A dissertation takes years to write whereas a thesis takes 3 months (or less).

 


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