Thesis

The Master's Thesis website contains guidelines and requirements for completing a master's thesis within the College of Science and Engineering at University of Houston-Clear Lake. If you are considering choosing the thesis option for your degree take time to carefully read all information contained within the website. The master's thesis is a rigorous process requiring both scholarly research in your field and a mind for detail. Thesis is worth 6 hours of credit. After completing your thesis proposal in consultation with your thesis committee it is a course that you enroll in semester after semester until you finish. You may enroll in thesis 3, or 4, or more semesters in a row each time enrolling in 3 to 6 hours of thesis. However, once you are finished credit is given for only 6 hours. The following excerpt, from a discussion by Dr. Bun Yue, explains the benefits the thesis path offers to students engaged in research.

Why research?

If your future career goal is in the academic area, or in the R&D section of industry, then research is a must. Period.

Even if you want to work in industry after your graduation, research, in the form of thesis, and to a lesser degree, capstone projects and independent studies, will provide invaluable experience for you. Regular lecture-type courses do not simulate a true working environment. Assignment specifications are well defined. Their scopes are limited and they tend to be 'quick and dirty,' to be thrown away after grading.

In the real world, the higher your career level you are in, the less defined the problems (and opportunities) you will face. Frequently, high level (and high-paid) jobs are about (1) identifying problems (and thus challenges and opportunities), and (2) solving problems (through research and experimentation). Regular courses are good at equipping students with basic knowledge of the subjects. They are however relatively passive and thus do not provide training and experiment in identifying problems and researching solutions. This is where research may be very helpful.

Another big advantage of research is the opportunity to interact deeply with a faculty member on a given subject. Much can be learned through frequent and direct interaction with the supervisor, which is missing in regular courses. Many have argued that the apprentice system, where a student learns closely with the master, is one of the most effective way of learning. Thesis is closest to this system (though I do not claim to be a master in any way).

Other benefits of research, especially thesis, are:

  1. A better-looking resume
  2. The potential of publishing good technical reports
  3. Developing deep expertise in a subject. Depth is what many companies are looking for when hiring

Mostly importantly, with enough dedication, research can be fun and exciting!

If you are interested in thesis, first identify the faculty member in your area of research interests. Schedule meetings with faculty members to discuss potential thesis topics. Your most crucial decision is selecting your thesis supervisor. Your thesis supervisor helps you through the process, including preparing your thesis proposal, forming your thesis committee, defending your proposal, and completing all the paperwork involved.

The thesis usually takes two semesters to complete. Since you will need to defend your proposal before the semester, you should start working on your thesis at least two months before the semester begins. Some students take an independent study course to prepare them for the thesis proposal. In general, the earlier you plan your thesis the better. Ideally, students should start preparing for their thesis during the first semester of their graduate study.

Most highly successful people say that the key ingredient of a satisfying and prosperous career is to love what you are doing. Even if career advancement is not your number-one priority, it is difficult to imagine spending eight hours every day in work you don't truly enjoy. Many people fail to understand the need to learn to love their work; it's a sense you acquire, like learning to appreciate art. Research is a discipline that helps you cultivate such enjoyment.