Monday, November 28, 2005


Project vs. Thesis

Okay, after class this evening, Dan Fesenmaier and I were having a discussion regarding the relative merits of a project vs. a thesis, and which we should undertake as Master's candidates. I would like some comments and thoughts about this.

This is an important topic. Personally, I think that 90% or more of the time a student is best served by doing a thesis. One of the biggest advantages of doing a thesis is that it has legs. It's a well-known brand. If you tell someone you've done a master's thesis people recognize that as an accomplishment, even if they wouldn't know what a thesis was if it bit them on the butt.

There's a misperception that theses are _merely_ theoretical. That percpetion is wrong on two counts. First, a good thesis will combine both real world issues and a theoretical framework. Second, the theory part is really much of the value-added from going to graduate school. It's one thing to solve a problem. It's another to recognize that problem as a memeber of a particular family of problems that can now be successfully addressed using a particular theoretical framework.
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