My Master’s Thesis Experience#

I knew during the fall of my senior year that I wanted a PhD.  I finalized my decisions after I started exploring schools to apply to and working on my personal statement, but I knew then that was what I wanted.  I applied directly to PhD programs.  In the progra I ended up in, when we enter without a Master’s degree we need to fulfill the MS requirements as a s subset of the PhD requirements.  We have two options, we can fulfill the MS credits as 8 courses or 6 courses and a thesis.  I want a PhD because I want to do research, I enjoy research, not because I want to take classes.  I like learning and discovering, of course, but coursework isn’t how I learn best.

I chose to write the thesis.  I also had started to feel like I was at a dead end with my research.  We had tried a lot of things and nothing gave good results.  Nothing even gave hope that a different model would work.  Everything I did said to me that we were asking the wrong type of questions from the data.  I used the MS thesis as an opportunity to write it out and get my advisers on the same page.  I also realized how disorganized I had been about research to that point.  Writing the thesis made completing the MS requirements take longer than I expected.  Two classes I could have taken last spring.  Then I could ahve completed the MS and walked in May, like I planned.  However, I think this experience has made me much more prepared for the remainder of my PhD.

I defended the MS at the end of July, with the hope that my degree would be conferred in August, but finishing up and finalizing the writing took longer than expected.  I’ve finally submitted the thesis for final signatures and all that’s left is formatting approval for the final thesis.

Now, I’ll get my MS in January 2014 instead of May 2013 as I expected when I started school, but I feel that I’m much better prepared for the rest of my PhD.  I had to put advancing my research in a lot of ways in order to complete the thesis, but I think what I learned will help make the next phase of my research go more smoothly.