Environmental and Earth Sciences

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON

Thesis and Dissertation Research - FAQ

What is a Master‘s thesis and what’s the advantage of doing one, versus a non-thesis program?

The Master‘s thesis is a document reporting an original research project, conducted under the supervision of a faculty member (the major professor). Completing a thesis provides for specialist training in the research area and demonstrates to others that you can complete an independent and original research project. This can be an advantage with some employers, or if you should decide to apply to a doctoral program. On the other hand, the time required for research and writing usually means that it takes longer to complete a thesis Master‘s program than a non-thesis program. And there is less opportunity to develop a broad background of coursework across different areas.

What is a doctoral dissertation?

The dissertation is a document reporting an original research project, conducted under the supervision of a faculty member (the major professor). It is longer than a Master‘s thesis and is expected to be good enough to be published in the scientific literature.

If I want to do a Master‘s thesis or a doctoral dissertation, how do I pick a research area and a major professor?

You should think about what areas of environmental science most interest you, and read some of the research in that area to see what people are doing. You should also look at the research interests of the program‘s faculty, available at http://www.uta.edu/ese/faculty.htm. This page provides links to research profiles of the faculty, and publication lists. If someone’s research sounds interesting, you can obtain and read some of their publications. You can also e-mail or call them, telling them that you’re interested in graduate studies and in doing research with them. Ask about what they and their current graduate students are doing. Make a visit to their lab if it can be arranged. Doing some of this prior to applying for admission will usually strengthen your application. Most faculty members are always on the lookout for new students, and will act as an “advocate” for your admission if they decide you‘re a good prospect to work with them.

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