What is a Thesis for a Master's Degree?

The thesis is essentially a very long, academic and professional essay. It's very similar to other writing projects like essays, research papers and term papers that you've done before in college or university, but on a much larger scope and much more importance and significance placed upon it. Think of it as one huge paper that your whole grade is riding on, because essentially that's what it is. Where it's for a master's, PhD or doctorate dissertation, the methods are pretty much the same. The biggest difference between a thesis and an essay is that you'll have chapters in your thesis, like a book. It will also be around the length and word count of a hardcover too.

Start by thinking of everything relating to or about your topic. Make a chart where you write your topic in the middle of the page and circle it. Then draw lines outward and draw more bubbles or circles with related ideas and subtopics in them. Keep going until you run out of ideas or paper, whichever comes first. Once you're done, take all of these other ideas and order them. Either do a linear, date-based order or chronological order, or put them in the order that you learned about them in class, so that one concept builds on previous ones. Whatever way you choose to distribute them, it needs to make sense in relation to your topic. If you aren't sure, talk to your advisor (that's what he's there for, after all) and your friends and family. Lay out your subtopics and ideas as a sort of table of contents without page numbers for your thesis and get some second opinions.

Once your chapters are outlined, it's time to fill them in. Take each one and make another chart like the first once you did. This time, narrow your scope of subtopics to just that chapter heading and stick to that approximate range. See if you can write a summary for the things you want to talk about for each one, and then expand on that. Once you add in your research, quotes and references to the appropriate places, and take your summaries into prose form, you've got your first draft. If it isn't quite long enough or too long, you can fix that in the editing stage. As well, if there's anything a little out of order, you can fix that now too.