• how to select thesis advisorArticle About : How to Select Thesis Advisor in Master Degree?
  • Expected Audience: Current or prospective Masters students.

I am in the second semester of my MS and I thought of sharing my lessons/experience in selecting thesis advisor, to all those who want to do a thesis based Masters degree.

First Semester

Don’t bias your mind towards thesis.

ust take as many courses as required for your VISA status and do well in them. Do a ground work on groups and professors who does research on your area of interest. You start surveying on the below points:

  • Does the professor has publications/papers in last 3-4 years? How many he/she has?
  • Does he/she have Masters students in his group?
  • How many Masters students graduated from his/her group per year (on an avg) for last 3-4 years?
  • Does he/she give funding to Masters students?
  • What are the chances of getting funding?
  • Where do students in the group/lab getting internships/jobs?
  • Does the professor refer his/her students for internships/jobs?

Try to talk to some of the Masters students in his/her group and get a first hand information about whats happening in the lab/group.

It makes sense to attend thesis defense of the students from the group, so that you get a better idea of the quality of work they do in the group.

Try to narrow down your selection to 2 or 3 professors/group.

Second Semester

Join one of the 2 or 3 groups that you have narrowed down. Don’t enroll for thesis; but be ready to give almost your best in the lab. Keep track of other groups/professor whom you were interested along with the one you chose to work in this semester.<

Towards the end of the semester, you take a call, based on all the information you have acquired till now, whether to continue in the lab or join another group.

If you have done a fairly decent work in the group, it makes all sense for me to ask for funding (GRA, RA or at least in-state tuition) from third semester onward.<

Third & (probably) Fourth semester

Since you have not registered for thesis yet, you are half done as far as your course work is concerned and thus if you feel that, research is not meant for you, continue enrolling for courses and get away with a non-thesis Masters..

Happy researching!! 🙂

Next – How to Select PhD Research Committee Members?


  1. munna on July 11, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Some people think that MS with Thesis is a must for getting admitted for Ph.D. program. But even MS with Non-Thesis students can go for Ph.D. In my opinion, students should go for Thesis only if Research Funding is available, otherwise Non-Thesis is fine.

  2. prs1991 on July 7, 2013 at 2:27 PM

    hi there !!!!! . am a newbie but can anyone explain whats the difference between a thesis and a non thesis masters program. i knw what thesis means ,its sort of like a research isnt.but the difference is its masters nt phd . i knw there is more it to .

    can anyone explain me in detail

    regards 😀

  3. Prabhakaran on July 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Very useful post. Thanks.
    But would I have any advantage if I choose to do a Masters by doing a thesis rather than a Non-thesis masters.

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