What is a Thesis-Based vs. Course-Based Master’s Degree?

Generally, there are two paths that an international student can take in receiving their Masters Degree.

  • One way is through a course-based program, and the other is through a thesis-based program.
  • A course-based program is basically like your undergraduate degree: you take a certain amount of courses for a certain amount of credit, and once you pass those you receive your degree.
  • A thesis-based program differs greatly from that.
  • Thesis based degrees require you take fewer courses, and one or two substantially larger and more committed courses.
  • In these courses, you perform your research and work on writing your thesis, which is typically based upon an original research topic of your choosing.

How Do You Choose?

Oftentimes, it can be difficult to choose between which types of masters program you wish to complete. Perhaps the most important factor in deciding which type of route to take is asking yourself what you wish to do after the completion of the program.

For example, if you wish to be a teacher or professor or have some sort of job that revolves around research, perhaps a thesis-based route would be best for you. On the other hand, a course-based program is usually completed faster and can sometimes give you a head start in the particular industry you wish to specialize in.

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The thesis-based path provides a number of pros and cons.

  • First off, it is considered the more ‘traditional’ path. Oftentimes, this is the path to a master’s degree offered more commonly than the course-based.
  • Completing a thesis-based program also can set you, an international student, up better to participate in a doctorate program upon completion of the masters program.
  • Also, the scope of the research you will perform in a thesis-based program is smaller than the research you would perform in a doctorate program.
  • Oftentimes, one of the biggest cons to a thesis-based program is the time it takes to complete.
  • This path typically takes significantly longer than the course-based option.
  • Also, another potential setback to thesis-based courses is that it could limit your future to research like positions and does not set one up as well for business or management decisions.
  • We strongly suggest that you perform some of your own research to see if the thesis-based route is the one for you.

One of the biggest pros of the course-based route is that it typically is completed much quicker than the alternative.

  • This works out nicely if you are trying to get your degree in a hurry or if you want to try and receive two degrees, for example.
  • Also, course-based usually works out better when you do not intend to follow it up with another degree at the doctorate level.
  • Another typically big pro about course-based work is that it tends to not narrow your prospective employment like how thesis-based can sometimes narrow employment to research based positions.
  • There are, however, some cons as well with course-based work.
  • One of them is that if you complete a course-based program and later decide that you would like to complete a degree at the doctorate level, you may have to complete and/or perform some work to show that you are ready to complete a degree at the level and so you can show your abilities to perform at that level.
  • Another setback to this path is that all the learning is done in the classroom, so it leaves out the practical learning aspect.
  • It also does not bolster your research skills as well as the thesis-based approach, and also does not prepare as well for technical specialization.

Choosing what program works best for you can oftentimes prove difficult. In addition, it can be even harder to international student loan options once you decide on a program. If you have any questions about scholarships or other options for finding funding to study in the U.S. please visit us at www.nomadcredit.com. We’d be happy to help you search and compare options for education loans or study loans, too. Please send us an email at help@nomadcredit.com if you have any questions! We are happy to help.

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