Thesis Topic

Updated: Nov 9, 2016

A thesis topic must spring from your own energies and interests. The first step toward defining a thesis topic, then, is to determine your primary areas of interest. The role of self-examination in this process is critical. Finding a thesis topic within an area of interest is more difficult. A topic is best formulated as a question. But the questions cannot be too broad, for a topic must have focus. Nor can it be too narrow since the goal of a good thesis is to express thoughts of general importance through detailed analysis of a specific case or cases.

A thesis topic must spring from your own energies and interests. The first step toward defining a thesis topic, then, is to determine your primary areas of interest. The role of self-examination in this process is critical.

Finding a thesis topic within an area of interest is more difficult. A topic is best formulated as a question. But the questions cannot be too broad, for a topic must have focus. Nor can it be too narrow since the goal of a good thesis is to express thoughts of general importance through detailed analysis of a specific case or cases.


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Generally speaking, a good thesis topic is interesting to you, to your advisor, and to the research community. As with many aspects of graduate school, the balance you find will depend at least in part on the relationship you have with your advisor. Some professors have well-defined long-term research programs and expect their students to contribute directly to this program. Others have much looser, but still related ongoing projects.

If you are unsure about the viability of your topic, you might look at past theses in order to find out what types of projects have been the most successful.

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