I am an international student pursuing my masters degree in computer science at a mid-low tier U.S. university. This is my second year and still I couldn't get in a research group and here usually profs. consider PhD students for research.

This program has a thesis option but it is not compulsory and it seems like professors and department is abusing this to get rid of spending time for MS students. The program is actually a taught MS, but it is disguised as a MS CS program. Some schools clearly mention that their program is not designed for research or thesis work. And still my schools web page talks about thesis work but I don't see a single student in my batch doing a thesis. Also the courses they offer are mostly advanced undergrad classes. I didn't come here to take the same classes which I did in my undergrad or I can learn from MIT OCW.

While choosing this program over others, their research focus was important for me and I was interested in doing a MS thesis. But now, I only have minor class projects which are far away from research. Probably, if I apply for a PhD my recommendation letters will not be strong as a result of this. My GPA is good, I am not a bad student but still whoever I talk with says "give some time". And time is passing.

I want to get involved with some research, what can I do outside this school ? Can I transfer to other program ? I am thinking of taking permission from school and not paying this semesters fees and applying for a transfer to a school where students really do a thesis work. If a get a masters degree from here can I find a research internship position as an international on student visa ?

  • 1
    What is preventing you from taking your program's thesis option?
    – Legendre
    Sep 16, 2012 at 21:14
  • 3
    It requires consent of a professor who will be an advisor. No professor no thesis.
    – sankhjit
    Sep 16, 2012 at 22:03
  • Have you spoken to your course director about this?
    – Legendre
    Sep 17, 2012 at 8:18
  • Is there any option to do a minor research project for a professor? I did that with the professor I thought I wanted as my Ph.D. adviser, so we both knew we could work together before I asked him to be my adviser. Dec 25, 2013 at 15:33
  • Could you elaborate on what is meant by "The program is actually a taught MS, but it is disguised as a MS CS program.", please? I assume "CS" means "computer science", but then, I do not see how a "MS CS program" is in contradiction to being a "taught MS" ... it is a "taught MS in computer science" then (and if there is no contradiction, one cannot be disguised as the other). Nov 7, 2015 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


Be proactive. Identify the professor(s) that could be your thesis adviser and keep asking for advice on how you can participate in his or her research and how he/she can officially become your adviser. You could also talk to the department chair.

In the mean time you could look into participating in some open source project, which could score some bonus points for you when applying for PhD or internship.

Another option for bonus points and priming your skills is participating in (programming) competitions that require more than just coding skills but analytical and creative thinking as well.

If all else fails, consider applying for a different school, although this may mean time lost. On the other hand, I did retake several classes while in a grad school although I already had a MSc, which was well worth the time spent, offering deeper and more research oriented perspective on the subjects.

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