Are there higher education systems in which is not required to write a thesis as a part of the evaluation within the degrees? If yes, could you point me out some of them, please?

Furthermore, are these education systems in which is not required to write down a thesis a minority in the world? (nowadays, I guess yes)

  • Could you answer quoting the countries which do not require a thesis as a part of the degree evaluation, please? This is indeed my question! Thank you, however! Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:37
  • 2
    I think that you're starting from the wrong premise: sometimes even in the same education system, different universities might have different requirements, especially at the undergraduate level. And sometimes you can choose between a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 17:00
  • @Massimo Ortolano, since you are Italian like me, could you show me some examples for which it is not required the writing up of a thesis in the Italian educational system, please? Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 17:08
  • I don't have the time to go through university websites to give you specific examples, but, yes, there are. For instance, many universities give the option to do an internship or a project and write a short report about it, something that cannot be really considered a thesis. Some universities require to pass a more comprehensive exam. Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 11:33
  • Well, as I have graduated in Italy, I can say that I don't think that what you suggest is something common - actually, it is the first time I hear it. If it is true, I have learnt something new and I thank you for this but, still, if true, it is something that happens in exceptional cases and under specific requests. Thus, I don't think your comment answers somehow to my question, which refers to education systems in which the writing up of a thesis is not contemplated at all. Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 10:32

4 Answers 4


The question is a little vague. Many graduate degrees do not require a thesis. For instance, a law degree (JD), and many business degrees (e.g. MBA) in some universities require no thesis paper.

It has been my experience as a college instructor that university departments are encouraging more writing and defending their written research.

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    To add to this, my University offers Master's Degrees in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (and potentially other areas) that have the option of not completing a thesis. The two non-thesis options are either a Problem Report, or a Coursework option. Thesis option is strongly suggested if you intend to go on to do research as a career or seek a PhD. My University is in the USA by the way.
    – Ramrod
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 21:24

Many undergraduate degrees do not require a thesis. Although which ones do and do not depend upon the school.

Many graduate degrees also do not require one. JDs, MBAs, and MDs all come to mind. Although, once again, this varies by school and by definition of a thesis. Many schools also allow their Masters students to graduate without a thesis.

Finally, all PhDs require a thesis. This will not vary.

So, the answer to your question is that it depends.

  • If you know, I would like you to indicate the countries in which thesis, as a part of the degree study, is NOT required. I have the impression that many of you speak with regard to US but it does not exist only US as education system in the world, obviously ;) Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:35
  • @Alwayslearning Actually, to the best of my understanding, this varies more by type of degree than by country. For example, a Ph.D. (or equivalent) always, everywhere requires a thesis. For medical doctors, on the other hand, I have never heard of any program that requires a thesis (unless it's a joint MD-PhD program, in which case see the prior sentence)..
    – jakebeal
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:39
  • I am speaking about undergraduate studies or master degrees. Of course, PhDs require the apprentice researcher to write down a dissertation! Thank you for your interest in answering! :) Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 16:41

My undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at UT Austin did not require a thesis in 1997. I don't know what the current status of that degree program is.

Edited to add: UT also has Master's programs which are coursework-only. In ASE, they seemed to be for PhD students who needed to get out of the program and receive some sort of degree. Other programs may be/have been different.


As a gross overgeneralization... the more a given degree program thinks of itself as preparing students for a research career, the more likely it is to demand a thesis. At the other end of the continuum are degree programs with pipelines into anywhere-but-academia, which prefer non-thesis options such as capstone projects (e.g. an MFA exhibition) or internships/practicums.

Smack in the middle, for the sake of illustration, is the field of Library and Information {Science|Studies}. Some LIS master's programs in the US identify pretty strongly with academic librarianship and/or academe generally; these are more likely to require theses. Others have dumped the master's thesis in favor of an internship/practicum: "prove you can be a real-world professional."

Still others do comprehensive(-ish) exams, which is another non-thesis option. I don't have a good sense of what kinds of programs choose master's comps; I had to do them for my master's in Spanish (and wow, they were the worst experience ever).

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