I'm a doctoral student (in a fully funded applied statistics program) opting for the terminal master's degree with thesis due to personal reasons and the lack of fit in the program. However, I'm unsure whether it is better to write the master's thesis (option #1) or to take the master's degree without a thesis (option #2) - which option best puts me in a position for industry and the possibility of reapplying to a PhD program (in a different field) in a couple years.

  • You may want to add in your field. For mine (languages), a writing sample is asked for normally when applying to a PhD and a section from a masters thesis is inevitably going to be far more polished than a term paper. – user0721090601 Feb 11 '16 at 22:48
  • @guifa are you talking about the field im currently in or the field I hope to get into? If it's the former, then I already stated that it's in applied statistics, but if it's the latter, I'm still deliberating (probably something very quantitative/computation and in either neuroscience or physics). – user48790 Feb 11 '16 at 22:53
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    somehow I literally read right past that. I'll go put my dunce hat on and head to the corner. (But if you're looking at changing future, that would be relevant enough to add, methinks) – user0721090601 Feb 11 '16 at 22:55

Generally PhD programs require a significant amount of research. That being said, a Master's Degree with the Thesis option is a good indicator that you have applied rigorous and reviewed research methods in the past - and is therefore an example of what your future work may be.

As I was advised, "if there is any notion in your mind that you will pursue a PhD later in life - then you should take the Thesis option now."

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  • Thanks! I'm deliberating whether I need to write another master's thesis, if I already have one written. In other words, I already have a master's thesis (in a public health area) and if I write this one, a second thesis (in applied statistics). – user48790 Feb 11 '16 at 23:05
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    Ah, I see. In that case, I believe it boils down to how relevant will your second Master's Degree be to your PhD field. – Ramrod Feb 11 '16 at 23:08
  • I been thinking that a master's without thesis is probably not worth it if the skills that I learn in industry will more than be enough to make up for the lack of a [2nd] thesis. That is, I can show projects in data analytic and statistical learning that probably looks better than a thesis in an out-dated research field when I do want to go back into academia again. – user48790 Feb 23 '16 at 2:13
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    I tend to concur with that notion. If you decide to go back into Academic you will already have the 1st Master's, and a portfolio of work you've accomplished sense. You should be fine. – Ramrod Feb 23 '16 at 2:47

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