I'm currently enrolled as a graduate student pursuing my masters. I'm wanting to eventually pursue a PhD, but in order to do that, I believe I need to do a thesis for my graduate degree, and for that I need a thesis adviser. What would be the best way of going about this?

There is a long list of professors, and it would take a long time to go through all of them to see what they are currently researching. I thought someone might have some experience with this and be able to offer some thoughts.

  • 1
    Please indicate more of the setting you are in, otherwise your problem description may not be well comprehensible, and suggested answers may not be helpful. To illustrate this: In the standard setting in my place, you would not just "need to do a thesis [because you want] to eventually pursue a PhD", you'd have to write a thesis to get the degree you are currently pursuing in the first place. Likewise, "finding a Thesis advisor" would simply consist of checking all the offers for open Master thesis topics posted on university employees' doors. Feb 23, 2016 at 19:56
  • Often departments will have a few specialisations that most (if not all) of the academic staff will fall under in some way. If you can find out what they are, then that's a good start. Then it's a matter of talking! Often one academic will have some idea what others are working on, so you can narrow it down quite quickly that way. Then it's just a matter of deciding what projects appeal to you the most.
    – Bamboo
    Feb 23, 2016 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


The list of professors can't be that long to just see their general research interests. This is just something you'll have to do. I've looked through all the profs at various schools with large departments and it probably took a max of 30 minutes.

But just reading about them isn't enough. If you can get your list down to 2-4 potential advisors then you can (A) ask for a meeting with each or (B) try to take a course with some of them.

If you have a general idea of what you want to study, it should be relatively easy to find a few that you are interested in. The harder part is convincing them to take you on :)

  • It's important that advising a student is usually something that both the student and the professor have to agree to. You may want to work with professor X, but he/she might be too busy or simply not be interested in working with you. In MS programs with thesis and non-thesis options, it is frequently the case that there are two many MS students wanting to do a thesis and not enough faculty to advise them. In such a situation it can be hard to find a willing advisor. Feb 23, 2016 at 21:44

Do as Austin Henley's answer says, but make sure to explain you want to go on to a PhD (and be prepared to be asked why you want to pursue a PhD, and a master's for that matter!). There might very well be paths to a PhD without a master's, or after a master's without thesis. Which ones do exist (or even might be created just for you, as an exceptionally bright student) is very much a local matter, which we know nothing about.

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