I'm in a situation where I am continuing to work on some of my M.S. research work after I have filed and will receive my M.S.

It is fine with me and I think it's good because there were loose ends. This is computer science field, and it involves a programming project we want to improve.

In the back of my mind, I'm hoping we can write a journal article. Part of me, though, wonders about whether this may be risky. Will my professor make excessive demands on me, even though we're officially finished? I also need to focus on other demands, such as my job.

So I worry a little about the expectations.

How common is it to continue working after getting one's MS, but without any official agreement (i.e., I just informally meet with my prof and discuss my progress).

Also, in case you're wondering, I'm not currently interested in doing a PhD (maybe later, just not anytime too soon).

  • What are you worried about? Pay, publication, time commitments? Can you define what you mean by "risky"?
    – Ric
    Apr 15, 2016 at 4:57
  • @Ric - Ok, sure I will clarify Apr 15, 2016 at 5:10

3 Answers 3


Your concern that this is "risky" is somewhat vague, but generally, I'd say that working on something like this is extremely common. I've never "cleanly" finished a project, where it is fully wrapped up, with nothing else to do right as my degree was awarded, I moved to a new position, etc.

I'd say it's extremely common, and if you think that extra work might result in a publication, fairly valuable. There is the possibility of things being too demanding, but generally people are pretty understanding of other obligations that come up, especially if you let them know in advance.

  • Thanks a lot ! I added a little more, in regards to "risky" comment. But I think I agree - this would be valuable to me if we can get a publication Apr 15, 2016 at 5:14
  • I must say, overall my professor is very understanding. So, I am more confident now that it would be good to do some more work Apr 15, 2016 at 5:25

As Fomite mentioned this isn't uncommon. With that said, I would like to add to the answer by suggesting a more official agreement. Instead of just working on a project, it's better to actually be part of his lab (even part time). Working in a research lab after you have completed your degree's obligations shows more commitment to research and this can make you a more attractive candidate if you want to consider PhD in the future. This of course depends partly on your time constraints and partly on your advisors decision.

  • Thank you, this is good suggestion. I will see if my work would allow it (sometimes there are legal clauses about jobs on the side) . thanks ! Apr 15, 2016 at 5:23
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    Definitely! I wish you the best of luck Apr 15, 2016 at 5:25

You mention 'your job', which suggests you've already moved on post-degree. At the same time, you'd like to write up your work for publication, which is a very admirable and understandable goal. If the above is correct, then you are trying to balance an academic life with an industry life, and they are seldom compatible. For one thing (and I've experienced this), your academic advisor won't 'get' the industry obligations.

From your standpoint, you've already attained the end-goal: get a job. But, if you wish to continue working to get this publication out, do it now and do it quickly. Your advisor will have no qualms about continually asking for further analyses/models/whatever so long as he/she believes you're invested, because honestly, you're working for free at that point. So get it done!

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