I want to apply to PhD in chemical engineering in the US.
I have had three papers as undergrad (one first author), but my undergrad GPA was rather poor, at around 3.2. GRE scores were all over 90 percentile and recommendations should all be good. Since grades are my weakest link in my application, and I have demonstrated my ability for research, I was thinking of doing a coursework-only MS program to show that I can handle classes and exams as well before applying to top schools in my research area of interest.
This has the advantage of taking less time than an MS, and I am skeptical of how much research I would be able to get done in an MS program anyways because professors are more concerned with supervising PhD students, and I may only end up getting on a paper as a second or third author.
I have noticed that basically everyone says that to apply to good PhD programs, a thesis in the MS program is a must. The only exception is my prof; I talked to him about it, and he thinks that I would be okay with just doing a coursework MS to show that I am capable of getting a good GPA as well. Is a thesis still necessary in my case, since I have a strong research background from undergrad?