I have recently been awarded full funding by the Canadian government's research council (NSERC) to do my Master's Degree (M.Sc.EE). I have the option to do a thesis with many different research projects that are ongoing in my department, or to find my own research to work on.

How will I be viewed after I graduate by an employer if I choose to do my own research vs. working under a professor's project?

  • 1
    Ultimately you will work under a professor. An employer is unlikely to know unless that relationship goes bad...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


well... you can't escape having a thesis director/advisor, nor do you wish to escape having a thesis director. You may end up working with someone who will let you what you want, but choose wisely as this is not guaranteed at all; a scholarship will allow you greater freedom in this choice. A good advisor will suggest a project that will challenge you and force you to "up your game".

It seems you me more than anything you are putting the cart before the horse. The person(s) you want to impress in the short term is your advisor and/or members of your supervisory committee. Your job prospects will be greatly improved if you can get an outstanding reference letter from your advisor or someone from the supervisory committee who can speak with authority to the strength of research project: this argument alone quite clearly favours doing a research project under competent supervision.

  • I am having difficulty determining whether you mean that: (A) Having a good thesis supervisor is important; or (B) Working on a research project proposed by a (good) supervisor is important. Perhaps you can clarify your answer. While A is certainly true I don't agree with B. I believe a good supervisor would do their best to ensure you have a good project, regardless of this project being their suggestion or your own. That was certainly my experience when suggesting my own thesis project to my supervisor for my masters.
    – J. Doe
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 10:38
  • @J.Doe - (A) is clearly a good thing. I interpreted your (B) as more of letting your advisor guide you toward a good project. If the supervisor can not adequately, well, supervise, then (1) the project is more likely to go off the rails, and (2) the supervisor really can't write that good of a letter since they don't really understand what is going on.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 22:04
  • @JonCuster I note that I could have phrased better; my disagreement is not with (B) as such, but rather with it being the only route. Letting your supervisor help you mould your own ideas into a good project is very much viable. Naturally, if the supervisor does not believe they can adequately supervise because they are not sufficiently familiar with the subject of your ideas that can be an issue (then again if they are a good supervisor they might not have accepted to supervise in that case).
    – J. Doe
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 8:56
  • @J.Doe - Fair enough. I think in the end we are all in at least vague agreement...
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 12:45

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