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Thread: Undergrad thesis: is it worth the effort?

  1. #1
    Dec 2007
    Waterloo, ON

    Undergrad thesis: is it worth the effort?

    What are the benefits of doing an undergraduate thesis? I am interested in applying to some masters programs in urban planning - which appear to be more "professional" than research-oriented.

    Currently, I'm an undergrad student in geography and I have the option to do an undergraduate thesis instead of taking some 4th year courses. However, I am aware that doing a thesis can be a lot of work and I've heard many horror stories about it. Honestly, I would feel much more comfortable doing some 4th year courses than a thesis.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Aug 2001
    The Cheese State
    My own feeling is that a degree with a thesis is viewed as a little more rigourous, and earns more respect. You may personally find it beneficial in preparing for a masters program, as you will gain the experience of developing methodology, researching a topic, and writing on it. Any good masters program will require extensive research-based writing. So will your job. Finally, you will potentially have something you can use as a work sample, or use as a basis to write an article or two.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian joshking2's avatar
    Apr 2007
    Music City USA

    Thesis nightmare

    Having just completed one a few months back I can say YES they are a nightmare. However they can help you in the long run. I'm not sure if it helped me get a job but I proved to myself grad school isn't for me.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
    Jun 2005
    In my own little bubble
    I did an undergrad thesis- although it is a lot of hard work and you wonder why in hell you would do it at the time, im really glad i did it- the skills you obtain through completing one definately have helped in my work
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  5. #5
    May 2007
    Oakland, CA
    While I think a thesis is more 'rigorous', you're also opening yourself up to writing a bad thesis and then having graduate admissions officers reading it. I'd rather have them read an 'A' on a transcript than an undergraduate thesis. That's the practical reality. The standards for grading an undergraduate paper are different than for a thesis or professional paper, so you're essentially trying to impress with your first shot.

  6. #6
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
    Apr 1996
    New Hampshire
    Didn't have an option. A thesis was required for my undergrad degree. Didn't hurt that I won an award for it though, and I believe it made my degree stand out a bit more when I was looking for that first job.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  7. #7
    Jun 2007

    Write the thesis

    Yes, they're a huge pain & yes, it was incredibly stressful & yes, I had a very mean advisor who decided ONE MONTH before the thesis was due that she didn't want to be my advisor anymore & I needed to find a new one...BUT

    On every grad school application I have submitted not only can I say that I did original research but that I'm published. Believe me, no admissions committee is going to want to read the whole thing, so if you have to submit a writing sample you can pick the part you want or you can pick a paper you did well on instead.

    If you're burnt out on school, then take a year off or two between undergrad & grad. I'm returning after five years out & not only can I also list all my "practical" experience on resumes & apps but I'm ready to go back too.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Plus
    Jun 2003
    Sorry, no opinion here.

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