Is writing a masters thesis hard? Tips on how to write a thesis

Graduate school quite often requires its students to create a thesis showcasing the research work they have done throughout their course.

It’s funny that quite often students do not have any practical guidance on how to complete a thesis with the least amount of stress.

Writing a master’s thesis can be incredibly difficult if you try to write it without any structure or knowledge of the process. However, by focusing on structure and story first you’ll be able to significantly cut down the effort required to produce a Masters thesis.

I was able to write my master’s thesis in a couple of months due to the fact I had all of my data already collected and readily available for interpretation.

This article will go through everything you need to know about writing a Masters thesis and how to make it as easy as possible.

What is a master’s thesis?

A master’s thesis is an academic document that is produced in a postgraduate masters degree that demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct independent research within a specific field of study.

It is written and submitted to the University as evidence that the candidate can provide a deeper analysis into the chosen topic than what is expected from undergraduate studies.

It is typically between 30 and 100 pages or 25,000 to 50,000 words in length. However, the exact length can be very different depending on the field of study.

The thesis can include:

  • research and findings from previous studies – in order to provide a background and justification for the current study.
  • original work developed by the student – highlighting the student’s ability to formulate a research question, develop methodology to answer that question, create data and analysis, and present the work in a clear and logical fashion.

A faculty member or academic supervisor typically guides the student throughout the entire Masters process, providing feedback on ideas and drafts and ensuring academic robustness.

In some cases, students may be required to present their thesis to a panel of faculty members for review and evaluation before graduation. For example, when I finish my masters in chemistry I was required to present my computational chemistry research project to my peers and faculty members who then questioned and critiqued my work.

Having their work critiqued in front of others can be quite confronting process for many students, however, this is a normal part of academia and learning to navigate this process will help you in your future career.

Why is writing a thesis or a dissertation hard? Thesis writing tips

There is no doubt that writing a thesis or dissertation is a difficult challenge for many graduate students. That is because they have, quite simply, not done anything quite like this before.

Not only are they required to conduct research, but they must also use their technical writing skills in order to organize their thoughts and turn them into an effective paper. Not something that is explicitly taught in universities.

Quite often we hope that students will absorb the thesis writing skills by a process of osmosis and by doing.

Writing your thesis requires a large amount of time and effort, as it involves:

  • researching and gathering relevant data,
  • formulating an argument,
  • conducting analysis and evaluation, and finally
  • organizing the results into a report.

All of these tasks can be daunting for someone who may not have had much experience with academic writing before.

Most graduate students will also need to learn how to correctly cite sources in order to avoid plagiarism. As such, this is not a task that should be taken lightly and requires significant dedication from the student in order to complete successfully.

In order to complete your thesis successfully this is the order in which I go through tasks:

1Create headers and subsections
2Place bullet point prompts under each header and subsection
3Fill out with data – ensure that the flow of the day to make sense
4Expand the bullet point prompts into sentences.
5As soon as a section is complete send it to your supervisor for corrections and suggestions.
6Write abstract and conclusions to bookend the thesis.

How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined? Submit a thesis successfully

A Masters thesis is typically submitted to the University for review by an internal review panel or is sent out to experts in the field for a more thorough peer-review.

Exactly what process is used is dependent on the University policy and guidelines.

For example, my chemistry master’s thesis was reviewed internally whereas my friend who went to another UK institution for his masters had his thesis sent out for peer review in other institutions.

Understanding exactly what would happen to your thesis before you submit is important part of having your thesis passed.

Institutions may require different criteria for assessment and examination, such as originality of content and how well it meets the objectives set out in the initial proposal.

Universities may also require submission of supporting evidence if needed by the examiners.

The examiners can:

  • pass the thesis with no corrections
  • pass the thesis with minor corrections – common in academia
  • suggest a major rewrite of the thesis – this happens if there are major scientific or research-based mistakes throughout the thesis
  • rejected the thesis – if the examiners are not confident that the thesis provides enough evidence for submission into the degree the reviewers may outright reject and suggest that it gets downgraded.

Your supervisor should do everything in their power to ensure that you are passing with minor or no corrections.

If you want to know more about a Masters’s thesis you can check out my other articles:

How long should a thesis or a dissertation be? Effective tips 

A Masters thesis should be an original work of research and writing, typically between 30 and 100 pages in length.

Whereas a PhD thesis can be anywhere between 50 and 450 pages and between 60,000 and 80,000 words.

The exact length will vary significantly depending on the subject and specific requirements set by your university or department.

While a thesis may be shorter than a dissertation, it will still require a significant amount of research and analysis. And sometimes it is easier to write words than to try and condense what you are trying to say into a smaller thesis.

If you want to know more about how long a thesis or dissertation as you can check out my other article – click here – it will give you all of the juicy data.

It is important to thoroughly develop your argument and provide sufficient detail to support your claims. To ensure that you have covered all necessary information, it is best to consult with faculty members or colleagues who have gone through the dissertation or thesis process before.

How long should a master’s thesis be? Tips on how to write

A master’s thesis can be a huge undertaking and should not be taken lightly.

It is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long a Masters thesis should be. My thesis is 60 pages long however a more theoretical thesis may be much shorter.

It is much better to break down the thesis into sections and make sure that you provide enough information to satisfy a reviewer. That focus on length rather focus on making pass peer-review for your subject.

It should include:

  1. a title page,
  2. table of contents,
  3. introduction, including a literature review
  4. main body, presenting all of your results and findings in a logical fashion
  5. conclusion and discussions
  6. references.
  7. Appendices (optional)

Depending on the subject matter and the research methodology used, some theses may be longer than others.

As a general rule of thumb, most master’s theses are between 50 and 100 pages in length including citations.

Writing a master’s thesis can be an intimidating task but it doesn’t have to be too daunting if you start writing early and break down your project into smaller chunks.

I always start with the heading outline and you can check out my exact process in my YouTube video, below.

Make sure you review all guidelines given by your supervisor or instructor before starting your thesis so that you will have an idea of what needs to be included in order to fulfill all criteria successfully.

What is writing a masters thesis like? 

From experience I can tell you that writing a master’s thesis can be both exciting and daunting.

That is because the skills to complete a thesis without losing your mind are not specifically taught in undergraduate.

It requires dedication, focus, and hard work to complete a successful thesis. Many students find themselves combating imposter syndrome as they write because there are many stages where you feel like your writing is rubbish and you are not clever enough.

However, with continual improvements and feedback from your supervisor, you’ll be able to overcome this hurdle and if it is good enough you supervisor – it is good enough for you.

The general steps of a Masters means that you’ll need to identify your research topic, develop an outline of your project, write drafts of each chapter, edit your work thoroughly, and potentially defend the final product in front of a panel of experts.

During this process it is important to stay organized, keep track of deadlines, and remember to take time for yourself while also staying focused on your studies.

With determination and effort you can successfully complete a master’s thesis that will be rewarding not only academically but also personally as you reflect on all the hard work that went into it.

Can I finish masters thesis in 2 months? Your advisor will be the road block

Completing a master’s thesis in two months is an ambitious goal, but it is not impossible.

As long as you are able to work continuously little by little breaking up the big goal into small achievable chance you can get there.

I wrote my master’s thesis in two months by locking myself in the University library and fuelling myself with chocolate and V (caffeine energy drink).

I’m not saying that this is the best way to do it – I just needed to get it done and this was how I survived.

No matter what the path you choose writing a Masters thesis in two months requires determination, organization, and dedication to make it happen.

You will need to create a detailed plan which incorporates the research process, writing style and pace, and any necessary revisions.

It’s very important that you also set aside time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed or exhausted with the task and it remains manageable. 

Additionally, enlisting the help of friends, and any other academic that you trust (even outside of your field) to provide feedback on your drafts can be very beneficial in ensuring that your final product meets your expectations.

With careful planning and hard work it is possible to finish a master’s thesis in two months.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about how hard it is to write a Masters thesis.

The skills required to complete your thesis are not explicitly taught in universities, but following a process of setting out the headings and chapters, placing bullet points under each heading and chapter with data, turning the bullet points into words and sentences, seems to be the only way to ensure that you complete your thesis without going insane.

Remember to factor in some time for self-care so you don’t become overwhelmed.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.