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Andrea P

Thesis vs. Directed Study in Psychology

4 posts in this topic

I am applying to graduate programs (M.A. and M.S.) in clinical and general psychology. However, I noticed that Boston University's M.A. program in general psychology was only a year long (8 courses) and they did not require a thesis. Instead, the program requires a "Directed Study." As I understand it, a directed study is essentially the thesis research without the formal defense at the end. As someone who is using the M.A. as a stepping stone for a PhD, would not doing a thesis hurt my chances of acceptance? Has anyone done a directed study in place of a thesis? General advice and/or testimonials would be great!

 

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It depends. I'm doing a project rather than a traditional thesis, but it's because I'm partnered with two companies so creating reports, toolkits, and more accessible deliverables makes more sense. You may need to talk to the program coordinator and get a better sense of what's meant by Directed Study to have an idea if it could hurt your chances of getting into a PhD program. 

I think, if you're able to show your research produced something structured and based in the methodology and theoretical frameworks of your discipline, you'll probably be fine. 

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Thank you! I have contacted the director of the program. In speaking with others, it is not uncommon for programs to request that students complete a thesis project with their program (even if one have already been completed), so mayhap this is just saving me the possibility of going through that trouble.

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A defense should be the least of your worries. Especially for a masters, it's really not a huge deal (more like a slightly more formal class presentation) but a formal thesis is in many cases. Like GreenEyedTrombonist said, it depends what your goals are. Some industries don't mind, but I would recommend a program with a formal thesis if you're trying to get into a PhD program.

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