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I'm in a dilemma,related to my master's thesis


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I really am in a huge dilemma. I am a Master’s student(computer science) now in my final semester of courses. I need another 3 credits to graduate. My dept. offers an option of taking the comps or registering for a 3 cr. Master’s research+thesis as part of graduation requirements.

So I decided to go on with the thesis(for various reasons). I met one of the professors in my dept. And he was ok to advise me but he seemed totally laid back to me. He basically left everything on me(choice of the topic,data etc). I got frustrated since this is not a PhD dissertation and I don’t want to have to spend 2-3 years on my topic/data.

Then I approached this other professor(well, he asked me if I would want to do the thesis with him). He is quite a pain in our classes but he does a lot of work in my area of interest and since he himself asked me , I decided to go ahead with him. We met twice about the proposal/thesis statement. He gave me some keywords to look up and also some papers to read. Well, I’m ok with all this.

NOW, the problem is he is cocky and really self-centered . I’m just worried that he might end up delaying my graduation. The good things about working with this professor are he seems to gives us direction on where to look for data/information,happy to have students around him(well, he makes us do secretarial stuff sometimes but ok!), he seems fair(he always puts his student’s names on publications first as the primary author saying that we did most of the work, he does not steal our work and speaks highly of all his past students'). The bad thing is he is money-minded and I heard from one student that he eventually makes us sign – up for the thesis course in the following semester too. He basically returned the thesis review in may first week for this student while the student wanted to graduate end of may. So , we end up paying more and also staying longer. I don’t really care about 3 cr or 6 cr or 10 cr. or paying for higher number of credits; my only concern is I want to graduate at the end of the next semester. Ofcourse, he knows this but I’m worried he might screwup.

My concerns are : should I just stick on with him and risk my graduation date?I know another student too who is starting off a thesis with him(I will have company,yay!). I'm also wondering if all this is pretty normal, after all professors are busy too and our thesis is not their only focus.

Your thoughts please?

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What's the payoff you get for having a thesis as opposed to taking the comps? If you're in a professional program it's not clear that you need to keep the research option open. If the main goal is to finish on time and with minimal hassle, it sounds like the comps are a much more direct way of achieving it.

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Pay-off according to me – get some research experience as my field also has industry-research positions, I enjoy writing, seems less stressful than the comps, could be relevant in my job search post-graduation.

Edited by nehs
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I forgot to mention: many students do end up failing the comps in the first attempt and then need to sit for a second attempt. Also, my dept. allows a maximum of two attempts for the comps. The comps sounds hassle-free to me but it stressful while the thesis is the otherway round for me!

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[Disclaimer: I'm a first year student myself, so what do I know?]

I think the guidance is worth a lot, as it will help keep you from plateauing when you run into problems. For navigating PhD dissertation committees, I've heard the recommendation that you keep a paper trail of advisor recommendations. For instance, if he says, "In this chapter add some more about X's theory, and in that chapter make intro shorter", then you clarify that that's all that needs to be improved in those section, then send a follow-up email that says, "Per our conversation, I will do X,Y, and Z to complete chapters 1 and 2."

If you can get a timeline set up now, and established the date he would need a completed draft in order for you to graduate on time (and hopefully some dates in between to break things down a bit) then maybe you'll have some leverage. Profs will always have the upper hand, of course, but getting clear expectations from the start could help.

Good luck!

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