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Going for PhD with non-thesis research-based MS


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I have just finished my first year in a materials science MS program. Now I have couple options.


Which one do you think would be more helpful on PhD applications:


1)   Working on a conceptual project(not funded=not experimental) for three semesters which is totally different from the field I plan to do my PhD on. No thesis but a final report for the advisor's approval. Having close relation with an advisor might lead to a strong reference letter based on my performance.


2)   Taking 2 more courses in the Fall and graduating one semester earlier with a course-based degree. In the interim, studying for GRE and doing literature search on the field I plan to do my PhD. No research=no publication.


Actually, the project is not exactly in the field my advisor focuses on, yet he is trying to help me find a project to work on. In some sense, it will be more like a supervised reading that I'll need to report my findings and probably propose an idea that will never be tested. In this case, I see no point spending three semesters on something I do not plan to work on in the future.


Your opinions are really valuable. Please share if see my situation in another aspect.

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