Thesis vs. Project (Non-thesis): What’s the Difference?

Many students wonder what the difference is between the thesis and non-thesis options. Basically, the thesis option has more research, while the non-thesis has more classes. However, all master’s students must conduct a research project.

All students must complete either a thesis or an advanced educational/health-related project. Thesis students will conduct a large research project, which will likely involve several semesters of work. These students must write a thesis, which is a large document that is likely to be published. The thesis option is for students who wish to develop a background in intense research.

The project option is designed to be more flexible and is tailored to students who require limited research training. Students on the project track will take four more hours of electives than those on the thesis track. However, they take fewer hours of research. Non-thesis students still must complete an advanced educational/health-related project. The project focus is flexible. Students can potentially perform a wide range of projects for the non-thesis option. Examples of non-thesis projects include:

  • Creating a new learning module
  • Designing a curriculum
  • Conducting a research project that is limited in scope
  • Creating an educational display for a clinical setting
  • Other projects as approved by the component director.

Students on the project track must provide a written description of their advanced educational/health-related project. This document is less comprehensive than the thesis and publication is not necessarily an anticipated outcome.

NOTE: All students must have a faculty adviser/mentor for their projects. Students must identify an adviser with the guidance of the component co-director. 

Additional thesis information and resources can be found on the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (OGAPS) website