The LCT program offers both a thesis and non-thesis option for completion of the M.A. degree. Students do not need to decide which option they use at the beginning of their program of study. Students should aim to decide whether or not they are writing a thesis by the half-way point of their program, or at about fifteen hours (five classes).
The non-thesis option is the easier of the two and the one that the majority of our students take. The non-thesis option requires an additional 6000-level LCT class in place of the thesis. The thesis requires much more work than a single 6000-level LCT class, and it runs the risk of slowing the student’s degree completion time.
Why, then, would a student want to write a thesis? First, if you have a topic in mind that truly interests you and the seminar topics offered during your program of study haven’t allowed you to explore it, the thesis will give you the opportunity to do so. Second, a thesis will give you the opportunity to develop a specialization. The M.A. remains a generalist degree, but a thesis allows an in-depth exploration of a limited topic. Lastly, the thesis provides an opportunity for sustained, self-directed research and thus provides preparation for writing a dissertation as part of a doctoral program.
It is widely assumed that writing a thesis gives students a better chance of getting into a Ph.D. program and of getting an assistantship when admitted. However, this is anecdote rather than fact: many of our M.A. students have been admitted into Ph.D. programs without writing a thesis. Nonetheless, the thesis option is good choice for students who are considering further graduate study because the thesis develops the research skills necessary to succeed in a doctoral program.