I was a Masters student back in ’07 and I chose my thesis topic (dissertation if you are a UK student) based on some very sound advice from Dr Fred Hocker.
Having completed my MA and since helped many others complete their degrees, I have added to Fred’s advice to create some useful tips for choosing a quality thesis topic.
A Masters thesis is not a professional standard, it is a competency test. You probably aren’t thinking beyond the completion of your degree, but you should be.
What do you need to actually be successful in your field?
How did they rise so quickly through the academic ranks?
They are brilliant minds to be sure, but they also took the smart approach to their degrees.These guidelines are written by an archaeologist, but can applied to most fields.Let’s rip this bandaid off- No one is going to read your MA thesis. Graduate programs are not simply continuations of undergraduate degrees, but an introduction into academia- it is a process of acculturation.Undergraduate degrees open you to a range of potential jobs; conversely, graduate degrees put you on a specific track.Consider that even short gaps in your CV are problematic for employment and you likely need to find work in your research area within the first 6–12 months or your career is likely over before it began.After a year there is a new batch of freshly minted MAs that look a lot more attractive on paper than your Swiss cheese CV.When you finish your Masters program, there are going to be 50 or 100 or 1000 people worldwide with an identical degree and all looking for jobs at the same time. Work experience in your field goes much further than either grades or your thesis topic.[In the same vein but unrelated to Masters topics, do not start applying for jobs when you need them.Everyone is applying for jobs as soon as they are awarded their degree, so start contacting employers several months ahead so they know who you are.Rather than re-invent the wheel, choose something that is easy data where there is an established path.Your role is to push it forward or in a new direction.