Research vs. Coursework: How They Differ

These two are important to differentiate for:

  • Degree candidates beginning thesis research and proposal development
  • Understanding how the thesis process differs from your course work
  • Your journey from student to scholar

Course Work

Most courses provide you with structured ways to learn and synthesize existing knowledge. Your course work is developed and standardized by instructors in:  

  • Format (the classroom or online)
  • Content (the syllabus describing topics covered)
  • Time (the schedule for the semester or shorter term)

Thesis Process

Your thesis project is:

  • A unique contribution to your field developed by you
  • Initiated, proposed, researched, and written by you
  • Not tied to the normal semester or term schedule

You are supported by at least three separate people - by your:

  1. Academic Advisor - focuses on your eligibility and transition to independent researcher
  2. Research Advisor - guides you in initiating, revising, and approving your proposal, as well as recruiting your Thesis Director
  3. Thesis Director - directly supervises the 9-month period of research, analysis, and creation of your final written manuscript