Finding a Master Thesis
After finishing the necessary credits required for your Masters course, you will have to do a Master thesis to conclude your program. In most cases, you will have to find your own thesis supervisor. Some students take up a Hiwi job or s student project with a research group along with the course work. This can help give a better idea on the current research taking place in your field, work environment and experience. But if you haven't done a student project or Hiwi, it is recommended to start a month or two earlier to start looking for a topic.
Finding a supervisor
Be proactive. Go through the web-page of the research group you are interested in and read the research description of the PhD students working there. Many groups often have a page for current job openings and Master thesis topics. Make sure you read them. Remember that finding a master thesis is your own prerogative.
Contacting your potential thesis advisor
In most cases, a PhD candidate will supervise your Master thesis. It is advisable to contact the PhD student directly via email to inquire about a thesis topic. Please follow these general email etiquette when contacting a doctoral student or Professor:
- Address them using the correct title and their last name. For PhD students write Mr/Ms. Last-name. For Professors or Associate Professors, you can find their exact title on their web-page.
- Introduce yourself in short such as - which study program you belong to, which semester are you in currently, whether you have completed all your courses, etc.
- Shortly describe your research interest and how it fits. This is very important and gives an impression about you to the reader.
- Attach your CV and grades for all the courses you have finished.
- Avoid sending bulk/generic emails to all the PhD students or Professors in that group.
- Please wait for at least a week for a reply. The supervisor/PhD student may be busy or on vacation. After a week, send him/her a reminder and/or contact the secretary (of the professor) in case of no reply.
- Read the regulations for your course and thesis requirements before you start!!
- You are responsible for your thesis, do not be dependent on your supervisor completely. Make sure you know what is expected of you.
- Your supervisor will have other projects, reports, etc. to work on apart from supervising you. Therefore, do not expect them to devote all their time on your thesis.
- Your supervisor is only there to guide you. If you encounter a problem, you should spend some time to solve it yourself before you approach your advisor. This is a good research practice.
- If you are working in a lab, remember to read the safety instructions thoroughly. You cannot work in the lab alone or unsupervised, or work in the lab on weekends.
- Take clear and comprehensive notes when you have a meeting with your advisor. This will give you clarity and come in handy when you finally write your Master thesis.
- Don't hesitate to ask your advisor to repeat something which wasn't clear to you. This is extremely important. Being honest will help both you and your advisor to better understand your problem and solve it effectively.
Doing a Master thesis can be an interesting and rewarding experience with the right attitude and hard-work. This research experience usually helps students decide whether they would like to pursue PhD or opt for a different career option.