Is a Thesis Required to Complete a Master’s in Health Sciences?

A graduate degree in health sciences was created for health professionals interested in a wide range of topics within the industry. Meant for academics, researchers and professionals, the degree is often offered as a professional practice or academic degree. In many cases, a thesis is not required for graduation. This short article will explain why this is the case and the alternatives to this culminating experience that schools have come up with.

Resource: Top 10 Master's in Health Sciences Programs Online

The Decline

It has become more apparent that a master's thesis is not the only path available to assess a student's mastery of the health sciences field. This is because there are two types of master's degrees available for this field. The first is a Master of Science, which is considered a practical or professional practice degree. This degree was developed for educators, advocates, policymakers, and professionals who work actively in the field. The second is a Master of Arts, which is an academic program that is focused on researchers and academics who work in educational settings, such as high schools or universities. The main difference between all the degrees is that only one, the Master of Arts, benefits from having a student complete and defend a dissertation. This is because researchers and academics are generally the ones researching new theories and concepts and then submitting the work to the appropriate publications; professionals in the field generally do not do this and are more likely to use the papers to create a policy within the field. This has led to schools not requiring a dissertation for practical degrees.

When a Thesis is Required

Students who enter a graduate program in this field often have a good idea of whether they want to be practitioners or academics after graduation. Indeed, several schools offer both a Master of Science or a Master of Arts in the field and will have different requirements for graduation. Students can expect to complete a dissertation for an academic degree; this will be noted as such in the program requirements which can be found in a school's handbook. However, some practical degrees will list it as an option for the culminating experience. Some schools don't require a culminating experience at all; these are called coursework-only degrees because the requirements for graduation rely solely on the courses that a student successfully completes.

Alternative Culminating Experiences

Students are starting to enjoy a variety of culminating experience options in some programs, including programs in this field. Some of the options include a dissertation, a capstone project, a capstone research paper, an internship, an assistantship for a research project, or a case study competition. Not all programs offer the same options; students are encouraged to look for alternatives listed in the program requirements. If none are listed, a dissertation is nearly always the requirement for graduation.

There have been several discussions about whether or not a dissertation should be required at the master's level; in fact, the importance of a master's degree has also been debated. However, Forbes has released an article about why the degrees are still important. Any professional who considering graduate school will find that even if a dissertation is not required, it still may be a great way to complete their Master's in Health Sciences degree.

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