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Choosing a thesis in graduate school + adviser

  1. Mar 29, 2012 #1
    When you're going for a master's/phd and you're choosing a thesis, does your adviser's research field have to be the same as the field you're studying, or does he/she just have to be familiar with it? Say you're aiming to go to a university but the professors there are unfamiliar with your chosen field. Would you have to go to another university?
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  3. Mar 29, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    If your advisor isn't an expert in a subject, exactly how is he going to turn you into an expert in a subject?
  4. Mar 29, 2012 #3


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    Technically no. In theory, you can do your project in whatever area you want. However:
    1. It's not all that wise to take on a project without an advisor in the field. You're asking for all kinds of problems that your supervisor may not be able to solve.

    2. You have to convince your supervisor that it's a good idea for you to take on that project. I wouldn't want any of my students doing a project on something that I'm not too familair with, unless we were collaborating with someone who was.

    3. You also have to satisfy your committee that you are capable of completing your project and that it will yield some useful results.

    4. It seems a little counter-productive to apply to a school that doesn't have someone who specializes in the field you want to work in.
  5. Mar 29, 2012 #4


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    It's a good idea to pick a field that your adviser specializes in. While they might be willing to advise you in another field, they might not be an expert in that field (so they might not be all that familiar with the methods and what's been done) and it really helps a lot to have them attending conferences with you, introducing you to people, and pitching you to people in the field for postdocs. I've got a sneaking suspicion the only reason my adviser organized a conference in our field a few years ago was to find me a job. And it worked.
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