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How to Write a Master's Thesis

How to Write a Master's Thesis

Third Edition

August 2019 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
“This is the best textbook about writing an M.A. thesis available in the market.”  
–Hsin-I Liu, University of the Incarnate Word  
The Third Edition of How to Write a Master's Thesis is a comprehensive manual on how to plan and write a five-chapter master’s thesis, and a great resource for graduate students looking for concrete, applied guidance on how to successfully complete their master's degrees. While research methods and statistics courses may teach students the basic information on how to conduct research, putting it all together into a single project and document can be a challenge. Author Yvonne Bui demystifies this process by integrating the language learned in prerequisite methods and statistics courses into a step-by-step guide for developing a student's own thesis or project.

List of Students’ Master’s Theses
About the Author
Chapter 1. Overview of the Master’s Degree and Thesis
The Master’s Degree

What Is a Master’s Thesis?

Selecting a Thesis Chairperson and Committee

How to Read and Use This Book

Components of a Master’s Thesis

Quantitative, Qualitative, or Mixed Methods Research?

Style Form



Chapter 2. Selecting a Research Topic
Important Factors to Consider When Selecting a Topic

How to Narrow and Refocus Your Topic

Developing Answerable Research Questions

Creating a Realistic Timeline

Time Management



Chapter 3. Using the Literature to Research Your Problem
Benefits of Conducting a Literature Review

Meeting With a Reference Librarian

Sources of Data: Primary Versus Secondary

Selecting Keywords

Conducting Searches in Electronic Databases

Conducting Searches on the Internet

Different Types of Articles

Staying Organized



Chapter 4. Conducting Ethical Research
Legal Regulations and Ethical Standards

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Ethical Behavior



Chapter 5. How to Write Chapter One, Introduction
Writing Style

Chapter One Sections



Chapter 6. How to Write Chapter Two, Literature Review
Preparation and Organization

Chapter Two Sections



Chapter 7. How to Write Chapter Three, Methods
Research Designs and Research Methods

Preparation and Organization

Chapter Three Sections



Chapter 8. How to Write Chapter Four, Results and Findings
Preparation and Organization

Chapter Four Sections

Quantitative Data

Qualitative Data

Mixed Methods Data



Chapter 9. How to Write Chapter Five, Discussion
Preparation and Organization

Chapter Five Sections



Chapter 10. Wrapping It All Up
Preparation and Organization

APA Style

Next Steps: Presenting at Conferences and Getting Published



Author Index
Subject Index

“Yvonne Bui’s How to Write a Master’s Thesis should be mandatory for all thesis track master’s students.  It steers students away from the shortcuts students may be tempted to use that would be costly in the long run. The step by step intentional approach is what I like best about this book.”

Joel M. Cox
Liberty University

“This is the best textbook about writing an M.A. thesis available in the market.” 

Hsin-I Liu
University of the Incarnate Word

“This is the type of textbook that students keep and refer to after the class.”

Elizabeth Tolman
South Dakota State University

Excellent book. Thorough, yet concise, information for students writing their Master's Thesis who may not have had a strong background in research.

Dr Betty Hubschman
Education, Carolina University
October 8, 2023

Clear, Concise, easy for students to access and understand. Contains all the elements for a successful thesis.

Dr Lisa Keith
Education Division, Fresno Pacific University
September 28, 2021

I loved the ease of this book. It was clear without extra nonsense that would just confuse the students.

Dr Tif Mulally
Education, Misericordia University
October 8, 2019

Clear, concise, easily accessible. Students find it of great value.

Dr Lisa Keith
Education Division, Fresno Pacific University
October 12, 2020
Key features

NEW TO THIS EDITION:            

  • Concrete instruction and guides for conceptualizing the literature review help students navigate through the most challenging topics.        
  • Step-by-step instructions and more screenshots give students the guidance they need to write the foundational chapter, along with the latest online resources and general library information.          
  • Additional coverage of single case designs and mixed methods help students gain a more comprehensive understanding of research methods.           
  • Expanded explanation of unintentional plagiarism within the ethics chapter shows students the path to successful and professional writing.       
  • Detailed information on conference presentation as a way to disseminate research, in addition to getting published, help students understand all of the tools needed to write a master’s thesis.    


  • An advanced chapter organizer provides an up-front checklist of what to expect in the chapter and serves as a project planner, so that students can immediately prepare and work alongside the chapter as they begin to develop their thesis.
  • Full guidance on conducting successful literature reviews includes up-to-date information on electronic databases and Internet tools complete with numerous figures and captured screen shots from relevant web sites, electronic databases, and SPSS software, all integrated with the text.
  • Excerpts from research articles and samples from exemplary students' master's theses relate specifically to the content of each chapter and provide the reader with a real-world context.
  • Detailed explanations of the various components of the master's thesis and concrete strategies on how to conduct a literature review help students write each chapter of the master's thesis, and apply the American Psychological Association (APA) editorial style.
  • A comprehensive Resources section features "Try It!" boxes which lead students through a sample problem or writing exercise based on a piece of the thesis to reinforce prior course learning and the writing objectives at hand. Reflection/discussion questions in the same section are designed to help students work through the thesis process.

For instructors

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