Master’s thesis collaboration

THE BENEFITS OF A MASTER’S THESIS COLLABORATION

There are many advantages of writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation.

Insight

Writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation will give you insight into the company as well as the industry which it represents. You can gain direct insight into the company’s or the organisation’s own data and experience, and possibly get good access to other sources.

You will also gain insight into what it means to be part of a company. This will give you personal experience which you can benefit greatly from when entering the labour market later on.

Project management

You will learn to manage your own project as well as managing various interests in relation to the aim of the project.

Writing a Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation requires that you take control of the process. You are responsible for preparing and following a schedule, designing the process, following up on agreements and clarifying any formal requirements and wishes in relation to the scope of the collaboration.

Networks

Furthermore, you will strengthen your network in the labour market – not only in the company you have joined, but possibly also in some of the companies with which your company is working or doing business.

Academic competences in practice

You can also benefit from addressing a specific issue in a company which will actually make use of your results afterwards. It is a major responsibility, but also very rewarding and educational and a motivating factor for doing the job well.

WHAT IS A MASTER’S THESIS COLLABORATION?

Definition

A Master’s thesis collaboration means that you, together with your supervisor, contact a company or an organisation and present or agree on an issue that you want to address in your Master’s thesis. You hereby agree that the Master’s thesis will be prepared jointly by you and the company or organisation, and after completing the thesis, you will present your results to the company or organisation.

Who can you team up with?

A Master’s thesis can be written in collaboration with private companies, public institutions and NGOs. And it can be written within all branches of industry.

An academic Master’s thesis

A Master’s thesis written in collaboration with a company or an organisation is an academic Master’s thesis, and will be assessed according to the academic objectives in your academic regulations in the same way as any other Master’s thesis.

GETTING STARTED...

Consider whether you could be interested in a Master’s thesis collaboration.

  • What is your motivation for writing your Master’s thesis in collaboration with a company or an organisation?
  • What would you like to achieve from a Master’s thesis collaboration?
  • Discuss your considerations with your fellow students and others in your network.

Explore your options

  • Consider what you would like to work with in a company or an organisation.
  • Which companies or organisations work in the field in which you want to write your Master’s thesis? Make a list of possible companies and organisations. Use, for example, LinkedIn, ORBIS, specialised magazines and your own network to find potential partners.
  • Think about what you can offer the company or organisation.

Talk to your supervisor

  • Discuss the topic and the framework for your Master’s thesis with your supervisor.
  • Discuss your expectations with your supervisor.
  • Talk to your supervisor about how to get in contact with the company or organisation. 

Contact

Contact the company or organisation well in advance of the Master’s thesis period.

When you contact a company to propose a collaboration, you should sell the idea almost as if you were applying for a job or an internship. So be specific and focus on how the company will benefit from the collaboration. But also remember that the Master’s thesis must create value for both you and the company.

You can start with the following questions:

  • Which subject area do you find interesting in the company?
  • Why is this particular subject relevant for the company?
  • Why should the company collaborate with you? What are your three main arguments?
  • Why and how can the collaboration benefit the company, and which formal requirements are they subject to?

DURING THE PROCESS

Collaboration

When you have established contact with an interested company or organisation, arrange a meeting where you can discuss the framework for your collaboration. Make sure to discuss your expectations. It might be a good idea to prepare a collaboration agreement in writing, defining:

  • What you will provide them with.
  • What they need to provide you with, for example time to conduct qualitative interviews, access to internal documents, office facilities or a workstation, specification of the duration of the collaboration and feedback on the completed Master’s thesis.
  • Confidentiality and anonymisation of data, if relevant.
  • Your contact person in the company and meeting activity.
  • How you want to present your results and proposals for action to the company or organisation.

Potential challenges?

Sometimes unexpected challenges may arise, including:

  • Changes in the company’s tasks or employments, making it difficult to continue the collaboration.
  • Unforeseen events in your life or your contact’s life, making it difficult to continue the collaboration.
  • Disputes between you and the collaborative partner.
  • The contact person does not show up for agreements or respond to your emails or calls.

In such situations, or in similar situations, it is important that you contact your collaborative partner and/or your supervisor, so that you can discuss an alternative solution that allows you to complete your Master’s thesis on time.

Remember that in such cases, you can complete your Master’s thesis, as there is no requirement that the collaborative partner must be involved in the entire process. And it is an academic Master’s thesis which is subject to the same formal requirements as any other Master’s thesis, so it can be completed based on the work that you have done. But make sure to contact your supervisor to discuss how to best achieve your objectives.

SUBMISSION OF THE MASTER’S THESIS

Submitting

When submitting a Master’s thesis that you have written in collaboration with a company or an organisation, you should be aware that you need to comply with certain requirements from two different places: your degree programme expects an academic Master’s thesis with academic issues and reflections, while the company or organisation may expect a product with solution.

That is why it is particularly important that you, already at the beginning of your collaboration, balance your expectations with your supervisor and the company or organisation. Use your supervisor actively to discuss your ideas.

Submitting your Master’s thesis to the degree programme

There is no difference between submitting a normal Master’s thesis and a Master’s thesis which you have written in collaboration with a company or an organisation.

Submitting your Master’s thesis to the company

The final product that you submit to the company can take various forms:

  • Presentation of results
  • Proposals for specific solutions
  • Report or summary of the conclusion
  • A workshop for staff or management

Remember that you must help define what you can provide them with. You are not required to submit a product to the company, but most companies will expect something from you in return for their time and resources.

“Suddenly, I was also much better at communicating how I could use my knowledge, and why it was relevant for the company. The Master’s thesis wasn’t just a theoretical demonstration. It gave me different perspectives, and prepared me extremely well for my job search.”

Cathrine Curting, HR and education consultant, Kongsvang. Education Studies, 2015 graduate