The MSMS Thesis Requirement

General Information

Affording students an opportunity to explore a topic in depth, the thesis is a key component of the MSMS program. A thesis integrates previous career experiences and academic knowledge to present independent scholarly insights to the MIT Sloan community and the field of management at large.

Beyond fulfilling the degree requirement, a thesis can have a profound effect on career development and real world productivity. Many students find that the thesis experience forces them to push beyond what they think they are capable of doing to grow both personally and professionally. During the researching and writing processes students learn more about a field, company or industry and broaden their network of contacts though research, interviews, or surveys. Sloan students may be offered exciting career opportunities based in part on the quality or content of their theses. Sponsored students have used their theses to make meaningful contributions to their organizations while continuing their education. Self-sponsored students have written theses that are sold to companies or used to start companies of their own.

Administrative Note: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology requires a thesis to grant a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. As all graduates of the MSMS program receive a M.S. it is an institutional requirement for successful completion of the program.

Thesis Approaches Include:

  • Business Plan: A business plan or feasibility study can include an industry analysis, a market assessment, and plans for product development, marketing, financing and staffing.
  • Case Study: A case study uses a specific example to illuminate a theoretical approach, a general trend, or a variety of managerial problems.
  • Comparative Analysis: A comparative analysis can clarify the behavior or distinguishing characteristics of some phenomenon. It can be applied in a variety of contexts (e.g., comparing models or methods or trends at the national or corporate level, etc.).
  • Historical Study: An historical study describes and/or analyzes the history of a trend, industry, organization, etc.
  • Hypothesis Testing/Theory Development: This approach typically involves developing and/or testing a hypothesis with a set of data.
  • Industry/Competitive Analysis: An industry/ competitive analysis can include an examination of industry structure, economics, market trends, and the positions of companies within the industry. Analyses can also focus on aspects of an industry, such as research and development, regulation, and labor.
  • Marketing Study: A marketing study may involve a complete marketing plan, or it may focus on a particular aspect, such as product characteristics.
  • Method Design: This approach involves designing an analytic framework, a procedure or a process to address a problem.
  • Model Design: This approach involves creating a mathematical model or a computer program to analyze or address a problem.
  • Policy Study: A policy study involves defining a problem, analyzing why it is a problem, searching for and discussing a range of alternative solutions and recommending or describing the implementation of a specific solution. Policy studies are often applied to problems in the public or government domain, although they may be applied to problems in the corporate world or to those problems facing a specific organization.
  • Strategic Study: A strategy study can involve a complete strategic plan for a firm, or it can focus on other aspects, such as trends in a particular sector.
  • Technology Study: A technology study can focus on the economics, strategy, development, engineering, and/or diffusion of a particular technology.

Selecting Thesis Topics

In selecting topics students draw upon:

  • Classes at MIT Sloan (or other institutions)
  • Past Theses
  • Interests outside of Academia
  • Recent Events
  • Company Projects

Note: Applicants are asked to write an admissions essay about a potential thesis topic during their time at MIT Sloan. Though accepted students may make adjustments to the subject before submitting the official Thesis Proposal in late November, it is generally expected that themes from the essay should reflect the proposed project.

Finding an Advisor

The MSMS program does not assign faculty advisors. Individual students have the freedom to develop a topic and find an advisor on their own, but with support from the MSMS Program Office. Considerations for selecting advisors often include:

  • Mutual Interest
  • Degree of interest
  • Working styles

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Thesis Titles of MSMS Alumni (2014)
A Credit Default Model Risk and Securitization for a portfolio of Loans for Micro and Small Enterprises in Mexico
A framework of best practices and management principles for corporations expanding beyond their national boundaries
A New Direction and Business Plan for the Golf Business in Korea: Strategies for Attracting Customers to the Domestic Market
A Study on Corporate Entrepreneurship in the Semiconductor Industry
Business Plan for a Food Service Business Based on the Best-Fit Online Delivery Model
Case for sustainability in strategy and operations: The search for competitive advantages in sustainable supply chains
Evaluation of public early stage capital initiatives in Norway
Fixed income arbitrage strategies during and after the financial crisis: risks, returns, and adaptation
From Early Stage Digital Start ups Social Media Exposure to Financial Performance: To What Extent is a Momentum a Precursory Sign of a Sustainably Successful Startup?
Global analysis and market strategy in the green vehicle battery industry
Global gender quotas: a review of the current state of knowledge and resultant implications
How the Emergence of a Group Culture within Recently Formed Music Bands Influence their Collective Decision Process
Identifying and Evaluating Business Cycle Risk Factor Exposures and Industry-Specific Characteristics that Increase the Probability of Financial Distress
Implications of the Market and Regulatory Environment in China on Multinational Water Companies
Innovation Spaces
Integration of Analytics and Sustainability to drive bottom line results
Litigation Charges of Public Companies when they Fail to Disclose Information Timely to Investors
Looking for a statistical relationship between hedge fund manager returns during and after market bubbles
Overcoming Challenges of M&A in India
Power of enterprise social media
Review of the Various Sustainability Indicators and Identification of Components of an Ideal Sustainability Index
Startup Operations and Supply Chain Road Guid Proposal, Based on Robotics Cluster Case Studies
Strategic analysis on the Smart TV ecosystem from a manufacture perspective: Samsung’s role and strategy in the Smart TV ecosystem
Strategic Management, Organizational Theory and Systems Thinking: the basis of the Dialectic Organization
Strategic scent selection: A marketing research study for Olivita brand
Study on financial information disclosure and information quality of US listed Chinese companies and regulation impacts on corporate governance
Technology platform policy and its effect on market acceptance: the case study of Android and iOS platform
The emergence of government-directed degrowth of industrial economies and corporate social responsibility as alternative pathways to achieving sustainable development
The Impact of Basel II Reforms in Europe: A Contraction in SME Lending?
The Impacts of Quantitative Easing on US financial markets
The Modeling of Low Energy Building Diffusion in China
Use STAMP System Thinking Model to Study A Chinese Food Safety Case
Utilizing Chaos and Informal Structures to Spur Innovation
Venture Capital in the United States and Europe: a comparative analysis

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