To all my friends out there seeking higher ed, college student personell, etc. programs, there is a very important element I would like to bring up.
Many of you have found a number of different formats for programs ranging from Comps to Capstone to grades to Thesis. Each of these is terrifying in their own rights and their own way. You will hear a ton of different things about how hard or easy each is and long story short, it depends on where you are, how you demonstrate your knowledge best, and what your future goals are. Do what is right for you.
Now that that is out of the way, let’s address one very important aspect that I have noticed is lacking when following the Thesis route in particular: How to ask a professor to be your chair. I am undergoing this process currently. I faced a few issues in that I will have had one professor who is eligible to be my chair by the time I am supposed to have a chair lined up and that is only because I elected to take an extra class that wasn’t required. On top of that, there is no real chance to get connected to these people naturally and the program only has one meeting with your program advisor to start this process where they suggest names to you (in our case, almost all of us were given roughly the same three names).
I sincerely hope that this is not the norm, but in case you are facing similar circumstances, I wanted to offer what I have learned:
1) Visit professors. I have met several of the professors because I have taken the time to visit during the day when they are in their offices. Not always a practical option, but an important one.
2) Use connections. This could be your advisor, a co-worker, classmate, or someone in the cohort ahead of you. I have started the conversation for another classmate with the professor I have because we both want him to be our chair.
3) Look into your professors interest. See what they have been studying and how it fits in with your own interests.
4) Start the conversation. If the first time a professor talks to you is when you ask them to be your chair, you might get some funny looks. Several of them, however, are more than willing to sit and talk with you during a scheduled time and share their opinions and thoughts. Who knows, you may make some great friends.
Long story short, there is no expert way to do this. Still, take the time to try and attempt to make it happen.