Woman Has A Maternity Photo Shoot With Her Thesis And All Graduate Students Can Relate

The average graduate thesis takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months to write, although for some people it takes even longer than that when you factor in all of the time spent collecting data.

That’s more time than it takes to make a baby. Hence, why college graduates everywhere are obsessing over this woman’s ‘maternity’ photo shoot with her finished thesis.

Your thesis offers a way to show off all the hard work you put into your field of study over the years – and when you finish that hefty piece of work, it truly feels like your baby!

26-year-old graduate student Sarah Whelan Curtis has gone viral for her hilarious photoshoot with her thesis, and anyone who has ever had to write a thesis can relate.

She captioned the photo: “Yes, I did a photo shoot with my thesis. Longest labor ever. #phdlife.”

Curtis is a Ph.D. Candidate at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is studying epigenetic variation and exposure to endocrine-disrupting compounds.

Her thesis focused on epigenetics – which is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression as opposed to alteration of the genetic code itself.

While the average thesis takes around 2 semesters to write – Sarah spent four years getting her thesis just right.

So, it was only natural that she publicly announced the completion of her thesis with a maternity photo shoot, but of course!


It didn’t take long for her photos to go viral. So many other students could relate to the sentiment behind the light-hearted pics.

Getting a Ph.D. often puts a hold on one’s ability to start a family – although, in the end, the wait and sacrifice is well worth it.

Sarah spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle, and she shared that her family was ready for her to have some kids of her own, either that or get a doctorate… no pressure!

“I have a lot of nieces and nephews, and my mom told me, ‘Either get a Ph.D. or give me a grandchild. I got my doctorate,” she said.

She couldn’t get away from a social media feed filled with former peers, friends, and family members sharing photos of their newborn babies. This inspired her to showcase her thesis in the same light.


She had her supportive husband snap photos of her lovingly holding her ‘newborn.’ Although, she never could have guessed how popular the images would become!

The tweet was published on June 4, 2019 – since then it has earned over 252,000 likes and has been retweeted over 50,000 times.



Sarah received so much praise and so many positive comments that she’s encouraging other students to share their labor of love, aka their ‘babies.’


The actual length of a master’s thesis will vary based upon the topic and particular requirements. For instance, at Cambridge University, a Sociology P.hD dissertation must not go over 80,000 words but is generally somewhere around this mark.

They are usually somewhere between forty and eighty pages, although some are far longer.

It’s not just women who are feeling the baby love towards their thesis… men are catching the fever too.


Just like with a newborn, the early moments are some of the sweetest… before the sleepless nights and “citations all over” 



This woman’s thesis was 130,000 words – now that’s an accomplishment!


Needless to say, people are loving it 



Another similarity between pregnancy and thesis writing? Weight gain!


Fun facts about the infamous graduate thesis:

  • At best, only a couple of people will ever read it – despite the fact you put years of work into it.
  • Some graduate schools will let you skip out on writing a thesis in exchange for field experience – typically around 300 hours or so. This might sound like a better route, but most people find it takes around one year longer to complete their degree in this fashion.
  • Have to write a thesis of your own? U.S. News and World Report suggests picking a topic that you have past experience with.
  • Before you get to work writing your thesis, you must turn in a proposal for approval.