What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation?
If you're contemplating graduate school, you may have heard that a comprehensive paper is required to graduate, and you likely wonder what exactly is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation. It's good that you're thinking ahead. There are definite differences between the two terms, though they are sometimes used interchangeably and often confused. Both papers are similar in their structure, as they contain an introduction, literary review, body, conclusion, bibliography and appendix. Beyond that, the similarities basically end. Let's delve further into the definition of each and the differences between them.
Basic Thesis and Dissertation Differences
The main difference between a thesis and a dissertation is when they are completed. The thesis is a project that marks the end of a master's program, while the dissertation occurs during doctoral study. The two are actually quite different in their purpose, as well. A thesis is a compilation of research that proves you are knowledgeable about the information learn throughout your graduate program. A dissertation is your opportunity during a doctorate program to contribute new knowledge, theories or practices to your field. The point is to come up with an entirely new concept, develop it and defend its worth.
Structural Differences Between a Thesis and a Dissertation
A master's thesis is kind of like the sorts of research papers you are familiar with from undergrad. You research a topic, then analyze and comment upon the information you gleaned and how it relates to the particular subject matter at hand. The point of the thesis is to show your ability to think critically about a topic and to knowledgeably discuss the information in-depth. Also, with a thesis, you usually take this opportunity to expand upon a subject that is most relevant to a specialty area you wish to pursue professionally. In a dissertation, you utilize others' research merely as guidance in coming up with and proving your own unique hypothesis, theory or concept. The bulk of the information in a dissertation is attributed to you.
Finally, there is a difference in length between these two major works. A master's thesis should be at least 100 pages in length, likely a bit beyond that. However, a doctoral dissertation should be much longer, because they involve a great deal of background and research information, along with every detail of your proposal and how you arrived at the information, according to Purdue University . A dissertation is an extremely complex work. It will likely be two, possibly even three, times the length of a thesis. You will receive guidance from a faculty member who will serve as your dissertation adviser. This adviser will be there to point you in the right direction if you are stuck, can assist in locating resources and ensure that your proposal is on the right track.
Related Resource: Capstone Project
Each school and program has its own guidelines for what a thesis and dissertation should contain, as well as its structure. However, you now have an overview of the difference between a thesis and a dissertation.
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What is a thesis and dissertation.
The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student's research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is chosen by mutual agreement between the student and major adviser, and must be approved by the student's Supervisory Committee. There is no fixed length for the thesis/dissertation, although the Supervisory Committee should provide guidance on format and content.
Masters theses should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student's ability to use the techniques employed in their field of investigation. Doctoral dissertations should demonstrate technical mastery of the student's field and advance or modify current knowledge. Dissertations should treat new material, find new results, or draw new conclusions; or it should interpret old material in a new light. It is expected that the research contained in the thesis/dissertation will be worthy of publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. Students are expected to prepare the manuscript(s) for publication prior to, or soon after, completion of their graduate program.
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Thesis Vs. Dissertation — Know the difference and similarities!
The academic world is filled with many different types of writing assignments, each with its own unique set of requirements and expectations. One common source of confusion for students is the distinction between a thesis and a dissertation. Both are long-form academic works, but there are several key differences between the two that are important to understand.
In Shakespeare’s day, a candidate for a master’s degree would write a thesis, an original paper in which he maintained a certain proposition. Whereas, completion of a doctoral program required submission and defense of a dissertation. He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point-by-point refutations of everything the candidate said.
The focus here was on the student’s ideas and his ability to arrange and express them clearly. If a student wished to advance further in academia he could pursue a dissertation. This was more of a literature review . He would read widely in a particular area and write up his findings, discussing the various authorities and their opinions. The point was to demonstrate that he was well-versed in the literature of the field. While the confusion between the two terms is understandable, we shall tackle the dissertation vs. thesis topic in this article and provide unambiguous insights on it.
Table of Contents
What Is a Thesis?
A thesis is a critically written scholarly piece of research work. Typically, it is submitted by students graduating from a master’s program. The purpose of a thesis is to allow students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying as part of the program.
What Is a Dissertation?
A dissertation is a comparatively lengthier piece of scholarly writing that accounts for your research work throughout the doctoral program. A researcher earns the Ph.D. after submitting and defending his/her dissertation. It includes all information about the original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic conducted by the Ph.D. candidate.
Dissertation vs. Thesis: Differences
- The primary difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the time when they are completed. As mentioned earlier, a thesis is presented at the culmination of a master’s program, whereas, a dissertation is presented to earn a Ph.D.
- A thesis is a compilation of research ensuring that the researcher is well-informed and has knowledge about the research topic learned in the study program. On the other hand, a dissertation provides an opportunity for the researcher to contribute new theories and information to the existing literature in the research field.
- A thesis is a presentation of learned and existing information, while the purpose of a dissertation is to develop a unique concept and defend it based on theoretical and practical results.
- A master’s thesis is approximately 100 pages in length. However, a Ph.D. dissertation should be much longer than a thesis and must include background and research information. A dissertation must include your research proposal, grant proposal, literature review , ideation of research topic, and every other minute detail about your research. Ideally, a dissertation inclusive of all details mentioned above should be three times the length of a master’s thesis.
Dissertation vs. Thesis: Similarities
- Both a thesis and a dissertation are considered final projects and are required to graduate from respective programs.
- The thesis and dissertation both require a deep and accurate understanding of the research problem.
- Both forms of scholarly written pieces must address specific research questions.
- Academic writing skills are imperative for a thesis as well as a dissertation.
- Ethical practices must be followed while collating and documenting research data.
- Plagiarism is not accepted in either.
- Both require analytical skills to support the findings.
- The thesis and dissertation, both require intense editing and critical proofreading before final submission.
Dissertation vs. Thesis: Europe
In Europe, the original distinction between a thesis and a dissertation has been largely retained. A doctoral thesis is a focused piece of original research that is performed to obtain a Ph.D. A dissertation is part of a broader post-graduate research project.
However, the thesis has evolved since original research nowadays requires plenty of background research . So, a thesis will contain extensive citations and references to earlier work, although the focus remains on the original work that comes out of it.
Dissertation vs. Thesis: USA
In the United States, the definition of a thesis is almost the opposite of that in Europe. Because a thesis is shorter than a dissertation it gradually came to mean a preliminary degree on the way to a doctorate. A thesis is now performed to earn a Master’s degree. In scientific fields, a master’s candidate takes advanced coursework and gains hands-on experience in a research project but does not direct the project to the same extent that he would in a doctoral program. In a master’s project, the student’s ideas are welcomed and expected but the focus is on obtaining technical expertise, not doing original research. Engineering students commonly obtain Master’s degrees and seldom go on to get PhDs. In other fields such as Chemistry, the opposite is true, with a Master’s degree no longer being required as the first step for a doctorate. Almost everyone I know who received a Master’s degree in Chemistry got one because they dropped out of graduate school and wrote their truncated research as a Master’s project.
In a Nutshell
Needless to say, the dissertation vs. thesis facts are real. Therefore, using one term instead of another is not acceptable as an academic. One must remember the purpose of each and use them accordingly. However, one is not undermined by the other. Whether you are writing a thesis or a dissertation, both must be done with the same seriousness. Both require critical technical and soft skills. Improving your time management and academic writing skills plays a major role in acing both forms of scholarly writing.
How do you decipher dissertation vs. thesis? Should the interchanged usage of these terms be acceptable? How is your approach to writing a thesis different from that of a dissertation? What are the other differences associated with the thesis and dissertation? Let us know in the comments section below!
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Dissertation vs. Thesis: A Comparison
No matter what your field or specialty is, earning a graduate degree is one of the best ways to advance your career. In fact, for some professionals, earning a master’s degree and a doctoral degree is a requirement. A graduate degree program nurtures professional critical-thinking skills and refines field-specific knowledge, enabling you to prove your expertise and competence.
When completing a graduate degree program, students are required to produce a major research and writing project, such as a dissertation in a doctoral program or thesis in a master’s program. These two projects are often confused, so what is the difference between a dissertation vs. thesis? There are a few major differences and similarities between the two that are important for any potential graduate student to know.
What Is a Thesis?
A thesis is an academic paper completed near the end of a student’s course of study for a master’s degree program. Note that most master’s degrees require the completion of a thesis for graduation. Some bachelor’s degree programs even require students to write an undergraduate thesis, which is typically shorter and less in-depth than a master’s degree thesis.
To write a master’s thesis, students select a reasonably narrow topic of interest in their field. For example, if you’re earning a degree in nutrition science , you might examine the effects of varying compositions of pregame meals on athletic performance.
The next step is to conduct an in-depth review of existing research on your topic. You would then formulate an academic argument (for example, that high-carb pre-game meals are advantageous for endurance athletes) and use the existing research to prove your assertion.
A thesis is typically structured in a relatively rigid format, depending on the policies of the university and the individual department. The following components are often required:
- Abstract (summary)
- Table of contents
- Table of figures/maps
- Body, typically divided into chapters
What Is a Dissertation?
In contrast to a thesis, students working on a doctoral dissertation conduct their own original research after reviewing the established research. The goal of a dissertation is not only to prove the student’s own knowledge and skills but also to add to the existing body of knowledge in their field.
Students may present a new theory or hypothesis in their field or present research disproving a previously presented theory. Alternatively, they may tackle a new angle, taking the established research in a new direction.
The traditional order is to take doctoral courses, complete the qualifying exams and then write the dissertation. However, there are exceptions to this. At some universities, the dissertation process is integrated into the coursework. This allows students to get a jumpstart on their research while working toward the completion of their course requirements. As a result, they may graduate more quickly.
The process of writing a dissertation begins in a way similar to the process for a master’s thesis. Students select their topic and then conduct a literature review, which is a thorough analysis of the existing research on that topic. From there, students can work on developing a new theory, debunking a previously established theory or finding a new angle on an existing theory.
The dissertation defense is often one of the most intimidating aspects of the doctoral degree program. However, students work closely with their selected committees throughout the dissertation process. This means you can rest assured that if your committee has allowed your work to proceed to the point of the dissertation defense point, then your dissertation will almost certainly be accepted, and you will be granted your degree after your successful defense.
Like that of a thesis, the specific makeup of a dissertation depends on the policies and requirements of the university and the doctoral candidate’s department. In general, however, dissertations include the following:
- Literature review and theoretical framework
- Discussion of findings (interpretation, analysis and applications)
- Reference list
Differences Between a Dissertation vs. Thesis
The primary difference between a dissertation vs thesis is the degree programs that require these projects. Students in a master’s degree program will write a thesis, whereas students in a doctoral degree program will complete a dissertation.
Another difference between the two projects is that a dissertation usually requires an oral defense, whereas a thesis generally does not. After submitting the completed dissertation to their dissertation committees, students will schedule dates for the oral presentation of their work. The committee members will ask questions and sometimes pose challenges. Students must be able to justify their methodology and interpretation of their findings.
Additionally, as you might expect, a typical master’s thesis is far shorter than a typical doctoral degree dissertation. A thesis might be between 40 and 80 pages, although it can vary from one degree program to the next. In contrast, the average dissertation is between 100 and 300 pages.
Similarities Between a Dissertation and a Thesis
Despite the differences, there are some similarities between a dissertation and a thesis. Both require intensive research and the completion of a lengthy paper comprised of original writing.
In addition, both projects require the following:
- The skillful defense of an academic argument (the stance or main point of the paper)
- Analytical reasoning and critical thinking
- In-depth expertise about the subject area
- A significant investment of time (years for dissertations and months for theses)
- A willingness to rewrite and edit based on feedback from professors, peers or committee members
Another similarity is the committee. All doctoral degree students work with a committee comprised of faculty members, advisors and similar professionals who guide the student’s research and writing. It’s also customary for students writing a master’s thesis to have a committee.
In both thesis and dissertation committees, the committee chair is the primary point of contact for the student. In other words, the chair is the person who is most closely involved with shaping the direction of the student’s research, academic arguments and writing.
For both types of degree programs, the thesis or dissertation is a requirement to graduate with the degree. It is typically considered the capstone project.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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Dissertation vs Thesis: The Differences that Matter
As a graduate student, you will have many different types of challenging coursework and assignments. However, the biggest project that you’ll work on when earning your master’s or doctoral degree will be your thesis or dissertation . The differences between a dissertation vs thesis are plenty. That’s because each of these pieces of writing happen at different times in one’s educational journey.
Let’s break down what a dissertation and thesis are so that you have a strong handle on what’s expected. For both a thesis and a dissertation, there is an obvious fluency and understanding of the subject one studies.
Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences.
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What is a dissertation.
When you enter a doctoral program to earn a PhD, you will learn a lot about how to conduct your own research. At the culmination of your degree program, you’ll produce a dissertation.
A dissertation is a lengthy piece of written work that includes original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic. As the doctoral student, you get to choose what you want to explore and write about within your field of study.
What is a Thesis?
A thesis is also a scholarly piece of writing, but it is for those who are graduating from a master’s program. A thesis allows students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying.
Main Differences Between a Thesis vs. Dissertation
The biggest difference between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis is based on existing research.
On the other hand, a dissertation will more than likely require the doctoral student to conduct their own research and then perform analysis. The other big difference is that a thesis is for master’s students and the dissertation is for PhD students.
Structural Differences Between a Thesis and a Dissertation
Structurally, the two pieces of written analysis have many differences.
- A thesis is at least 100 pages in length
- A dissertation is 2-3x that in length
- A thesis expands upon and analyzes existing research
- A dissertation’s content is mostly attributed to the student as the author
Research Content and Oral Presentation
Once completed, some programs require students to orally present their thesis and dissertation to a panel of faculty members.
Typically, a dissertation oral presentation can take several hours. On the other hand, a thesis only takes about an hour to present and answer questions.
Let’s look at how the two scholarly works are similar and different:
- Each is considered a final project and required to graduate
- Both require immense understanding of the material
- Written skills are key to complete both
- Neither can be plagiarized
- Both are used to defend an argument
- Both require analytical skills
- You will have to draft, rewrite, and edit both pieces of writing
- For both, it is useful to have another person look over before submission
- Both papers are given deadlines
- A dissertation is longer than a thesis
- A dissertation requires new research
- A dissertation requires a hypothesis that is then proven
- A thesis chooses a stance on an existing idea and defends it with analysis
- A dissertation has a longer oral presentation component
The Differences in Context: Location Matters
The united states.
In the US, everything that was previously listed is how schools differentiate between a thesis and a dissertation. A thesis is performed by master’s students, and a dissertation is written by PhD candidates.
In Europe, the distinction between a thesis and dissertation becomes a little more cloudy. That’s because PhD programs may require a doctoral thesis to graduate. Then, as a part of a broader post-graduate research project, students may complete a dissertation.
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The purpose behind written research.
Each piece of writing is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate his or her ability to think critically, express their opinions in writing, and present their findings in front of their department.
Graduate degrees take a lot of time, energy, and hard work to complete. When it comes to writing such lengthy and informative pieces, there is a lot of time management that is involved. The purpose of both a thesis and a dissertation are written proof that you understand and have mastered the subject matter of your degree.
A doctoral degree, or PhD, is the highest degree that one can earn. In most cases, students follow the following path to achieve this level of education: Earn a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s, and then a PhD. While not every job title requires this deep educational knowledge, the salaries that come along with each level of higher education increase accordingly.
Earning Your Degree
Whether you are currently a prospective student considering earning your higher education degree or a student enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program, you know the benefits of education.
However, for some, earning a traditional degree on-campus doesn’t make sense. This could be because of the financial challenges, familial obligations, accessibility, or any other number of reasons.
For students who are seeking their higher education degrees but need a flexible, affordable, and quality alternative to traditional college, take a look at the programs that the University of the People has to offer.
University of the People is an entirely online, US accredited and tuition-free institution dedicated to higher education. You can earn your Master’s in Business Administration or your Master’s in Education . Not to mention, there are a handful of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs to choose from as well.
If you want to learn more, get in touch with us !
The Bottom Line
Regardless of where and when you earn your master’s or doctoral degree, you will likely have to complete a thesis or dissertation. The main difference between a thesis and dissertation is the level at which you complete them. A thesis is for a master’s degree, and a dissertation is for a doctoral degree.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to research and write so much. Your educational journey has prepared you with the right time management skills and writing skills to make this feat achievable!
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What is the Difference Between a Dissertation and a Thesis?
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And to make it even more confusing, some institutions or departments will even use the terms differently!
But what are we all really talking about when we refer to a dissertation or a thesis? And does the term you use actually impact on what you actually end up writing?
This article covers the main differences between a dissertation and thesis, and how the terms may differ depending on the course, university and location.
What is a dissertation?
A dissertation is a piece of academic writing centred around original research. In their dissertations, students review existing research but also build on this with unique hypotheses and approaches.
A dissertation can be used to disprove a previous theory or take existing theories and research in a new direction. It is a large research project that is usually completed at the end of the academic year.
Usually, a dissertation starts with a dissertation proposal , which is approved by a study supervisor. The student then completes the research and writes up the methodology , findings, evaluations and conclusions from the research.
Dissertations can be undertaken by both undergraduate and postgraduate students. At undergraduate level the word count is around 5,000 to 8,000 and at postgraduate level it is usually 10,000 to 15,000.
What is a thesis?
A thesis is an academic paper covering an in-depth review of existing research in a particular discipline. It will involve an academic argument, although it doesn’t usually require original research from the student. The existing research is used to support and evaluate the proposed argument.
A thesis is not usually required at undergraduate level and is more common at postgraduate level.
This large piece of written-up research is usually completed at the end of a masters degree. Some masters courses require a thesis to graduate.
Differences between a dissertation vs thesis
The main purpose of a writing a dissertation is to add new findings to the existing literature in that field with original research. Whereas theses tend to evaluate existing findings, as their purpose is to demonstrate knowledge and skills within the course’s subject matter.
In terms of how long it takes to complete a thesis or dissertation project, a thesis is typically shorter than a dissertation since there are fewer original research aspects involved. This means that it will probably take less time. However, this can differ depending on the university and the course.
Dissertations sometimes require an oral presentation, known as a viva , where findings are showcased to academics who ask questions about the research. Theses usually do not require this.
The root of the words
The word ‘dissertation’ originates from the Latin word ‘dissertare’, meaning to continue to discuss and the Latin word ‘disserere’ which means to examine and discuss .
The word ‘thesis’ originally comes from the Greek word ‘tithenai’, which means to place or position. This later evolved into the Latin ‘thesis’, which had two meanings: an abstract question and to put something forward .
Similarities between a dissertation vs thesis
Although there are some key differences between a dissertation and a thesis, there are also similarities.
- Both are generally long pieces of academic writing, much longer than a typical essay.
- Both explore a topic in depth, whether you are conducting totally unique research or structuring an argument based on existing research.
- Both are considered a final project and usually required to graduate from a degree, masters or PhD. Students can graduate without a thesis or dissertation if they choose to complete a postgraduate diploma or postgraduate certificate instead.
- Excellent academic writing skills are highly important for both types of research project.
Is a dissertation harder than a thesis?
Though, the difficulty of a thesis or dissertation depends on your personal skill set. For instance, students that learn better by developing their own research ideas may find a dissertation easier than a thesis.
Difficulty can also depend on the level of the course. For instance, a thesis completed at doctorate level is likely to require more advanced knowledge than a thesis at undergraduate level.
The difficulty of either type of research project can also vary depending on the subject matter and the resources available to you.
Both dissertations and theses can be challenging, but don’t be put off by the thought of having to produce a larger body of work. Your supervisor will be there to support you.
Definitions depend on where you are
The terms ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ are sometimes used interchangeably, and the meanings can differ depending on the country and university.
There are plenty of differences between the variant forms of English, such as British English and American English. Around the world, different English-speaking countries use the words ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ differently.
Generally, nations with British-based academic systems of university education use dissertation to refer to the body of work at the end of an undergraduate or masters level degree . British-based institutions generally use thesis to refer to the body of work produced at the end of a PhD .
In countries and institutions that are based on the American system of education, the words tend to be used in reverse. However, institutions and even different departments in the same university can use the words differently.
If you're in doubt, then stick with the way the university and department you're currently attending use the terms.
Definitions can depend on the subject
In the UK, the terms ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ are generally applied equally across institutions and subjects.
However, in the US the meanings can differ between different subject areas. The term ‘thesis’ can be used to describe a piece of original research in US academia, whereas original research is usually referred to as a dissertation in the UK.
If you’re studying in the US , you may complete a thesis at masters level in another subject area that involves wide-ranging reading and understanding rather than original research and still call it a thesis.
With so much interchangeability between the two terms, it’s understandable that there is often confusion in the debate between a dissertation vs thesis, as there is no clear answer.
Always read specific course details to understand exactly what’s involved in the research project that you are required to produce.
Examples from US and UK universities
Georgetown University in the US refers to a dissertation and a thesis as both adding to your 'field of knowledge' . The University of Edinburgh recommends that you refer to your individual course handbook for guides to dissertations, so each department will have their own guidelines to using the word dissertation and thesis. At University College London they refer to a thesis as the piece of work at the end of an EngD, MPhil, MD(Res) or PhD, which are all research degrees.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter which word you use as both refer to a serious and lengthy piece of work where you can show what you have researched and understood as part of your postgraduate studies.
As long as you are referring to the piece of work that you are compiling in the same way as those in your department then you will avoid confusion.
It is important to check whether the research piece involves original research or expects you to build upon existing research.
Writing a dissertation or a thesis requires a substantial amount of planning and work and you don't want to let yourself down at the last hurdle with poor presentation of your work, so always keep an eye on your course or department guidelines.
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What Is a Thesis?
Writing a thesis is often required in US university degree programs. But what exactly is a thesis? Do you know the difference between a thesis statement and a thesis project? Read on to learn more.
If you are considering studying in the US, you may have come across the term “thesis” in your research. Writing a thesis is an important part of completing your degree. Read our guide to find out what a thesis is in the US, the benefits of writing a thesis, and why colleges in the US value them.
What Is a Thesis?
In the US, students may use the term “thesis” to describe two distinct academic requirements:
Thesis statement—the focus of an academic paper. Papers with a clear thesis statement are typically required in liberal arts classes, such as literature or history, and can vary in length and citation style.
Final thesis—a longer academic paper required to complete a degree program. These often require months (or even years) of research and may be defended in front of a university committee.
Let us take a closer look at both meanings.
What Is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is one to three sentences in the introduction of an academic essay outlining what the reader can expect. It is an argument, or claim, that will be defended through your research. A strong thesis statement identifies the topic to be discussed, summarizes the main arguments, and persuades your audience to continue reading.
Typically, a good thesis statement consists of two components:
Topic—tells the reader what your essay is about.
Argument about the topic—explains your logical claims and ideas about the topic.
What Are the Different Types of Thesis Statements?
The thesis statement you write may vary depending on the type of academic paper you are writing.
Argumentative—presents a topic which is debatable and reasons supporting the topic.
Analytical—presents a claim and explains how it is supported.
Expository—presents a topic and explains what the reader will learn in your paper.
How to Write a Good Thesis
When looking at how to write a thesis statement, it is important to understand the meaning of a thesis. A thesis identifies a question on a topic that relates to your degree program, which you then have to answer with a sensible argument, using credible research and findings.
Here are some tips you can use when you are writing a thesis:
Research and identify your thesis topic —To write a good thesis, consider what your thesis is going to be about. Are there any areas in your field that you would like to explore further? Research is an important foundation to your thesis. Give yourself enough time to conduct enough research to support your central argument. (Professors and advisors can help you with time management and making a research plan.) Collecting evidence to support your claims and reading a wide range of sources on the topic can help you build a sound foundation for your thesis.
Work on a strong thesis statement —A good thesis needs a strong opening statement. Your thesis statement gives those who are reading and grading your work a summary of what will be discussed, why your claim is important, and persuades them to read more. Consider the following scenario: If someone asked, “what is a thesis statement?” and you showed them your paper, would they be able to identify the thesis right away? You always want to be as clear and convincing as possible when putting together your central argument.
Put all your information together —Once you have built a strong thesis statement, organize all your research and supporting information. Analyze your data and identify whether it is relevant to your research topic. A thesis should be persuasive. Acknowledge that there could be multiple sides to your argument, while also keeping your thesis specific, comprehensive, and decisive.
Build a solid structure —It is important that the flow of your thesis is logical and straightforward. Make an outline to organize your ideas and provide a roadmap before you start writing.
Review and take your time to edit —Take time to edit your thesis. As you revise, reevaluate your points, see where you can strengthen your arguments, and fill in any gaps.
Include citations —Citing your sources provides credibility – and also ensures you won’t plagiarize another scholar’s work.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help —You can speak to your professor, an advisor, or a classmate for guidance on how to write a thesis statement, the structure of your thesis, or any other sections you want to clarify. They can provide valuable feedback to improve your project.
Some important questions to ask yourself during the thesis writing process are:
What is a thesis and why am I writing it?
Will the reader understand my thesis statement meaning and intention?
Have I answered the question my thesis is based on?
Do I have a strong thesis statement?
Does my thesis add value to my field?
Remember: Your professors and advisors want you to succeed. Speak to your Shorelight advisor if you’re struggling with writing a thesis paper or final thesis – our academic counselors are here to help!
Which Subjects Require a Thesis Statement in Academic Papers?
Many college professors assign academic papers for students to explore subject topics further — this information can be found on your course syllabus , giving you plenty of time to prepare! In almost every undergraduate-level subject you study, you may be required to develop thesis statements for your academic papers. Writing a thesis statement paper helps improve your critical thinking skills, as it requires you to identify and analyze multiple sources of information to form strong arguments — a useful skill in both the classroom and the workplace.
How Is a Thesis Statement Graded?
Your thesis statement will be evaluated based on how well you have used research to support your argument, and how effectively you have communicated your ideas (e.g., whether your paper is well written, clear, and specific). How your thesis statement is evaluated will vary depending on your subject area and the university, but your course syllabus should include detailed grading requirements.
What Is a Final Thesis or Dissertation?
A final thesis, sometimes known as a dissertation, is a compilation of research on a specific topic. Typically, a thesis or dissertation is required to complete a master’s degree in the US. While it is not common, you may be expected to write a thesis to complete your bachelor’s degree. For example, in some liberal arts colleges, writing a thesis is a degree requirement, a way to showcase what you have learned over your program of study, and may even add to the body of research in your specialization. A final thesis or dissertation is significantly longer than a thesis statement, and may take months or even years to complete.
What Are the Main Components of a Final Thesis or Dissertation?
Generally, a final thesis consists of five major sections.
Introduction —The introduction of your thesis explains the topic and central argument to the reader at a high level. The introduction should go over why you chose the topic, and act as a summary of what you will be covering in the pages to follow.
Literature Review —This section includes research papers, studies, and articles related to your topic area. You also are expected to identify gaps and weaknesses in existing research, which helps you build counterarguments and develop a strong claim.
Methodology —This section explains the methods and data used to conduct your research.
Results —The results section presents the findings of your study.
Discussion and Conclusion —This section summarizes why and how you conducted your research, the results of your research, and presents conclusions based on the results.
What Is a Citation in a Thesis?
When writing either a shorter academic paper with a thesis statement or a final thesis, you are required to include your research sources. Throughout your work, when you directly quote another text or paraphrase ideas, you must cite the source. There are two types of citations:
In-text citation —this reference is included in the text at the point of mention, such as an on-page footnote or parenthetical citation.
End-of-paper citation —also known as endnotes, these are references included at the end of your paper or dissertation.
How Long Does it Take to Complete a Thesis?
A final thesis to earn a master’s degree requires you to be familiar with previous work in the field and demonstrate your capability of carrying out independent research. From conducting in-depth research to listening to feedback from professors, completing a thesis can be a major commitment.
Many universities in the US may require you to dedicate a semester or longer to complete your research. You will have to work with a faculty committee member to ensure your research and writing is on track. As you compare different graduate programs, you can get a better sense of each program’s dissertation requirements (looking at time, research, and more) and which best align with your academic and professional plans .
How Is a Thesis Graded?
Generally, a master’s thesis or dissertation in the US is not graded, but you will have to defend it, or present your research and findings before a university committee. For example, at American University , a thesis is evaluated based on how students demonstrate their capacity to conduct independent research. However, the evaluation of your thesis may vary depending on the university and your subject area.
So, once you have completed your thesis, the next important step is to prepare well for your thesis defense.
What Is a Thesis Defense?
If you are pursuing a master’s degree, you are required to meet with a thesis committee upon completion of your thesis to defend what you worked on. At this stage, you will have already worked closely with faculty advisors and received ongoing evaluations. A thesis defense can take many forms, from presenting in front of a panel and taking questions and answers to a more informal discussion with select faculty and advisors. Your individual program will have a clear and established process regarding this important final task required for your degree.
Are a Thesis and a Dissertation the Same?
The terms thesis and dissertation may be used interchangeably. While they are similar in terms of the structure, in the US, there are differences between a thesis and a dissertation.
Type of degree
Generally required to complete a master’s degree
Required at the doctoral level
Will vary by program, but expect at least 60–80 pages plus the bibliography
At least double the length of a thesis or more
Proves how well you understood what you learned during your graduate program
Contribution of a new study or knowledge to your field
Is Writing a Thesis Mandatory?
Whether writing a thesis is required or not depends upon the program you choose to study. For example, if you are pursuing a liberal arts degree consisting of a wide variety of majors, including literature, history, and philosophy, writing a thesis can help you make connections across subjects.
Some universities and colleges in the US may offer both a thesis and a non-thesis option. For example, if you are a student who is interested in taking more classes to learn about your subject, you could choose the non-thesis option. So, instead of writing a thesis, you could either work on a research project or complete supervised fieldwork.
Whether you are writing a shorter paper with a thesis statement for a single class or working on a longer final thesis for your degree, making an argument and supporting that argument with established research gives you a skillset that is versatile and applicable to many fields. While conducting research for the thesis, you will refer to multiple sources, analyze information, and learn how to form strong arguments that will set you up for success wherever you go.
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What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation?
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Updated December 1, 2022 · 1 Min Read
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If you're in a graduate program or are thinking about continuing your education after you obtain your bachelor's degree, you might be wondering what the difference between a thesis and dissertation is. While they are similar in some ways, there are a few differences that set them apart from one another.
Before researching the difference between a thesis and dissertation, you should understand that they are very similar. In fact, the two terms are often used interchangeably. Both theses and dissertations are papers that are assigned to graduate students. Since they are fairly extensive papers, you'll be given a large window of time to do whichever type of paper you are assigned. It will be due at the end of your last year of study. In order to get your degree, you'll have to get a passing grade on your project. The good news is that while it won't be a group project, you'll still be able to get some help from advisers and peers. With many people to help you along the way, passing your thesis or dissertation should be very attainable. If you do end up failing the first time around, many schools will let you resubmit it after you do more work to meet the requirements.
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Type of Degree
According to the United State Census Bureau , over one in ten individuals in the United States have a master's degree or have obtained even higher education, but less than two percent of individuals have obtained a doctorate degree. One difference between a thesis and dissertation is that theses are usually required for a master's degree and dissertations are usually required for doctorate degrees; however, this isn't always true. Some master's degree programs don't require a thesis or dissertation at all. These programs usually have two separate paths that students can take: a thesis option and a non-thesis option. A student who eventually wants to get a doctorate degree is usually encouraged to take the thesis option to prepare himself or herself for the dissertation that he or she will have to write as a doctorate student.
Perhaps the biggest difference between a thesis and dissertation is the intended purpose. A thesis, commonly required to obtain a master's degree, is supposed to test a student's understanding of his or her field of study. The student formulates a proposition, or thesis, based on previous work done by others in the field. This previous work is analyzed by the student in his or her paper as he or she makes a case for a certain point of view. A dissertation is usually done by a doctorate student and focuses on original research. A student who is assigned a dissertation is required to come up with a subject in his or her field that hasn't already been researched. The student then must come up with a hypothesis and do original research to prove or disprove the hypothesis.
Whether you're already a graduate student or are just trying to prepare as much as possible, it's always good to do research whenever you have questions about your education. The difference between a thesis and dissertation might not seem very big, but you'll need to know how they differ before you start working on either of them.
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Dissertation vs Thesis
- Updated on
- Feb 23, 2022
Many students get confused between a Dissertation and a Thesis. A thesis is an academic essay or a research paper that is written as a part of a higher degree. The aim of a thesis is to prove your opinion through a statement. It has a specific length limit and takes less time to complete. It is extremely important for a student to complete and submit their thesis on time to obtain a Master’s Degree. On the other hand, a dissertation is an academic piece of writing based on one’s independent research. It is meant to be submitted as a part of one’s PhD , Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. It can take several months or even years to complete a dissertation. It prepares students to develop problem-solving, project management and numerical skills. Read the whole blog to understand the difference between a thesis and a dissertation, its structure, types of dissertations, thesis and dissertation in India , US , EU and more.
Also Read: What is Research Proposal?
This Blog Includes:
Difference between a dissertation and a thesis, structure of a dissertation, structure of a thesis, similarities between a dissertation and a thesis.
The main difference is the purpose of the submission. A Dissertation is meant to be submitted with the aim of projecting the student’s skills and experience throughout the course of their doctoral program. While a Thesis is meant to be submitted to complete one’s master’s degree.
- A Dissertation consumes more time to complete while a thesis can be completed in even 2 weeks as it comes with a specific length.
- A dissertation is completely based on original research; there is no place for secondary research sources.
- A thesis includes primary and secondary sources; there is no need to analyze a particular field of study.
- A thesis requires argumentations to prove a particular point while a dissertation needs a lot of background research. A thesis includes a viewpoint of the findings while a dissertation requires students to extrapolate their findings.
- A thesis is more of an academic research paper while a dissertation is a lot lengthier than a thesis and is required to be submitted in the form of a book.
Structure of Dissertation vs Thesis
The structural difference between the two lies with the length of the document. A dissertation is a lot lengthier than a thesis which is meant to be at least 100 pages long. The outline of both a dissertation and a thesis is quite similar. Below mentioned are the structures:
The structure must include the 5 chapters of a dissertation that are mentioned below:
- Chapter I: Introduction
- Chapter II: Review of Literature
- Chapter III: Research Methodology
- Chapter IV: Result Presentation
- Chapter V: Summary, Implications and Conclusions
Here is the typical outline of a Thesis for your reference:
- Problem Statement
- Review of Literature
- Significance/Implications (Results of the Discussion)
- Overview of Chapter (Conclusion)
- A dissertation and a thesis are extremely important to get the respective degree.
- The aim of both a dissertation and a thesis is to test a student’s research abilities.
- An obvious similarity between the two is the structure/outline that is followed by both.
- Another similarity is the Guidance, teachers and supervisors are assigned to personally guide the students by helping them through the course of the research.
- Plagiarism is meant to be followed strictly while writing a thesis and a dissertation
Some people use the word dissertation as a synonym for a thesis which is not correct. The purpose of a dissertation and a thesis is what makes it complex to understand the difference between the two. This blog has covered almost everything you needed to know about the difference between the two. However, both of them have a lot of similarities but are done for obtaining different degrees. While writing any of them, remember that it is only adding to your skills. The aim is to improve your academic and research skills.
Dissertation vs Thesis in Different Countries
Those who are pursuing a PhD are required to submit a thesis while the ones pursuing an MPhil must submit a dissertation.
A thesis must be submitted to complete a PhD Degree while a dissertation is supposed to be part of a research project.
The purpose of submitting a dissertation and a thesis is completely different. A dissertation is an independent research project to obtain a Doctoral Degree in the US, while a thesis is a shorter research project that is required to obtain a Master’s Degree.
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A master’s dissertation is generally between 15,000 and 20,000 words.
The top PhD subjects include physical therapy, education, administration, chemistry, political science and technology.
Yes, you can complete a PhD Degree in 2 years.
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- dissertation vs thesis
Daman is a creative and enthusiastic writer who loves to create well researched and impactful content for students willing to pursue higher studies abroad, from universities, courses and exams to writing fun blogs for students abroad. When she is not working, you can find her discussing why Lana Del Rey is the iconic popstar of her generation.
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A thesis is a compilation of research that proves you are knowledgeable about the information learn throughout your graduate program. A dissertation is your
The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student's research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is
A thesis is a presentation of learned and existing information, while the purpose of a dissertation is to develop a unique concept and defend it based on
The primary difference between a dissertation vs thesis is the degree programs that require these projects. Students in a master's degree
A thesis is at least 100 pages in length · A dissertation is 2-3x that in length · A thesis expands upon and analyzes existing research · A dissertation's content
The main difference between a dissertation and thesis is the scope of the research. A dissertation develops unique and original concepts in a particular field
A final thesis, sometimes known as a dissertation, is a compilation of research on a specific topic. Typically, a thesis or dissertation is required to complete
A thesis (plural: theses), or dissertation (abbreviated diss.), is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional
The student formulates a proposition, or thesis, based on previous work done by others in the field. This previous work is analyzed by the student in his or her
The purpose of submitting a dissertation and a thesis is completely different. A dissertation is an independent research project to obtain a Doctoral Degree in