Dissertation vs Thesis - Major Differences and Similarities
What are the things that make a dissertation different from a thesis? If you are planning to attend graduate school at the doctoral or master's level then knowing these differences is important for you.
Though they are used interchangeably in many places, there are some things that make them different from each other.
Read the blog to know about these differences and get started with your thesis or dissertation.
In order to get these advanced degrees, it is compulsory for all the students to complete their coursework by doing the necessary readings, research, and project work.
Other than the compulsory courses, most graduate degree programs require the completion of advanced research work, either a dissertation or a thesis.
Dissertation or thesis after many years of studying in order to graduate. Most people use these two terms interchangeably, which means that one term could substitute the other without changing the actual meaning.
However, there are a number of differences and similarities between a thesis and a dissertation. And this is what we are going to talk about in this article.
Thesis or Dissertation - What are the Definitions?
A dissertation and thesis are both academic papers that primarily focus on the student's field of study. Both papers focus on research and explore a particular topic in depth.
What is a Thesis?
A thesis is an important academic research paper required for master’s degree programs. You will have to do a lot of research to complete a thesis paper.
In a thesis, you have to conduct your research which has to be original.
Want to learn more about the thesis? For your assistance, we have curated a step-by-step guide on how to write a thesis.
What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation is another important form of assessment required for doctoral program degrees. Students opting for higher education like doctoral students do this kind of paper.
In this paper type, you are required to synthesize your collected information. Other than that, you can also include your own thoughts.
The objective of both papers is to bring out the theories, concepts, and practical implications acquired during the time period of a graduate student. Apart from the fact that it is a doctoral or master’s degree.
Differences Between Dissertation and Thesis
The words dissertation and thesis are used interchangeably, leading to confusion about what each word actually means.
Despite the interchangeable use of these two terms, a thesis and a dissertation differ in so many ways.
Below you can find 5 major differences between Thesis and Dissertation.
Different countries follow different structures for their education system. The definitions for academic terms are also different. This specifically stands for thesis vs dissertation concepts. It is more specifically different in the US and in Europe.
- It is important for a doctorate program holder to submit a thesis.
- On the other hand, a dissertation is a research project that is required for a Master’s degree program.
In the United States:
- The definitions of thesis and dissertation are completely opposite to each other.
- The thesis is a research project that is compulsory for the program of a master’s degree. On the other hand, a dissertation is compulsory for a doctoral degree.
- So, the thesis will have the arguments from the existing research. While in the dissertation, students will choose a topic that has not been explored yet.
Type of Degree
The thesis vs dissertation is what in the terms they are specifically used for. The dissertation is required to get the highest degree in different fields.
The thesis is required to complete the master’s degree program. So students will have the second cycle qualification after that bachelor’s degree program by submitting their thesis.
There are also some cases where a thesis or dissertation is not required. As it completely depends on the type of degree and the institution from where the students are completing their degree.
Another important difference between dissertation and thesis is the data collection process in which the students go through. Apart from the differences, keep in mind that the purpose of both papers is the same.
Master thesis and doctoral dissertation need research conducted in an extensive way in order to prove that the students have gathered enough information on their field of study.
A dissertation is an original or genuine research required for students to graduate from a doctoral or Ph.d. degree program.
In most cases, it uses primary data.
- Focus Groups
- Any other form of data collection used by student
The thesis does not require primary data, it solely relies on secondary data
- Survey reports
- Official statistics
- Existing studies
Purpose of Study
The purpose behind each paper is different and perhaps it is the biggest difference between dissertation and thesis.
A thesis is the usage of secondary sources to elaborate to your professors that you have gathered enough information in the field of your interest.
It starts with the preposition and analysis to make a case for a point of view.
A dissertation is entirely different from a thesis. It is conducted in order to contribute to advance your field by discovering new knowledge which is based on your research.
The length of the project is another important factor in differentiating dissertation and thesis.
The dissertation is based on original research. It can be up to 400 pages. So you can consider it a book on a topic of your interest.
As discussed above, the thesis relies on secondary sources and does not involve in-depth research. So its length is up to 100 pages. It is not a complete book but a subject. You can explore our step-by-step guide on how to write a thesis.
Below you can find a sample of the thesis that you can check to clearly understand and everything about thesis writing. However, we don't recommend you copy the work.
Similarities Between Dissertation and Thesis
The word Thesis and dissertation are used interchangeably, pointing out the fact that there are some similarities between them.
Completing Dissertation or Thesis
Both thesis and dissertation require guidance to complete. This is the main reason why advisors or instructors are assigned to provide help to students in the whole process.
So, thesis and dissertation are compulsory for students to graduate. Students who undertake these projects get a passing grade which is usually b or above. Because of the mentorship and the efforts that students put into completing their thesis or dissertation, they eventually get good grades.
Both dissertation and thesis follow the same structure.
- Literary Review
- The main body of the paper
Though the names are the same in thesis and dissertation, the content may differ.
Dissertation or Thesis Defence
After completing their thesis or dissertation. It is important for students to present them. There are universities that require students to present their projects in oral presentations. It is also known as dissertation defense or thesis defense.
It clearly means that the students will have to present and defend their work in front of a panel of professors, mentors, and experts. Faculty members ask different questions and that you have to answer in your final paper and project’s defense. In the end, the professors will evaluate the project and will grade them.
If you are working on your dissertation paper. We highly recommend you to check our step by step guide on how to write a dissertation. It will really help you get started with your paper.
Below you can find a sample of a dissertation that you should check to clearly understand everything about writing a dissertation. However, we don't recommend you copy the work.
Comparison Chart: Dissertation vs Thesis
Now you know the difference between a dissertation and a thesis.
Following is the comparison chart that you can delve further to understand the similarities and differences between them.
Comparison Based on
What is it?
Research that demonstrates the knowledge of the candidate in the field of study
Addition to the existing knowledge
Claiming a hypotheses
Describing a hypotheses
Graduate/Master’s Degree Program
Doctorate Degree Program
To test the understanding and knowledge
To test the ability to conduct an independent research
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It will be useful for you to look at a number of samples to clearly understand before getting started. You can find many examples on the internet that are written in the same way. But clearly, you can find some differences between them.
In addition to that, it is important to note that writing either a thesis or a dissertation is quite a tough job. It needs skills, great ability in writing, patience, and practice.
Writing a thesis or dissertation requires a lot of hard work. So if it complicates you can order a great thesis or dissertation using our dissertation writing services.
Don't forget to get help when you are selecting a graduate program. We will make sure that you find expert writers who know how to write a successful thesis or dissertation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is longer, dissertation or thesis?
A dissertation is longer than a thesis because it requires original and new research. A thesis is based on existing research and its analysis.
Is dissertation only for Ph.D.?
No, a dissertation is for all doctoral-level studies, including EdD, the doctor of education, and other such kinds.
Is thesis a Masters’ degree requirement?
Yes, a thesis is submitted at the end of a Master’s degree, and the degree is awarded on its basis. On the other hand, a dissertation is a part of doctoral studies.
How long does it take to write a dissertation?
Usually, the students spend about one to two years conducting the research and another couple of years completing the writing process.