A Deep Dive Into The Difference Between a Thesis And a Dissertation

All graduates come up with passing a thesis and dissertation at the end of their studies. Both documents should reflect all the knowledge and skills you will gain during your studies. And while it is an obligatory step for every student, there needs to be more clarity in comprehending the difference between a thesis and a dissertation. Often people with different levels of education describe various concepts with one term. 

That’s why we put in a nutshell all features and distinguish between thesis and dissertation to help you with the correctness of writing and constructing these projects. After reading this article, you will clearly understand what paper you should write and when.

Fact Check What Is A Thesis 

A thesis is academic project undergraduates construct at the end of their studies. It requires providing research based on existing studies and scientific evidence. With this paper, you should prove all your knowledge gained during the course. Usually, learners do this type of scholarly writing to obtain and confirm a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

To create a quality project, a student should choose an interesting topic with ample opportunities for research and analysis. Usually, the academic advisor will suggest some matters related to your subject. Besides, the thesis structure depends on the discipline you learn and your educational degree. Generally, it consists of several components:

  • The introductory part
  • The main part
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

The introductory part includes the title page, table of contents, abstract, and a list of conventions, symbols, units, abbreviations, and terms. In this part, you indicate your personal information about your subject, course, academic advisor, etc. Also, here you describe in short the purpose of your research.

The main body consists of an introduction and several chapters. The last one should contain detailed information about explanations of why you chose a particular topic, an analysis of the literature, some theoretical materials proven by resources, your explorations, and their results.                                                    

Conclusions should contain scientific novelty or personal opinion regarding the already known material as a result of the research, while the bibliography should indicate all resources you use during your investigation.   

With this minimum required, you will get the chance to obtain the Master degree.

What Is A Dissertation And Its Usage

A dissertation is an extensive report student should prepare to confirm his doctoral degree. Being a Master in a particular subject, you should know how to provide research and analyze scientific facts. In addition to these skills, you should profoundly explore the topic to add a new view to existing materials. It means you may create hypotheses, refute some studies or supplement them with new facts. As you can realize, the dissertation claims more time and force for its creation. 

The dissertation structure is quite similar to the thesis one. But its principal distinction is the complexity of the main body. In this part, you should indicate several things:

  • The literature review of predecessors that investigate this topic;
  • The actuality of your research;
  • The importance of development in the particular field;
  • The object of the research;
  • The methods and techniques you use;
  • The description of the process;
  • Your innovations and their distinction from the existing ones.

In addition, you should make appropriate conclusions with proven facts about the positives and expediency of your work. Besides, you should add all references and appendicitis with formulas, calculations, graphs, tables, illustrations, and other information that will help to understand and confirm your dissertation.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Key Features

When analyzing the divergence between the dissertation and the thesis, we can describe the key features to distinguish these documents:

  • The aim of the paper;
  • The complexity of exploration;
  • The length of the document.

Let’s come closer to each of these points.

First of all, the purpose of the thesis is to gain a Master degree. Also, you should show all your knowledge and orientation in theoretical background. The student should do an extensive literature review and analyze the topic according to the existing examination. In contrast, the dissertation is the work in which every student comes in the role of the author and invents, investigates, and adds something new and original to the discipline you’re studying. Also, you should present and defend the writing before obtaining the Ph.D.

The dissertation is a profound project with a complex approach to the work. It means you need to examine the literature, then find the best topic to start some experiments. You should find suitable methods and estimate all risks. Also, you should create new theoretical terms, formulas, and calculations to prove your research. The thesis, on the other hand, is a deep analysis of Scholar journals and magazines. It shows your abilities for critical thinking, attention to detail, and mastery to work scientifically. All these qualities are essential for a Master.

Last but not least is the length of the paper. It is the most notable contrast between the two pieces. Since a dissertation requires more research and preparation efforts, its scope will be significantly larger than a project for a Master’s undergraduate. The dissertation length is more than 100 pages. Usually, it takes from 300 to 500 pages to describe all the content. The thesis length is much shorter, from 50 to 200 pages. 

Helpful Tricks To Learn The Difference Between A Dissertation And A Thesis 

Despite the misconception about the similarity between the dissertation and thesis, these two documents have many discrepancies. As was mentioned above, the length, exploration, and gaining a Master or Ph.D. are different. In general, several characteristics distinguish a thesis from a dissertation:

  • The time. The dissertation requires much more time to construct due to the complexity of the investigations. It can take from 4 to 7 years to complete this project. A maximum of two years is allotted for writing a Master’s thesis.
  • The expenditures. The dissertation can be a collective work with many co-authors. You can spend much force and money on research to prove your theory. The thesis demands the participants of only one student to analyze the research.
  • The contribution. The dissertation is a document with unique scientific evidence on the particular subject. Other scientists and writers can analyze, refute or supplement your investments. On the other hand, the thesis describes your opinion regarding some research and literature you scrutinize. 
  • The publication. The difference between a dissertation and a thesis is that the former must be published in one of the many available scientific journals. It provides that other scientists and researchers can use it as a source for citation or as a basis for their research. The latter can also be in the public domain, but no one can use it as a source in their work.
  • Oral presentation. Usually, only a dissertation has an oral presentation and analysis, while the thesis doesn’t require defending.

With these points, we can understand the apparent difference between a thesis and a dissertation. Also, it is an opportunity to obtain a Master’s and a Ph.D. degree to succeed in career and salary.

Thesis VS Dissertation: Bibliography and Resources

Both dissertation and thesis predict analyzing a splendid number of studies. You should choose the topic and select all possible research connected with it. It is hard work as it requires attention and a thorough understanding of the subject. In addition, there is a distinction between the depth of examination.

First of all, the number of research you should examine in a dissertation is more than 100 authors. In contrast, the thesis for the Master demands 50-80 studies, and for Bachelor 30-40 resources. 

Second, in the dissertation, you should question the correctness of existing facts and add new ones based on your experiments. The thesis predicts only describing the current research and showing your attitude toward them.

In both projects, you involve academic journals, scholarly books, magazines, statistic materials, reports, and government data. But in the dissertation, you can include information from narrow research, unpublished articles, estimations, and results of novel investigations.

Also, don’t forget to add all these studies with authors in your bibliography and references. Besides, choose the correct formatting style predicted in your educational institution. The most popular are MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago, etc.

Difference Between a Dissertation And a Thesis In The European Academic World

In Europe, the measures between a  dissertation and a thesis are blurred. It means that you write it to gain the Ph.D. and doctoral degree, but also it can be a part of your Master’s program. At the same time, you can write a thesis and defend it to earn Ph.D. Generally, the thesis can be as extensive and complex as the dissertation. Moreover, the student can include there his investigations and hypotheses. But still, the commission won’t analyze it and take it into account as a proven scientific fact. So in the European academic world, the difference between a dissertation and a thesis is subtle.

Difference Between a Dissertation And a Thesis in The USA Education

In contrast to European countries, the difference between a dissertation and a thesis in the USA is much clear. It depends on the level of your educational program. It means that if a student wants to be a Master, he should create a thesis at the end of the two-year course. The same approach is with the dissertation – it is necessary for gaining a doctoral degree.

Additionally, the thesis in the USA is shorter and less complex in comparison with the European version. It doesn’t predict any original explorations. 

The dissertation, on the other hand, is a project that requires the appropriate level of expertise. A student should be a Master’s in the discipline and have some experience in scientific research to do experiments and control the process. It also demands the involvement of people and resources for implementation.

Dissertation VS Thesis: Common Aspects

As we mentioned above, a dissertation and thesis are documents that are based on researching the literature on your particular topic. They have many distinctions, but there are several things in common:

  • They demand perfect analytical abilities.
  • The text must be correct in grammatical, structural, and theoretical terms.
  • You should edit, rewrite, and correct both documents according to the proposals of the commission.
  • The material should be exclusive and unplagiarized.
  • Student creates both projects to gain the appropriate academic degree.
  • In both cases, a student must have deep knowledge and understanding of the discipline.

Additionally, when creating a thesis and dissertation, the educational institution assign you an academic advisor who helps and proofreads your work. Also, there is a commission that checks and confirms your paper. This commission makes a verdict on whether you will receive a new degree or not.


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