What are the Differences between a Thesis and a Dissertation

What Are The Differences Between A Thesis And A Dissertation


When browsing online essay writing service, you might have noticed that most websites offer thesis writing and dissertation writing services as separate options. If the offering of two separate options confuses you, you’ve come to the right place to find out what exactly is the difference between thesis and dissertation.

Various dictionaries define thesis as follows:

  “A proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections”- Dictionary.com

“A dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view especially: one written by a candidate for an academic degree” –Merriam-Webster

“The paper you have to write in order get a master’s degree” – Urban Dictionary


Whereas a dissertation is defined as follows:

  “A written essay, treatise, or thesis, especially one written by a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.” – Dictionary.com

An extended usually written treatment of a subject specifically: one submitted for a doctorate” – Merriam-Webster


If we look back in time, doctorate degrees were only conferred by doctors. During middle ages, some of the universities were offering masters programs which were considered equal to some other doctorate degrees. However, things have been changed throughout the institutions around the world. Now there is a unified education system. Now the level of degree is associated with the time and all degree levels require a specific time for completion. Most commonly thesis is submitted by students completing their master`s degree and are willing to pursue their studies to doctorate level. If we speak about the name of the document, it is recommended to say Doctors Dissertation and Master`s Thesis. In many old references, we find it quite odd that many master`s thesis have been referred to as Doctors Dissertation.  Feynman’s Thesis is one of those examples. It’s a 119-page paper, which is referred and presented as a doctor’s dissertation. It was a thesis originally and still, it is as per the title.

One main difference that may be highlighted based on the above definitions is that a thesis is often written for masters, whereas a dissertation is a requirement for the completion of your Ph.D. Hence a thesis grants you a higher degree than a dissertation which serves as a part of the degree.

The two also vary in their purpose; a thesis highlights a new area of research to showcase your knowledge about a subject or field, whereas a dissertation is used to introduce new knowledge and theories in a subject field. The thesis is supposed to prove the knowledge that you have gained throughout your time in the program. On the other hand, a dissertation is supposed to bring new topics and expand the subject with your contribution.

Typically there is also a structural difference between the two, a thesis is much more like a research paper, where a topic is researched and information gathered is analyzed and assessed. Critically analyzing the information gathered, and the method through which research is carried out showcases the individual understands and their ability to analyze the information they have. This is the first step in research. A thesis requires that a hypothesis be set at the beginning of the process, and then data information gathered is analyzed to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Even a dissertation is based on primarily done research and literature, but it is only utilized as supporting evidence, the main emphasis is on the work you have done on your own. In a dissertation, there is a unique hypothesis that is to be proven or disproven by mostly the author’s work. It is supposed to add to the broader subject, while also being about the narrower topic. A dissertation requires that all claims made be backed by research, all statements should be based on evidence. This evidence should primarily come from one’s own research, and also from other sources.

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In terms of the word count, a master’s thesis is often more than 100 pages, but a dissertation is longer because of the amount of evidence needed to support the claims made, it could be more than 200 pages. While these were the general overarching differences, the following are more specific differences, however, it is to be borne in mind that different universities may have different requirements and formats for thesis and dissertation:

Definition of Scope

Conducting and executing a thesis requires research and data collection, often through primary means, meaning that the student must conduct surveys and interviews or some other form of study. A dissertation, on the other hand, does not require the execution of primary sources of data collection, it can be done on the data already available to the author, it may well be an analysis of a preexisting literary piece, however the information being propounded within the dissertation must be new, while being thoroughly supported by evidence. Overall, the thesis has a broader scope, the topic may vary in its depth and breadth for a thesis, but a dissertation must be narrower in scope, focusing on the nitty-gritty details of one small thing.

Data collection

Like mentioned in the previous point there are many differences in how data is collected for a thesis versus how it is collected for a dissertation. Primary sources are mostly used by thesis writers and may be collected through any method including surveys, interviews and even extraction of data from other sources. A thesis, on the other hand, relies on secondary data, work that has already been done. Thus requiring thorough and proper referencing and citations. For a thesis, method of obtaining and collecting information need to be presented to an ethics committee who may decide which methods are appropriate, however, different universities and colleges have different requirements.

Varieties Of Both

While collection and analysis of data are both key pillars for a thesis as well as a dissertation, there are also “non-data” types which do not require data. These kinds of thesis and dissertations require that the paper displays the ability to extend the idea, showcase intellect and the work that the student has put in. For a dissertation, it may just be a detailed examination of the already existing work such as practices and theories.

Type of Degree

According to some facts from the United States Census Bureau, every 1 in 10 Americans has obtained a master’s degree, and less than 2 percent of the total American educated population has obtained a doctoral degree. This is where the major difference between thesis and dissertation comes. A thesis is required to pass a master`s degree, while a dissertation is required to complete a doctorate degree. Some master`s programs only require a research paper to be submitted after the completion of course work, while some ask for a thesis. While doing a doctorate degree it is mandatory to submit a dissertation.

Structural Difference

A thesis is something like a research paper just like the one you did in your undergraduate class. You find a topic and then you conduct research on it, proving it to be right or wrong. While doing a thesis you critically utilize your ability to think, analyze the data that is given, and extract your results about it. Basic point of undertaking a thesis is to test your abilities to think critically and extracting information from the given data. In a thesis, you expand on the subject that you will pursue while doing your dissertation. On the other hand, while doing a dissertation a large number of previous research papers are used to extract information that is supporting your hypothesis. Unlike expanding the given topic, you have to conclude it on your findings. In a thesis, you conclude your paper on an open end so that you may expand it and prove your hypothesis in the dissertation.

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Another major difference between thesis and dissertation is the length of both papers. A master’s thesis can be as long as a hundred pages, while a dissertation is much bigger in terms of length as well as research. In both cases, the faculty member or your supervisor has the right to decide whether it should be 50 pages or 100. A doctoral dissertation can be 2 or most probably 3 times the length of any thesis. Every doctoral dissertation starts with a proposal and sometimes the thesis that was submitted in master’s serves as a dissertation itself.


As of now, we have discussed much of the differences that a thesis and a dissertation have, now let’s shed some light over their similarities. Besides serving a separate purpose, a thesis and a dissertation have a lot in common.  Both papers are assigned to graduate students, and they serve as a final passing examination in any institution. Both are very important papers involving extensive research work, and also require a larger window of time for completion. Both papers are being supervised by the most competent professor of the faculty that is why passing a thesis or dissertation is much more attainable. In both cases, students are often given more than one chance to submit their papers.


So in conclusion, the main differences between the two are not entirely the content present within, in many universities the format and style of a thesis and the dissertation is the same. However, in terms of scope both vary because a thesis may have a broader topic but a dissertation must have a more specific topic. Moreover, the thesis requires the collection of original information, whereas for a dissertation it is mostly the author who is to write their own thoughts and support them with opinions.

Before we can conclude this article, we would like you to know, that while there are differences between a thesis and a dissertation, there are also many similarities, For example, both are often means of completing a degree of education. They are also both meant to close a very long and tiring chapter of one’s life. Whether a dissertation or thesis, in any case, while essay writing services will always be ready to help you out with either, you will also need other things through these trying times such as the support of your family and friends, and a constant source of motivation.

Both a dissertation and a thesis would be one of the hardest things a student has to do. Staying up through nights and working tirelessly through the days, there will probably be a time where you will only survive on tea, coffee and other sources of caffeine so that you can get your work completed on time. Everything you learn while writing your thesis or dissertation will stay with you throughout the rest of your life. Your sources of motivation will depend on you, but make no mistake that you will need one because there will be days when you will seriously considering giving it all up and moving to a  new country and starting a new life. But since both are final stages, you have come so far you can’t give up just yet.

Dissertations and thesis can both be responsible for anxiety and depression in students, but the effort you put in it and the results you get will make it all worth it. When you get to add a “Dr.” before your name or get to write masers underneath it you will feel a sense of pride. Work now, and dedicate yourself now, so that you can be as proud of whatever it is you are writing.


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