What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation?

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Whether you want to get a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree, you will need to submit a thesis to an advisory committee. You can’t escape it. But just a moment there – do you know what a thesis means, or what differentiates it from a dissertation? You need to understand what it means, and thesis helpers can guide you seamlessly.

While both are similar in their goals, structures, and objectives, there are still differences between thesis and dissertation that you need to understand as a student or researcher. So, this information here will help you to identify and defer one from another.

On a quick note, a thesis is a general term for any written essay or statement submitted by a student pursuing a university degree. According to ewritingservice.com, a dissertation is pretty much an extended form of a thesis.

However, it is a formal essay compiled under research as a requirement for a doctoral degree. While a thesis proves you know the area, a dissertation shows the contribution you have added to existing knowledge. Contribution to learning is the hallmark of any doctoral research.

Main Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

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Here are some of the differences that you will observe between a dissertation and a thesis;

1. Type of Degree

Generally, a thesis is a compilation of demonstrated knowledge in a research field, which is submitted as a requirement in the completion of a master’s program. However, dissertations are mainly written for doctoral programs.

It has been discovered that both terms are often used interchangeably or even used in the reverse order. However, it is good to know what is right about their definitions.

2. Type of Knowledge

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From the trend of experience, it can be seen that both thesis and dissertation requires the demonstration of specialized knowledge. However, it is the approach to this knowledge that counts.

In a thesis, the writer or researcher demonstrates his knowledge in the area by reviewing previous research and citing their focus. He then goes further to present his ideas based on what evidences are widely obtainable and acceptable in such a field.

The approach is entirely different for a dissertation. Since doctoral degrees culminate in expanding the breadth of knowledge, a dissertation is a way to reveal it formally. A dissertation reviews previous knowledge and places a focal point on the research question.

The research question is the point where the researcher identifies a knowledge gap and hopes to fill it. So, the researcher puts forward this question at the end of his literature review and logically attempts to answer it with detailed research.

The style of presenting this idea and answers, however, has to be original and unique. Primarily, it is the goal of a dissertation to ensure that ideas are presented using communication styles clear enough for the ordinary audience to understand.

Also, the specialized reader community in that field must be able to recognize what particular knowledge has been added. An example is a dissertation (doctoral paper) whose research is on a decrease in the physical activity of women during pregnancy.

Any reader who picks up this paper must logically understand why this decrease should be expected given relevant scientific justification too. But positively, scientists in obstetrics, gynecology, and medicine must identify what the dissertation contributes to existing knowledge.

3. Length of Paper

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A thesis is generally expected to be fewer in pages than a dissertation. This factor is another crucial difference. In the USA, UK, and many other places, a thesis usually ranges 80 to 100 pages. A dissertation can be hundreds of pages or even more based on the depth of research that was done.

4. Length of Time

The time spent on writing a research paper mostly depends on the depth of the research. For research that does not require so much analysis, reviews, or experimental work, you can expect that such paper will not require tedious effort. That is mostly true for a thesis.

Unlike the case of a thesis, a dissertation is the result of a series of experimental designs, results, data analysis, paper reviews, and lots more. It is expected that a thesis takes less time to write than a dissertation.

While we will admit that both require a lot of time, effort, and stress, we must remember that what goes into a dissertation is more than for a thesis for most research.

For example, most thesis leading to a master’s program in the US, UK, Canada, and the rest of Europe takes between 1 to 3 years while dissertation leading to doctoral degrees range from 4 to 5 years or more.

5. Personal Point-of-view

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Since a thesis examines established facts, theories, patterns, and phenomena, there is a limitation to the personal point-of-view additions that the writer can contribute. In the thesis, the writer merely authenticates, validates, or verifies these facts with the aid of models and other data points.

Conversely, a dissertation primarily gives room for the author’s contribution by allowing the researcher to add personal points-of-view to a specific research topic. These personal perspectives can be communicated using the unique and original, yet structured flow of facts, trends, experimental designs, models, figures, data, images, discussion, and arguments.

That is why it is common to see first-person perspectives and point-of-view in dissertations more than in the thesis.


While it is true that both thesis and dissertation are academic papers that inherently share some features such as goals of writing, structure, and presentation, there are still some differences. A thesis is a partial requirement for completing a master’s while a dissertation is for a doctoral degree. For help with editing and proofreading your thesis or dissertation, visit www.papertrue.com.