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Thesis Vs Dissertation- A Comparative Study For Aspiring Students

Thesis Vs Dissertation- A Comparative Study For Aspiring Students

It is always common for students in graduate schools to get confused with the terminologies like dissertation and thesis. The primary purpose of this article is to remove the doubts of such students who are in dilemma in understanding thesis vs dissertation programs offered by the departments or universities.

We have attempted to break down what dissertation vs research paper is essential to finish higher academic studies in any university across the world. Now it is time for us to get into the definition of each and the differences and similarities between them. Interestingly, each of them carries an obvious element of fluency of the subjects the concerned student studies.

Know the basics

Before moving forward in knowing the details about a dissertation vs thesis, let us understand some basics about a dissertation and a thesis. This will help the students in many ways in knowing the similarities and differences between these key writing activities that are involved in the higher studies at various universities across the USA, UK, and other countries.

What is a Dissertation? When a student gets into a doctoral program to obtain a Ph.D. degree, he or she will come to know and learn more about the research works involved in the studies. During the culmination of this doctoral degree program, the concerned student produces a dissertation. In a simple sense, it is a lengthy piece of written work which includes original research on any topic of study whether it an existing or a new one. In this dissertation work, a doctoral student has the opportunity to select what he wants to explore and write about within his field of study.

What is a Thesis? Like the Dissertation, a Thesis is also known as a scholarly piece of writing activity and is meant for students who are graduating with a Master’s degree. It is mainly created to exhibit the knowledge as well as the expertise of students within the curriculum of his or her scheduled academic studies.

Thesis Vs Dissertation

Similarities & Differences

Coming to the main topic of the discussion, a student needs to know the similarities and differences between a thesis and dissertation. Though there are many details to be covered in this area, an attempt is made to know a few factors about dissertation vs proposal which are related to these two programs which are similar as well differ in their own ways.

Similarities between a thesis & dissertation

Both these two terms are used interchangeably and have the sole purpose of learning. They are to be done within a time frame and both can be done or tried many times to get success. In both cases, students can choose the topic for the research to showcase their skills and knowledge they have got while studying their respective programs.

When it comes to the structure and format, both these writing activities are similar and in both research works, students should avoid copyright infringement, and hence copying from other documents is not permitted at all. Both these written activities contain similar formats such as an introduction, literary review, main body, conclusion, bibliography, and appendix.

Difference between Dissertation vs Thesis

The word Thesis is a Greek word that denotes the meaning ‘proposition’, whereas the term Dissertation is a Latin word that carries the meaning ‘discussion’. The thesis is generally meant for a Ph.D. doctoral program wherein the Dissertation is used to obtain an academic degree. These rules are applicable in the USA and the same is reversed in the UK.

The structural difference between a thesis and a dissertation

According to experts from the universities, there are a few structural differences between these two academic programs. Some of the structural differences are shared below for the benefit of the students who are in graduate schools in America and other European countries.

  • A thesis is said to have many pages ranging from one hundred to even a few hundred depending on the subject of studies. It contains extensive analysis and other research documents etc.
  • A dissertation contains few pages but the contents are mostly attributed to the students as the authors. The oral presentation of it takes long hours.

It is all about student’s department and university

When it comes to the dissertation vs thesis meaning, both are adding value to the field of knowledge of the concerned students. Aspects of these two academic programs are determined by the coursebook shared with the students and hence these course works are assigned and guided by the respective departments and the concerned universities.

To cite an example, the popular University College London describes the thesis as a piece of work at the end of a doctoral degree, which is generally termed as a research degree. On the other hand, the University of Edinburgh suggests a coursebook for the dissertation. Hence institutions around the world use different yardsticks on using the word thesis and dissertation.

Also read:

Master’s Thesis – Some Important and Useful Facts


That being discussed about the topic of thesis vs dissertation, it is now easy for the concerned students to understand the difference between a thesis and dissertation. In short, it can be concluded now that a thesis is meant for a master’s degree while a dissertation is applicable for a doctoral degree.

Both refer to a sort of serious and lengthy piece of work where a student can able to express what he or she has researched and understood. Students should never be overwhelmed by the huge volume of writing work as their education journey will always prepare them with write management and writing skills in making this laborious feat achievable in time! Of course, writing a thesis or a dissertation needs a good amount of planning and hence students should always follow the course or department guidelines.

Did you know that a master's thesis and a dissertation are different? A master's thesis is written as part of a master's degree program and is generally shorter and more focused in scope than a dissertation, which is written as part of a doctoral… Click To Tweet

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