Dissertation vs Thesis: What is the Difference Between Them?

dissertation vs thesis

If you are a graduate student or planning to advance after attaining a bachelor’s degree, one of the requirements to graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. degree is writing a thesis or dissertation. Though the terms “thesis” and “dissertation” are used interchangeably in some universities, there are some outstanding differences. In most cases, a thesis is submitted at the close of a master’s degree while a dissertation is used at the Ph.D. level. Here is a deeper analysis of dissertation vs thesis to establish the main differences, and how to write them.

What Is The Difference Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

To demonstrate the main difference between a thesis and a dissertation, we will go back to back to the beginning. During Shakespeare’s days, a master’s student was required to write a thesis. That was an original paper where the student maintained a specific proposition. The focus was on the student’s ideas. Then, he would read the thesis to the thesis committee that would assess his/her ideas, their arrangement, and clarity.

When the master’s student wanted to advance in academics, he/she was required to work on a dissertation. Unlike the thesis, which was mainly based on the student’s idea, the dissertation was a sort of literature review of works done by others. The student was required to read widely in his area of interest and write findings discussing various opinions and authorities.

  • Dissertation vs Thesis in Europe: The distinction between dissertations and thesis in Europe largely follows what was used during Shakespeare’s era. However, the names are interchanged. A thesis is an original research work that a student has to complete to be awarded a Ph.D. However, a dissertation is part of the research project for a master’s degree.

  • Dissertation vs thesis in the US: In the United States, a thesis is shorter when compared a dissertation. It is performed by students working towards the award of a master’s degree. In some courses, especially the field subjects, master’s students are required to take advanced coursework.

If you want to pursue a Ph.D. in the US, you will be required to write a dissertation. That is an extensive and original research project.

Dissertation vs Thesis: Major Similarities

Once you have established “what is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation”, it is important to move a step further and check their similarities. Here are some of them:

  • Both papers are prepared by post-graduate students either at the master or Ph.D. levels.

  • In both dissertations and thesis, the student is required to select a topic of study and write a complex paper to demonstrate the level of skills and knowledge.

  • Whether you are working on a thesis or dissertation, the first step is writing a proposal.

  • Both thesis and dissertations require a defense. That means presenting your work to the assessment committee and defending the study before getting awarded a master’s or Ph.D. degree.

  • Plagiarism is forbidden when writing a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation.

Dissertation vs Thesis: What It Takes To Pass

For graduate students or those planning to pursue postgraduate studies in the future, understanding the similarities and differences between a thesis and dissertation project is central to their success. Perhaps the most important thing is being able to look ahead and understand the dynamics along the way. Here are some dynamics of dissertation vs thesis that you need to pass

  • The role of your supervisor: Whether you are doing a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation, your university will allocate you a supervisor to help you along the way. However, the supervisor is not meant to do the work for you or tell you how to do it. You should consult the supervisor regularly to tell him/her about your progress with the thesis work.

  • Your thesis timelines: One of the answers to the question, “what is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation”, is timelines. When doing a thesis or dissertation for your master’s degree, will require about six to nine months. But a Ph.D. dissertation project will require more than one year. Irrespective of these timelines, the defense of your thesis is scheduled when the project is completed successfully – not at the convenience of the student. Therefore, if you plan to graduate faster, it is important to work towards completing your thesis or dissertation project fast.

  • Masters dissertation templates: In some universities, graduate students are provided with dissertation templates. You need to follow this strictly because it will be the first benchmark during your thesis assessment. If you do not have a thesis or dissertation template, you have to craft a good structure. A good way to know this is by looking at other top master’s thesis examples and using their structure.

  • When to seek thesis writing help: In thesis and dissertations preparation, the involved work can be exhausting. Even when you are sure that everything is done well, it is advisable to seek help from other master’s students, especially on editing and proofreading. Ask your friends to be critical and honestly tell you where the thesis or dissertation needs improvement. You can also procure cheap editing services from professional editors.

Dissertation and Thesis  – Now You Know The Difference

The difference between a thesis and a dissertation, as demonstrated in this post, depends on the region and university where a student is studying. However, it was clear that whether you are working on a thesis or dissertation, a lot of work goes into preparing the final report. You need to study extensively, research, and write the report that will be submitted to the assessment committee. If you find it a challenge to prepare a complex thesis or dissertation paper, do not hesitate to seek thesis writing help from experts.

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