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PhD Writing: Tips And Prompts

Thesis vs Dissertation: The Main Differences Between The Two


Students should know there are differences between a dissertation and a thesis. They are commonly used interchangeably so people may assume they are the same when they are different. One is usually written longer than the other, while one requires more research and in-depth knowledge. Understanding how each element is different can provide better insight on how to choose a suitable topic. Here are elements to point out in how a thesis and a dissertation are different.

  • A thesis is written for a master’s degree. Any student that wants a master’s degree is required to complete a thesis. This is a lengthy assignment that details information about the subject matter they are studying about.
  • A dissertation is written for a doctoral degree. A dissertation is written by students seeking a doctoral degree, also known as PhD. This assignment is known to be more complex in nature and it can take weeks or months to complete depending on guidelines set for the assignment.
  • A dissertation helps students earn a PhD with new discoveries made in their research. A dissertation requires students to find something new or innovative within their topic. They provide specific information that backs their new discovery. A dissertation may also reference studies made previously to help provide their point behind their own discoveries.
  • You may be required to have more knowledge writing a dissertation versus a thesis. A thesis may seem easier to complete as you compile information, or evidence, to support your overall theory. A dissertation provides insight on others that have contributed to your findings while detailing something new you have learned.
  • A thesis requires you to provide information on what you have researched and write about what you discovered on a topic. This is where your hypothesis comes from. Your main idea or purpose for the assignment is detailed in your hypothesis. A dissertation may have a main idea behind it, but in some cases it is not always the main focus of the paper.
  • A dissertation is longer than a thesis in most cases. A dissertation can be several pages in length. A dissertation could be a manuscript versus a thesis which could be the length of a short story. A dissertation may also have more experimentation that a thesis. Meaning, participation from other people may be required depending on the subject.
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