Main Differences Between A Dissertation And A Thesis

At the culmination of a program of study in a postsecondary setting, a student can be expected to demonstrate their knowledge in some form or fashion. In undergraduate studies, it comes in the form of testing or a modified project paper. At the Master's level, students are truly introduced to a full-fledged thesis assignment, and then to obtain their Doctorate, a student will embark on the crafting of their dissertation. But really, how different are they?

  1. What is the purpose of each? Good question! The purpose of the Master's paper is to research a topic and analyze it in your own way. You conduct research and analyze how that research contributes to your thoughts. In the Doctoral paper, you use the research of others as a diving board to create your own theory or thought, and you provide your own evidence and analysis that you developed on your own.
  2. What might a typical length be for the two papers? Well, a thesis is generally going to be at least 100 pages, as you are contributing your thoughts to the research of others and analyzing their points as well as creating your own interpretations. Meanwhile, a dissertation is more than likely going to double that page requirement, as you will be forming your own opinions and will want to be very specific in your research and your descriptions as you introduce your new theory to the pool of theories on your chosen topic.
  3. Any other differences? Honestly, to delve into more intricate differences, you should consult your department's requirements and your university’s requirements. For instance, a thesis in a science field will have entirely different requirements than a one in an English field. Some may require polling or studies of humans while others may not. However, if you are writing a dissertation in a science field of some kind, it would be prudent to have some qualitative data gathered by the writer.

In short, your best bet is to look up what your institution requires of its students. The United States is really the only place where these two types of papers have inherently different meanings as far as when you write them. Remember, you should focus on developing an engaging and strong research question to guide your project, as it will make it that much easier to write when you get down to business. Also, be sure to remember that the biggest difference, in the United States, is that a thesis analyzes others’ research while also introducing your own stance, while a dissertation introduces your fresh, new stance on a given topic.