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What Is The Main Difference Between A Thesis And A Dissertation?

Many think that the words, dissertation and thesis are used interchangeably to mean the same thing. However, there are some fundamental differences between the two which should be noted. If you are writing one of the two, here are some guidelines on these differences.

Qualification level

A dissertation is typically written as a final culmination of your PhD level major. The thesis is usually compiled as a means to obtain your master’s level qualification. While this is the conventional norm in the academic world, it is not a strict rule that this is the case. A thesis can often be used to describe many types of papers where a main argument (thesis) is set forth. A dissertation is almost always a larger work that requires a very specific format to help you earn a doctorate in any given subject.

Processes of gathering evidence

The research methods are also different for a dissertation and a thesis respectively. The thesis is more of a review of other’s work and experiments, while a dissertation demands its own set of experiments because of the unexplored nature of the work. A typical thesis will demand that the student reviews about 40 – 60 various sources and basis his or her argument on those. A dissertation is a much larger work where the student will likely conduct his or her own experiments, interviews, and processes of data collection.

Writing period

An important difference to consider between the two is how long each one takes to write. A dissertation can take as long as 5 years to complete while a thesis may take between 6 months and a year to finish. This of course all depends on the student and also on how much time the student is able to dedicate to the project.

The length

There’s a big difference between the lengths of the two as well. A thesis is rarely longer than 200 pages, the average being about 120. A dissertation, on the other hand, is a very lengthy work (tantamount to a large textbook) that includes every aspect of the subject from the theory to the process results. Some dissertations even evolve over time as students expand on the information year after year. An average dissertation can easily reach up to 400 – 500 pages, but many are longer than even that.