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Dissertation Vs Thesis


Dissertation Vs Thesis – Understanding The Differences & Similarities

As a postgraduate student, you will have to work on many complicated assignments and projects, such as writing a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation. A dissertation or thesis is a significant project that can help you earn your prestigious Master’s/PhD degree. But when we talk about dissertation vs thesis, there are way too many differences than you realise.

When it’s “dissertation vs thesis”, the first thing that comes to mind is each of these writings happens at a specific time of a student’s academic career. This guide will break down the difference between thesis and dissertation and give you the similarities between a doctoral thesis vs dissertation.

Dissertation Vs Thesis – What Is A Dissertation?

A dissertation is a formal piece of work that students write based on original or expanded research on a new or existing topic. As a doctoral program student, you get to choose a topic you want to explore from your line of study. Hence, you will have to learn to carry out your research and produce a dissertation at the end of the program to earn a PhD.

What Is A Thesis?

A thesis is a long work that students have to complete, but only those pursuing a master’s degree. It is a scholarly document that allows students to showcase their understanding of the subject they have been studying.


Dissertation Vs Thesis – The Location Matters

The UK & Much Of Europe

Like the language convention, the difference between the thesis and dissertation also depends on the location of your institution.

Most universities or relevant higher studies academic institutions in the UK and many European countries ask students to write a dissertation in graduation or a Master’s and a thesis when they continue to pursue a doctoral program.

For example, Imperial College London provides an exact meaning of the terminology. Students undertaking research degrees have to submit a thesis, and students enrolled for a Master’s program have to complete a Master’s dissertation at the end of the program.


While the UK and much of Europe are consistent with the naming convention, that’s not the case with the US universities. The concept of dissertation vs thesis is the opposite of the rest of the world.

In the US, the primary thesis and dissertation writing difference is that students pursuing a Master’s degree have to submit a thesis at the end of the program to earn a Master’s degree, whilst research students enrolled for doctoral programs have to submit a dissertation for a PhD degree.

Dissertation Vs Thesis

Thesis Versus Dissertation – The Similarities

Before we discuss dissertation vs thesis – the differences, let’s examine the similarities between a thesis and dissertation.

  • A thesis and dissertation is based on extensive research work.
  • Both are considered as the final assignment to graduate.
  • Both require students to choose a topic, conduct research and demonstrate their skills & knowledge they have learned during study.
  • Both follow a similar structure & format.
  • Whether a student is getting a master’s or PhD degree, they have to create a proposal before writing the final paper. With the proposal, a student defines the primary purpose of choosing the topic for further research.
  • For both dissertation and thesis, a student must have writing and analytical skills to defend an argument.
  • Both assignments must be 100% original with accurate references. A student submitting a plagiarised thesis or dissertation is open to dire consequences.
  • Both follow strict deadlines.

Thesis Vs Dissertation – The Differences

Now that you know dissertation vs thesis – the similarities, let’s look at the papers’ significant differences.

  • Structurally, a thesis is 100 pages (minimum), while a dissertation is 2/3X lengthier.
  • Students have to submit a dissertation for a Master’s and a thesis for a doctorate in the UK and most European counties. In the US, students need to write a thesis to get a master degree and a dissertation for a PhD.
  • For writing a thesis, students have to conduct original research; but students have to use existing research for a dissertation.
  • While a student has to add a thesis analysis to the existing literature, a dissertation is a part of the current literature study.
  • Unlike a thesis, a student must conduct extensive research and do more work to develop a research paper on a particular topic.
  • Both thesis and dissertation have unique statements. A thesis statement states how you will prove your argument, while a dissertation requires a hypothesis. There, a student has to define what result s/he expects from using a particular theory.
  • Although the task’s difficulty is hard to compare, writing a dissertation is much more difficult for most students undertaking the mammoth task.

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