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Differences Between a Thesis and a Dissertation

Earning a graduate degree is a good way to advance your career. In some professionals, a bachelor’s degree is not enough; you must earn a master’s and PhD degree. A graduate degree program enhances critical thinking, refines knowledge, and improves your competence. Before you complete your graduate program, you must do an in-depth research project, referred to as a dissertation in doctoral programs and thesis in master’s programs. There are some similarities and differences between a dissertation and thesis.

What Is a thesis?

A thesis is a research project that a master’s student must complete before graduating. Some bachelor’s programs require one to complete a bachelor’s thesis. However, a bachelor’s thesis is shorter and shallow in comparison to a master’s thesis.

When writing a master’s thesis, the student must select a specific topic that interests them in their field of study. For example, if you are earning a degree in early childhood education, you might write a thesis about inclusive classrooms. 

After selecting a topic, you must do a literature review of existing research and then come up with an argument or research question. The structure of a thesis is dependent on the policies of your college.

What Is a Dissertation?

Unlike a thesis, PhD dissertations require students to conduct original research after reviewing existing research. Apart from providing a student’s competence, a dissertation should add knowledge to the field. Dissertations can present new theories, disapprove existing theories, or take a new angle.

In some colleges students must take the full course, complete the exams and then write a dissertation. However, in other colleges the process of writing a dissertation is integrated with the coursework; students can begin working on their dissertation before completing their coursework. 

The process of writing a dissertation and thesis is quite similar. The first step is to choose a topic and then conduct literature review. After that students work on debunking an existing theory, developing a new theory, or approaching the topic in a new angle. 

One of the most intimidating parts of writing a dissertation is the defense. It is important for students to work closely with their supervisors and committee. If your dissertation has been approved up to the point of defense, it is likely that your work will be accepted, and you will be allowed to graduate. The structure of a thesis is dependent on your college and faculty.

Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis
Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

The main difference between a dissertation and a thesis is the degree programs. Master’s students write a thesis while doctoral students write a dissertation. 

A dissertation always requires an oral defense while a thesis does not. After submitting their complete dissertations, students must schedule a date to defend their work. Committee members will often ask questions, and students must be able to justify their interpretations of the findings. 

A thesis is typically shorter than a dissertation. A thesis can vary between 20 and 80 pages depending on the degree program while a dissertation can be between 100 to over 300 pages.

What are the Similarities

When writing both papers, you must conduct intensive research and write an original lengthy paper. You must demonstrate critical thinking and analysis skills.  Students invest a lot of time when writing a thesis or dissertation. In both, students work with a committee that is composed of faculty members. Students cannot graduate before they complete their thesis or dissertation.

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