Home Blog Thesis and Dissertation Writing Dissertation Vs Thesis: Learn the Similarities & Differences

Dissertation Vs Thesis: Learn the Similarities & Differences

Dissertation Vs Thesis: Learn the Similarities & Differences

Are you currently enrolled in a graduate program, or contemplating attending graduate school?

If so, then you must have encountered the word thesis or dissertation, and it is quite common for students to get confused between the two. Some think that they can be used interchangeably, or they are one and the same thing.

However, this isn’t the case. While there are several similarities between the two such as the structure, they are different in some definite ways. In this article, we will hope to resolve all of your dissertation vs thesis concerns and queries.

Let’s get started!

To obtain a graduate level degree in the United States, it is a requirement for every student to complete their final projects in the form of a thesis or a dissertation.

It is compulsory for graduate students to carry out research work that will showcase the level of understanding they have of their field of study.

Before we get into the comparison of the two, first let's understand what they really are.

1. Basic Dissertation and Thesis Difference

A dissertation or a thesis is a type of a final project, written to present a student's knowledge, research and findings. As well as their understanding of what they have learnt through the course of the degree.

A thesis is commonly needed to graduate from bachelor's or master's degrees programs. Whereas, the term dissertation marks the end of a doctorate program or PhD degree programs. And it is a student's chance to contribute something new in his/her field of study.

However, the term graduate thesis is occasionally used for both doctoral dissertations and a master's degree.

If you are working towards a doctoral degree, then you must know the basics a dissertation requires. Here is a detailed guide on dissertation writing that can help you out with that.

2. Thesis Vs Dissertation – Differences

While, we have mentioned the basic difference between the two, there are several more significant ways in which they differ.

Here's how the two differ in Europe and the United States. Each country has their own defined education system, where the terms and academic standards differ from the rest of the countries.

2.1 How Does a Thesis Differ from Dissertation in Europe?

In Europe, students pursuing a PhD must submit a thesis that is a result of their original research. A dissertation is a post-graduate research project that will earn students a master's degree.

A master thesis requires background research, if not original. It is based on the earlier work already done by previous researchers.

2.2 How Does a Thesis Differ from Dissertation in the United States?

The definition of a thesis is completely opposite of that in Europe. In the United States, a thesis marks the end of a master's degree. It is shorter than a dissertation that is compulsory to obtain a doctoral degree.

For a master's degree, the candidates have to complete an advanced coursework, by performing research and gain some practical experience. Students can come up with their own ideas, however, it isn't required at this level. The focus isn't carrying out original work, but gaining technical expertise.

2.3 Degree Requirement

As mentioned earlier, a thesis and dissertation are both required for different types of degrees after specific years of studying. A dissertation earns you the highest degree in a particular field and students are required to write a thesis for their master's.

There are some cases where neither of these is a requirement to earn a degree. This however, is subjected to the type of degree and institute. For some institutes the only requirement is the final papers.

2.4 Research and Data Collection Method

Irrespective of the degree sought or the meaning of these two terms, the main purpose of asking students for a thesis or dissertation remains the same.

Both of these projects require students to conduct exhaustive research and prove that they have gained adequate knowledge and understanding of their field of study.

The only difference is the extent of research that is necessary for both projects.

Since, writing a dissertation is based on a student's own ideas and coming up with something new, it requires primary research.

The primary data is collected through the following ways:

  • Interviews,
  • Self-administered surveys,
  • Focus groups,
  • Field observations,
  • Experiments.

Primary research takes up a lot of time and is more expensive than secondary research needed for writing a thesis.

Secondary data can be obtained using these methods:

  • Journals,
  • Scholarly articles,
  • Survey reports,
  • Online studies,
  • Existing studies,
  • Books.

Another reason for asking students for these projects is to evaluate a student's know-how about the work they have done and how well they can defend it in front of the faculty members.

Both, dissertation and thesis end with an oral defense, where the student is asked questions about the work done. A dissertation defense due to the nature of the project lasts for several hours. Whereas a thesis defense may last for an hour or so.

2.5 Length Difference

Another difference between the two projects is the structure. A master's thesis is similar to a research paper, where you choose a topic, conduct thorough research on it and present your opinion by critically analyzing the gathered information.

Due to the structural difference, the length of the two also varies. A thesis is usually up to 100 pages long. Here is a detailed guide to help you learn all about the thesis writing process.

Dissertation on the other hand is a product of your own original research. Here you use the existing work done in the field and use it to develop your hypothesis or theory. It is a much more detailed and complex document compared to a thesis. Hence, it is way longer consisting about 400 pages.

3. Dissertation VS Thesis – Similarities

We pointed it out earlier that both these terms are used interchangeably due to their similarities. Some of which are mentioned in the next sections.

3.1 Structural Similarities

The major similarity between the two is the structure they follow:

  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literary Review
  • Main body
  • Research methods/material
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Recommendation
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix

Although the format is the same for the two, the content can differ.

3.2 Completion

Another similarity between a thesis and dissertation is that students need guidance for their completion. There are specific supervisors or advisors assigned to every student in order to help and guide them throughout the process. Your supervisor will assist you from selecting the topic of research to research, data collection up till the writeup itself.

3.3 Thesis and Dissertation Sample

We have pointed out all the significant major differences and similarities that a student should know before starting to work on either of them.

Here is a sample for each of these projects to increase your understanding.

We hope that this article has proven helpful in clearing out any ambiguity that you may have had previously.

However, you must understand the fact that whether it is a thesis or a dissertation, both are challenging documents. And requires a great deal of patience, skills and writing ability.

If you get stuck at any stage of the writing process of your thesis or dissertation, you can always ask for online assistance from experts.

MyPerfectWords being one of the dissertation writing service, has the best writers who have the qualification as well as the experience to craft high quality work.

Feel free to reach out to us anytime, we will be happy to assist!

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