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Home Blog Dissertation Writing - Step by Step Guide With Examples Dissertation vs. Thesis - Similarities & Differences

Dissertation vs. Thesis - Similarities & Differences

Dissertation vs. Thesis - Similarities & Differences

Thesis writing and dissertation writing are forms of a final project, written to present a student’s knowledge, research, and findings. As well as their understanding of what they have learned through the course of the degree

It is quite common for students to get confused between the two types of writing. Some think that they can be used interchangeably, or they are the same thing.

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

Basic Dissertation and Thesis Differences

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. Graduate students must present how to carry out research work that will showcase the level of understanding of their field of study. As the two assignments’ basic nature is similar, students often confuse them and think of them as the same assignment.

Whereas a thesis is commonly needed to graduate from a bachelor’s or master’s degree programs. 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.

Apart from this basic difference, several more significant ways in which a thesis and dissertation can differ. These terms even have their interpretations in different countries.

How Does a Thesis Differ from Dissertation in Europe?

In Europe, students pursuing a PhD must submit a thesis that results from their original research. On the other hand, a dissertation is a post-graduate research project that will earn students a master’s degree.

The thesis’s meaning has evolved with time, and now a lot of background research is required. A thesis now contains extensive references and citations, but the emphasis is on the original work produced.

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

The definition of a thesis in the US is completely the 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 advanced coursework by performing research and gaining practical experience. Students can come up with their ideas; however, it isn’t required at this level. The focus isn’t carrying out original work but gaining technical expertise.

The Difference in the 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. It, however, is subjected to the type of degree and institute. For some institutes, the only requirement is the final papers.

What is the Difference in Their Research and Data Collection Methods?

Irrespective of the degree sought or the meaning of these two terms, the primary purpose of asking students for a thesis or dissertation remains the same. 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 the research that is necessary for both projects. Since writing a dissertation is based on a student’s ideas and coming up with something new, it requires primary research. The primary data is collected in 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 for writing a thesis. Secondary data can be obtained using the following 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 their work 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. In contrast, a thesis defense may last for an hour or so.

The Difference in the Length of a Dissertation and Thesis

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 assignments also varies. A thesis is usually up to 100 pages long. A dissertation, on the other hand, is a product of your original research.

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

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Basic Dissertation and Thesis Similarities

A thesis and dissertation both are academic writing forms, and because of this, there are several similarities between the two. These similarities can be classified into different sections, such as structural and completion.

Structural Similarities Between Dissertation and Thesis

The basic structure of writing a thesis and dissertation is similar. According to this structure, both dissertation and thesis require the following components to be written:

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

Although these basic components are a part of both the thesis and dissertation writing process, the two assignments’ content differs.

Similarities in Completing a Thesis and Dissertation

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

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Dissertation and Thesis Example

All the significant differences and similarities that a student should know before starting to work on a dissertation or thesis are given. To give you an even more explicit understanding of the two concepts, examples are provided below.

Thesis Template

Dissertation Template

Knowing the basic differences between the two assignments is essential for writing an effective and impressive workpiece. Moreover, you must understand that whether it is a thesis or a dissertation, both are challenging documents. And requires a great deal of patience, skills, and writing ability.

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