Dissertation vs Thesis: What’s The Difference?

The words thesis and dissertation are common terms to individuals in pursuit of a higher-level graduate school degree. Quite frequently one word will replace the other in conversation. Many people feel they two words are interchangeable. Around the world at most institutions, there is minimal difference if any between the two words. In the United States, there is a clear difference between thesis and dissertation.

With so much confusion over the words, is there really a difference between the two? The answer to that question is yes, there is a difference between the two words. The key difference is students pursuing a master’s degree are responsible for a thesis whereas students pursuing a doctorate write a dissertation.


Individuals required to do a thesis will find themselves doing a great deal of research on a specific subject related to their field of study. The student will do a great deal of research before sitting down to write his or her thesis. In some ways, the thesis is like a much longer version of a standard research paper done in college. A thesis will include your hypothesis and supporting research and data.

The thesis allows the professor and anyone else reading the document to see how well you are at critical and analytical thinking. The length of a standard thesis for a master’s degree is roughly 100 pages or more. Students can also earn scholarships with a proper thesis; this option is not available with a dissertation.


When it comes to the dissertation, the individual writing it will need to have a great deal of time. This is because dissertations are typically two or three times as long as a thesis making them 200 to 300 pages. When taking the length of a dissertation into consideration they qualify as an academic book whereas the thesis is an academic research paper.

Like the thesis, your dissertation requires supporting evidence. Research helps with locating supporting evidence. It is important to remember that when writing your dissertation a great deal of what you write is your opinion. There is also perception on things based on what you have learned throughout your studies along with observations made. In some doctorate programs, the individual writing the dissertation needs to perform an original research project and this can include human subject, in other cases, this is required of the individual writing a thesis.

For the most part, dissertations and theses are important academic projects required to earn either a master’s degree or a doctorate, officially. In some programs for a PhD or a master’s degree neither of these lengthy academic papers are a requirement. If you are doing a thesis or a dissertation in your future be sure to pay special attention to all the requirements as they can be vastly different from what you are anticipating. Furthermore, do not hesitate to get help on either one of these academic documents from advisors, professors, or fellow students. Doing this can help you get the desired results.