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Dissertation vs. Thesis - What are the Differences and Similarities

Dissertation vs. thesis - Are they the same?

Many people think that they are the same, but there are some main differences between the two kinds of research. Both of these academic projects are parts of degrees’ final year, and they are used to assess the capability and knowledge of the student.

Sometimes, both PhD and Master’s in educational institutes require a thesis; this confuses everyone.

They do have some similarities, but this does not make them all the same at all. To help you know and understand the differences, we have explained everything here in detail.

The blog will help you know the key differences between the two, and you will be able to work on your project in a better way.

Read the blog to know more.

What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is the final research of PhD programs. It turns a student into a scholar as the student has to come up with an original research topic and conduct the complete research on his own.

It is different from what you do in any other academic project, and this is what makes a doctorate program different from other degrees.

It is a compilation of a student’s academic and practical knowledge, and for many students, it is their first official publication. Moreover, a dissertation is very detailed and requires original research and analysis.

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What is a Thesis?

A thesis is a part of a Master’s degree and relies upon previous research work. The work includes the work of other authors as evidence, and it has less originality than a dissertation.

Unlike a dissertation, it does not involve original research or a unique topic. For many students, writing a Master’s thesis is their first experience. They are still learning to research, and writing their thesis prepares them for PhD dissertation.

It is used to check a graduate student’s knowledge about his field of study. The structure of a thesis is quite similar to a dissertation, but the content is different in both of these works.

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What are the Similarities between Them?

Besides differences, dissertation and thesis share some common features also.

  • Both the academic papers have the same purpose; research. In many graduate schools, the terms thesis and dissertation are used interchangeably.
  • Both of them have a defined timeframe and terms, and the students must adhere to them. Moreover, the student should know how to defend their work.
  • Both of these works are used to test students’ knowledge about their field of study and demonstrate their research and analysis skills.
  • They have similar formats and structures.
  • Before writing any of them, the student must prepare a proposal to acquaint the professor about the research topic or question.
  • The student would defend both of these projects before getting the final degree.
  • Copyright infringement must be avoided by all means in both of the works. The cited work should be properly referenced and credited.

Both the research works have these common elements, and because of them, they are used interchangeably.

‘How do they differ from a research paper?’

A research paper is a classroom assignment that students get in their high-school and college classes. Where theses and dissertations are focused on research and analysis, a research paper focuses on proving a single point only.

Usually, its thesis statement is based on a narrow focus, and the entire paper is based on it. It is not as detailed as the earlier mentioned works.

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Dissertation vs. Thesis - Key Differences

Below are the main differences between these two kinds of research works.

Difference between Dissertation & Thesis - In Tabular Form
Type of Degree
A dissertation is required to earn a PhD or doctorate degree. The students preparing for PhD take a Master’s with a thesis. A student completes a thesis to acquire a Master’s degree. It is a student’s first research work, and he can opt for coursework also.
Purpose
A dissertation is based on a student’s original research. The student finds a research area that requires research, forms a hypothesis, and does original research to prove it. A thesis is based on other people’s research. It is used to test a student’s knowledge about his field. He analyzes previous studies and formulates his thesis question on them.
Structural Differences
A doctoral dissertation is longer than a thesis. It is usually 400 pages, and even more, in length and is based on original research. A thesis is shorter in length and comprises 100 pages. It focuses on the literature review and research of other authors.
Content & Presentation
The PhD requires students to defend their dissertation, and this could take several hours. A thesis usually takes up to an hour to present and answer any questions of the faculty members.
Difference in Context
In the United States, a dissertation is written by a PhD student, and a thesis is done by a Master’s student. In Europe, a doctoral thesis is a part of a PHD, and a dissertation is a part of a broader post-graduate research project.

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