Thesis or Dissertation?

If you are enrolled on a graduate course or are contemplating furthering your education after graduating from your bachelor’s program, it is likely that you are questioning what differentiates a thesis from a dissertation. Although there are certain similarities between the two, there are also several differentiating aspects that distinguish the two concepts.


Prior to investigating the distinction between theses and dissertations, it is important to recognise that they do have strong similarities. Indeed, people often interchange one word with another, as both dissertations and theses comprise papers that graduate students must complete as part of their assignments. Due to the fact that they are relatively substantive papers, students are generally afforded considerable amounts of time to finish the type of task they have been designated. Such papers must be completed by the end of the last year of the course. Successful graduates must achieve at least a passing grade for the assigned project. A positive aspect of this process is that although the project will not be completed with other students, assistance can still be sought from mentors or peers. Facilitated by the guidance provided throughout the project, successfully completing your dissertation or thesis should be very achievable. In the unfortunate circumstance that your do not pass at the first attempt, many higher education institutions will allow you to submit the paper again if you apply more efforts to satisfy the requirements.


Based on statistics obtained from the United States Census Bureau, while more than one in 10 people in the United States have successfully obtained either a master’s degree or higher, only less than two percent of the population have graduated from a doctorate program. One of the aspects that differentiates theses and dissertations is that master’s programs generally require students to complete a thesis, whereas doctorate programs involve dissertations; nevertheless, this is not always the case. In fact, certain master’s programs do not oblige students to complete either a thesis or dissertation. Such courses typically offer students the option of taking one of two different paths: either with thesis or without thesis. Students who are ultimately seeking to apply for a doctorate program are generally urged to choose the thesis path in order to make the necessary preparations for the dissertation they will be required to undertake as a doctorate student.


Potentially the most significant factor that differentiates a thesis from a dissertation is the intended objective. When writing a thesis, frequently a mandatory component of master’s programs, students will be tested on their comprehension of the particular subject they are studying. The student constructs a proposition, namely a thesis, on the basis of past work conducted by other scholars in that area. This past work is then examined by the student as part of his or her paper in an effort to establish justification for a particular viewpoint. However, dissertations are normally completed by doctorate students and specifically concentrate on research that has originality. When tasked with completing a dissertation, the student must determine a topic in relation to his or her field of study that has not previously been studied. Subsequently, the student must devise a hypothesis and conduct original research aimed at proving or disproving the established hypothesis.

If you are already enrolled on a graduate program or merely attempting to make the necessary preparations, it is always advisable to perform research to answer some of the questions you may have pertaining to your education. The distinction between a thesis and a dissertation may seem trivial, but it is important that you understand the differences before commencing your work on either type of paper.