What’s the Difference Between Thesis and Dissertation?

Thesis and dissertation are widely known as academic terms. These words refer to research carried out at the end of a university degree. They are used interchangeably but should not be confused one for the other.

Many students are often confused about whether to call their final research a dissertation or thesis. The fact is that these words are used in different ways across the globe and what is acceptable in the institution of learning generally determines what term to use.

This article is set to answer the major question in the mind of every academia – What is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is usually written for a doctorate program. It is typically lengthier in comparison to a thesis and takes more time to complete. In universities in the UK, the final research of a bachelor’s degree is also referred to as a dissertation.

A bachelor’s dissertation is usually lengthier than any other type of writing during the bachelor’s degree. However, the dissertation written by a student aiming for a bachelor’s degree is nothing compared to a Ph.D. dissertation. A Ph.D. dissertation is expected to be more original.

Thesis definition: what is a thesis?

A thesis is typically written after a master’s degree program. It usually requires that the writer has a claim – this claim will be defended by research. In universities in the UK, a person who seeks to get a Ph.D. writes a thesis. A thesis for doctorate degree is longer and more original than the one written for a master’s degree.

Is a thesis required for a master’s degree?

The requirements for a master’s degree vary based on the type of master’s degree, the country, and the institution. Some types of master’s do not require a thesis. A person who wants to go for a Master of Business Administration may or may not write a thesis. An academic master’s, on the other hand, requires a thesis.

Writing a thesis shows that the academic master’s has ended. It is proof that the student has mastered the field of interest. This is especially so because a master’s thesis is based on the student’s interest.

Thesis vs. dissertation: what is the difference?

Students have wondered at one point or another: what is the difference between thesis and dissertation? Some differences between a thesis and a dissertation are

  1. Time of completion

Usually, a thesis takes a shorter period than a dissertation to complete. This is because, at the Ph.D. level, research is meant to be original and based on copious facts. While a thesis can be completed within a few months to a year, a dissertation could take as long as three years.

  1. Length

A master’s thesis is usually about 100 pages. A dissertation for a doctorate, however, is much bulkier. This is because it contains content such as the background of the study, the research proposal, and the literature review. A dissertation is also expected to have much data compared to a thesis.

  1. Method of data collection

Another thing that differentiates a thesis from a dissertation is the data collection method. A thesis collects data from books, articles, existing research, certified government statistics, and survey reports. A dissertation, on the other hand, uses data from primary sources. These sources include questionnaires, surveys, interviews, and any other original means of getting data.

  1. Purpose of research

A thesis is usually done to show that the student has learned something tangible during the period of master’s. A dissertation, on the other hand, is meant to contribute to the body of knowledge. Sometimes, a dissertation is part of extensive postgraduate research besides a Ph.D. It is not unusual to find a researcher writing a dissertation challenging existing theories and creating new ones.


Whether to refer to your work as a thesis or dissertation depends on the country you school at. It also depends on the program you have registered for. Whichever one it is called where you are, it is necessary to find out what is required of you and give it your best shot.