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Thesis vs Dissertation: 8 Basic Differences

If you are interested in this topic, I assume that you are either pursuing a Master’s degree or about to complete your Ph.D. course. Surely, there is a chance you may be a very curious college or high school student who aims at a long academic career. Let us present the article that will answer all the questions that may occur about the thesis and dissertation writing.

These two types of papers are pretty much similar (especially if to consider their practically identical structure), but two different terms were introduced for a reason. Actually, for 8 reasons listed and explained below. Those, who do not know what is thesis or/and what is a dissertation, will also learn the basic features of those. Everything is learned through the comparison, you know.

Difference #1: Degree

This is the basic difference between thesis and dissertation and it helps even a middle-school student determine the type of work. Thesis vs dissertation correlates the same as Master’s vs Ph.D. diploma. The thing is that in order to get a Master’s degree, you will be required to complete a thesis. On the other hand, a Ph.D. course completion is signified by a dissertation writing. Now you know that it is logically incorrect to use these two words interchangeably, as many do.

Difference #2: Obligatoriness

One may be surprised but another difference between dissertation and thesis is in the fact that the latter is not compulsory. There are a lot of Master’s courses that either do not require thesis writing, providing this option as a variant for completion the course besides the other types of work. Dissertations are compulsory and there are no alternatives. By the way, for those Master’s degree holders who want to continue their academic career, it is better to opt for a thesis rather than any other activity. A thesis writing will be a good preparation for the dissertation completion in the future.

Thesis VS Dissertation

Difference #3: Freshness

In the pair dissertation vs thesis, the former will definitely win in terms of the freshness of information. What is meant by that? It is a requirement for a dissertation to have a brand new hypothesis which was never researched before. This signifies a contribution to the development of the scientific field the person is working in.

As far as the thesis writing is concerned, the demands are not that strict, and it is enough just to choose any problematic issue you feel like writing about. You may analyze the conclusions other scientists have already come to and write your paper based on them. So, critical and analytical thinking is still required, but not to that big extent.

Difference #4: Deepness

Dissertation vs thesis contrasting does not correlate with deep vs surface research, but the level of deepness still differs. A dissertation writer will check most of the sources which touch upon the researched issue and analyze the ideas in order to agree with them or disprove them. A thesis writer will summarize what has been mentioned in some of the related sources. Simply put, a thesis vs dissertation meaning corresponds to answers to the questions: thesis specifies ‘what’ and a dissertation rather tells ‘how’ and ‘why.’

Difference #5: Publication

One minor detail is that since dissertation requires adding something new to the research in the field, it is a must to publish its results and main ideas so to share it with other scientists. Additionally, one may need to make a presentation at a conference or participate in a Round Table discussion on the related topic. Master’s thesis (as not adding a lot of new and not being deep enough) does not have such a requirement, and one may publish the results only as per their own will.

Difference #6: Examiners Involved

A Master’s work is a matter of one academic institution. A Ph.D. paper is placed in a wider scientific context. Hence, the people involved are different. If you are completing a Master’s course, you will get a scientific advisor to help you with your thesis. However, for a Ph.D. work, an independent view of a scientist from another institution is needed, so the future Ph.D. degree holder will be able to deal with different scientific views and conceptions.


Difference #7: The Need to Defend

A Ph.D. dissertation is to be defended, and there are no exceptions for that. As a Ph.D. work should present a certain scientific view, one should know how to defend their position in front of the experienced scientists with the help of valid academic arguments and research results. A Master’s paper does not necessary states a brand new idea, hence there is no need to defend it. The maximum that may be required for the Master’s level pursuer is to present his/her work to peers and/or professors who belong to the same academic institution.

Difference #8: Grading

A Master’s student gets their thesis graded as per the certain grading rubrics. A Ph.D. pursuer does not need a grade for their work. The only thing he/she needs to know is whether the dissertation gets a pass or not. If it does, then great, and the long way to the Ph.D. diploma is over. If it does not, there are a lot of extra work ahead.

Pass or Fail?

Overall, we can see that both papers are pretty much serious and will require a lot of efforts to be completed. However, writing a Master’s thesis is just a preparation for completion of the Ph.D. dissertation, but you should not consider it just a preparation while writing. A Master’s thesis successful completion makes one a diligent Master’s student. On the other hand, a Ph.D. dissertation qualifies its writer as a ready scientist able to make a useful contribution to the development of the subject/discipline as well as to assist others in their way toward getting a Ph.D. degree.

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