Understanding the Difference Between a Thesis and Dissertation

Difference Between a Thesis and Dissertation

A thesis and dissertation are among the most important requirements for completing your master’s or PhDs. These projects also make up the major part of your marks allocation. Therefore, you need to complete these flawlessly to get the best grades.

Most of us think the terms thesis and dissertation are interchangeable. As a result, people ask you how far you are in completing your dissertation while you think you are compiling a thesis and vice versa. Things get even more confusing when some departments and institutions use these terms incorrectly.

Are thesis and dissertation different names for the same thing?

Or are they different things with unique requirements?

What are we talking about when referring to a thesis or a dissertation?

And does the difference impact what you end up writing?

If you want these questions answered, you have come to the right place. This blog covers all your queries related to the thesis and dissertation.

The Basics


‘Thesis’ means to ‘constitute a proposition’. It is also a Latin word with its origin in the Greek word ‘tithenai’. It means to ‘place something’ or ‘something put forth’. A thesis is a research document either printed or written in hand. It is completed after conducting thorough research on a specific topic and then submitted to the university. It is required to complete an academic degree.  

A thesis expresses a student’s beliefs and aims. A good thesis indicates the actual thought behind the questions and research. It should not only retell the facts everyone already knows. Instead, students need to collect and compile a large piece of information along with their findings. It takes a lot of background reading and literature review to develop questions and to have ample information to complete their answers with credible evidence.

What Is an Ideal Thesis?

Here are some attributes of an ideal thesis:

  • It does not contain any vague language
  • It is not written in the first person
  • It’s provocative
  • It is contestable
  • It puts forth an arguable point
  • Conclusions are facts and evidence-based
  • It provides counterarguments and disproves them
  • It is focused, specific, and complete


‘Dissertation’ comes from the Latin words ‘dissertate’ and ‘disserere’. The former means to ‘continue discussing’, while the latter means ‘to examine something and discuss it. Simply put, a dissertation constitutes and complies with structured research work. Therefore, it is a requirement for a PhD where the candidates need to demonstrate their findings from independent research with logical arguments.

Every PhD candidate needs to submit their dissertation at the end of the program. They have a designated guide who helps, instructs, and teaches them during the dissertation topic selection. The topic must be original, contestable, and unique.

A dissertation helps assess the research skills of PhD students. It also evaluates students’ knowledge regarding the research topic and how well they can defend it. Dissertations are based on original research. There should be no prior primary research available on the topic before. They need to prove or disprove the hypotheses they make after conducting thorough research on their topic of interest.

Characteristics of an Ideal Dissertation

An ideal dissertation has the following characteristics:

  • Facts recorded in a clear and objective way
  • Information in a concise and brief manner
  • Well-written content with no grammatical errors whatsoever
  • Complete thoughts
  • A clear structure
  • Easy to understand and comprehend information
  • Follows specific academic writing rules and styles

Thesis vs Dissertation – A Comparison between thesis and dissertation

Have a look at the following points to better understand the differences between thesis and dissertation.


Thesis: Thesis essentially refers to a concept, idea or theory. It is usually a statement to consider, which makes content for discussion. It indicates the knowledge a student has about a particular topic.

Dissertation: Dissertation refers to a lengthy written work by students completed after deep research. It answers a specific research question chosen by the student.

What Is It?

Thesis: A thesis is essentially a compilation of research. It demonstrates the knowledge of a person regarding a particular field of study.

Dissertation: Dissertation and the research that goes into it adds new theories or knowledge to a subject under consideration or study.


  • Thesis: The function of a thesis is to claim an under discussion hypothesis.
  • Dissertation: A dissertation aims to describe a hypothesis extensively in detail.

Academic Programs

  • Thesis: A thesis is usually a part of a bachelor’s or master’s program. It is a requirement to complete these degrees.
  • Dissertation: Dissertations are required to complete a doctorate.


  • Thesis: The objective of a thesis is to analyse a student’s knowledge and understanding regarding a specialised subject.
  • Dissertation: A dissertation tests the ability of a candidate to understand the subject and take part in research independently.


  • Thesis: A thesis is usually 100 pages or more.
  • Dissertation: A dissertation can be a few hundred pages long.

Similarities between Thesis and Dissertation

We talked about the difference between thesis and dissertations above. Now, have a look at their similarities:

  • The thesis and dissertation both are the final projects of the degree
  • These are required to complete the degree, and you may be refused the degree in case of their non-completion
  • Both require deep and thorough research about a specific topic
  • Writing skills are very important to complete both thesis and dissertation
  • A thesis and dissertation both defend an argument
  • Neither of these can be plagiarised
  • Both require the use of analytical skills to elaborate the research
  • Both pieces of writing require drafting, editing, and rewriting the piece multiple times, for which time management is important
  • It is best to have another person look at the documents before you submit them
  • Both papers need to be completed on specific deadlines

The Bottom Line

No matter when and where you earn your degree (master’s/doctoral), you will most likely need to complete a dissertation or thesis. The main difference between a dissertation and a thesis is the degree level. A thesis is usually required to complete a master’s degree. However, you must complete, submit, and defend a dissertation to be eligible for a doctorate.

While both these pieces of academic writing are tough, you need these to complete and earn your degree. Unfortunately, many students are overwhelmed by the amount of research and writing to complete a thesis and dissertation. If you are unsure how to work on your dissertation, you can always ask for law dissertation help. Dissertation help services have experts on board who can help you choose the best law dissertation topics and guide you every step of the way. Their guidance and assistance will ensure you complete your academic writing project before the deadline.

Have faith in yourself, your knowledge, and your skills. You have years of educational experience behind you. This entire journey has prepared you to achieve this feat. It is tough and takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work, but it is all worth it when you receive your degree.


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