Thesis & Dissertation

What is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

Thesis and dissertation are vital documentation submitted to support a student’s academic degree. These documents present candidates research and findings in their respective fields. Career advancement is one of the opportunities that individuals have as a thesis and dissertation helps them to meet their personal and professional development in their lifetime. These two differ in line with the length, the type of degree, data collection method, and the purpose of the study.


One of the key differences between a thesis and the dissertation is the length. The two vary in the length depending on the institutional requirements. While dissertations are lengthy documents that contain approximately 400 pages, thesis incorporate a minimum of 100 pages. Dissertations are longer since they attract the integration of an original research foundation. On the other hand, thesis papers utilize secondary data and thus does not require an in-depth analysis of the subject matter. Students need to understand and familiarize themselves with the requirements of their institutions to have a better view of the expected length. Thus, the university’s requirements for a Master’s and PhD degree inform each candidate about the projected length of their documents.

Type of Degree

A dissertation and thesis vary with the type of degree that a student is undertaking and relevance in the market. While dissertations are primarily associated with the acquisition of a terminal degree or the highest qualification, thesis marks the end of a master’s degree. For example, if a student desires to complete a master’s program, some institutions allow them to either do a thesis or complete an additional course. In such cases, it is all put to the student to decide their best option that they deem valuable for the course at hand. Also, if a student wants to acquire a PhD, it is advisable to do a thesis so that an individual acquires a basic understanding of the efforts needed to complete dissertations. Thus, the key difference between the two revolves around the type of degree and the attainment of educational milestones.

Data Collection Method

The data collection method exists as a crucial difference between a thesis and dissertation where thesis utilizes secondary data collection tactics while the latter relies on primary data sources. Dissertations primarily focus on primary data for the completion and attainment of the PhD certification. It is based on original research and calls for the student to undertake an original data collection method to support their arguments. Some of the primary data perspectives utilized include questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and any primary data collection method adopted by the student. One of the unique aspects of dissertations is that it used secondary sources to back the arguments and avail evidence that supports or rejects the hypothesis. On the other hand, a thesis may or may not contain primary data, and the decision lies on the student. In most cases, a thesis incorporate secondary sources such as books, articles, surveys, and official statistics.

Purpose of the Study

Dissertation and thesis differ in line with the rationale for the study. Dissertations are done to help a student discover new knowledge in their respective field. The central aim is to discover new concepts and theoretical approaches in an area of study depending on the noticeable gap in other people’s research works. For example, undertaking a PhD in Education informs a student about a potential area of study that they can expand. The integration of quantitative and qualitative data helps to prove or disapprove their hypothesis. On the other hand, a thesis focuses on demonstrating to professors and peers that a student has acquired vital information and skills in their respective field of study.

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