What Is the Difference Between Dissertation and Thesis?

One of the most baffling questions for students is what exactly is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation? Does a difference even exist between a university thesis and a university dissertation?

After years of proofreading, editing, and compiling unaccountable thesis and dissertations ourselves, we decided to investigate this question and find the answer once and for all.

Now, first of all, it is important to understand that the question is relative. Meaning that the fact that the terms dissertation and thesis are interchangeable depending on the country that is under discussion. Since we’re all here in England, let’s focus on what a thesis and dissertation mean here.

Following are the most comprehensive definitions that have been found in the Oxford Dictionary

Thesis: “A long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a university degree.”

Dissertation: “A dissertation resulting from original research, especially when submitted by a candidate for a degree or diploma.”

Well, these definitions weren’t of any help in clearing out any of the questions on our minds. I guess we’ll have to keep going further without investigation. So far, both dissertation and thesis refer to an original body of work of the researchers. Let’s assess the nature of both these research documents.

A thesis only requires the students to review existing literature within their field of study and showcase the understanding of different modules and skills they have acquired during their academic period. While a dissertation requires students to add knowledge to their specific domain. Hence, there is a big difference between a thesis and a dissertation based on their research nature.

The main difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the academic levels they represent. A thesis is mandatory to complete your master’s degree. Students need to submit their thesis by the guidelines of their respective departments, under the oversight of a research supervisor. A PhD requires the students or researchers to conduct their own -depth research and publish it to earn their degree. So, in summary, the main difference between the two terms is because of their nature and academic levels.

Apart from these large differences, there are a few minor ones as well. For instance, the word count of these research papers differs quite. The level of scrutiny that these documents undergo is different, because of the nature of the research that they contain. Some Undergraduate programs also need the submission of a research document, which is also named a dissertation though it comes before the Master’s and Doctoral degrees. I guess what we can conclude from this discussion is that there are no definite criteria to differentiate between a thesis and a dissertation. So follow the terminology that your university or department is using.