Signing up for graduate school means knowing you’re getting into some serious coursework. It also means that you understand that in order to graduate, you’re probably going to have to put a lot of time into coming up with your dissertation or thesis. But which one do you need to complete for your final graduation requirement?
While the terms are frequently used interchangeably, the truth is that there are significant differences between a graduate thesis and a dissertation. You want to know early on which one you will be expected to be completing so that you can learn everything you can about how to go about starting and structuring your topic and this comprehensive final paper as soon as possible.
Similarities Between the Thesis and Dissertation
As a grad student, you have one similarity between all of your classmates - you will need to write an extremely complex, intelligent, and clearly structured comprehensive paper that must pass the evaluation of a strict set of criteria before you can graduate. Yes, even though you’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours studying, cramming, and getting those good grades in all your courses, you still can’t get your degree until this comprehensive paper is completed.
It might be a thesis or it might be a dissertation, but either way, they’re both required for graduation. Both papers are similar as far as structure. They each have an intro, a review of literature contained in them, the body, and the conclusion. You’ll need a form of bibliography for each and an appendix. But after those basic similarities are dealt with, there are a lot of differences between the thesis and the dissertation.
Differences Between the Two Papers
Some of the attributes that comprise the differences between the thesis and dissertation are huge, while others are subtle nuances you should be aware of. Some of the differences include factors such as:
● The due date for completion. A thesis signifies that the master’s program is at an end, and a dissertation is the finishing piece of a doctoral program.
● The purpose of each. The thesis consists of a long-term, comprehensive compilation of a research topic that you work on throughout your entire graduate courses. The thesis shows that you are knowledgeable about the subject you intend to work in, and that you can put together an academic paper that includes all the steps necessary to be a researcher. The dissertation, on the other hand, is an expectation of your ability to contribute to the field you are entering by creating entirely new knowledge, theory applications and generations, and practices. You must have a concept that is completely original, fully developed, and totally defended to a strict audience who is going to contest its worth to see how well you can support your work.
● Structural changes. In a master’s thesis, you can use the years of structure of research papers you’ve become familiar with. Your information, through comprehensive research, is compiled, analyzed, and put together into a format that shows you have critically considered and responded to the topic through in-depth text that also reveals a master of the scholastic language. In a dissertation, the information you use is completely original to you, with references to other sources as necessary, but the majority of the work is your own.
● The length of the paper. Both of these comprehensive works are going to take significant amounts of your time to prepare. The thesis is a minimum of 100 pages, which is quite lengthy itself. But the dissertation is even more complex, written more like a comprehensive non-fiction book that includes every aspect of your thought and action processes transparently laid out for the reader to understand. You’ll have a dissertation adviser to turn to throughout your process, and utilizing this person well will help you stay in the right direction and find resources as you need them.
While both of these papers are critical to obtaining your degree, the differences between them are varied and important.