Thesis and dissertation

From Master’s To Doctorate: Difference Between The Thesis and Dissertation

Are you a graduate student wondering about the difference between a thesis and a dissertation? If so, you’re not alone! These terms are often used interchangeably but refer to two different academic projects.

In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between the thesis and dissertation, so you can better understand your expectations as you work towards your degree. Consult our best academic services if you still need help with this daunting task.

What is a Master’s Degree Thesis?

A master’s thesis is an academic research paper that entails more extensive research than an undergraduate or term paper. The paper requires a higher level of writing proficiency. Students must exhibit a thorough understanding, expertise, and mastery of the subject matter. Typically, students take about two to three years to complete the paper. It is essential to note that a master’s thesis is mainly written to earn a research degree and is not meant for individual publication.

What is PhD Dissertation?

A doctoral dissertation is a significant research undertaking that all PhD students must complete. It involves conducting original research that has yet to be published and making a new contribution to the field. This contribution can be a new perspective on an existing topic or a new theory altogether. The research involved in writing a dissertation typically spans several years to up to five years.

Differences Between the Thesis and Dissertation

Now that we’ve defined the two terms, let’s examine some key differences between the thesis and dissertation.

Academic Level

The terms dissertation and thesis have different meanings and usage depending on the country or academic institution. The terms ‘dissertation’ and ‘thesis’ pertain to a substantial research project that must be completed to obtain a degree, but their usage varies by country. In the United Kingdom, a dissertation is typically written at the culmination of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. At the same time, a thesis is required to complete a PhD. On the other hand, in the United States, a thesis may be written at the end of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and a dissertation is mandatory to obtain a PhD.


The length of dissertations and theses varies according to an academic institution, degree level, and field of study. However, some general guidelines exist for dissertation and thesis length in the UK and the US.

A dissertation for a bachelor’s degree in the United Kingdom typically ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 words. A master’s dissertation is typically 10,000 to 15,000 words long. A PhD thesis can be anywhere between 70,000 and 100,000 words long.

A bachelor’s thesis in the United States is typically between 20,000 and 40,000 words long. A master’s thesis is typically between 40,000 and 80,000 words long. A PhD dissertation can be 80,000 to 100,000 words long.


Thesis and dissertation completion times depend on academic institution, degree level, and the subject of study.

In the UK, a bachelor’s dissertation takes 4–6 months and a master’s 6–12 months. PhD thesis typically takes 3–4 years to complete.

Thesis and dissertation completion times vary by academic institution and field in the US. Bachelor’s and master’s thesis take 6 months to a year and 1 to 2 years, respectively. A PhD dissertation can take 3–7 years, depending on the academic area and research project.

Original Contribution

The thesis and dissertation must make an original contribution to the field. In an ideal scenario, plagiarism should be completely avoided. However, many universities allow up to 19-20% of the content from existing material.

To prevent plagiarism, it is recommended to rephrase and reword any sections that may appear to be plagiarised instead of directly copying the original text. When using quotes, it is crucial to ensure that they are accurately transcribed from the original paper. As quotes can account for a significant portion of plagiarised content, it is crucial to provide proper citation and attribution to the source.

 Scope of Research

The main difference between a thesis and a dissertation lies in their scope. A thesis is a research paper that typically focuses on a particular aspect of a broader topic and is usually required for a master’s degree. In contrast, a dissertation is a research paper required for a doctoral degree.

It explores a topic in much greater depth, requiring more extensive analysis. While both papers require significant research and analysis, a thesis is generally narrower and more focused than a dissertation.


The audience for a thesis is the student’s academic advisor and a small committee of professors. The audience for a dissertation is much broader and may include other scholars in the field.


The format of the thesis and dissertation may also differ. While both include an introduction, literature review, method section, results section, and conclusion, the formatting requirements may differ. Additionally, a dissertation may need appendices, while a thesis may not.

Comparison Table: Thesis vs Dissertation

Academic Level



Bachelor’s Dissertation (6,000-10,000 words, 4-6 months) Thesis (20,000-40,000 words, 6 months-1 year)
Master’s Dissertation (10,000-15,000 words, 6-12 months) Thesis (40,000-80,000 words, 1-2 years)
PhD Thesis (required, 70,000-100,000 words, 3-4 years) Dissertation (80,000-100,000 words, 3-7 years)


It’s important to note that the length and timeframe information provided in the previous table are general guidelines and can vary significantly depending on the academic institution, degree level, and field of study. Therefore, students should always check with their academic department for specific requirements and guidelines.


In conclusion, the difference between thesis, dissertation and treatise is significant for any graduate student to understand. While both projects need independent research and a contribution to the field, a thesis is a much more extensive project that requires 2 to 3 years.

Whether you are working on a thesis or a dissertation, it is important to choose a topic that you are passionate about and that will allow you to make an original contribution to the field. You can complete your project and earn your degree with dedication and hard work.

With the help of The Academic Papers UK, you can complete your thesis or dissertation knowing that you have expert support every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive academic writing and editing services.

Frequently Asked Question

What is the Primary Distinction Between the Thesis and Dissertation?

Do you need clarification about the difference between the thesis and dissertation? Here’s the breakdown: a dissertation is like the younger sibling, while a thesis is a big brother or sister, completed to earn a master’s or PhD or other doctoral degrees.

Can a Thesis Be Longer Than a Dissertation?

An undergraduate dissertation is typically between 8,000 and 15,000 words long. A master’s dissertation typically ranges in length from 12,000 to 50,000 words. A PhD thesis, on the other hand, is typically a book-length document spanning 70,000 to 100,000 words.

Do I Need to Conduct Original Research for Both the Thesis and Dissertation?

Without independent research and an original contribution, your thesis or dissertation would be another drop in the academic ocean. So, yes, buckle up and get ready to make your mark!

How Long Does it Take to Tackle a Thesis or a Dissertation? 

A dissertation is typically a year or two sprints. At the same time, a thesis is a marathon that may take several years to finish.”

Who is the Audience for a Thesis or a Dissertation?

When it comes to the audience, a thesis is like a private concert, with just the academic advisor and a small committee of professors in attendance. But a dissertation? That’s more like a sold-out stadium show, with scholars from all over the field coming to see your research take centre stage.

About Author

George Morris is a professional Business Analyst from Derbyshire. He has completed his Business Administration from the University of Manchester. Morris is currently living in the UK and working as a business dissertation writers at one of the top dissertation writing services. He loves to write about different business and economic trends in the world.