- Awards Season
- Big Stories
- Pop Culture
- Video Games
How to Create an Effective Thesis Statement in 5 Easy Steps
Creating a thesis statement can be a daunting task. It’s one of the most important sentences in your paper, and it needs to be done right. But don’t worry — with these five easy steps, you’ll be able to create an effective thesis statement in no time.
Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas
The first step is to brainstorm ideas for your paper. Think about what you want to say and write down any ideas that come to mind. This will help you narrow down your focus and make it easier to create your thesis statement.
Step 2: Research Your Topic
Once you have some ideas, it’s time to do some research on your topic. Look for sources that support your ideas and provide evidence for the points you want to make. This will help you refine your argument and make it more convincing.
Step 3: Formulate Your Argument
Now that you have done some research, it’s time to formulate your argument. Take the points you want to make and put them into one or two sentences that clearly state what your paper is about. This will be the basis of your thesis statement.
Step 4: Refine Your Thesis Statement
Once you have formulated your argument, it’s time to refine your thesis statement. Make sure that it is clear, concise, and specific. It should also be arguable so that readers can disagree with it if they choose.
Step 5: Test Your Thesis Statement
The last step is to test your thesis statement. Does it accurately reflect the points you want to make? Is it clear and concise? Does it make an arguable point? If not, go back and refine it until it meets all of these criteria.
Creating an effective thesis statement doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With these five easy steps, you can create a strong thesis statement in no time at all.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
MORE FROM ASK.COM
Reference management. Clean and simple.
How long are thesis statements? [with examples]
If you find yourself in the process of writing a thesis statement but you don't know how long it should be, you've come to right place. In the next paragraphs you will learn about the most efficient way to write a thesis statement and how long it should be.
A thesis statement is a concise description of your work’s aim.
- What is the proper length of a thesis statement?
The short answer is: one or two sentences. The more i n-depth answer: as your writing evolves, and as you write longer papers, your thesis statement will typically be at least two, and often more, sentences. The thesis of a scholarly article may have three or four long sentences.
The point is to write a well-formed statement that clearly sets out the argument and aim of your research. A one sentence thesis is fine for shorter papers, but make sure it's a full, concrete statement. Longer thesis statements should follow the same rule; be sure that your statement includes essential information and resist too much exposition.
Here are some basic rules for thesis statement lengths based on the number of pages:
- 5 pages : 1 sentence
- 5-8 pages : 1 or 2 sentences
- 8-13 pages : 2 or 3 sentences
- 13-23 pages : 3 or 4 sentences
- Over 23 pages : a few sentences or a paragraph
- Examples of thesis statements
Joe Haley, a former writing instructor at Johns Hopkins University exemplified in this forum post the different sizes a thesis statement can take. For a paper on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, someone could come up with these two theses:
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice , gossip is an important but morally ambiguous tool for shaping characters' opinions of each other.
As the aforementioned critics have noted, the prevalence of gossip in Jane Austen's oeuvre does indeed reflect the growing prominence of an explicitly-delineated private sphere in nineteenth-century British society. However, in contrast with these critics' general conclusions about Austen and class, which tend to identify her authorial voice directly with the bourgeois mores shaping her appropriation of the bildungsroman, the ambiguity of this communicative mode in Pride and Prejudice suggests that when writing at the height of her authorial powers, at least, Austen is capable of skepticism and even self-critique. For what is the narrator of her most celebrated novel if not its arch-gossip par excellence ?
Both statements are equally sound, but the second example clearly belongs in a longer paper. In the end, the length of your thesis statement will depend on the scope of your work.
- Frequently Asked Questions about the length of thesis statements
There is no exact word count for a thesis statement, since the length depends on your level of knowledge and expertise. A two sentence thesis statement would be between 20-50 words.
The length of the work will determine how long your thesis statement is. A concise thesis is typically between 20-50 words. A paragraph is also acceptable for a thesis statement; however, anything over one paragraph is probably too long.
Here is a list of Thesis Statement Examples that will help you understand better how long they can be.
As a high school student, you are not expected to have an elaborate thesis statement. A couple of clear sentences indicating the aim of your essay will be more than enough.
Here is a YouTube tutorial that will help you write a thesis statement: How To Write An Essay: Thesis Statements by Ariel Bisset.
- Related Articles
- How Long Is a PhD Thesis?
- Doing a PhD
It’s no secret that one of the most challenging aspects of a PhD degree is the volume of work that goes into writing your thesis . So this raises the question, exactly how long is a thesis?
Unfortunately, there’s no one size fits all answer to this question. However, from the analysis of over 100 PhD theses, the average thesis length is between 80,000 and 100,000 words. A further analysis of 1000 PhD thesis shows the average number of pages to be 204 . In reality, the actual word count for each PhD thesis will depend on the specific subject and the university it is being hosted by. This is because universities set their own word length requirements, with most found to be opting for around 100,000.
To find out more about how these word limits differ between universities, how the average word count from STEM thesis differ from non-STEM thesis and a more detailed breakdown from the analysis of over 1000 PhDs, carry on reading the below.
Word Count Differences Between Universities
For any PhD student writing a thesis, they will find that their document will be subject to a word limit set by their university. In nearly all cases, the limit only concerns the maximum number of words and doesn’t place any restrictions on the minimum word limit. The reason for this is that the student will be expected to write their thesis with the aim of clearly explaining their research, and so it is up to the student to determine what he deems appropriate.
Saying this, it is well accepted amongst PhD students and supervisors that the absence of a lower limit doesn’t suggest that a thesis can be ‘light’. Your thesis will focus on several years worth of original research and explore new ideas, theories or concepts. Besides this, your thesis will need to cover a wide range of topics such as your literature review, research methodology, results and conclusion. Therefore, your examiners will expect the length of your thesis to be proportional to convey all this information to a sufficient level.
Selecting a handful of universities at random, they state the following thesis word limits on their website:
- University of Edinburgh: 100,000
- University of Exeter: 100,000
- University of Leister: 80,000
- University of Bath: 80,000
- University of Warwick: 70,000
The above universities set upper word limits that apply across the board, however, some universities, such as the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield, set different word limits for different departments. For example, the University of Sheffield adopts these limits:
- Arts & Humanities: 75,000
- Medicine, Dentistry & Health: 75,000
- Science: 80,000
- Social Sciences: 75,000-100,000
Although there’s a range of limit, it’s safe to say that the majority fall within the 80,000 to 100,000 bracket.
Word Count Based on Data from past Theses
A poll of 149 postdocs.
In mid-2019, Dr Eva Lantsoght, a published author, academic blogger and Structural Engineering Professor, conducted a poll which asked postgraduate doctoral students to share the length of their final thesis. 149 PostDoc students responded to the survey, with the majority reporting a length falling within the ‘80,000 – 120,000 words’ bracket as seen below.
Analysis of 1000 PhD Theses
Over a three-year time period, Dr Ian Brailsford, a then Postgraduate Learning Adviser at the University of Auckland, analysed 1000 doctoral thesis submitted to his university’s library. The PhD theses which formed the basis of his analysis were produced between 2008 to 2017 and showed:
- Average number of pages = 204
- Median number of pages = 198
- Average number of chapters = 7.6
We should note that the above metrics only cover the content falling within the main body of the thesis. This includes the introduction, literature review, methods section, results chapter, discussions and conclusions. All other sections, such as the title page, abstract, table of contents, acknowledgements, bibliography and appendices were omitted from the count.
Although it’s impossible to draw the exact word count from the number of pages alone, by using the universities recommended format of 12pt Times New Roman and 1.5 lines spacing, and assuming 10% of the main body are figures and footnotes, this equates to an average main body of 52,000 words.
STEM vs Non-STEM
As part of Dr Ian Brailsford’s analysis, he also compared the length of STEM doctorate theses to non-STEM theses. He found that STEM theses tended to be shorter. In fact, he found STEM theses to have a medium page length of 159 whilst non-STEM theses had a medium of around 223 pages. This is a 40% increase in average length!
Can You Exceed the Word Count?
Whilst most universities will allow you to go over the word count if you need to, it comes with the caveat that you must have a very strong reason for needing to do so. Besides this, your supervisor will also need to support your request. This is to acknowledge that they have reviewed your situation and agree that exceeding the word limit will be absolutely necessary to avoid detriment unnecessary detriment to your work.
This means that whilst it is possible to submit a thesis over 100,000 words or more, it’s unlikely that your research project will need to.
How Does This Compare to a Masters Dissertation?
The average Masters dissertation length is approximately 20,000 words whilst a thesis is 4 to 5 times this length at approximately 80,000 – 100,000.
The key reason for this difference is because of the level of knowledge they convey. A Master’s dissertation focuses on concluding from existing knowledge whilst a PhD thesis focuses on drawing a conclusion from new knowledge. As a result, the thesis is significantly longer as the new knowledge needs to be well documented so it can be verified, disseminated and used to shape future research.
Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.
Unfortunately, the completion of your thesis doesn’t mark the end of your degree just yet. Once you submit your thesis, it’s time to start preparing for your viva – the all-to-fun thesis defence interview! To help you prepare for this, we’ve produced a helpful guide which you can read here: The Complete Guide to PhD Vivas.
Browse PhDs Now
Join thousands of students.
Join thousands of other students and stay up to date with the latest PhD programmes, funding opportunities and advice.
- Have your assignments done by seasoned writers. 24/7
- Contact us:
- +1 (213) 221-0069
- [email protected]
How Long is a Thesis or Dissertation: College, Grad or PhD
How long is a thesis
As a graduate student, you may have heard that you must complete a certain comprehensive project, either a thesis or a dissertation. In this guide, we will explore how long a thesis should be, the best length for a dissertation, and the optimal length for each part of the two.
If you read on to the end, we will also explore their differences to understand how it informs each length.
Both terms have distinct meanings, although they are sometimes used interchangeably and frequently confused.
Structure-wise, both papers have an introduction, a literature review, a body, a conclusion, a bibliography, and an appendix. That aside, both papers have some differences, as we shall see later on in this article.
How Long Should a Thesis be
Before discussing how long a thesis is, it’s critical to understand what it is. A thesis is a paper that marks the end of a study program.
Mostly, there is the undergraduate thesis, a project that marks the end of a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s thesis that marks the end of a master’s program.
A thesis should be around 50 pages long for a bachelor’s degree and 60-100 pages for a Master’s degree. However, the optimal length of a thesis project depends on the faculty’s instructions and the supervising professor’s expectations . The length also depends on the topic’s technicalities and the extent of research done.
A master’s thesis project is longer because it is a compilation of all your knowledge obtained in your master’s degree.
It basically allows you to demonstrate your abilities in your chosen field.
Often, graduate schools require students pursuing research-oriented degrees to write a thesis.
This is to demonstrate their practical skills before completing their degrees.
In contrast to undergraduate thesis, which are shorter in length and coverage area, usually less than 60 pages. A master’s theses are lengthy scholarly work allowing you to research a topic deeply.
Then you are required to write, expand the topic, and demonstrate what you have learned throughout the program. This is part of why you must write a thesis for some undergrad in some of the courses.
A Master’s thesis necessitates a large amount of research, which may include conducting interviews, surveys, and gathering information ( both primary and secondary) depending on the subject and field of study.
For this reason, the master’s thesis has between 60 and 100 pages, without including the bibliography. Mostly, the topic and research approach determine the length of the paper.
This means that there is no definite number of pages required. However, your thesis should be long enough to clearly and concisely present all important information.
Need Help with your Homework or Essays?
How long should a dissertation be.
A dissertation is a complex, in-depth research paper usually written by Ph.D. students. When writing the dissertation, Ph.D. Students are required to create their research, formulate a hypothesis, and conduct the study.
On average, a dissertation should be at least 90 pages at the minimum and 200 pages at the maximum , depending on the guidelines of the faculty and the professor. The optimal length for a dissertation also depends on the depth of the research done, the components of the file, and the level of study.
Most Ph.D. dissertations papers are between 120 to 200 pages on average.
However, as we said earlier, it all depends on factors like the field of study, and methods of data collection, among others.
Unlike a master’s thesis, which is about 100 pages, a dissertation is at least twice this length.
This is because you must develop a completely new concept, study it, research it, and defend it.
In your Ph.D. program, a dissertation allows you the opportunity to bring new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field of study.
The Lengths of Each Part of a Thesis and Dissertation
Factors determining the length of thesis or dissertation.
As we have seen, there is no definite length of a thesis and dissertation. Most of these two important academic documents average 100 to 400 pages. However, several factors determine their length.
Universities- we all know universities are independent bodies. Also, it’s important to know that each university is different from the other. As a result, the thesis and dissertation length varies depending on the set rules in a certain college or school.
Field of study- some fields of study have rich information, while others have limited information.
For example, you may have much to write about or discover when it comes to science compared to history.
As such, if you are to write a thesis or a dissertation in both fields, one will definitely be longer than the other. Check the time it takes to write a thesis or a dissertation to get more points.
Other factors that affect the length of a thesis or a dissertation include your writing style and the instructor’s specifications. These factors also come into play when it comes to the time taken to defend a thesis or your dissertation.
Tips for the Optimal Length for a Thesis or Dissertation
Instead of writing for length, write for brevity. The goal is to write the smallest feasible document with all of the material needed to describe the study and back up the interpretation. Ensure to avoid irrelevant tangents and excessive repetitions at all costs.
The only repetition required is the main theme. The working hypothesis seeks to be elaborated and proved in your paper.
The theme is developed in the introduction, expanded in the body, and mentioned in the abstract and conclusion.
Here are some tips for writing the right length of thesis and dissertation:
- Remove any interpretation portion which is only tangentially linked to your new findings.
- Use tables to keep track of information that is repeated.
- Include enough background information for the reader to understand the point of view.
- Make good use of figure captions.
- Let the table stand on its own. I.e., do not describe the contents of the figures and/or tables one by one in the text. Instead, highlight the most important patterns, objects, or trends in the figures and tables in the text.
- Leave out any observations or results in the text that you haven’t provided data.
- Do not include conclusions that aren’t backed up by your findings.
- Remove all inconclusive interpretation and discussion portions.
- Avoid unnecessary adjectives, prepositional phrases, and adverbs.
- Make your sentences shorter – avoid nesting clauses or phrases.
- Avoid idioms and instead use words whose meaning can be looked up in a dictionary.
We can Write your Papers! No Plagiarism
Get that A on your next essay assignment without the hassles. Any topic or subject. 100% Plagiarism-Free Essays.
Difference between a Thesis and a Dissertation
The most basic distinction between a thesis and a dissertation is when they are written.
While a thesis is a project completed after a master’s program, a dissertation is completed at the end of doctorate studies.
In a thesis, you present the results of your research to demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of what you have studied during your master’s program.
On the other hand, a dissertation is your chance to add new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field while pursuing a doctorate. The goal here is to come up with a completely new concept, develop it, and defend it.
A master’s thesis is similar to the types of research papers you’re used to writing in your bachelor’s studies. It involves conducting research on a topic, analyzing it, and then commenting on your findings and how it applies to your research topic.
The thesis aims to demonstrate your capacity to think critically about and explain a topic in depth.
Furthermore, with a thesis, you typically use this time to elaborate on a topic that is most relevant to your professional area of specialization that you intend to pursue.
In a dissertation, on the other hand, you use other people’s research as an inspiration to help you come up with and prove your own hypothesis, idea, or concept. The majority of the data in a dissertation is credited to you.
Last but not least, these two major works differ greatly in length. The average length of a master’s thesis is at least 100 pages.
On the other hand, a doctoral dissertation should be substantially longer because it includes a lot of history and research information, as well as every element of your research, while explaining how you arrived at the information.
It is a complex piece of scholarly work, and it is likely to be twice or thrice the length of a thesis. To know the difference, check the best length for a thesis paper and see more about it.
Here is a Recap of the Differences
- While the thesis is completed at the end of your master’s degree program, a dissertation is written at the end of your doctoral degree program.
- Both documents also vary in length. A thesis should have at least 100 pages, while a doctoral dissertation is longer (over 200 pages)
- In the thesis, you conduct original research; in the dissertation, you use existing research to help you develop your discovery.
- For a thesis, you have to add analysis to the existing work, while a dissertation is part of the analysis of the existing work.
- In comparison to a thesis, a dissertation requires a more thorough study to expand your research in a certain topic.
- The statements in a thesis and a dissertation are distinct. While a thesis statement explains to readers how you will prove an argument in your research, a dissertation hypothesis defines and clarifies the outcomes you expect from your study. Here, you apply a theory to explore a certain topic.
- A dissertation allows you to contribute new knowledge to your field of study, while a thesis makes sure you understand what you have studied in your program and how it applies.
A thesis or a dissertation is a difficult document to compile. However, you should not be worried since your school assigns you a dissertation advisor who is a faculty member.
These advisors or supervisors help you find resources and ensure that your proposal is on the right track when you get stuck.
Check out my guide on the differences between a research paper, proposal, and thesis to understand more about these issues.
Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.
Types of Thesis Statements
9 Different Types of Thesis Statements: With Examples for Each
Writing a Good Acknowledgement
8 Simple Steps How to Write a Good Acknowledgement for Thesis
Avoid being Caught Buying Dissertations: Tips to do it right
How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]
Writing a Masters thesis can be quite the undertaking. It presents the research findings of your graduate-level masters study. It can be difficult to work out exactly how much you need to write to pass your masters degree because you can generate so much research throughout your course.
The average masters thesis is typically between 50 and 100 pages long. The length of the thesis will vary depending on the discipline and the university requirements but will typically be around 25,000 to 50,000 words in length.
My Masters thesis in theoretical computational chemistry was 60 pages long. It was quite short for a master’s thesis in chemistry because of the theoretical computational twist. Some organic chemistry Master theses were much longer – in terms of pages – because they relied on a lot of diagrams and schematics to explain their work.
Irrespective of its length, a master’s thesis must demonstrate an individual’s ability to conduct independent research and to effectively express their findings in writing.
It must pass peer-review and is often accompanied with a short oral presentation about the work to an academic committee put together by their advisor.
It must also show that the student has acquired sufficient knowledge about their chosen subject to contribute to existing scholarship in their field. Once you have graduated with your masters you can then consider whether or not a PhD is a good option for your career goals.
How Many Pages Should a Master Thesis Have?
Typically, a master thesis is expected to be anywhere between 100-200 pages long depending on the research field and topic.
In general, most master theses should have at least 30-40 pages of research content (including a literature review) with an additional 10-20 pages for other aspects of academic reports such as acknowledgements, appendices, abstracts, references and schematics or diagrams.
Furthermore, certain schools may require that your master thesis meet additional criteria such as formatting guidelines or word counts in order to be considered complete.
Your supervisor should not let your master’s thesis go to examination if it does not meet the minimum requirements for your specific field. Your academic supervisor will be your biggest asset while writing your master’s thesis.
If you want to know more about how long a Masters’s thesis and PhD dissertation is you can check out my other articles:
- How long is a Thesis or dissertation? [the data]
- Is writing a masters thesis hard? Tips on how to write a thesis
- How to write a masters thesis in 2 months [Easy steps to start writing]
How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined?
A Masters dissertation is assessed by academics in your department or university and it may also include an external examination by experts in the specific field you are studying.
The thesis will typically require a student to conduct extensive research to answer a research question and come up with an original argument or thesis on the topic.
Once the thesis has been written, the student must submit it to their faculty or university for assessment and examination.
The university will then grade the dissertation based on its content, structure, and accuracy. Most universities require that the dissertation be at least 60 pages in length and be written according to academic standards of writing and style guides.
These academic writing style guides can be very confusing and are often not something people have encountered before. However, reaching out to, and using the services of, a trusted editor will help make the process much easier.
The faculty at the university will then assess the submitted dissertation and provide feedback to help guide the student in making any necessary corrections or revisions before finally submitting it for examination.
Sometimes the examiners will require the thesis to undergo small amendments.
This is quite normal and you will be expected to address each of the criticisms before being admitted to your degree.
Also, many institutions require a public presentation on your Masters research for admission to the degree. This can be relatively nerve racking for young career academics. Nonetheless, presenting your work to a general audience is always good experience and will help prepare you for a PhD if you decide to pursue further research studies.
Effective tips on how to write a thesis successfully
Writing a master’s thesis is not an easy task and many students struggle to complete it with a smile on their faces.
Making sure that you work on your thesis little by little and that you do not get bogged down in the details too quickly is an important step to finishing your thesis without it causing too much mental anguish.
However, writing a thesis is often a very challenging thing no matter what you do. You can check out more about this in my YouTube video below right talk about the unglamorous truths about writing a thesis, whether it Masters, PhD or for peer review.
Work on your thesis in small chunks. Do not think of it as one big thesis but rather as small chapters and subsections within that chapter.
I actually had multiple documents with different chapters and did not combine my thesis until the end. This allowed me to compartmentalise my work and ensure that I was focused on one aspect of the thesis at a time without jumping between many other sections – which would have been a huge distraction.
Get feedback as often as possible
I’ve always been incredibly lucky with my research supervisors. I’ve been able to get feedback about my writing quickly and effectively.
Speak to your research supervisor about what would be an appropriate amount of work for them to mark at any given time.
Some supervisors like small amounts of work – such as a chapter or a subsection, whilst others prefer to have full chapters submitted at a time.
Try to work out the smallest amount of work they be happy to look over as then you can get feedback much quicker.
Also, you can reach out to other supervisors and academics that may be able to give you feedback on your writing. You do not just have two work with your primary supervisor when looking for feedback.
Do what you must to get through
Even though many helpful PhD and thesis writing blogs and videos talk about making yourself as productive as possible, the truth is sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get through.
For example, I used to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of energy drinks to try to focus myself while writing up my thesis.
I only did this for a short period of time and it certainly wasn’t sustainable. But, when you have got a tight deadline sometimes you just have to do whatever you can to get through your writer’s block.
Protect your flow
Protect your flow as much as possible. Getting into a flow state can be achieved regularly if you change your environment to make sure that you are able to focus effectively.
For example, I like to completely turn off my mobile phone and email or other computer notifications so that I can focus for at least one hour on writing my thesis.
You may also find white noise helpful if you are in a particularly noisy environment such as a shared office.
If you find yourself becoming distracted – remove that distraction as best you can. Protecting your flow and working for one-hour blocks will really help you finish on time.
This article has been through everything you need to know about the length of a Masters thesis and how to write your thesis effectively.
The length of a Masters thesis is very much dependent on the field of study and the University’s requirements for your course. Nonetheless, they are typically between 50 and 200 pages long and are examined by experts in the field and other academics before you are admitted into the degree.
There may also be a short presentation that is given to the public or academics in your department.
Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.
Thank you for visiting Academia Insider.
We are here to help you navigate Academia as painlessly as possible. We are supported by our readers and by visiting you are helping us earn a small amount through ads and affiliate revenue - Thank you!
2023 © Academia Insider
Frequently asked questions
How long is a dissertation.
Dissertation word counts vary widely across different fields, institutions, and levels of education:
- An undergraduate dissertation is typically 8,000–15,000 words
- A master’s dissertation is typically 12,000–50,000 words
- A PhD thesis is typically book-length: 70,000–100,000 words
However, none of these are strict guidelines – your word count may be lower or higher than the numbers stated here. Always check the guidelines provided by your university to determine how long your own dissertation should be.
Frequently asked questions: Dissertation
A dissertation prospectus or proposal describes what or who you plan to research for your dissertation. It delves into why, when, where, and how you will do your research, as well as helps you choose a type of research to pursue. You should also determine whether you plan to pursue qualitative or quantitative methods and what your research design will look like.
It should outline all of the decisions you have taken about your project, from your dissertation topic to your hypotheses and research objectives , ready to be approved by your supervisor or committee.
Note that some departments require a defense component, where you present your prospectus to your committee orally.
A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.
Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:
- Plan to attend graduate school soon
- Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
- Are considering a career in research
- Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation should include the following:
- A restatement of your research question
- A summary of your key arguments and/or results
- A short discussion of the implications of your research
The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.
For a stronger dissertation conclusion , avoid including:
- Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the discussion section and results section
- Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion …”)
- Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g., “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)
Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.
While it may be tempting to present new arguments or evidence in your thesis or disseration conclusion , especially if you have a particularly striking argument you’d like to finish your analysis with, you shouldn’t. Theses and dissertations follow a more formal structure than this.
All your findings and arguments should be presented in the body of the text (more specifically in the discussion section and results section .) The conclusion is meant to summarize and reflect on the evidence and arguments you have already presented, not introduce new ones.
A theoretical framework can sometimes be integrated into a literature review chapter , but it can also be included as its own chapter or section in your dissertation . As a rule of thumb, if your research involves dealing with a lot of complex theories, it’s a good idea to include a separate theoretical framework chapter.
A literature review and a theoretical framework are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work, a literature review critically evaluates existing research relating to your topic. You’ll likely need both in your dissertation .
While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on existing research, a conceptual framework allows you to draw your own conclusions, mapping out the variables you may use in your study and the interplay between them.
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
In most styles, the title page is used purely to provide information and doesn’t include any images. Ask your supervisor if you are allowed to include an image on the title page before doing so. If you do decide to include one, make sure to check whether you need permission from the creator of the image.
Include a note directly beneath the image acknowledging where it comes from, beginning with the word “ Note .” (italicized and followed by a period). Include a citation and copyright attribution . Don’t title, number, or label the image as a figure , since it doesn’t appear in your main text.
Definitional terms often fall into the category of common knowledge , meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be cited. This guidance can apply to your thesis or dissertation glossary as well.
However, if you’d prefer to cite your sources , you can follow guidance for citing dictionary entries in MLA or APA style for your glossary.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, an index is a list of the contents of your work organized by page number.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation should include your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date.
Glossaries are not mandatory, but if you use a lot of technical or field-specific terms, it may improve readability to add one to your thesis or dissertation. Your educational institution may also require them, so be sure to check their specific guidelines.
A glossary or “glossary of terms” is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. Your glossary only needs to include terms that your reader may not be familiar with, and is intended to enhance their understanding of your work.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, dictionaries are more general collections of words.
An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Dr. for Doctor. In contrast, an acronym uses the first letter of each word to create a wholly new word, such as UNESCO (an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
As a rule of thumb, write the explanation in full the first time you use an acronym or abbreviation. You can then proceed with the shortened version. However, if the abbreviation is very common (like PC, USA, or DNA), then you can use the abbreviated version from the get-go.
Be sure to add each abbreviation in your list of abbreviations !
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
A list of abbreviations is a list of all the abbreviations that you used in your thesis or dissertation. It should appear at the beginning of your document, with items in alphabetical order, just after your table of contents .
Your list of tables and figures should go directly after your table of contents in your thesis or dissertation.
Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and aren’t particularly common. They specifically aren’t required for APA-Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables .
If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organized. Your educational institution may require them, so be sure to check their guidelines.
A list of figures and tables compiles all of the figures and tables that you used in your thesis or dissertation and displays them with the page number where they can be found.
The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction .
You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.
A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .
An annotated bibliography is a list of source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a paper .
In a thesis or dissertation, the discussion is an in-depth exploration of the results, going into detail about the meaning of your findings and citing relevant sources to put them in context.
The conclusion is more shorter and more general: it concisely answers your main research question and makes recommendations based on your overall findings.
In the discussion , you explore the meaning and relevance of your research results , explaining how they fit with existing research and theory. Discuss:
- Your interpretations : what do the results tell us?
- The implications : why do the results matter?
- The limitation s : what can’t the results tell us?
The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.
In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.
Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.
The results chapter of a thesis or dissertation presents your research results concisely and objectively.
In quantitative research , for each question or hypothesis , state:
- The type of analysis used
- Relevant results in the form of descriptive and inferential statistics
- Whether or not the alternative hypothesis was supported
In qualitative research , for each question or theme, describe:
- Recurring patterns
- Significant or representative individual responses
- Relevant quotations from the data
Don’t interpret or speculate in the results chapter.
To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:
- Apply heading styles throughout the document.
- In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
- Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.
Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.
All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.
The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .
Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.
The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.
The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis , directly after the title page and before the abstract .
Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.
In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.
Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.
Ask our team
Want to contact us directly? No problem. We are always here for you.
- Email [email protected]
- Start live chat
- Call +1 (510) 822-8066
- WhatsApp +31 20 261 6040
Our team helps students graduate by offering:
- A world-class citation generator
- Plagiarism Checker software powered by Turnitin
- Innovative Citation Checker software
- Professional proofreading services
- Over 300 helpful articles about academic writing, citing sources, plagiarism, and more
Scribbr specializes in editing study-related documents . We proofread:
- PhD dissertations
- Research proposals
- Personal statements
- Admission essays
- Motivation letters
- Reflection papers
- Journal articles
- Capstone projects
The Scribbr Plagiarism Checker is powered by elements of Turnitin’s Similarity Checker , namely the plagiarism detection software and the Internet Archive and Premium Scholarly Publications content databases .
The Scribbr Citation Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.
You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Citation Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .
- Affiliate Program
- UNITED STATES
- 台灣 (TAIWAN)
- TÜRKIYE (TURKEY)
- Academic Editing Services
- - Research Paper
- - Journal Manuscript
- - Dissertation
- - College & University Assignments
- Admissions Editing Services
- - Application Essay
- - Personal Statement
- - Recommendation Letter
- - Cover Letter
- - CV/Resume
- Business Editing Services
- - Business Documents
- - Report & Brochure
- - Website & Blog
- Writer Editing Services
- - Script & Screenplay
- Our Editors
- Client Reviews
- Editing & Proofreading Prices
- Wordvice Points
- Partner Discount
- Plagiarism Checker
- APA Citation Generator
- MLA Citation Generator
- Chicago Citation Generator
- Vancouver Citation Generator
- - APA Style
- - MLA Style
- - Chicago Style
- - Vancouver Style
- Writing & Editing Guide
- Academic Resources
- Admissions Resources
Masters Thesis vs. PhD Dissertation: Key Differences
Whether you are a graduate student just starting out in academia or a professor advising a student, making the distinction between a dissertation and a thesis is critically important to writing a strong dissertation and becoming a stronger writer. Unfortunately, the difference remains unclear since the terms are used interchangeably by graduate students, doctoral researchers, academic publishers & universities.
If you’re not sure whether you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation, this article will help you understand the differences between the two whether you’re a PhD or master’s degree student.
Main Differences Between a Dissertation and a Thesis
While theses and dissertations share many similarities (they are both advanced graduate research papers), they actually refer to two different types of academic writing, and their differences include important concepts such as scope, purpose, length, and research requirements.
Most importantly, the difference between a thesis and a dissertation depends on the level of education. Far beyond being a simple essay, a thesis is for graduate students pursuing a master’s degree while a dissertation is written by doctoral students, also referred to as PhD candidates.
There are a few key differences between a thesis versus a dissertation.
The biggest difference between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis makes arguments based on existing research. Meanwhile, a dissertation often requires the PhD candidate to conduct research and then perform an analysis.
More specifically, a thesis often takes the form of a literature review , which is a compilation of research knowledge in a particular field of study that proves one is competent in that subject. On the other hand, a dissertation is a more specific type of research paper written by those working toward a specific doctorate degree that contributes knowledge, theory, or methods to a field of study.
What is a master’s thesis?
A master’s thesis is an academic research paper that requires a greater degree of research than an undergraduate thesis or term paper. It is marked by a higher standard of writing, and students are expected to demonstrate competence, literacy, and mastery of a subject. It usually takes two or three years to complete. Finally, a master’s degree thesis is usually written in order to obtain a research degree and is not intended to be published separately.
What is a PhD dissertation?
A PhD dissertation is a substantial piece of independent research that is required of all students who are pursuing a doctorate degree. It is a piece of original work that has not been published elsewhere and, most importantly, makes a new contribution to the field. This contribution may be a new way of thinking about an existing topic or even a novel theory. The research performed for a dissertation is usually conducted over a period of several years to half a decade.
Features of a Master’s Thesis vs PhD Dissertation
Content and structural differences.
So how is dissertation writing different from thesis writing?
Now that you know the definitions of a dissertation and thesis, let’s dive into some clear ways in which they differ in structure and other main characteristics.
How long is a thesis vs dissertation?
Length is the most obvious factor in differentiating between writing a thesis or dissertation.
Generally, a doctoral dissertation has greater breadth, depth, and intention than a master’s thesis since it is based on original research. While the standard length of a master’s thesis is around 100 pages , a doctoral dissertation can be upwards of 400-500 pages.
While most students can finish their PhD dissertation or thesis in as little as 1-2 years, it can take as long as 7 years depending on the school, program, and dissertation topic. As doctoral programs have their own formatting requirements, check with your school or university to find out what you need for your own dissertation or thesis. Most dissertations are organized into chapters, but the number of chapters varies as well.
Differences in research methods
A thesis and dissertation are both graduate-level research reports. This means they require students to investigate and report on a specific topic. But what is the difference in the scale of research between a master’s versus doctoral degree? The answer comes down to how much and what type of data you collect .
Data sources for a thesis vs dissertation
A master’s thesis is limited to secondary or reported knowledge . This knowledge has already been published, analyzed, and scrutinized in the literature. A thesis does not typically offer anything new in that regard. Your purpose is usually to write a comprehensive literature review on a novel or underreported topic using already-reported data.
On the other hand, a doctoral dissertation reports on novel data and is published so it can be scrutinized by others. It culminates in your dissertation defense.
The above lists clearly show that a PhD researcher and dissertation writer must have specific hands-on experience about not only the result of others’ research but also how the researchers obtained the data. A dissertation must venture into criticism of how other studies performed their experiments, whereas a master’s student will only report on and evaluate the results.
Differences in research scope
As mentioned above, a thesis is more of a literature review written to demonstrate competence and mastery of a field of study. In short, you are a reliable “reporter” of information related to that subject. A thesis shows that you know the technical jargon, understand the subject, are familiar with industry tools, and can translate that information to a general audience. This is why a master’s degree is sufficient and often preferred for industry jobs.
In contrast, a doctoral dissertation goes beyond simply using the building blocks of your subject and actually creates new tools, knowledge, and theories to advance the subject as a whole. If a master’s degree holder is like a seasoned Rolling Stone journalist, then a doctorate is the band/musician who actually makes the music.
So should you pursue a thesis or a dissertation?
The benefits of earning a graduate degree are huge. According to the US Census Bureau , those with an advanced degree earn 3.7 times as much as a high school dropout, and 13.1% hold a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree. If you’re a curious undergraduate student thinking of applying to graduate school, which is the right choice?
In short, a dissertation is more focused and in-depth than a thesis. While a doctoral dissertation is based on original research, a thesis is often an extension or review of others’ research in order to demonstrate literacy. Further, a dissertation can be used as the basis or subject of a thesis, but not vice versa.
Editing a Dissertation vs Thesis
So far, we’ve focused a lot on differences such as research and purpose, but in the end, a thesis or dissertation is a written document that requires skill, focus, discipline, subject knowledge, organization, and scheduling.
For non-native English speakers, the challenge is especially difficult since English is the lingua franca of academia and research.
How does an editing service improve your dissertation or thesis ?
From body spacing and pagination, to font size and citation formatting, the dissertation guidelines are exhaustive. Even worse, they vary by school. So besides the actual English writing and grammar, graduate students must worry about consistency, formatting, nomenclature, and terminology. That’s quite the burden!
This is why it’s very common for graduate students, especially ESL and foreign ones, to seek out dissertation editing services that specifically cater to the academic needs of researchers and students.
Here are just a few reasons why dissertation proofreading is so helpful and what these editors do:
- Correct grammar, punctuation, syntax, and structural errors
- Offer suggestions to rewrite, remove, and revise writing
- Ensure formatting and nomenclature are consistent
- Knowledgeable academic editors with master’s and PhD degrees
- Free up your time to focus on research, revisions, and content instead of looking for mistakes
- Provide a language editing certificate , which may be necessary for non-native English-speaking students
Lastly, most PhD advisors recommend that students seek out professional editing services , specifically thesis editing or dissertation editing , since professors prefer to assess the actual research content of a dissertation, not mundane writing errors. Any graduate student reading this knows professors don’t like their time to be wasted!
Be sure to check out other academic resources on how to improve your academic manuscript and the benefits of proofreading and editing.
And try the Wordvice FREE Citation Generator, which provides citations for four academic formatting styles: APA Citation Generator , MLA Citation Generator , Chicago Citation Generator , and Vancouver Citation Generator .