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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.


how long is a thesis in high school

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How long are thesis statements? [with examples]

How long should a thesis statement be

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.

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How Long is a Thesis or Dissertation: College, Grad or PhD

How long is a thesis

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.

How long is a thesis

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.

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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.

How long is a dissertation

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.

rules and regulations

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.

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Difference between a Thesis and a Dissertation

dissertation vs thesis

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 working

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.

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What Is a Senior Thesis?

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A senior thesis is a large, independent research project that students take on during their senior year of high school or college to fulfill their graduation requirement. It is the culminating work of their studies at a particular institution, and it represents their ability to conduct research and write effectively. For some students, a senior thesis is a requirement for graduating with honors.

Students typically work closely with an advisor and choose a question or topic to explore before carrying out an extensive research plan.

Style Manuals and the Paper's Organization

The structure of your research paper will depend, in part, on the style manual that is required by your instructor. Different disciplines, such as history, science, or education, have different rules to abide by when it comes to research paper construction, organization, and modes of citation. The styles for different types of assignment include:

Modern Language Association (MLA): The disciplines that tend to prefer the MLA style guide include literature, arts, and the humanities, such as linguistics, religion, and philosophy. To follow this style, you will use parenthetical citations to indicate your sources and a works cited page to show the list of books and articles you consulted.

American Psychological Association (APA): The APA style manual tends to be used in psychology, education, and some of the social sciences. This type of report may require the following:

  • Introduction

Chicago style: "The Chicago Manual of Style" is used in most college-level history courses as well as professional publications that contain scholarly articles. Chicago style may call for endnotes or footnotes corresponding to a bibliography page at the back or the author-date style of in-text citation, which uses parenthetical citations and a references page at the end.

Turabian style: Turabian is a student version of Chicago style. It requires some of the same formatting techniques as Chicago, but it includes special rules for writing college-level papers, such as book reports. A Turabian research paper may call for endnotes or footnotes and a bibliography.

Science style: Science instructors may require students to use a format that is similar to the structure used in publishing papers in scientific journals. The elements you would include in this sort of paper include:

  • List of materials and methods used
  • Results of your methods and experiments
  • Acknowledgments

American Medical Association (AMA): The AMA style book might be required for students in medical or premedical degree programs in college. Parts of an AMA research paper might include:

  • Proper headings and lists
  • Tables and figures
  • In-text citations
  • Reference list

Choose Your Topic Carefully

Starting off with a bad, difficult, or narrow topic likely won't lead to a positive result. Don't choose a question or statement that's so broad that it's overwhelming and could comprise a lifetime of research or a topic that's so narrow you'll struggle to compose 10 pages. Consider a topic that has a lot of recent research so you won't struggle to put your hands on current or adequate sources.

Select a topic that interests you. Putting in long hours on a subject that bores you will be arduous—and ripe for procrastination. If a professor recommends an area of interest, make sure it excites you.

Also, consider expanding a paper you've already written; you'll hit the ground running because you've already done some research and know the topic. Last, consult with your advisor before finalizing your topic. You don't want to put in a lot of hours on a subject that is rejected by your instructor.

Organize Your Time

Plan to spend half of your time researching and the other half writing. Often, students spend too much time researching and then find themselves in a crunch, madly writing in the final hours. Give yourself goals to reach along certain "signposts," such as the number of hours you want to have invested each week or by a certain date or how much you want to have completed in those same timeframes.

Organize Your Research

Compose your works cited or bibliography entries as you work on your paper. This is especially important if your style manual requires you to use access dates for any online sources that you review or requires page numbers be included in the citations. You don't want to end up at the very end of the project and not know what day you looked at a particular website or have to search through a hard-copy book looking for a quote that you included in the paper. Save PDFs of online sites, too, as you wouldn't want to need to look back at something and not be able to get online or find that the article has been removed since you read it.

Choose an Advisor You Trust

This may be your first opportunity to work with direct supervision. Choose an advisor who's familiar with the field, and ideally select someone you like and whose classes you've already taken. That way you'll have a rapport from the start. 

Consult Your Instructor

Remember that your instructor is the final authority on the details and requirements of your paper. Read through all instructions, and have a conversation with your instructor at the start of the project to determine his or her preferences and requirements. Have a cheat sheet or checklist of this information; don't expect yourself to remember all year every question you asked or instruction you were given. 

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Masters Thesis vs. PhD Dissertation: Key Differences

how long is a thesis in high school

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.

dissertation vs thesis comparison chart

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 .

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Why high school seniors should write and defend a thesis.


The thesis project requires far more intense research than most high school seniors have been exposed to previously. Often students will read more than 1,000 pages just to get comfortable enough with their topics to begin the writing process, which usually produces a twelve to twenty page paper. The exercise of finding the right sources, annotating them, and then synthesizing all of that information to help argue a thesis is a high level skill for a seventeen or eighteen year old student to aspire to. These are the kinds of papers they may write several of as they pursue an undergraduate degree though, so the thesis project prepares seniors for what is coming in the years ahead.

As students get older, they are trusted with projects that have longer and longer lead times. Such is routine for adults, but for students to stay on track to complete a project that may not be due for weeks takes a lot of discipline. Most thesis projects last anywhere from several months to a year. The high school senior has to develop tremendous discipline and self-control over the course of the project if he is to make it to the end successfully and on time. Such discipline is essential not only in college but in all of life. While the college student will likely have classes during his academic career that have only one assignment—a huge paper or project not due until the last day of class, most working adults can testify to balancing numerous projects at once with deadlines ranging from yesterday to next year. The senior thesis builds discipline over the course of a long term project preparing students for college and life beyond.

Some senior thesis projects end with an oral defense. At the Trinitas thesis defense, students present a summary of their papers before a panel as well as family and friends. After the summary, a panel of faculty and board members question the student for about thirty minutes. The big value of this exercise is to help students learn to think on their feet and argue their positions boldly. It sometimes requires humility of students also as they realize through questioning that not all their positions are tenable. High school seniors are not likely to take a position that proves the definitive word on a given topic, but this is their opportunity to enter the world’s great conversations and have their say. Civil discourse is disappearing from society and losing its place to slander, fear mongering, and partisanship for partisanship’s sake. Thesis defense is one way to re-train the next generation that civil discourse is good for society.

High school seniors are leaving the relative comfort of their high schools to enter what can be a cold and hostile world. For the young Christian men and women graduating from Trinitas, we want them to be able to think on their feet well enough to be productive and contributing members of our free republic and, even more importantly, to be able to give an answer to the world for the hope that is within them (1 Peter 3:15).

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How (not) to write an undergrad thesis in 8 weeks

Posted on Monday, April 17th, 2023

Written by Emma Cervinka

A woman with long hair dressed in heels and graduation gown sitting on a bench in front of a landscape architecture sign.

The dos and don’ts of undergrad thesis writing, from someone who had three months to write theirs. 

In the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture  (BLA) program, students are required to write a thesis in the fall semester of their fourth year. The topic is up to you, and I chose to write about climate change, with a thesis titled “High tides mean high time: Using landscape architecture to facilitate successful climate migration through managed retreat”.

While the BLA theses are not available online, you can search for University of Guelph theses and dissertation examples here . This is a great way to get an idea of a thesis structure and see some good examples of topics. 

First, congratulations! You’ve made it far enough in your academic career that you get to write a thesis. While it is a daunting task, it also means that you’re smart, and you have ideas and knowledge to share!

A thesis is often the culmination of years of hard work and knowledge acquired throughout your studies. It’s basically a lengthy academic paper that aims to contribute to the body of knowledge on a specific topic or aims to answer a specific research question or hypothesis.

A thesis will range in length depending on the requirements. Typically, an undergraduate thesis is around 10,000 words, a graduate thesis can be around 20,000 words, and a doctorate thesis is around 80 000 words. But this varies largely based on program and university, so be sure to get your word requirement from your advisor. 

Step 1) Find an Advisor

The process of finding an advisor will vary from person to person, and from program to program. Some programs have assigned advisors or courses where a professor is assigned to supervise a group of students. In other cases, you will need to find a supervisor on your own.

If you need to find a supervisor yourself, check out my blog on how to email a professor and how to ask for an advisor. It’s important to be professional in these emails. This is the article I used to reach out to graduate school supervisors.

Step 2) Research

how long is a thesis in high school

  • Prepare for lots of reading. There’s no way around it. Grab some coffee and snacks, put on your headphones, and get to it. 
  • Print off papers if it helps. Then highlight and mark them up and take notes as you go. This may be tedious, but it saves you a ton of time in the long run. I found it helpful to take notes on my computer so I could Command+F different topics. 
  • Read grey literature publications. Grey literature is material produced by organizations outside of the traditional publishing and distribution channels. It includes reports, working papers, government documents, and evaluations. They are often written in simpler language and can direct you to academic research articles through their citations or authors. 
  • Learn how to read and skim research articles. Check out this article from the University of Waterloo and Stanford on how to read and understand a research article .
  • The U of G Library has a lot of resources that can help you figure out which databases to use when looking for articles. They can also usually get copies of articles that are blocked by paywalls if you ask for help. 
  • List of Major Databases
  • How to Find Past U of G Theses
  • University of Guelph’s Research Assistance
  • Research Skills Workshops
  • OMNI: Guelph’s Academic Search Engine
  • Quick tip : If you find a great, relevant article - look in that article’s citations to find more resources and articles. 
  • Remember to consider the credibility of your sources. Here’s an article by Stevenson University that outlines how to evaluate a source’s quality. https://www.stevenson.edu/online/about-us/news/how-to-identify-reliable-...

Step 3) Make a schedule

  • Weeks 1-2: Research and read while developing an outline. 
  • Weeks 3-4: Writing my 60% draft submission.
  • Weeks 5-6: Finalizing my final draft.
  • Week 7: Take a break and focus on formatting. This would help me have fresh eyes for final revisions. 
  • Week 8: Final revisions and editing. 
  • For example, I knew I wanted my literature review to be approximately 5000 words, with 1000 words on history, 3000 words on current research, and 1000 words that linked everything together before I began my analysis chapter. From there, I broke the 3000 words down based on research article. 
  • For big projects, it can help to schedule time every day. For example, you work on writing for one hour every day. This helps to keep your momentum going, and you avoid having to catch-up on work. 

Step 4) Format, format, format!

A pair of hands typing on a laptop.

Do not leave this to the last minute. Word can be finicky. 

  • Pro tip : set up your table of contents and list of figures to automatically update using the headings settings. This video shows you how to make a table of contents that works.
  • There is a standard format usually provided by your faculty or university. The University of Guelph’s master's thesis format can be found here.
  • Preparation of Your Thesis.
  • How to Format in Word.

Step 5) Edit and revise. 

  • Your supervisor probably won't have time to review or edit your entire paper before your final submission. They can provide general feedback on structure and direction, but don’t count on them for an in-depth edit.
  • Find a thesis buddy - someone who is also writing a thesis or research paper with a similar timeline. You can keep each other accountable throughout the process, and swap articles for some fresh eyes. 
  • Take a break - try to finish each draft a few days in advance so you can let it sit for a day or two before doing a thorough read-through. Fresh eyes and some sleep before you try to revise a paper are always good ideas. 
  • Break it into parts. Think about what you want each section of your paper to say. For example, if you want your literature review chapter to communicate past research, be sure not to include any future predictions or research directions. Be clear and concise, this is not the time for fluffy language to help meet a word count. 

Step 6) Submit and celebrate!

CONGRATULATIONS! A thesis or major research paper is a huge accomplishment! Be proud of your hard work and dedication :) 

Other Resources to Check Out:

  • How to Write a Thesis Paper for College

About the blogger : Emma is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program at the University of Guelph. In her fourth year, she completed a thesis and capstone project, while applying to graduate school. She's happy to share her best tips for balancing the challenges of fourth year with minimal loss of sleep, and maximum academic success.

In this series of blog posts , OAC students take us through some of the ups and downs of their journeys at the University of Guelph.

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  • How long is an essay? Guidelines for different types of essay

How Long is an Essay? Guidelines for Different Types of Essay

Published on January 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The length of an academic essay varies depending on your level and subject of study, departmental guidelines, and specific course requirements. In general, an essay is a shorter piece of writing than a research paper  or thesis .

In most cases, your assignment will include clear guidelines on the number of words or pages you are expected to write. Often this will be a range rather than an exact number (for example, 2500–3000 words, or 10–12 pages). If you’re not sure, always check with your instructor.

In this article you’ll find some general guidelines for the length of different types of essay. But keep in mind that quality is more important than quantity – focus on making a strong argument or analysis, not on hitting a specific word count.

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Essay length guidelines, how long is each part of an essay, using length as a guide to topic and complexity, can i go under the suggested length, can i go over the suggested length, other interesting articles, receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting.

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See an example

how long is a thesis in high school

In an academic essay, the main body should always take up the most space. This is where you make your arguments, give your evidence, and develop your ideas.

The introduction should be proportional to the essay’s length. In an essay under 3000 words, the introduction is usually just one paragraph. In longer and more complex essays, you might need to lay out the background and introduce your argument over two or three paragraphs.

The conclusion of an essay is often a single paragraph, even in longer essays. It doesn’t have to summarize every step of your essay, but should tie together your main points in a concise, convincing way.

The suggested word count doesn’t only tell you how long your essay should be – it also helps you work out how much information and complexity you can fit into the given space. This should guide the development of your thesis statement , which identifies the main topic of your essay and sets the boundaries of your overall argument.

A short essay will need a focused, specific topic and a clear, straightforward line of argument. A longer essay should still be focused, but it might call for a broader approach to the topic or a more complex, ambitious argument.

As you make an outline of your essay , make sure you have a clear idea of how much evidence, detail and argumentation will be needed to support your thesis. If you find that you don’t have enough ideas to fill out the word count, or that you need more space to make a convincing case, then consider revising your thesis to be more general or more specific.

The length of the essay also influences how much time you will need to spend on editing and proofreading .

You should always aim to meet the minimum length given in your assignment. If you are struggling to reach the word count:

  • Add more evidence and examples to each paragraph to clarify or strengthen your points.
  • Make sure you have fully explained or analyzed each example, and try to develop your points in more detail.
  • Address a different aspect of your topic in a new paragraph. This might involve revising your thesis statement to make a more ambitious argument.
  • Don’t use filler. Adding unnecessary words or complicated sentences will make your essay weaker and your argument less clear.
  • Don’t fixate on an exact number. Your marker probably won’t care about 50 or 100 words – it’s more important that your argument is convincing and adequately developed for an essay of the suggested length.

In some cases, you are allowed to exceed the upper word limit by 10% – so for an assignment of 2500–3000 words, you could write an absolute maximum of 3300 words. However, the rules depend on your course and institution, so always check with your instructor if you’re unsure.

Only exceed the word count if it’s really necessary to complete your argument. Longer essays take longer to grade, so avoid annoying your marker with extra work! If you are struggling to edit down:

  • Check that every paragraph is relevant to your argument, and cut out irrelevant or out-of-place information.
  • Make sure each paragraph focuses on one point and doesn’t meander.
  • Cut out filler words and make sure each sentence is clear, concise, and related to the paragraph’s point.
  • Don’t cut anything that is necessary to the logic of your argument. If you remove a paragraph, make sure to revise your transitions and fit all your points together.
  • Don’t sacrifice the introduction or conclusion . These paragraphs are crucial to an effective essay –make sure you leave enough space to thoroughly introduce your topic and decisively wrap up your argument.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
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