How are theses and dissertations different?

It is not uncommon for there the be confusion between the two terms. Dictionaries tend to be unhelpful as they interchange the use of the words which causes even more confusion. The interchangeability of the two terms causes even further confusion, as Colleges and Universities, also muddle up their use. This can mean that there confusion of the usage of the term within a faculty, within an educational establishment and between different colleges and universities.

The general consensus is that a Theses is the study of a topic, using published research papers and literature. The study looks in detail at the research methodology and makes comparisons to other work on the same topic. A Theses is usually written with the aim of achieving a Masters Degree.

By the same measure, a Dissertation is a study of an original topic, again it uses published research papers and literature, but instead of making comparisons, published literature is used to support the claims made by the original work produced in the Dissertation. A Dissertation is usually written with the aim of achieving a Doctorate Degree.

Summing up the definitions:






Depending which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live ; the terms thesis and dissertation may be interchangeable for Masters and PhD.

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