Comparing a Thesis and a Dissertation

When you are through with your first degree and have the hope of taking a second degree; the issue of separating thesis from dissertation will surely come up. They are two different programs with some similarities but glaring differences.

They are not the same but different from each other and both are limited to their level of higher education. We shall be making a bold attempt to look at the thin line of similarities between the two and the wide gap in differences between them.


Though we are into the business of drawing the lines between thesis and dissertation, it is important to point out here before we start that they are similar to each other. 

The two are most often used interchangeably for each other. They are papers assigned to graduate students and both require lengthy periods to conclude work on them. They are due at the end of the course of study that you are pursuing.

We shall be taking a look at the differences that exist between the two programs from two different perspectives. This will go all the way to draw the line of difference between the two academic papers under discussion.

Types of degrees

You are not going to hear about a dissertation if you are doing your master’s program. What is expected from the masters’ student is a thesis. On the other hand; you are through with your thesis if you are on your Ph.D. The dissertation is limited to those that are doing their Ph.D.

Even at that, for those offering their masters, the thesis is an option. A student might decide to opt-out of the thesis paper and they will still be awarded their master’s degree minus thesis. Though, students are always encouraged to take a thesis during their master’s degree program because it will come in handy when they go higher.

It can be seen from the above analysis that the thesis is term-limited to a master’s degree program while the dissertation is a must for those who are into their Ph.D. program.


We shall take a look in the direction of purpose in order to define the difference between the two subjects under consideration. The main purpose of a thesis for a master’s degree student is to test the depth of their understanding of the course they are pursuing. The master’s degree student will take a look at the works of others in their field and go all the way to bring out an improvement on the existing work

The Ph.D. student is expected to come up with a subject in their field that has never been researched by anyone. Original research is expected here that is backed by a hypothesis. It left for the student to prove the hypothesis or otherwise through original research.

Final thought

The difference between thesis and dissertation is based on the points above. They are applied to different levels. While the thesis is an improvement on existing work; the dissertation is an original work that has never been done before.