Difference Between Thesis and Dissertation (with Similarities and Comparison Chart) - Key Differences (2023)

Thesis and dissertation differ in the sense that thesis analysis is added to the existing literature. Conversely, a dissertation contributes to new knowledge of the already existing literature.

Different countries define the words thesis and dissertation differently, i.e. in some countries they are used interchangeably, while in some countries thesis is related to bachelor’s or master’s degree course and dissertation is used in the context of a doctorate degree, whereas in some countries the reverse is true. In India, PhD scholars have to submit a thesis, while M.Phil students submit a dissertation.

So, the meaning of the two words varies from country to country. Broadly speaking, in a master’s degree course, all the students have to submit their thesis, which is nothing but the final project, to obtain their degree, whereas one needs to submit a dissertation, to acquire doctorate degree.

Come let’s move further to understand the difference between thesis and dissertation.

Content: Thesis Vs Dissertation

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Similarities
  5. Research Process
  6. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Basis for ComparisonThesisDissertation
MeaningThesis refers to a concept, theory or idea, proposed as a statement for consideration, particularly for discussion, indicating the student's knowledge about the topic.Dissertation is a lengthened written research work on a specific topic chosen by the student, which answers a specific research question, chosen by the student.
What is it? A compilation of research demonstrating the candidate's knowledge about the field of study.Addition of new knowledge or theory, to the subject under study.
FunctionTo claim - a hypothesisTo describe the hypothesis in detail.
Part ofGraduate or Master's degree program.Doctorate degree program.
ObjectiveTo test the candidate's understanding and knowledge in the specialization subject.To test the candidate's ability to undertake independent research and understand the subject.
Length100 pages or more.Few 100 pages.

Definition of Thesis

The word ‘thesis’ is originated from the Greek language which means “something put forth“. Thesis implies a research document in written or printed form, prepared after conducting novel research on a particular topic and submitted to the university, for an academic degree.

Basically, it is meant to profess “what the candidate believes and what they aim to prove.” Thesis prepared by the students should be good enough to indicate the actual thought behind the research, rather than just retelling the existing facts. And to do so, students need to collect a plethora of information and a lot of background reading, to have sufficient knowledge about the subject, to develop questions.

Students who pursue a master’s degree or professional degree course, are required to complete the thesis in their last semester, under the guidance of an Assistant Professor.

While preparing the thesis, first of all, the candidate needs to research the topic, for which he/she formulates a proposition, on the basis of the research work previously performed in the concerned field. The student analyzes this research work and gives his/her opinion thereon, on the information collected, and the way information is associated with the topic of study.

Attributes of an Ideal Thesis

  • It should never be in the first person and does not contain vague language.
  • It has to be contestable, i.e. putting forward a questionable, or arguable point with which people often disagree.
  • It should be provocative.
  • It declares the conclusion on the basis of evidence and facts, with certainty.
  • It assumes and disproves counter-arguments.
  • It should be complete, specific and focused.

Definition of Dissertation

The dissertation is a Latin term which refers to “discussion“. In common terms, a dissertation is a structured research work, in which the Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) scholars have to demonstrate their findings with a logical argument, as an answer to the proposition chosen by them.

The dissertation is prepared at the end of the PhD program, under a guide, who teaches, instructs and guides the candidate, regarding the selection of the topic, which is not just interesting but unique, original and contestable.

It is a kind of assessment which checks the researching skills and the knowledge of the students and their ability to defend the argument, which forms the basis for their final grade. It includes abstract, introduction, methodology, literature review, findings, discussion, conclusion and recommendation.

The candidate uses the research of other people, as a guide to arrive at and prove/disprove the own novel hypothesis, theory or concept. It takes years to complete the research work, i.e. to gather information, to compile the information in written form, to edit the material and cite the document.

The dissertation is based on original research, in the sense that the candidates have to decide the topic relating to his/her field of study, on which no primary research has been conducted, and arrive at a hypothesis, to perform original research so as to prove or disprove the hypothesis.

Key Differences Between Thesis and Dissertation

The difference between thesis and dissertation are discussed hereunder:

  1. Thesis refers to an extraordinary piece of writing prepared after a deep research on a topic as a part of university or degree program, wherein a particular idea or concept is put forward as a statement for further discussion. On the other hand, the dissertation implies a document that compiles research, which is a primary requirement for the doctoral program, to prove one’s findings.
  2. With the thesis, the student makes additions to the existing research, whereas with dissertation the student contributes to the novel discovery in the specific field of study.
  3. The thesis is all about claiming a hypothesis, whereas dissertation describes or explains, how the researcher proves or disproves the hypothesis.
  4. While the thesis is submitted at the end of the Graduate or Master’s degree program, as a final project, the submission of the dissertation is done at the end of the Doctorate program.
  5. The objective of the thesis is to check the candidate’s ability to critically think the topic and to intellectually discuss the information in-depth. On the contrary, the dissertation aims at showcasing the candidate’s capacity as a research scholar, i.e. the student’s ability in identifying the area of interest, exploring the topic, compiling the research work, developing questions and defending.
  6. When it comes to the length or size of the document, the dissertation is lengthier than a thesis, as the former is about 400 pages, while the latter extends to 100 pages.


While pursuing a higher degree course, the student needs to submit his/her research work, i.e. thesis or dissertation. Both present the candidate’s research and findings on the specific topic. Further, both are prepared under the guidance of an expert in the concerned field.

Research Process

  • Process of research starts with the preparation of a thesis or dissertation, which helps a student to excel in different areas, if they follow the research process, in a proper way.
  • Formulating research proposal to explore a particular research question.
  • Ascertaining and accessing resources, needed to perform the research work.
  • Observe, analyse and review the existing research work.
  • Opting a suitable research methodology.
  • Preparing a report on the project, indicating the objective, method, findings, conclusion and recommendation.
  • Interpreting the findings and generalizing the results.


The two types of research work, usually end up with an oral defence in front of the panel of examiners, wherein they ask the student, question relating to their study, findings and final paper. Its main aim is to check the student’s ability to defend their research work.

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