• "Best Dissertation Writing Tips"
  • "Master's Thesis Writing Advice;

How does Writing a Postgraduate Dissertation Different from Writing a Master’s Thesis

Dissertations at the doctoral level are going to, of course, be more challenging in terms of the originality of your thesis, the length of the project, the amount sources used and the reputability of these sources, and in the way you will organize and structure the book length project.


The Master’s Thesis

A master’s thesis level research project is typically some thirty to sixty pages long. It is typically not divided into chapters. In fact, part of the challenge of the master’s thesis is to sustain one argument over this length of a project. The length of the thesis depends, often, upon the stringency of the program.

The Doctoral Dissertation

Depending upon the program you are enrolled in and your area of study, doctoral dissertations can range in length from 100 pages to 380-390 pages. Most dissertations cannot be bound (put into leather binding) at over four hundred pages and must be bound in two volumes if they do—most schools discourage this because of binding costs. Some private, more technical type universities only require a dissertation of 100-130 pages while more revered universities like Harvard, for example, require a 250 page minimum.

Thesis and Master’s Versus Doctoral-Level Projects

While a master’s thesis can be more of an exercise in writing an extended research paper, one of the more challenging aspects of the dissertation is that you have to find both an original thesis and a way to insert yourself into the critical conversation surrounding your topic, author, issue, subject of analysis, or focus in such a way that is approved of by your doctoral committee.

You must have your topic approved for either a thesis or dissertation. This is actually a positive since more experienced scholars can review your topic and the research surrounding it and make certain your topic is “do-able” and not so narrow that there isn’t enough critical debate surrounding it that you’ll be left without enough research to sustain such a lengthy project.

Sources and Masters Theses Versus Dissertations

Another challenge of both the dissertation and the thesis level project will be using reputable sources. At the dissertation level, you’ll want to use books by scholarly presses and peer-reviewed articles from scholarly journals. At the master’s level, your dissertation committee may be more tolerant about the level of academic sources you consult and may allow more online journals.

Today, research is easier than ever before. Many scholarly studies are now not only free and available via Google Books but you no longer have to read the entire book to find a quote or reference, you can search for it.