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The Thesis/Dissertation

Your thesis will be the final product of your time in graduate school. You should be planning your thesis from the very beginning of your degree program.

A thesis is a substantial piece of scholarly writing that reflects the writer's ability to:

  • Critically analyze the relevant literature.
  • Use and describe in detail the appropriate methodology for the research undertaken.
  • Conduct research and present findings.
  • Verify knowledge claims and sources meticulously.
  • Locate the work of the thesis and its findings within the broader field or discipline.
  • Communicate the research and analysis effectively.

The thesis must be a coherent document that provides a complete and systematic account of the student's research. It may incorporate work from submitted, accepted or published journal articles, which may or may not have co-authors.

Master's vs. Doctoral

A thesis at the doctoral level is called a dissertation, but dissertations and theses are usually referred to collectively as theses. There are some differences between a master's and a doctoral thesis:

  • A master's thesis must demonstrate that the student knows the background and principal works of the research area, and can produce significant scholarly work. It should contain some original contribution whenever possible.
  • A doctoral thesis must contain a substantial contribution of new knowledge to the field of study. It presents the results and an analysis of original research, and should be significant enough to be published.

Doctoral Dissertation Length

In most fields, a doctoral dissertation will range from 60,000 to 80,000 words in length, exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, and appendices. As a courtesy to examiners, if the dissertation will be over 100,000 words long the student or supervisor must notify the College of Graduate Studies when the Notice of Doctoral Dissertation Oral Examination form is submitted.

See also External Examiner's Report.


Last reviewed shim6/28/2017 10:47:02 AM