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How Long is a Thesis or Dissertation: College, Grad or PhD

How long is a thesis

How long is a thesis

As a graduate student, you may have heard that you must complete a certain comprehensive project, either a thesis or a dissertation. In this guide, we will explore how long a thesis should be, the best length for a dissertation, and the optimal length for each part of the two.

If you read on to the end, we will also explore their differences to understand how it informs each length.

Both terms have distinct meanings, although they are sometimes used interchangeably and frequently confused.

how long is a thesis for master's degree

Structure-wise, both papers have an introduction, a literature review, a body, a conclusion, a bibliography, and an appendix. That aside, both papers have some differences, as we shall see later on in this article.

How Long Should a Thesis be

Before discussing how long a thesis is, it’s critical to understand what it is. A thesis is a paper that marks the end of a study program.

Mostly, there is the undergraduate thesis, a project that marks the end of a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s thesis that marks the end of a master’s program.

A thesis should be around 50 pages long for a bachelor’s degree and 60-100 pages for a Master’s degree. However, the optimal length of a thesis project depends on the faculty’s instructions and the supervising professor’s expectations . The length also depends on the topic’s technicalities and the extent of research done.

How long is a thesis

A master’s thesis project is longer because it is a compilation of all your knowledge obtained in your master’s degree.

It basically allows you to demonstrate your abilities in your chosen field.

Often, graduate schools require students pursuing research-oriented degrees to write a thesis.

This is to demonstrate their practical skills before completing their degrees.

In contrast to undergraduate thesis, which are shorter in length and coverage area, usually less than 60 pages. A master’s theses are lengthy scholarly work allowing you to research a topic deeply.

Then you are required to write, expand the topic, and demonstrate what you have learned throughout the program. This is part of why you must write a thesis for some undergrad in some of the courses.

A Master’s thesis necessitates a large amount of research, which may include conducting interviews, surveys, and gathering information ( both primary and secondary) depending on the subject and field of study.

For this reason, the master’s thesis has between 60 and 100 pages, without including the bibliography. Mostly, the topic and research approach determine the length of the paper.

This means that there is no definite number of pages required. However, your thesis should be long enough to clearly and concisely present all important information.

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How long should a dissertation be.

A dissertation is a complex, in-depth research paper usually written by Ph.D. students. When writing the dissertation, Ph.D. Students are required to create their research, formulate a hypothesis, and conduct the study.

On average, a dissertation should be at least 90 pages at the minimum and 200 pages at the maximum , depending on the guidelines of the faculty and the professor. The optimal length for a dissertation also depends on the depth of the research done, the components of the file, and the level of study.

How long is a dissertation

Most Ph.D. dissertations papers are between 120 to 200 pages on average.

However, as we said earlier, it all depends on factors like the field of study, and methods of data collection, among others.

Unlike a master’s thesis, which is about 100 pages, a dissertation is at least twice this length.

This is because you must develop a completely new concept, study it, research it, and defend it.

In your Ph.D. program, a dissertation allows you the opportunity to bring new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field of study.

The Lengths of Each Part of a Thesis and Dissertation

Factors determining the length of thesis or dissertation.

As we have seen, there is no definite length of a thesis and dissertation. Most of these two important academic documents average 100 to 400 pages. However, several factors determine their length.

rules and regulations

Universities- we all know universities are independent bodies. Also, it’s important to know that each university is different from the other. As a result, the thesis and dissertation length varies depending on the set rules in a certain college or school.

Field of study- some fields of study have rich information, while others have limited information.

For example, you may have much to write about or discover when it comes to science compared to history.

As such, if you are to write a thesis or a dissertation in both fields, one will definitely be longer than the other. Check the time it takes to write a thesis or a dissertation to get more points.

Other factors that affect the length of a thesis or a dissertation include your writing style and the instructor’s specifications. These factors also come into play when it comes to the time taken to defend a thesis or your dissertation.

Tips for the Optimal Length for a Thesis or Dissertation

Instead of writing for length, write for brevity. The goal is to write the smallest feasible document with all of the material needed to describe the study and back up the interpretation. Ensure to avoid irrelevant tangents and excessive repetitions at all costs.

The only repetition required is the main theme. The working hypothesis seeks to be elaborated and proved in your paper.

The theme is developed in the introduction, expanded in the body, and mentioned in the abstract and conclusion.

Here are some tips for writing the right length of thesis and dissertation:

  • Remove any interpretation portion which is only tangentially linked to your new findings. 
  • Use tables to keep track of information that is repeated.
  • Include enough background information for the reader to understand the point of view.
  • Make good use of figure captions.
  • Let the table stand on its own. I.e., do not describe the contents of the figures and/or tables one by one in the text. Instead, highlight the most important patterns, objects, or trends in the figures and tables in the text.
  • Leave out any observations or results in the text that you haven’t provided data.
  • Do not include conclusions that aren’t backed up by your findings.
  • Remove all inconclusive interpretation and discussion portions. 
  • Avoid unnecessary adjectives, prepositional phrases, and adverbs.
  • Make your sentences shorter – avoid nesting clauses or phrases.
  • Avoid idioms and instead use words whose meaning can be looked up in a dictionary.

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Difference between a Thesis and a Dissertation

dissertation vs thesis

The most basic distinction between a thesis and a dissertation is when they are written.

While a thesis is a project completed after a master’s program, a dissertation is completed at the end of doctorate studies.

In a thesis, you present the results of your research to demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of what you have studied during your master’s program.

On the other hand,  a dissertation is your chance to add new knowledge, theories, or practices to your field while pursuing a doctorate. The goal here is to come up with a completely new concept, develop it, and defend it.

A master’s thesis is similar to the types of research papers you’re used to writing in your bachelor’s studies. It involves conducting research on a topic, analyzing it, and then commenting on your findings and how it applies to your research topic.

The thesis aims to demonstrate your capacity to think critically about and explain a topic in depth.

Furthermore, with a thesis, you typically use this time to elaborate on a topic that is most relevant to your professional area of specialization that you intend to pursue.

In a dissertation, on the other hand, you use other people’s research as an inspiration to help you come up with and prove your own hypothesis, idea, or concept. The majority of the data in a dissertation is credited to you.

Last but not least, these two major works differ greatly in length. The average length of a master’s thesis is at least 100 pages.

On the other hand, a doctoral dissertation should be substantially longer because it includes a lot of history and research information, as well as every element of your research, while explaining how you arrived at the information.

It is a complex piece of scholarly work, and it is likely to be twice or thrice the length of a thesis. To know the difference, check the best length for a thesis paper and see more about it.

Here is a Recap of the Differences

  • While the thesis is completed at the end of your master’s degree program, a dissertation is written at the end of your doctoral degree program.
  • Both documents also vary in length. A thesis should have at least 100 pages, while a doctoral dissertation is longer (over 200 pages)
  • In the thesis, you conduct original research; in the dissertation, you use existing research to help you develop your discovery.
  • For a thesis, you have to add analysis to the existing work, while a dissertation is part of the analysis of the existing work.
  • In comparison to a thesis, a dissertation requires a more thorough study to expand your research in a certain topic.
  • The statements in a thesis and a dissertation are distinct. While a thesis statement explains to readers how you will prove an argument in your research, a dissertation hypothesis defines and clarifies the outcomes you expect from your study. Here, you apply a theory to explore a certain topic.
  • A dissertation allows you to contribute new knowledge to your field of study, while a thesis makes sure you understand what you have studied in your program and how it applies.

A thesis or a dissertation is a difficult document to compile. However, you should not be worried since your school assigns you a dissertation advisor who is a faculty member.

These advisors or supervisors help you find resources and ensure that your proposal is on the right track when you get stuck.

Check out my guide on the differences between a research paper, proposal, and thesis to understand more about these issues.

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Josh Jasen or JJ as we fondly call him, is a senior academic editor at Grade Bees in charge of the writing department. When not managing complex essays and academic writing tasks, Josh is busy advising students on how to pass assignments. In his spare time, he loves playing football or walking with his dog around the park.

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Master’s Thesis Length: How Long Should A Master’s Thesis Be?

master's thesis length

Writing a thesis is one of the requirements for obtaining a master’s degree. If you are currently running a postgraduate program, you may be wondering what the actual length of a master’s thesis is.

A thesis is a comprehensive exploration of a topic or area of ​​interest. The idea is to chart your learning journey and conclude by discussing what you have learned and what others might learn from it, including opportunities for further research.

It can be as long as it takes to discuss your topic in detail. This is anything around 50 to 300 pages, including a bibliography. However, different institutions have standards for content, format, and length expectations.

This article discusses the length and structure of a master’s thesis in detail.

What is a master’s thesis?

how long is a thesis for master's degree

A master’s thesis is a research project written by students in a master’s degree program to demonstrate their interest and expertise in a specific topic within their field of study. It is the final requirement for a master’s degree.

The thesis is a culmination of existing research and data that master’s students marshal and combine to make up a hypothesis that challenges an existing argument in the field or develops new arguments for academic debate.

Students are usually assigned an advisor who provides guidance and supervises their work. Once the thesis is complete, students must defend their work to a panel of two or more departmental faculty members.

How long is a master’s thesis?

A master’s thesis has no mandatory length. It can be anywhere from 50 to 300 pages depending on factors such as departmental requirements, university guidelines, topic, and research methodology.

However, what is most important is that your thesis contains all the necessary information about the topic clearly and concisely. Your argument must also be well structured with relevant references, figures, and tables to support your claim.

In fact, the quality of your work should be prioritized above the length of your work.

Ultimately, the aim is to demonstrate your mastery in the field by demonstrating the academic expertise and research skills you have developed throughout the master’s program.

Master thesis structure

Given the differences in the degree requirements between universities, Master’s theses do not follow the same structure. However, a typical master’s thesis follows these format:

  •   Title page
  •   Acknowledgment
  •   Table of contents
  •   Chapter 1: Introduction
  •   Chapter 2: Literature review
  •   Chapter 3: Data collection
  •   Chapter 4: Analysis
  •   Chapter 5: Conclusion
  •   Reference list
  •   Statement of independent work
  •   Appendix (optional)

1. Title page

This is basically a page to tell your name, university, essay topic, and supervisor’s name.

2. Acknowledgment

This is the part where you appreciate those who contributed to the preparation of your thesis. If you probably received a fellowship or obtained data from an institution, then you should recognize and thank them here.

You should also thank your advisor, friends, and family who supported you during the course of your work.

3. Abstract

The abstract is a crucial part of your thesis. It is a one-page summary covering the questions you intend to answer, the data used, the methodology employed, and your findings.

The aim of an abstract is to give the thesis committee a brief but concise insight into what your research work entails.

4. Table of contents

It is a list of all the chapters and subsections contained in your work alongside the page number where each chapter begins.

Additionally, you need to provide a list of figures and tables with the page number to find them in the thesis.

5. Introduction

The introduction is the first chapter of a thesis. It provides context for the rest of the paper, telling readers what the scope of your work is and what you aim to achieve.

It doesn’t have to be technical rather it should communicate why your topic is relevant. The introduction should also highlight other chapters of your work and touch down on at least one research question.

6. Literature review

The literature review is the part of your thesis where you establish your arguments using various pre-existing scholarly publications and demonstrating your knowledge about your topic.

It is aimed to give a scientific overview of how your work contributes to existing knowledge on the subject matter. In other words, it shows readers the literature gap you hope to fill. For instance, your thesis may be based on new sets of data, methods, or applications.

7. Research methods

This chapter details the data used in your research and the method of gathering or collecting them. This could be qualitative data such as open-ended surveys, case studies, and more.

However, not all theses require a section covering research methods. Arts and humanities students for instance do not undertake research that involves fixed methodologies.

Instead, they outline their theoretical perspectives and methods in their introductions without explaining their data collection and analysis methods in detail.

8. Data analysis and findings

Data analysis and finding involve experimenting with the gathered data and presenting your result in a graphical, tabular, or chart form. The result could also be a written description of the research and findings.

9. Discussion

This is the largest part of a thesis containing a series of chapters. The chapters should flow logically and build your arguments from one chapter to the next.

The length of the discussion is based on the total length of the thesis. So, for a thesis of about 20,000 words, the discussion section may be 15,000 words.

10. Conclusion

A thesis conclusion is where you tie up your arguments and evidence and summarize your discussions stating key points.

It should also include explaining whether your research questions are confirmed or rejected based on your research and comparing your findings with existing publications.

Not only that, the conclusion should state parts of your topic that you couldn’t touch. This helps buttress what your research has achieved and parts others can explore for future studies.

11. List of reference

This is simply a list of all the sources you cited in your work.

12. Statement of Independent work

It is a declaration to confirm that your thesis was done independently by you. The declaration takes the format:

“I hereby confirm that this paper was written independently by me and did not use any sources other than citations and that all passages and ideas taken from other sources are cited accordingly”.

13. Appendix (or appendices)

The appendix is usually optional in a thesis. It is material that complements your argument. This could be a questionnaire or a case study.

If the content is too large to go into the body of your paper or could distract readers, then your research could use an appendix.

How to write a master’s thesis

There is a lot that goes into writing a master’s thesis. Aside from the fact that this is a large project that cannot be rushed, there are some requirements that you must adhere to.

That said, the first thing you should consider is approaching your advisor for guidance on your work. Second, look at past publications to see their structure and study their content.

Additionally, when choosing a topic, it’s best to find a subject that interests you, then create an outline to direct your flow, and make sure to keep a list of references used in your work.

A master’s thesis is longer than an undergraduate thesis, so, it would help if you start working on time to avoid rushing or late submission.

How fast can you write a master’s thesis?

Generally, students have two semesters to write their master’s thesis (usually the last two semesters of their degree program).

Can you finish your thesis in 3 weeks?

Let’s say you write at least 1000 words daily in three weeks that would be around 20,000 words. But it will be really difficult to achieve. Plus, it would be hard to do quality work in 3 weeks.

Can a master’s thesis be written in 20 pages?

20 pages may be too little to capture your arguments comprehensively in a master’s thesis. A typical master’s thesis has a length of about 50 pages and above.

A master’s thesis can be any length depending on how long it takes to thoroughly discuss your topic. Basically, you should follow the guideline given by your institution and advisor.

Your work must also demonstrate great quality, so you want to give it your best shot. Perhaps you have a short time to complete your thesis, don’t fret. Simply think about how many words you need to write every day to meet up and develop plans to achieve your goal.

In all of this, you want to avoid plagiarism in your work, as this can have serious consequences. Read this article to know if paraphrasing is plagiarism.

I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.

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  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 2023.

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
  • In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.

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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a short list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

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How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]

Writing a Masters thesis can be quite the undertaking. It presents the research findings of your graduate-level masters study. It can be difficult to work out exactly how much you need to write to pass your masters degree because you can generate so much research throughout your course.

The average masters thesis is typically between 50 and 100 pages long. The length of the thesis will vary depending on the discipline and the university requirements but will typically be around 25,000 to 50,000 words in length.

the average length of a masters thesis - 50 - 100 pages long

My Masters thesis in theoretical computational chemistry was 60 pages long. It was quite short for a master’s thesis in chemistry because of the theoretical computational twist. Some organic chemistry Master theses were much longer – in terms of pages – because they relied on a lot of diagrams and schematics to explain their work.

Irrespective of its length, a master’s thesis must demonstrate an individual’s ability to conduct independent research and to effectively express their findings in writing.

It must pass peer-review and is often accompanied with a short oral presentation about the work to an academic committee put together by their advisor.

It must also show that the student has acquired sufficient knowledge about their chosen subject to contribute to existing scholarship in their field. Once you have graduated with your masters you can then consider whether or not a PhD is a good option for your career goals.

How Many Pages Should a Master Thesis Have?

Typically, a master thesis is expected to be anywhere between 100-200 pages long depending on the research field and topic.

In general, most master theses should have at least 30-40 pages of research content (including a literature review) with an additional 10-20 pages for other aspects of academic reports such as acknowledgements, appendices, abstracts, references and schematics or diagrams.

Furthermore, certain schools may require that your master thesis meet additional criteria such as formatting guidelines or word counts in order to be considered complete.

Your supervisor should not let your master’s thesis go to examination if it does not meet the minimum requirements for your specific field. Your academic supervisor will be your biggest asset while writing your master’s thesis.

If you want to know more about how long a Masters’s thesis and PhD dissertation is you can check out my other articles:

  • How long is a Thesis or dissertation? [the data]
  • Is writing a masters thesis hard? Tips on how to write a thesis
  • How to write a masters thesis in 2 months [Easy steps to start writing]

How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined?

A Masters dissertation is assessed by academics in your department or university and it may also include an external examination by experts in the specific field you are studying.

The thesis will typically require a student to conduct extensive research to answer a research question and come up with an original argument or thesis on the topic.

Once the thesis has been written, the student must submit it to their faculty or university for assessment and examination.

The university will then grade the dissertation based on its content, structure, and accuracy. Most universities require that the dissertation be at least 60 pages in length and be written according to academic standards of writing and style guides.

These academic writing style guides can be very confusing and are often not something people have encountered before. However, reaching out to, and using the services of, a trusted editor will help make the process much easier.

The faculty at the university will then assess the submitted dissertation and provide feedback to help guide the student in making any necessary corrections or revisions before finally submitting it for examination.

Sometimes the examiners will require the thesis to undergo small amendments.

This is quite normal and you will be expected to address each of the criticisms before being admitted to your degree.

Also, many institutions require a public presentation on your Masters research for admission to the degree. This can be relatively nerve racking for young career academics. Nonetheless, presenting your work to a general audience is always good experience and will help prepare you for a PhD if you decide to pursue further research studies.

Effective tips on how to write a thesis successfully

Writing a master’s thesis is not an easy task and many students struggle to complete it with a smile on their faces.

Making sure that you work on your thesis little by little and that you do not get bogged down in the details too quickly is an important step to finishing your thesis without it causing too much mental anguish.

However, writing a thesis is often a very challenging thing no matter what you do. You can check out more about this in my YouTube video below right talk about the unglamorous truths about writing a thesis, whether it Masters, PhD or for peer review.

Small chunks

Work on your thesis in small chunks. Do not think of it as one big thesis but rather as small chapters and subsections within that chapter.

I actually had multiple documents with different chapters and did not combine my thesis until the end. This allowed me to compartmentalise my work and ensure that I was focused on one aspect of the thesis at a time without jumping between many other sections – which would have been a huge distraction.

Get feedback as often as possible

I’ve always been incredibly lucky with my research supervisors. I’ve been able to get feedback about my writing quickly and effectively.

Speak to your research supervisor about what would be an appropriate amount of work for them to mark at any given time.

Some supervisors like small amounts of work – such as a chapter or a subsection, whilst others prefer to have full chapters submitted at a time.

Try to work out the smallest amount of work they be happy to look over as then you can get feedback much quicker.

Also, you can reach out to other supervisors and academics that may be able to give you feedback on your writing. You do not just have two work with your primary supervisor when looking for feedback.

Do what you must to get through

Even though many helpful PhD and thesis writing blogs and videos talk about making yourself as productive as possible, the truth is sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get through.

For example, I used to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of energy drinks to try to focus myself while writing up my thesis.

I only did this for a short period of time and it certainly wasn’t sustainable. But, when you have got a tight deadline sometimes you just have to do whatever you can to get through your writer’s block.

Protect your flow

Protect your flow as much as possible. Getting into a flow state can be achieved regularly if you change your environment to make sure that you are able to focus effectively.

For example, I like to completely turn off my mobile phone and email or other computer notifications so that I can focus for at least one hour on writing my thesis.

You may also find white noise helpful if you are in a particularly noisy environment such as a shared office.

If you find yourself becoming distracted – remove that distraction as best you can. Protecting your flow and working for one-hour blocks will really help you finish on time.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about the length of a Masters thesis and how to write your thesis effectively.

The length of a Masters thesis is very much dependent on the field of study and the University’s requirements for your course. Nonetheless, they are typically between 50 and 200 pages long and are examined by experts in the field and other academics before you are admitted into the degree.

There may also be a short presentation that is given to the public or academics in your department.

how long is a thesis for master's degree

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.

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COMMENTS

  1. How Long is a Thesis or Dissertation: College, Grad or PhD

    A thesis should be around 50 pages long for a bachelor’s degree and 60-100 pages for a Master’s degree. However, the optimal length of a thesis project depends on the faculty’s instructions and the supervising professor’s expectations. The length also depends on the topic’s technicalities and the extent of research done.

  2. Master’s Thesis Length: How Long Should A Master’s Thesis Be?

    How long is a master’s thesis? A master’s thesis has no mandatory length. It can be anywhere from 50 to 300 pages depending on factors such as departmental requirements, university guidelines, topic, and research methodology.

  3. What Is a Thesis?

    Dissertation What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.

  4. How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]

    The average masters thesis is typically between 50 and 100 pages long. The length of the thesis will vary depending on the discipline and the university requirements but will typically be around 25,000 to 50,000 words in length. My Masters thesis in theoretical computational chemistry was 60 pages long.

  5. What Is A Master’s Thesis?

    Whereas a master's thesis is usually around 100 pages, the doctoral dissertation is at least double that length. Benefits of Writing a Thesis There are several advantages that you can reap from choosing a master's program that requires the completion of a thesis project, according to Professor John Stackhouse.