What is the difference between an essay, a dissertation and a thesis?

These three types of assignments; Essays, dissertations, and theses are all important to students because at some point in a student’s life, there will be a request to complete at least one of the types of assignments listed above.

Essays, dissertations and theses are all kinds of academic documents, produced by academics and students and based on a specific question, topic or dilemma. They are used by colleges, schools, sixth grades, and universities as a means of determining how well a student is doing in a given area and how well they have grasped crucial knowledge about a particular subject. And yet, essays, dissertations, and theses are also often used to see how well a student can answer specific questions on a particular topic and how well developed their skills are in terms of writing essays.

So what exactly is an essay? What is a dissertation? And what is a thesis?

The online dictionary defines an essay as; ‘(a) a short literary composition on a literary subject, usually presenting the personal opinion of the author, (b) something like such a composition.’

The online dictionary goes on to define a dissertation as; ‘a treatise advancing a new point of view resulting from research, usually a requirement for an advanced academic degree’.

And finally, a thesis shares the same definition as a dissertation on the online dictionary website, with one crucial difference; a thesis is usually longer than a dissertation.

So, ultimately, an essay, dissertation, and thesis share many characteristics:

– They are all literary compositions; that is, they are written documents or text fragments.

– All reflect in some way the author’s point of view.

– All are based on some kind of research.

– Everyone is discussing some kind of topic or matter.

– All of them can be used as a means of academic proof.

However, there are differences between these three types of academic assignments, and when you’re completing an essay, dissertation, or thesis, it’s important to know what your paper defines as one of these forms or types of assignments so you can make sure that it addresses document completion correctly.

Some of the main differences that separate these three types of documents are:

– Essays are generally shorter than dissertations and theses.

– Essays are generally used to explore an argument or to provide more information on a particular topic. Therefore, you will find that most essay questions begin with ‘who, what, where, how or why’. They are looking for a conclusion to be drawn by the author, following an evaluation of the research that is already available.

– Dissertations generally seek the author to find new evidence to reach a conclusion on a specific topic, as the definition says, to “advance a new point of view”. This means that dissertations seek to add to the body of research on a specific topic, not simply discuss the research that is already available.

– Theses usually have the same objectives and goals as dissertations, but the level of exploration and investigation of a particular topic is higher, so the length of a thesis is usually greater than that of a dissertation.

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