Campus MyThesis Academy

The unique, worldwide Campus where you´ll learn how to write a thesis advised by an expert who graduated summa cum laude

Dissertation vs Undergraduate Thesis

Dissertation VS Thesis Undergraduate
Table of Contents

Writing a Thesis or Dissertation is a significant task and part of the academic journey of undergraduate students. As the terms are often used interchangeably, their correct use may provoke confusion among the students. While both are research papers, there are some significant differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the differences between a Dissertation and a Thesis at the undergraduate level and share everything need to know to distinguish them.

Is an Undergraduate Thesis a Dissertation?

Dissertation vs thesis undergraduate

As the two terms “Dissertation” and “Thesis” are often used interchangeably to each other, they often cause questions and confusion among students: What´s right? In which case should I speak of a Thesis, when should I use the word Dissertation?  Note, that – YES – there is a difference between the two, especially when it comes to undergraduate studies: Here, an undergraduate Dissertation is similar to a Thesis but is not the same.

Similarities and Differences: What´s what?

Let´s start with the undergraduate Thesis: In brief, this term stands for a research paper or project that students need to complete the final part of their program before obtaining their degree and graduating. It requires a detailed investigation of a particular topic, and students are expected to demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research, analyze the findings, and present their conclusions in a clear and concise manner.

In contrast, a Dissertation is a more extensive and complex in-depth research project that students undertake at the graduate level. It requires students to find an original research question, formulate a hypothesis, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions based on their findings, evaluate and challenge the outcome against the extant literature. A Thesis-type is typically much more complex than an undergraduate Thesis and requires a high level of critical thinking and research skills.

Thesis or Dissertation: A Question of the Country and Degree

While the terms “Dissertation” and “Thesis” can be used as synonyms in some countries, they refer to different types of research projects in others. In the United States, for example, a Dissertation is usually associated with a doctoral degree, while a thesis is associated with a Bachelor´s or Master’s degree.

In summary, keep in mind that an undergraduate Thesis is not the same as a Dissertation. While they share some similarities, such as requiring research and independent analysis, they differ in terms of scope, depth, and level of complexity. If you are unsure about the requirements for your dissertation or thesis, it is essential to consult with your academic advisor or department to clarify any questions you may have.

What is an undergraduate Thesis called?

An undergraduate dissertation is also known as a Bachelor’s Thesis. Usually undertaken by students in their final year of undergraduate studies, its purpose is to enable students to demonstrate their specific knowledge of a research subject and area as well as to showcase their research and writing skills.

For this Thesis type, a word count of around 10.000-12.000 words is demanded, although this can vary depending on the subject area and the requirements of the institution. The structure usually includes an Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion.

Overall, both a Thesis and Dissertation are significant pieces of academic work that require careful planning, research, and writing. It is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their academic abilities and to make a contribution to their chosen field of study.

Do undergrads have Dissertations?

In the past sections, you already learned about the similarities and differences between the types of theses in the academic world. Remember, that a Dissertation is a lengthy research document that is usually completed by doctoral students as part of their degree requirements, while a Thesis is a similar research project that is normally completed by Bachelor´s or Master’s students. 

When it comes to undergraduate students, it is less common for them to be required to complete a Dissertation. However, some universities may offer the opportunity for undergraduate students to complete a Senior Thesis or Capstone project as a way to demonstrate their research skills and culminate their academic experience. These projects may be required for some majors, such as honors programs or research-intensive disciplines.

In summary, while it is not typical for undergraduates to submit Dissertations, they may get an exceptional opportunity to complete a thesis or capstone project as a way to showcase their research skills and demonstrate their readiness for graduate-level study.

What fits better for your project: Thesis or Dissertation

As we explored, the terms Thesis and Dissertation are often used as synonyms, even if there are some differences between a research project on a Bachelor´s level, a Master´s degree, and a Ph.D. program.

While undergraduate students are usually not asked to complete a Dissertation but to submit an undergraduate Thesis as part of their degree program, their paper is typically shorter and focuses on a more narrow research topic. It is usually completed in one to two semesters.

In contrast, a Dissertation is much more extensive and may take several years to be completed. It requires original research and contributes new knowledge to the field. 

In conclusion, whether Thesis or Dissertation is the correct term, depends on the level of education and the research goals of the student. Keep in mind, that both require a significant amount of time and effort, but a dissertation is more extensive and requires original research.

Elements and Examples of Theses/Dissertations 

If you ask yourself, where to find some Theses or Dissertation examples, be aware that they are often available online or in university libraries. Thus, they are quite useful as a guide for students who are working on their own pieces of work, serving as examples to provide insight into what a well-written Thesis or Dissertation should contain, look like, and how they should be structured.

A well-written paper usually contains the following elements: 

  • A clear research question or hypothesis
  • A Literature Review
  • A Methodology section that outlines the research design and methodological tools used
  • Pure Data Analysis
  • A Discussion of Findings.
  • (References)

It is important for students to follow the structure of a well-written example and adapt the structure to their own research.

Finally, a Thesis/Dissertation example is a useful and illustrative tool for students to make crystal clear, what is required and to provide guidance regarding the structure and content to help students meet the requirements of their degree program.


A Dissertation is usually a lengthy research project that a graduate student completes as part of their Doctoral program. It is an original piece of work that contributes to the existing knowledge in a particular field. In contrast, a Thesis is typically a shorter research project that a Bachelor´s or Master’s student completes to demonstrate an understanding of a particular subject area.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, they do have distinctions as outlined in the article. It is important for students to understand these differences and the expectations of their program in order to successfully complete their research project. 


About the author:

Picture of Dr. Friederike Jurth
Dr. Friederike Jurth

Possibly you already heard of me through different media channels. My name is Dr. Friederike Jurth, and I hold a certificate from Harvard in Higher Education Teaching. Since 2010, I have given lectures on Methodology, Empirical Research, Anthropology, and Transcultural (Music) Studies in collaboration with universities in the United States, Germany, Spain, and Brazil. In 2010, I began a 7-year-long fieldwork project in Rio de Janeiro and have since presented my research at conferences worldwide, including in Japan, the United States, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, and many other countries. Additionally, I have worked as a lecturer and researcher with Germany’s renowned UNESCO Chair.

After completing my doctoral dissertation with summa cum laude, I aimed to unite, condense, and share the steps, ways, and details of my unique methodological and structural approach that I developed during my Ph.D. and that ultimately helped me achieve this result. By concentrating and putting them together into an elaborate academic conception, MyThesis Academy was born. Motivated by the sole aim and objective to help my students through all steps and stages of their thesis journey, MyThesis Academy enables them to achieve their best possible results in the shortest time, independent of their specific area of research.

In addition to my extensive teaching and research experience, I am part of the authors of the Cambridge Companion to Music in Brazil 2024, published by Cambridge University Press & Assessment, where I contribute as a Cambridge Author. This work is a co-operative project conducted remotely from Cambridge, England, United Kingdom.

Read more

EBook Free

Masterclass Free