Dissertation vs Thesis

What is the difference between a doctoral dissertation and a master’s thesis?

The master’s thesis is to be a kind of summary of the university studies. Its author is to show that he can apply the acquired knowledge to solve a simple scientific problem, usually formulated by the supervisor, while in the case of a doctoral dissertation, the doctoral student must personally and independently formulate the topic and the research problem. A graduate student must show that he is able to collect relevant literature on a given topic and use it creatively, that he can collect relevant empirical material, give it analysis and interpret its results. On the other hand, the doctoral dissertation undertakes a complex research problem, is based on a broad spectrum of subject literature and extensive empirical research, but the research (doctoral) thesis, which is not expected from the author of the thesis, is of key importance.

These works also differ the intellectual level of the author, which can be noticed during the reading. This is first and foremost a question of the extent of knowledge and how to treat it. While the Master’s thesis is rather generally reproductive, with some elements of original thinking, the doctoral thesis is primarily creative and innovative. These works also vary in volume. Master’s thesis is generally in the economic sciences, about a hundred pages, and the doctoral thesis usually from two hundred to three hundred. The degree of independence of the authors and the other role of the promoter are also different. While in the case of a thesis the supervisor is rather a teacher, in the case of a doctoral dissertation he should only be a reliable guardian.

With this dissertation doctoral students make an independent scientific contribution to research. The publication is mandatory, no matter whether the work becomes a bestseller or dusty on the shelf of the university library. The master’s thesis may also be academically oriented and, for example, review and evaluate the literature on a theory from the lecture. But rarely do the results shake the foundations of science. “The supervising professor specifies in which context the whole thing is moving,” explains Weigand. A publication is rather the exception.

The procedure for obtaining the doctoral degree depends in detail on the university or the doctoral faculty.

However, in addition to the Europe-wide standardization of degrees (Bachelor and Master), an adaptation of the doctoral procedures is also sought in connection with the ongoing Bologna Process.

Nevertheless, there are a number of fundamental criteria in relation to the dissertation, which is in principle uniform in all examination regulations.

For example, the doctoral student must be able to present a suitable degree for the enrollment of his dissertation and must have the appropriate qualifications, for example language certificates.

In addition, he / she must find a supervising professor (supervisor or doctoral supervisor) to enroll in the doctoral program at his / her university and finally be accepted by the doctoral committee.

The dissertation usually takes four to five years to complete. However, the duration depends strongly on the discipline and the topic of the work. In particular, in the natural sciences, the doctoral candidate is often employed at the respective institute during this time.

Even in the practically oriented Master thesis, nothing works without theory. However, the focus here is on putting it into practice. Candidates often deal with company affiliation and sign a confidentiality clause. In this case, publication per se is out of the question.

In terms of scope, a master’s thesis can not compete with a dissertation. On about 60 pages, plus graphics, tables and bibliography, everything should be said. “It is important that the topic is clearly limited and that the author comes to the point quickly,” emphasizes Gomez, who works in addition to his doctorate as Director Assistant in the MBA Office of HHL.


If the master thesis is created in cooperation with a company, the clients expect a presentation of the results at the end of the project. “In such a case, 50 slides and a 15-page summary in an executive summary can be counted as equivalent performance,” says Weigand. The Professor of Competitive Strategy attaches great importance to the fact that even with practically oriented topics “an overriding interest is ensured and different analysis methods are used”.

Networked thinking and acting is also a central theme at the FOM. At the FO Management, which is represented at 18 locations nationwide, studies and master’s theses are all about Integral Total Management (ITM). “The question of the thesis is examined from the perspective of each discipline – from marketing to financial management to soft skills,” explains Eric Frère, Dean of International Studies, the concept of General Management. On this basis, approaches can be derived in the sense of the entire company.

The master thesis is therefore not a bureaucratic brake pad, but a profit. Also independent of the science. Javier Gomez says: “The foreign students are pleased that they can stay with us for three months longer.”

In contrast to the master’s thesis, which is prepared under the supervision of a university teacher, the doctoral student compiles the dissertation in independent work.

In addition, not only knowledge acquired in the course of study should be used, but new insights that enrich the respective subject area must be gained. A dissertation is a research work that depends heavily on the topic and can be between 150 and 500 pages.

Depending on the university, there are different requirements with regard to the external form of the work, but generally the same rules apply as for the preparation of a master’s, bachelor’s, master’s or diploma thesis. The finished work is usually handed in 4- to 5-fold execution and published after evaluation online or in a relevant specialist publisher.

In addition to preparing written work, in some cases he or she has to attend doctoral seminars, publish specialist publications or assist the department in their work, for example by writing scripts or actively helping to develop the curriculum.

Due to the contentual and formal complexity of a dissertation, it is absolutely necessary to have the work read out by several competent persons before submission to the examination board in order to check their argumentative conclusiveness. In addition, external proofreaders should be consulted, which, if necessary, revise the external form and the linguistic expression of the text independently of the thematic content.

What are theses and hypotheses?

Each doctoral dissertation must have a clearly and clearly formulated thesis (doctoral thesis). It is so much an immanent component of the doctoral thesis that the Anglo-Saxon culture is not even about the work or the doctoral thesis, but about the doctoral thesis that one presents and defends.

The doctoral thesis is a certain assumption, assertion, question or conclusion regarding the subject of the research, which should be proved in the doctoral dissertation based on the empirical study of the given issue. It is formulated on the basis of knowledge, contained in the literature of the subject, general knowledge on a given topic and usually concerns a certain fragment of our ignorance of this issue. This is something that we think we know about it, but we need to prove it or something we do not know and want to know.

The development of this thesis are research hypotheses whose formulation consists in changing the grammatical form of the problem question (which is the essence of the research thesis) into a theorem or conjecture. An important hypothesis is basically the formulation of a certain assumption about the coexistence or covariate of the phenomena studied (descriptive hypotheses) or their origins (cause-effect hypotheses.) The number of formulated hypotheses should not be too high, especially that they later need to be proven at work. In general, a solution is practiced where individual analytical chapters of the doctoral dissertation are responsible for particular hypotheses.

The formulation of the research thesis and its development in the form of research hypotheses belongs to the more difficult stages of work on the doctoral dissertation. Therefore, it is worth reaching for methodological publications dealing with related problems. An example of such a study is a book published by Jerzy Apanowicz published in 2005 by Difin publishing house entitled “Methodological determinants of scientific work”, devoted to theses related to theses and research hypotheses from page 73 to 79, and the graphical presentation of this is particularly valuable. what is the thesis and the research hypothesis.