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How Long Is A Dissertation – Understanding Dissertation Length

how long is a dissertation

All universities require students to write dissertations. The rules are the same all over the world: dissertation is a crucial part of all programs. The thought of this may worry graduate students because it is an integral part of academic life. They are bound to ask questions such as “how long should a dissertation be?” or “how many words is a dissertation?

PhD dissertation length is a common question as all students want to be ready for the projects that come with it.

How Long Is A Dissertation Supposed To Be?

As a grad school student, you must have completed your coursework as well as other requirements before having to research and write your dissertation. You need to understand that there is no hard and fast rule about the length of a dissertation.

As a rule, the average PhD dissertation length varies around 100-200 pages, whereas the bachelor’s or master’s thesis is usually not longer than 100 pages.

However, that’s not a universal rule.

Determining the length doesn’t follow the one-size-fits-all-approach. Rather, it is determined by the school department. Also, the institution of study can determine how long the paper should be. The best option to get the answer to this question is reviewing the graduate department’s dissertation template or dissertation handbook. Many graduate students get this handbook at the start of their graduate studies. They may forget to refer to it when it is time to write the dissertation. It could have all the guidelines and answer all the questions you may have when it is time.

However, the handbook may not suggest the page range or specific page number. Each project is unique, and the main guideline is using as many words as necessary to create a complete and effective paper.

After going through the handbook or template, the next step is research. This step involves reviewing recent dissertations by predecessors which have been accepted by the department. The best to review would ideally be those chaired by your dissertation committee. Looking at five recent projects that have been approved by the department will give you an idea of the research design, type of content, and approach required to follow. Also, note the page length of the papers to see what is expected of you.

How Long Should A Dissertation Proposal Be?

Aside from the handbook, there are several other typical tips that can guide you when it comes to deciding the length of a dissertation.

To start, strike a balance. While writing a dissertation, it is important to balance it out. If your dissertation is short, your professors may think it is incomplete. When it is too long, they may be bored as they read it.

Is There A Minimum Dissertation Length?

Universally, there are no standards for the length of a dissertation. This is because the length varies within institutions and university systems. Many universities do not specifically state a required length. When asked, professors advise PhD candidates to focus on adequately defending their research rather than focusing on the length of the paper. This means that the most important factor here is the ability to defend the research.

Contents And Format Of A Dissertation

As suggested earlier, your dissertation should be considered as your first academic book. Books have a specified format so your paper must follow the same format. You have to ensure that the book contains a title page, table of contents, abstract, notes section as well as a bibliography. In some cases, dissertations are required to be indexed.

Other parts such as the notes, bibliography, and index may also add some length to the paper despite not increasing the text. In some institutions where there are length requirements, the bibliography is not a part of the word count. Be sure to master your university’s requirements before starting your dissertation work.

Guidelines And Approval: What To Expect

No matter how long or short, your dissertation is, it will have to be approved by the committee. The committee is responsible for dissertation reviews all papers. This team consists of the adviser and up to two members of the faculty. Most of the time, the team is more concerned with intellectual rigor than the word count of the dissertation. However, it is a lot better to follow any length requirements. It may be possible to have a shorter word count and yet meet all other requirements for an excellent piece. Nonetheless, you should not take the risk by falling short.

The whole point of a dissertation is to create a paper that offers some value to the academic world. When it is approved, it will become a part of the library shelves of the university. That is why you should consider the quality of the research. Where the professors set a minimum page requirement of 200 pages, and you fail to reach 120 pages, then it means that the main parts of the questions were not examined. It could also mean that the research has some holes in it.

Also, if your dissertation doesn’t meet the page requirement by several dozen pages, it will seem unfinished. This means that you were required to add more research. If this happens, you do not need to resort to adding filler words and fluff to your dissertation. The professors can tell if you pad the dissertation for length. The committee may refuse to reward the mediocre effort.

To get the proper length, go to the university library and peruse published dissertations by your predecessors. Look at the guidelines closely and compare them with how the past PhD candidates followed them. Follow their format as long as it is consistent with the guidelines.

How Long Are Dissertations: Completion Time

The way doctoral programs are structured to allow PhD candidates to start research by the second year. Some allow them to start earlier. The coursework of the program ends in the third year. Most PhDs are finished within four to eight years. A hardworking and efficient PhD student spends approximately two years as a part-time student and one year working on his/her dissertation full time.

Any fellowships, internships, or jobs taken while writing a dissertation should be in the same field as the paper. That is because it could enhance research. Also, a PhD student will be able to make good use of research time while also producing a paper of the recommended size and quality in a short time.

Writing A Dissertation – Final Advice

When it comes to the length and completion time of a dissertation, the best advice is to avoid rushing. Do not disregard the guidelines in your department. Read up on past dissertations chapter by chapter to see the implemented guidelines. If you follow all these rules, you may not care so much about the length of the dissertation. Everything you write will come naturally to you, and you will produce excellent research. Don’t shy away from asking for writing help.

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