If you are a graduate student writing a Master’s thesis, you are probably wondering about the project’s length requirements.
Many of us face uncertainties regarding this, and understandably so. The length of a thesis influences the scope and area of your studies.
So, how long is a thesis? In this article, Healthy Happy Teacher walks you through all aspects of how long a masters degree thesis for graduate school should be. Because sometimes it’s just good to work on our mindsets and productivity!
Drop your deadline-driven anxiety at the door, and let’s take a look.
What is a Thesis?
First, it’s essential to define what a thesis is, as well as its function. A thesis is a long-form academic paper that proves a premise in the form of a thesis statement.
This is a statement that succinctly defines what your thesis paper is going to do. It can be featured as a preface, or it can be placed in your introductory paragraph, but it’s essential to refine it as concisely as possible.
A Point About Thesis Writing
Before you write the thesis itself, refining your thesis statement as concisely as possible is essential, as this will influence the research scope and, consequently, the length.
To that end, there are many common thesis statement mistakes you will want to avoid when writing yours. Often, a thesis statement needs to be clarified.
Remember, the reader must understand your paper’s purpose right from the get-go. This applies to you, the academic, as well. The more succinctly you refine your scope, the more efficient the project, giving you much more control over the length.
Another common mistake is when students make their statement too complex – you want to ensure that it isn’t too wordy or lengthy, as this can weaken the argument. The short, declarative sentence will beat a verbose, elongated approach any day.
Also, ensure your statement has a purpose and isn’t too obvious. That said, how long should the masters thesis that follows be?
The Length of A Thesis
Let’s get into the question of how long a thesis is.
In truth, there is no set rule for the length of a thesis.
In fact, according to various sources, the purpose of every thesis is different, and therefore so will the length of each one. Yes, it is unequivocally better to keep it as concise and impactful as possible, but it’s always better to make your point fully than cut it short to adhere to a page count.
That said, the average thesis length is around 50-80 pages. It’s not typical for a thesis to extend much beyond this.
Other factors will affect the length, too. Below is a common example:
The Complexity of the Proposition
Your paper might be particularly complex or have a few complicated components that need to be explored. It is better served by featuring a two-paragraph introduction before introducing the thesis. Also, consider the fact that no thesis statement, however concise, is complete the moment it is typed out. The thesis statement can be revised and restructured during the writing process.
As you will know by now, research reveals new avenues that can alter the paper’s trajectory. It is okay to revise your thesis accordingly.
Above all, allow yourself to explore every facet of your paper. There is no one-size-fits-all for dissertation papers. They are fluid, explorative, and above all, personal to you.
Determining The Length of Your Thesis
Other factors will determine the length of your thesis. Here are a few examples:
Guidelines From Your Institution
Your college or university will have its length standards, and you can find these out by contacting your professors or seeking out the guidelines in your academic database.
Every institution has these resources, so if you are uncertain, there is no shame in asking! Get in touch, and get your surefootedness.
Research Topic and Methodology
Again, theses are all different. Each will have its demands, research areas, and focal points. To this end, try not to focus on the theses of your peers too much, as their areas of study are likely to be completely different from your own.
It’s the equivalent of comparing your Chapter One to somebody else’s Chapter 12 – it’s simply not relevant. Focus on your project, collaborate with your professors, and allow the project to shape up how it needs to be the best it can be.
Your Supervisor’s Expectations
We touched on it already, but the expectations of your thesis supervisor are an essential element of the studying process. It’s always good to confer with your supervisor to clarify your premise and approach.
If needed, go through each research area with them. And, of course, take their guidance on board. This will have a positive impact on your thesis length.
Tips for Writing a Thesis of Appropriate Length
Need a few pointers about staying on track and within the length guidelines set out by your course and supervisor(s)? Here are a few ideas that will streamline any project and have worked for many of us at Healthy Happy Teacher!
Organizing your research and ideas
Organizing your research and ideas, preferably with post-it notes and colored markers, will inform you how long each piece of research will take and, consequently, give you a clearer picture of the length of your project.
Try laying out a plan for each section – subject to change, of course – and the project will start to shape up before you know it. Doing this also informs you where to explore ideas more thoroughly, showing you what work you must prioritize and ease the process!
Editing and revising to eliminate unnecessary content
Down the road comes editing and revising your content.
It is always wise to refer back to your thesis statement in this procedure, as this will inform you about what is the most relevant and clue you in about what is pertinent to proving your premise and what is not. Then you can edit accordingly.
Doing this is excellent, as it frees up space to explore other areas in more depth.
Maintaining focus on your research question
If you are concerned about your thesis being too long or short, always refer back to your thesis statement to maintain focus.
This will streamline your work and help you to avoid writing irrelevant content or going too far down a particular avenue.
Frequently Asked Questions
● What is the typical page count for a thesis?
Around 50 pages. But if you look online, it’s difficult to find consistency. If you are uncertain, check in with your academic institution, as this is the horse’s mouth!
● Is there a minimum or maximum length for a thesis?
Typically, there is a word limit, and it is not advisable to go above or beneath the required thesis length. But once again, this depends on your subject, study area, and your individual needs. It is worth booking an advice session with your tutor(s).
● Can a thesis be too long or too short?
It is possible for your thesis submission to be too long or two short. You should always stay within the standard as laid out by your course and supervisor.
● How can I make sure that my thesis is the appropriate length?
The critical factor in the research/writing process is fully exploring your subject. Once you get into it, you can cut down where needed or find other areas to explore for your final thesis.
Try not to fill the paper with irrelevant information and ‘waffle’, as this is unlikely to add to your results.
● What’s the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?
The main difference between a dissertation and a thesis is the degree program. Students who are completing a master’s degree program are required to write a thesis, whereas doctoral degree students are required to write a dissertation.
A PhD dissertation also requires doctoral candidates to create and expand upon an original research idea, whereas a masters thesis builds upon existing ideas.