What are some differences between a Masters' Research Thesis versus a PhD Thesis for STEM fields? From program websites, I learned that a Masters thesis is not as "rigorous, broad, deep" as a PhD thesis, so I get the general idea that a Masters Research Thesis is "easier" than a PhD one. However, I find the description vague. In what specific ways are they different? How are the expectations different? Does a PhD thesis have to be "ground breaking", while a Masters one does not have to be? Can anyone who has written both types share their observations on the differences?

  • 1
    Two questions should be split up into two posts. – Azor Ahai -him- Apr 20 at 19:32
  • @AzorAhai-him- Will do. – user758469 Apr 20 at 19:39
  • 2
    @AzorAhai-him- One question now – user758469 Apr 20 at 19:39
  • 3
    I'm not sure I get the point of the question: Master's theses are between 4 month and a year (roughly), PhD theses are between 3 and 5 years (roughly). Why would you even think they are the same? Where would you even start to compare them? Or would the point about their different duration already be an answer? – user151413 Apr 20 at 19:59

German perspective:

Master theses are short (duration-wise), PhD theses are long. How short and how long depends on details, but the relative difference is there regardless.

Master theses consist of one problem, while in STEM, PhD theses are often a collection of works which are not necessarily very closely related.

Both should contain original results. A 6-12 month master thesis which does not contain any original results has significant shortcomings.

From a supervisor's perspective: A master thesis which leads to one paper in a reputable journal is a good (top 1/3 or so) master thesis. A PhD thesis which only gives rise to one paper is a below average (lower 1/3) PhD thesis.

  • When you mean "original", it does not mean "groundbreaking" right? The results can be simple things that no one has come up with, right? – user758469 Apr 20 at 20:21
  • 1
    Yes. (Anyway, when do you call something "groundbreaking"? The vast majority of papers in STEM is not groundbreaking.) – user151413 Apr 21 at 19:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.