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I'm a Master's student and I will defend my study in a month. Tomorrow is the deadline to upload my manuscript. The university announced two deadlines a week apart from each other One for Thesis (Tomorrow) The other for Dissertation (28th)

My work is done but my Professor is very picky (he changed my subject 3 times) and sorry to say that, couldn't care less (the university let him supervise me from Europe, I'm in Canada!). He asked me to redraw some charts and correct some minor errors. I can do it until the 28th for sure since I was thinking I'm writing a dissertation (my manuscript content is 92 pages).

During all these times, in all forms and all conversations with the university, I always mentioned I'm working on my dissertation and nobody cared to even corrected me. I'm maniaclly searching the website of the university, the guidlines, PDFs, my course on research and scientific methods (even went to check the resources books). There is no place that says thesis is for Master's and dissertation is for PhD.

It seems like everybody should know this. My professor even signed an official letter I wrote to university that I said the word dissertation multiple times, that letter went to the board of directors and even the dean of the unversity and they approved it as well! But again NOBODY said anything.

I'm so tired after 3 years and many sleepless nights, GPA 4, multiple scholarships from Univeristy, 3 A+ and a heart stroke. I want to write something to the University since my professor always runs away to face with university. Do you have any suggestions?

Just days ago from my Professor, funny part is even in this link as you see it says dissertation for Master's

UPDATE: The University accepted without hesitation and I met the deadline and upload my Thesis which I'm really proud of because I put extra effort on every single figure and chapters. I will defend it in two weeks. Thanks for all of your answers.

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    The words 'Thesis' and 'Dissertation' are often used interchangeably. There is no universal rule (that I'm aware of) saying one is for PhD and the other is for MSc. As it seems your institution differentiates between the two, probably best to speak with the academic registry (or equivalent) to get the official definition.
    – atom44
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 8:18
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    why can you not simple call someone at the uni and ask?
    – Sursula
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 8:20
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    They don't answer the phone, The line for international students (English line) are just ringing, tried 10 times in the past. When I go in person, there is a just a low rank employee says send email. Emails get answered almost 6 days later. besides it's summer, Also It"s QUEBEC, A French university with a heavy racist culture that only service to French students. We're peasant in their perspective literally.
    – zEn feeLo
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 8:29
  • If you can't find any info and want to be on the safe side, submitting tomorrow with as much alterations as you can manage seams like the safer way.
    – Sursula
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 9:14
  • and I would try the national phone line as well
    – Sursula
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 9:17

1 Answer 1

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Thesis and dissertation are used interchangeably. The carry different meanings in different context and countries.

The best bet is to locate the Academic Regulations and look for the section or sub-regulation dealing with research degree examination: For example, McGill's.
Or simply pay the postgraduate research office a visit.


There are many interpretations of the difference between Thesis and Dissertation.

  • used interchangeably
  • thesis for Masters, dissertation for doctorate
  • thesis for research work, dissertation for comprehensive original work
  • thesis for research only, dissertation for research project component above course work.

In certain places, thesis refers to submitted research work that is based on research only, where there're no course work while dissertation is used in those context/countries as submitted research work that is in partial fulfillment over and above course works. This one sees in places like South Africa.

In the States, it gets interesting as places like GCU and others are of the view that thesis and dissertation are program dependent or that it is a dissertation when a student (orally) defend their research work

  • [GCU] ... The primary difference between a dissertation vs thesis is the degree programs that require these projects. Students in a master’s degree program will write a thesis, whereas students in a doctoral degree program will complete a dissertation.

It's not uncommon for universities in Canada to use the term Thesis. Even at that, it is loose: used interchangeably.

To compound, take for instance this particular one that is filed as Thesis, yet the abstract says dissertation!

  • Thesis: Le tissu urbain comme forme culturelle ... ...
  • Abstract: This dissertation examines the evolution of the urban tissues of Quebec City's "faubourgs." It présents a diachronic ... ...

For McGill, it appears Thesis is for research based masters and it's used for PhD. However, take note of the example above: re interchangeably!.

Yet,the interchangeability persists even with guidelines for dissertation cross-referencing thesis or outcome of thesis examination cross-referencing dissertation!

Another interesting dimension is that the sciences like computer science uses thesis comfortably, while Humanities defer to dissertation.

With all the confusions,

  • check the university regulations
  • get confirmation from supervisor/Dean
  • call the postgraduate research office
  • physically visit the postgraduate research office (and registry)

For repository of Canadian thesis and dissertation, see Erudit, or CARL, or head to ProQuest. There are others.

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  • It's sad that nobody blames university or supervisor even when he clearly misleaded me a couple of days ago. That just shows why Professor can do the worst things and get away with it ! You know, I'm finaicially good in life, I was here for my passion, I was the guy insisted to my professor that we need to expand this research. I don't want to present something bad. Now, when it's my turn, all the odds are against me. This system is designed this way for reason. Such a life lesson
    – zEn feeLo
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 10:05
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    @KamranAsgari Nobody can judge here about your University or Supervisor, as nobody knows here the facts, only your side. This site is not meant to solve personal issues, but to provide general feedback that fits more than your case. We simply do not answer personal cases.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 11:40
  • You're just being politically correct since your feeding from the system but it's okay I know how to get my own right back Needed a help in formating an email to univeristy But you are too much weaker to suggest me that with this attitude
    – zEn feeLo
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 12:53
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    @KamranAsgari No, there are obvious limits to what people on the Internet can do for you.
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Commented Jul 21, 2023 at 17:06
  • The university sent an email and said it's okay since they didn't aware of my confusion.
    – zEn feeLo
    Commented Jul 22, 2023 at 4:32

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