Graduate school will require you to complete many different projects, but one of the big ones is your grad school dissertation or graduate thesis.
Now it’s important to note that the thesis would be for a master’s degree, whereas a dissertation is for a doctoral degree.
And today, we’ll be discussing the dissertation although many of the steps can also be applied to a thesis.
Because, as this article by Grand Canyon University states, both a dissertation and a thesis are large research/writing projects.
So without further ado, let’s get into the information you need to know about this important grad school project!
Do grad students have to do a dissertation?
The answer to this question is quite a complicated one, but the short answer is that many grad students have to complete a dissertation in order to receive their degree.
The longer answer has to do with whether or not your program requires it.
Some grad school programs may not require a research/writing project, but it’s important to keep in mind that most do.
And specifically, if you’re going for a doctoral degree, then you’ll likely have to complete this project.
How long is a grad school dissertation?
Dissertations are quite long. Most will end up being somewhere between 100 to 300 pages long.
Because of their immense length, a lot of dissertations actually require chapters.
If you’re considering grad school, don’t let the length of the graduate dissertation intimidate you.
Can you fail your dissertation?
Although it’s typically unlikely that you’ll fail your dissertation if you work hard on it, you can technically fail your dissertation.
This usually happens if you’ve included false information, written the dissertation poorly, or displayed a lack of critical thinking.
But the good news is, if you’re intentional and careful about your dissertation then chances are that you’ll pass!
And even more good news is… many grad school programs will allow you to make up for a failed dissertation.
How To Write Your Grad School Dissertation
Now let’s get into what you need to do in order to write your grad school dissertation with flying colors.
1. Step One – Find An Advisor
Writing your graduate school dissertation is no easy task, and it’s one that you shouldn’t attempt alone.
Therefore, most students will find an advisor to help them with this important project. And it’s best to find this person as soon as you can.
In fact, a good advisor can even help you choose your topic.
There are many things you need to keep in mind when choosing your dissertation advisor: experience, reputation, disposition, etc.
But a great way to find a suitable one is to simply ask around. Ask graduates if they have suggestions, etc.
It’s ideal if you can find an advisor that has already coached several students or more through successful dissertations.
And typically, faculty members of your grad school that are part of the dissertation committee would be a great choice!
Extra Tip – Once you’ve chosen your advisor, try to meet with them or talk to them as much as you can.
It’s important to have their perspective in mind, so regular meetups could be vital to your success.
2. Step Two – Choose Your Topic
This is a fairly obvious step, but still an important one. So I want to make sure I cover it.
Your dissertation topic is the foundation of your project, but surprisingly, it might not make that much of a difference between actually passing or failing.
At least, not in the traditional sense…
You see, you could probably write an excellent dissertation with most topics. Because it’s unlikely that you’d choose something terrible.
But choosing the right topic has more to do with you and your interests.
If you choose a topic that you’re not passionate about, then that might show through in your writing.
Or even if it doesn’t, it could cause you to feel unmotivated while writing your dissertation. And as we discussed, that’s a very long process anyway!
So it’s very important, for your mental health if nothing else, that you choose a topic that interests you and aligns with your goals.
That will ensure you choose a great topic, and not just a suitable one.
3. Step Three – Start As Soon As You Can
As you’ve probably guessed by the sheer length of the dissertation, you’ll need to spend a hefty number of hours on this project!
And in fact, writing a dissertation can take years of your time. So it’s best to get started as soon as you possibly can.
This is one project where you can’t procrastinate until the last minute, because you can’t simply pop out something like a dissertation when your deadline arrives.
But I also wanted to mention, while we’re talking about the timetable of this grad school project, that there are things you can do to save time.
For instance, if you choose your topic early on and it’s something that aligns with your educational goals, then you could potentially choose classes that are related.
This way, you’ll be inadvertently researching for your dissertation while you’re taking a class. Instead of having to do both separately.
Is a grad school dissertation hard?
I hope that through this article, you’ve realized that although a dissertation might be time-consuming… it isn’t impossible.
So although it is definitely a challenging project, if you go about writing it in an efficient way; it doesn’t have to be “hard”.
Some people even have fun writing their dissertations, especially if they enjoy their chosen topic.
Over To You
Are you in the midst of writing your graduate school dissertation? Or perhaps you’re looking for information on how to start!
Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments at @netwerkmovement.
And if you know of someone that this article could help, please send it to them!