A thesis (plural: theses), or dissertation[note 1] (abbreviated diss.),[2] is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings.[3] In some contexts, the word thesis or a cognate is used for part of a bachelor's or master's course, while dissertation is normally applied to a doctorate. This is the typical arrangement in American English. In other contexts, such as within most institutions of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, the reverse is true.[4] The term graduate thesis is sometimes used to refer to both master's theses and doctoral dissertations.[5]

Dutch 18th century doctoral ceremony at Leiden University shown on the frontispice of a PhD thesis, Netherlands. "Disputatio philosophica inauguralis de spatio vacuo" (Inaugural philosophical disputation On empty space) by Guilielmus ab Irhoven (Willem van Irhoven) on the authority of the Rector magnificus Johannes Jacobus Vitriarius (Jan Jacob Glazenmaker), 7 July 1721.

The required complexity or quality of research of a thesis or dissertation can vary by country, university, or program, and the required minimum study period may thus vary significantly in duration.

The word dissertation can at times be used to describe a treatise without relation to obtaining an academic degree. The term thesis is also used to refer to the general claim of an essay or similar work.

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