The Graduate Thesis

Your thesis will be the final product of your time in graduate school. You should be planning your thesis from the very beginning of your degree program.

A thesis is a substantial piece of scholarly writing that reflects the writer's ability to:

  • conduct research
  • communicate the research
  • critically analyze the literature
  • present a detailed methodology and accurate results
  • verify knowledge claims and sources meticulously
  • link the topic of the thesis with the broader field

A thesis at the doctoral level is called a dissertation, but dissertations and theses are usually referred to collectively as theses. There are some differences between a master's and a doctoral thesis:

  • A master's thesis must demonstrate that the student knows the background and principal works of the research area, and can produce significant scholarly work. It should contain some original contribution whenever possible.
  • A doctoral thesis must contain a substantial contribution of new knowledge to the field of study. It presents the results and an analysis of original research, and should be significant enough to be published.

The UBC Library keeps copies of all theses written by UBC graduate students. Take a look for examples of theses in your area of interest. Your graduate program or supervisor may also have copies on hand.

Do not follow the formatting of these theses. Please refer to Dissertation and Thesis Preparation on this web site for formatting details.