Thesis and Dissertation Formats


Graduate studies, and some specialized undergraduate programs, generally culminate with the writing of a thesis or dissertation. These long works adhere to various academic standards, including APA and MLA style. Most universities also provide guides to dissertation formatting dealing with minor variances from general publication standards.

Basic Structure

There are numerous standards for dissertation organization. The following guide is only one of many possibilities. This chart is based on a dissertation prepared at the University of Minnesota within the College of Letters and Arts. The Graduate School recommends a 200-page model, though each program has its own expectations. Other universities have similar policies: departments or programs have the final say on dissertation structures and lengths.

Dissertation Sections

I. Introduction % Paper Pgs/200 Words
Background 4% 8.00 2,000.00
Statement of Problem 1% 2.00 500.00
Definitions 5% 10.00 2,500.00
Limitations 1% 2.00 500.00
Significance 2% 4.00 1,000.00
  13% 26.00 6,500.00
II. Review of Literature
Introduction 1% 2.00 500.00
Secondary Lit A 6% 12.00 3,000.00
Secondary Lit B 6% 12.00 3,000.00
Primary Literature 10% 20.00 5,000.00
Rationale 5% 10.00 2,500.00
Hypothesis 5% 10.00 2,500.00
  33% 66.00 16,500.00
III. Procedures and Methodologies
Introduction 1% 2.00 500.00
Populations 2% 4.00 1,000.00
Data Collection 5% 10.00 2,500.00
Statistical Treatment 3% 6.00 1,500.00
  11% 22.00 5,500.00
IV. Presentation of Data
Introduction 1% 2.00 500.00
Data Sets 19% 38.00 9,500.00
  20% 40.00 10,000.00
V. Discussion and Conclusions
Introduction 1% 2.00 500.00
Summary of Findings 4% 8.00 2,000.00
Discussion 7% 14.00 3,500.00
Implications 1% 2.00 500.00
For Futher Study 2% 4.00 1,000.00
  15% 30.00 7,500.00
Additional
Bibliography 3% 6.00 1,500.00
Appendices 5% 10.00 2,500.00
  8% 16.00 4,000.00
Totals 100% 200.00 50,000.00

Remember the above table offers only approximations. Always check with your academic institution for expected sections and lengths.



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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 01-Jan-2014
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach