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Engineering students commonly obtain Master’s degrees and seldom go on to get Ph Ds.In other fields such as Chemistry, the opposite is true, with a Master’s degree no longer being required as the first step for a doctorate.
A graduate degree generally requires completing either a thesis or a dissertation, and there is a difference between thesis and dissertation.
In Shakespeare’s day, a candidate for a master’s degree would write a thesis, an original paper in which he maintained a certain proposition.
He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point by point refutations of everything he said.
The focus here was on the student’s ideas and his ability to arrange and express them clearly.
In Europe the original distinction between a thesis and a dissertation has been largely retained.
A doctoral thesis is a focused piece of original research which is performed in order to obtain a Ph D.
Students are encouraged throughout their coursework to identify salient issues and relevant organizational concerns they might wish to investigate as a basis for producing a dissertation, the final requirement for the doctoral degree.
The dissertation is a scholarly work conducted independently by the student, under the direction of a full-time GSEP faculty member…
However, this is more often referred to as an undergraduate project.
The major research project normally required as part of the work for a doctoral degree.