How Long is a Masters Thesis? [Your writing guide]

Writing a Masters thesis can be quite the undertaking. It presents the research findings of your graduate-level masters study. It can be difficult to work out exactly how much you need to write to pass your masters degree because you can generate so much research throughout your course.

The average masters thesis is typically between 50 and 100 pages long. The length of the thesis will vary depending on the discipline and the university requirements but will typically be around 25,000 to 50,000 words in length.

the average length of a masters thesis - 50 - 100 pages long

My Masters thesis in theoretical computational chemistry was 60 pages long. It was quite short for a master’s thesis in chemistry because of the theoretical computational twist. Some organic chemistry Master theses were much longer – in terms of pages – because they relied on a lot of diagrams and schematics to explain their work.

Irrespective of its length, a master’s thesis must demonstrate an individual’s ability to conduct independent research and to effectively express their findings in writing.

It must pass peer-review and is often accompanied with a short oral presentation about the work to an academic committee put together by their advisor.

It must also show that the student has acquired sufficient knowledge about their chosen subject to contribute to existing scholarship in their field. Once you have graduated with your masters you can then consider whether or not a PhD is a good option for your career goals.

How Many Pages Should a Master Thesis Have?

Typically, a master thesis is expected to be anywhere between 100-200 pages long depending on the research field and topic.

In general, most master theses should have at least 30-40 pages of research content (including a literature review) with an additional 10-20 pages for other aspects of academic reports such as acknowledgements, appendices, abstracts, references and schematics or diagrams.

Furthermore, certain schools may require that your master thesis meet additional criteria such as formatting guidelines or word counts in order to be considered complete.

Your supervisor should not let your master’s thesis go to examination if it does not meet the minimum requirements for your specific field. Your academic supervisor will be your biggest asset while writing your master’s thesis.

How is a Masters thesis assessed and examined?

A Masters dissertation is assessed by academics in your department or university and it may also include an external examination by experts in the specific field you are studying.

The thesis will typically require a student to conduct extensive research to answer a research question and come up with an original argument or thesis on the topic.

Once the thesis has been written, the student must submit it to their faculty or university for assessment and examination.

The university will then grade the dissertation based on its content, structure, and accuracy. Most universities require that the dissertation be at least 60 pages in length and be written according to academic standards of writing and style guides.

These academic writing style guides can be very confusing and are often not something people have encountered before. However, reaching out to, and using the services of, a trusted editor will help make the process much easier.

The faculty at the university will then assess the submitted dissertation and provide feedback to help guide the student in making any necessary corrections or revisions before finally submitting it for examination.

Sometimes the examiners will require the thesis to undergo small amendments.

This is quite normal and you will be expected to address each of the criticisms before being admitted to your degree.

Also, many institutions require a public presentation on your Masters research for admission to the degree. This can be relatively nerve racking for young career academics. Nonetheless, presenting your work to a general audience is always good experience and will help prepare you for a PhD if you decide to pursue further research studies.

Effective tips on how to write a thesis successfully

Writing a master’s thesis is not an easy task and many students struggle to complete it with a smile on their faces.

Making sure that you work on your thesis little by little and that you do not get bogged down in the details too quickly is an important step to finishing your thesis without it causing too much mental anguish.

However, writing a thesis is often a very challenging thing no matter what you do. You can check out more about this in my YouTube video below right talk about the unglamorous truths about writing a thesis, whether it Masters, PhD or for peer review.

Small chunks

Work on your thesis in small chunks. Do not think of it as one big thesis but rather as small chapters and subsections within that chapter.

I actually had multiple documents with different chapters and did not combine my thesis until the end. This allowed me to compartmentalise my work and ensure that I was focused on one aspect of the thesis at a time without jumping between many other sections – which would have been a huge distraction.

Get feedback as often as possible

I’ve always been incredibly lucky with my research supervisors. I’ve been able to get feedback about my writing quickly and effectively.

Speak to your research supervisor about what would be an appropriate amount of work for them to mark at any given time.

Some supervisors like small amounts of work – such as a chapter or a subsection, whilst others prefer to have full chapters submitted at a time.

Try to work out the smallest amount of work they be happy to look over as then you can get feedback much quicker.

Also, you can reach out to other supervisors and academics that may be able to give you feedback on your writing. You do not just have two work with your primary supervisor when looking for feedback.

Do what you must to get through

Even though many helpful PhD and thesis writing blogs and videos talk about making yourself as productive as possible, the truth is sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get through.

For example, I used to eat a lot of chocolate and drink a lot of energy drinks to try to focus myself while writing up my thesis.

I only did this for a short period of time and it certainly wasn’t sustainable. But, when you have got a tight deadline sometimes you just have to do whatever you can to get through your writer’s block.

Protect your flow

Protect your flow as much as possible. Getting into a flow state can be achieved regularly if you change your environment to make sure that you are able to focus effectively.

For example, I like to completely turn off my mobile phone and email or other computer notifications so that I can focus for at least one hour on writing my thesis.

You may also find white noise helpful if you are in a particularly noisy environment such as a shared office.

If you find yourself becoming distracted – remove that distraction as best you can. Protecting your flow and working for one-hour blocks will really help you finish on time.

Wrapping up

This article has been through everything you need to know about the length of a Masters thesis and how to write your thesis effectively.

The length of a Masters thesis is very much dependent on the field of study and the University’s requirements for your course. Nonetheless, they are typically between 50 and 200 pages long and are examined by experts in the field and other academics before you are admitted into the degree.

There may also be a short presentation that is given to the public or academics in your department.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.