How Long Is a Dissertation: General Info and Best Tips

Many students enrolling in a Ph.D. program may wonder, “How long is a dissertation?” However, this question has been asked many times before and requires clarification. In general, a dissertation should be long enough to provide a satisfactory answer to the research question. Learn how to write a dissertation of the most appropriate length from our guide and create well-thought-out academic papers easily! Determining how long a dissertation should be can be overwhelming, but dissertation writing services can provide the guidance and support needed to meet academic standards.

Why write a dissertation?

Writing a dissertation has various benefits, such as the opportunity to contribute new knowledge to your subject area, demonstrate your expertise and research abilities, and fulfill degree requirements. It develops different skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and time management, pursues individual interests, and gains personal fulfillment. Although challenging, writing a dissertation can be rewarding and enable you to contribute to your field while enhancing your skills and knowledge.

How long should a dissertation be?

While there is no definitive answer to how long a dissertation should be, the paper’s length can differ depending on several factors. These include the field of study, academic level, and the particular university or educational program instructions. 

Let’s see how the length can vary across fields. For instance, a psychology, history, communication, nursing, or management dissertation can range up to 300 pages, while an environmental health or political science dissertation can be around 100. A typical doctoral dissertation related to the humanities, social sciences, or education can generally range from 100 to 300 pages. On the other hand, scientific or technical subject areas, e.g., engineering, natural sciences, or computer science suggest shorter dissertation length from 50 to 150 pages. Ultimately, the size of this research project is defined by the scope and complexity of the study and the guidelines provided by the academic institution. 

Average dissertation length

For many students, it may be challenging to answer how long a Ph.D. dissertation has to be, as its length depends on various factors. Learners generally should restrict their writing to 80 and 100 thousand words, which usually translates to approximately 204 pages. The average size may also differ depending on the university and particular study area. While universities may set their limits for the dissertation length, most universities aim for around 100 thousand words. Research has revealed that STEM works are typically around 159 pages long, while non-STEM papers are usually longer at about 223 pages. Therefore, there is a considerable distinction in length if we compare non-STEM and STEM theses.

What should be the length of each chapter in a dissertation?

You might feel confused when deciding upon the length of a dissertation section, whether it’s an introduction, methodology, conclusion, or any other. In this respect, it‘s challenging to provide an exact answer since the length of every chapter depends on its specific content and purpose. Each part should focus on a particular topic and include all the necessary information. If you can do so effectively, the length of each chapter will naturally fall into place. Regarding each research section's length, general guidelines exist. Below is a rough estimate of the word count of every chapter in a doctoral dissertation. 


The first part of the research paper should give the audience an understanding of why the chosen topic is significant and relevant without revealing too much information. Typically, it should be between 10 and 15 pages long, or from 5% to 10% of the overall word count of the study. This length is optimal for a concise and intriguing opening to the dissertation.

Literature review

The next section should present the literature review. It has to analyze and assess relevant sources used in the dissertation. The essential goal of this chapter is to show a researcher’s comprehensive understanding of the actual state of knowledge in the subject area and discover research gaps. This section should only include sources that apply to the topic at hand. In analyzing the sources, you should highlight their strengths and weaknesses. The literature review should be between 20 and 25 pages long, enabling a thorough examination of the sources. In other words, it can range between 20% and 30% of the total paper’s word count.


This research section should be 10 to 15 pages long or 10 % to 15% of the dissertation’s word count. The chapter discusses the research design, methods applied, data selection, and analysis process. It should also include details of how the sample population was contacted and how data was collected. This section justifies the selected methods and explains why they are suitable to solve the research problem. Any challenges encountered should also be mentioned.


The results chapter should be concise and 10 pages at most. As a rule, it ranges from 20% to 30% of the overall word count of an academic paper. It presents the obtained findings objectively and compares them with the hypotheses, which helps the readers to form their point of view on the research question. You should state whether your hypotheses were confirmed or refuted. The section should end with a brief conclusion summarizing your research.


The discussion section must meticulously analyze and interpret the research findings. It’s essential to balance providing a comprehensive analysis and avoiding unnecessary repetition and details. As a general guideline, the discussion is one of the longer chapters in the document, and its length should fall between 15 to 20 pages or 15% to 30% of the overall word count. Still, we can see significant variations in this section’s length, as it depends on the complexity and breadth of the research project. Therefore, the academic institution's requirements and the research project's specific objectives should determine the discussion section's length.


The summarizing chapter should be 15 to 20 pages long, or 5% to 10% of the total word count. This section explains the implications of your study and offers a broader perspective on the topic. In the dissertation conclusion, it is crucial to not only provide recommendations for future research while acknowledging the limitations of your study. The length of a dissertation chapter is flexible and varies depending on various factors, such as the topic, institution, and research goals. As such, each section's length is influenced by the specific nature of the research conducted and the data gathered. 

What is the suitable length for a proposal?

This document has no set length, but it is typically considered lengthy and written in a formal style. Most universities suggest that this chapter is within 15-20 pages. Still, the length may vary depending on factors such as the problem stated, the reasons for addressing it, the sources being used, and why particular sources were chosen.

The dissertation proposal aims to outline the planned work and persuade the dissertation committee that the research question deserves attention. Therefore, creating a compelling document that persuades the faculty to approve the writing project is significant. The proposal’s length should be sufficient to achieve this goal.

What is the best length for an abstract?

To select the appropriate number of words for the abstract, you should know that it’s typically a separate page in the research paper that summarizes the dissertation’s findings. The abstract has to highlight the research problem, define objectives and methods, and present findings with key conclusions, delivering the document's essence.

The abstract’s length usually starts from 150 and shouldn’t exceed 300 words. Meanwhile, it's crucial to follow any specific word limits set by the journal or university for which the document is being completed. The abstract should be written when the dissertation is finished and placed at the beginning of the document.

Effective strategies for choosing the dissertation’s optimal length

How long is a dissertation? You’ve definitely thought about this question many times. The key to effective writing is brevity, not length. The objective is to produce a concise document that covers all the necessary material to describe the investigation and support the argument. It is crucial to avoid irrelevant digressions and unnecessary repetitions. 

The main idea or working hypothesis should be the only repeated element throughout the paper. This theme should be introduced in the opening, explained in the body, and referred to in the abstract and conclusion.

Discover some tips for writing a concise and effective dissertation or thesis:

  • Eliminate any interpretation that is only marginally related to your discoveries.
  • Add tables to organize repetitive information.
  • Provide only the necessary background information for the audience to understand your perspective.
  • Use informative figure captions effectively.
  • Allow tables to be self-explanatory without describing each figure or table in the text. Instead, focus on the tables and figures' most significant objects, patterns, or trends.
  • Omit any observations or outcomes in the document that lack data support.
  • Do not make any unsupported conclusions.
  • Remove any discussion portions and ambiguous interpretations.
  • Avoid using unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and prepositional phrases.
  • Write shorter sentences, avoiding nested phrases or clauses.
  • Refrain from adding idioms and use words with a clear dictionary definition instead.


  • What time is needed to complete a dissertation? 

This time depends on various factors. For instance, the nature of the subject being studied, such as chemistry, may involve more logistical challenges and thus require a longer period for completion. Conversely, completing a relatively straightforward sociology dissertation may take as little as one month.

  • How do a dissertation and a thesis differ? 

A dissertation and a thesis are both academic papers completed to meet the degree requirements but differ by degree level, research scope, and length. A thesis tests a hypothesis and has from 40 to 80 pages, while a dissertation contributes new knowledge to a field, is more independent, and is longer (it may be over 200 pages). A faculty member typically supervises theses, while dissertations may involve a committee.

  • What structure should a dissertation come with? 

Students asking, “How long is a dissertation?” are usually interested in how to complete this document and what components to include in it. This academic paper typically has a standard structure with a title page, abstract, introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, references, and appendices. The dissertation structure may vary depending on the academic institution's requirements. 

  • How many pages does a dissertation typically have?

Usually, a dissertation includes from 100 to 300 pages in length. However, it’s important to note that the thesis length may vary. It depends on several factors, such as the writer's objectives, chosen topic, and writing approach. For example, some dissertations may be as short as 96 pages, while others may be as long as 246 pages.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!

Related Blog Posts

Join our 150K of happy users

  • Get original papers written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
Place an order