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  1. #1
    Michael is offline Registered User
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    Normal Length of Master's by Dissertation-only

    I received a message from a professor who suggested that a master's by dissertation should be 230-250 pages long. Isn't that unusually long for such a degree? If you consider 300 words per page as an average, that comes out to 69,000 words for 230 pages. In other places I've seen the total word count for such degrees listed at anywhere from 35,00 to 50,000.

    Opinions/comments?

    Thanks!

    Michael

  2. #2
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    Re: Normal Length of Master's by Dissertation-only

    The Potchefstroom research MA is earned by a thesis of 40-45,000 words. The Ph.D. requires some 80,000.

  3. #3
    Andy Borchers is offline Registered User
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    Re: Normal Length of Master's by Dissertation-only

    It strikes me that measuring dissertation quality by the number of words is a pretty weak measure. Some are shorter, some are longer - and I normally don't infer much based on length, unless the document is absolutely trivial (e.g. a 10 page doctoral dissertation).

    Thanks - Andy

    Originally posted by Michael
    I received a message from a professor who suggested that a master's by dissertation should be 230-250 pages long. Isn't that unusually long for such a degree? If you consider 300 words per page as an average, that comes out to 69,000 words for 230 pages. In other places I've seen the total word count for such degrees listed at anywhere from 35,00 to 50,000.

    Opinions/comments?

    Thanks!

    Michael
    Andy Borchers, DBA
    NSU (1996)

  4. #4
    Bruce is offline Moderator
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    Re: Re: Normal Length of Master's by Dissertation-only

    Originally posted by Andy Borchers
    It strikes me that measuring dissertation quality by the number of words is a pretty weak measure.
    I agree. Theodore Kaczynski's doctoral dissertation in mathematics at the University of Michigan was "only" 80 pages in length, but it dealt with what was previously thought of as a dead-end, Boundary Functions (also the title).

    Kaczynski went on to become a tenure-track professor at UC-B at a ridiculously young age until he decided that living in a remote shack and mailing bombs to people was more interesting.


    Bruce

  5. #5
    triggersoft is offline Registered User
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    I´ve been reading about a doctoral dissertation from a german state university in Medicine that was only 15 pages short, but it must have been some really great new knowledge that this person found, so you shouldn´t set equal low pages with low work...

  6. #6
    pmn
    pmn is offline Registered User
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    I stressed over the length issue when putting my master's (humanities: literature) thesis together. My mentor put me at ease:"Let's just focus on the quality of the work," he said, "and not worry so much about the quantity." That put me right at ease and I got an A grade on a fifty page paper. Of course, it was nothing groundbreaking, which might make a difference.
    Good luck.:)

  7. #7
    Michael is offline Registered User
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    Would any of you enroll in a master's program where your dissertation/thesis was REQUIRED to be 230-250 pages long?

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  9. #8
    Tom Head is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by Michael
    Would any of you enroll in a master's program where your dissertation/thesis was REQUIRED to be 230-250 pages long?
    I wouldn't have any qualms about it; but then I co-wrote a 485-page college guide in about three months, so my viewpoint might be a little skewed.

    In all seriousness: If you're talking double-spaced pages, that breaks down to about 60,000 words, which sounds reasonable.


    Cheers,
    [url=http://www.tomhead.net]Tom Head[/url]
    B.A. (Liberal Arts) '96 / Excelsior College (USNY/Regents)
    M.A. (Humanities) '00 / California State University, Dominguez Hills
    Ph.D. student (Philosophy of Religion/Interdisciplinary Studies) / Edith Cowan University, Australia

  10. #9
    Craig Hargis is offline Registered User
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    Unhappy

    When you consider that an MA would normally require 10-15 courses in addition to comprehensives and a (sometimes OR) thesis, and that the seminar paper for each course might run from 15-20 pages; and that an MA thesis is typically 60-100, a total of 250 pages in a thesis only degree seems not at all unreasonable. However, I cannot imagine an MA without coursework. Unless the student has a 60+ unit masters or some significant part of a second master, or some previous doctoral work, I really don't understand even a Ph.D. by dissertation alone. All questions of accreditation, state registration, GAAP and so forth aside. I would feel very uncomfortable with a DL MA completed by thesis alone. No wonder they require a pretty fat one; if they started taking 20 page papers for a thesis only masters, would they not become a "mill"? I mean the thesis of 250 pages is only ten times longer than American State or whatever it was called required for their instant degree. I certainly understand and partly agree with the notion that length is not a real measure of academic quality or significance. But at some level it is important. If a publisher wants a 300 page book, we need to deliver 600 pages of typed manuscript. If a journal wants a twenty page article, we can't send in a "really good" five page essay. At UCR, the English Department did not stipulate length, but the comon understanding was 250-400. Science dissertations are often just over 100, as they are more technically reports of research rather than a "dissertation." My MA thesis was only 48 pages, but my dissertation was 650, mandated largely by the topic and not by my creativity. But even then, I still had to do 60 units of course work, and I was ABD in a different program when I started. A research doctorate, especially following other significant graduate coursework is one thing; a thesis only MA might be another--even though the school is GAAP.

    Craig
    Craig

  11. #10
    Tom Head is offline Registered User
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    Originally posted by Craig Hargis
    When you consider that an MA would normally require 10-15 courses in addition to comprehensives and a (sometimes OR) thesis, and that the seminar paper for each course might run from 15-20 pages; and that an MA thesis is typically 60-100, a total of 250 pages in a thesis only degree seems not at all unreasonable. However, I cannot imagine an MA without coursework.
    The research master's is a pretty standard thing in Commonwealth countries; I actually ran into trouble applying to several Australian schools because I didn't have one. But it's worth mentioning that a research master's is for people who already hold an honours bachelor's, which is a three-year general bachelor's plus one year of specialized work, usually the (loose) equivalent of a U.S. master's program course component.

    There is actually such an animal as the research bachelor's (B.Phil.), too, though it's usually reserved for people who at least have a three-year bachelor's.



    Cheers,
    [url=http://www.tomhead.net]Tom Head[/url]
    B.A. (Liberal Arts) '96 / Excelsior College (USNY/Regents)
    M.A. (Humanities) '00 / California State University, Dominguez Hills
    Ph.D. student (Philosophy of Religion/Interdisciplinary Studies) / Edith Cowan University, Australia

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