How Long Is a Dissertation? Here’s the Average Length

How Long Is A Dissertation

How long is a dissertation? This is a question that you’re likely to ask if you’ve just enrolled for a doctoral program. But, this question is not new because other students have asked it too. Perhaps, the simplest answer to this question is that a dissertation should be sufficiently long to answer the stated question satisfactorily.

How Long Is a Dissertation?

There is no single answer to the question of a doctoral dissertation length. But most dissertations are on average 100-200 pages long. Somebody can say it should be 146 pages while somebody else can say 90 pages. Another person can say it should be 200 pages. Essentially, the length of this important academic document should depend on the topic, writing style, and goals of the writer.

Universities require students to write dissertations when pursuing masters and PhD degree programs. This paper forms an invaluable part of these academic programs in reputable learning institutions. As such, most undergraduate students are worried about the length of this document because it forms an important aspect of their academic life.

There are generally practical suggestions about how long should a dissertation be. For instance, the areas that your dissertation project focuses on should influence its length. For instance, a dissertation on a history topic will most likely be longer than an average dissertation on a chemistry topic. That means your academic discipline will influence the length of your dissertation.

How Long Is a PhD Dissertation?

Most academicians say that a PhD dissertation length should not exceed 80, 000 words. Thus, your text should be near this length. This word count includes the appendices while excluding references, footnotes, and bibliography. The footnotes of a dissertation shouldn’t exceed 20% of the text.

Students are discouraged from including discursive footnotes. What’s more, they should not use footnotes to include materials that should be in their main text. Doing so would circumvent the average length of the dissertation.

The statistical tables of a dissertation are counted as around 150 words each. But, the Degree Committee can allow learners to exceed the limits after application and under exceptional situations. Therefore, students should apply for this exception early before the date they propose to submit their thesis. The Graduate Committee evaluates the application and decides whether to allow the student to alter the average dissertation length.

The committee considers the dissertation proposal, as well as, a signed statement attesting to their proposed dissertation length. If they don’t and their dissertation exceeds the average length, it will be referred back for revision before it is forwarded to the institution’s examiners.

Average Dissertation Length

Many factors should generally be considered when answering the question of how long is a PhD dissertation. However, students should limit their writing between 80,000 and 100,000 words. On average, this document should have around 204 pages. But, the average length of a PhD thesis also depends on the university and the specific subject.

Essentially, a university can set the requirements of a dissertation, including the length. Nevertheless, most institutions opt for around 100,000 words. Research has shown that STEM dissertations have a medium length of 159 pages. Non-STEM dissertations, on the other hand, have a medium length of about 223 pages. Thus, there is a significant difference in length between STEM and non-STEM dissertations.

How Long Is a Dissertation Chapter?

Another question that might be lingering in your mind is how long is a dissertation chapter? Well, this varies because each chapter is a separate section that should address something specific. If you include the right information succinctly and adequately, your final write-up should have the right length. So, how long is a doctoral dissertation in every section? Here is a rough estimate.


This section of a dissertation should tell readers why the topic is important. It should also mention relevant facts about the topic. Essentially, the introduction should tell readers why you have chosen the topic or issue and what makes it relevant. On average, the introduction should be between 10 and 15 pages. This is a perfect size because it allows you to mention everything concisely. Focus on intriguing the audience without disclosing or revealing anything in detail. Thus, your dissertation introduction should be more of a teaser.

Literature review

This is the section where you analyze relevant sources that you have chosen for your paper. It should include only sources that can be used to write the dissertation. In this section, you analyze and point out the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen sources. The literature review should be between 20 and 25 pages long.


The length of this part of a dissertation ranges from 10 to 15 pages. It focuses on the methods used to conduct the research. Here, you discuss the specific method and data-selection processes used. This section also includes ways of contacting the sample population, as well as, the gathered data. What’s more, the encountered challenges can be included.


This section of a dissertation should not exceed 10 pages. It features the list and clarification of the obtained findings. Research findings are mentioned alongside the hypotheses explicitly. For instance, you should state whether they were refuted or confirmed. This section should also include a conclusion for everything done as far as your investigation is concerned.


This is also called the discussion section. Its length should range between 15 and 20 pages. This is the section where you explain the implications of your research. Provide a current and bigger perspective regarding your research. What’s more, diversify the current evidence base regarding the topic. Also, provide recommendations while acknowledging limitations in this section.

So, how long is a dissertation chapter? Well, it boils down to factors of the topic, learning institution, and goals of the study. Each section varies in length based on the nature of the research conducted and gathered data.

But, exactly how long does a dissertation have to be? There is no clear answer to this question. However, psychology, history, communication, nursing, and management dissertation can be up to 300 pages long. Education, Environmental Health, and Political Science dissertations can be around 100 pages. Overall, this length is influenced by the nature of the conducted research and the data that must be included in the document.

How Long Should a Dissertation Proposal Be?

You’re no longer asking how long is a dissertation word count because this question has been answered. But, you probably want to know the length of its proposal. Well, there is no specific length for this document. However, it should be considered as a long, formal treatise.

Well, most faculties recommend between 15 and 20 pages. However, the length of a proposal should depend on factors like the problem to be pursued, reasons to address the problem, where the answers will come from, and why you will go for certain sources.

This document proposes the work to be done. The focus of this text should be on convincing the thesis committee of your faculty that you have a research question that’s worth pursuing. Thus, you must present a convincing document for your faculty to allow you to proceed with the dissertation writing project. So, how long should it be?

How Long Should a Dissertation Abstract Be?

Lastly, you may want to know how long the abstract section of your dissertation should be. This is a separate page of the entire document. It is a summary of the dissertation. It reports the outcomes and aims of the research. Essentially, readers should know what your document is all about by reading the abstract. As such, this section should be written at the end. It should state the research objectives, problem, methods, key results, and the conclusion.

The dissertation abstract length ranges between 150 and 300 words. But just like with the main sections of a dissertation, there is a strict limit on the number of words that can be included. Therefore, check with the journal or university for which you are writing the dissertation.

Dissertation Length Consulting: Expert Guidance

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The Bottom Line

There is no specific number of words or pages that determine the length of any dissertation. Therefore, check with your university, faculty, or journal to know the specific requirements for your dissertation in terms of length.

after completing the dissertation. However, you should have a rough draft or use the proposal’s introduction as a template because it has most of the elements that you need.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

How long is a dissertation should be?

The dissertation length, on average, is between 100 to 200 pages long. Nevertheless, a dissertation can be 146 pages or 96 pages long. The length depends on the goals of the writer, topic, and writing style.

What is the average length of the dissertation?

The length of the dissertations is from 100 to 200 pages. On average the dissertation should be at least 80 000 words. However, this depends on the scope, expertise, and knowledge in the field of study. Longer dissertation papers have more words with a relatively higher number of pages.

How long does it take to write a dissertation?

Writing a dissertation will depend on several considerations. The subject of study, such as chemistry, may take longer because of the logistics involved. On the other hand, a simple sociology dissertation may take one month.

How long is a Ph.D. dissertation have to be?

Ph.D. dissertation length does not exceed more than 80 000 words. Therefore, your paper should be within these limits. Note that these words do not include references, footnotes, and bibliography.