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How long does it take to complete your dissertation?

by Uneeb Khan
Masters dissertation


The time required to complete your dissertation depends upon your degree program, such as a Master’s or PhD. Also, the time it takes to complete your dissertation depends upon the scope of your research, research design and data collection methods. A Master’s dissertation encompasses between 15,000 to 20,000 words. In contrast, a PhD dissertation should be between 60,000 to 80,000 words. So, the word count limit also determines the time it takes to complete your dissertation. This article will tell you how long it takes to complete your dissertation.

How long does it complete your dissertation?

A master’s dissertation generally takes between three to four months to complete. In contrast, a PhD dissertation can take almost a year to complete your dissertation. You can complete your dissertation on time, given no unforeseen circumstances. The timely completion of your dissertation depends upon proper planning and an early start. Each step of the dissertation must be carefully planned, and you must allocate time for completing that particular section. Let’s walk you through the steps and give you a general idea of how long it takes to complete your dissertation.

Topic Selection

Topic selection is the most important step in dissertation writing. Many students procrastinate while selecting the topic and waste precious time. Selecting a topic is difficult since you want to select a researchable topic that matches your interests. It requires spending some time selecting the topic. But you should not spend time unnecessarily on topic selection since you have a time slot of three months to complete your dissertation. Topic selection should not take more than a week for a Master’s dissertation.

A PhD dissertation requires at least a month to finalise the topic. In the first week or month, narrow down your topics and choose the one that matches your interests. You will have to do some preliminary research on your topic. It will help you understand the context of the topic and gather the relevant sources. Make sure that you make notes while reading because it will save your time in literature review and referencing. So, in the first week or month, you will decide the topic, do some preliminary research, and make notes.

Research Problem and Questions

The second step is tricky since it requires contemplation, and you will have to formulate a research problem. A research problem is a clearly defined statement that will be the central argument of your dissertation. Your research questions will derive from your research problem. If you are doing quantitative research, you will have to state the hypothesis. Moreover, you will also have to define the independent and dependent variables. So, generally, it takes ten days to write a clear research problem and specific research questions for a Master’s dissertation. But for a PhD dissertation, it takes almost a month. Spending so much time on writing your research problem and questions is because it is the most crucial step. Your research problem and questions must be solid if you intend to complete your dissertation on time.

Literature Review

A literature review is the most important section of writing a dissertation. It requires a significant amount of time since you will have to identify the gaps in the existing literature. Moreover, you will have to relate your research problem and justify its significance in relation to the existing research. Now, at this stage, you will have hardly two months left to complete your dissertation. Generally, a comprehensive literature review takes between 10 days for a Master’s dissertation depending upon the scope of your research. Literature review for a PhD dissertation takes almost two months. A literature review is not a summary of the existing literature; you will have to engage with the discourse critically. You will have to collect the sources from different databases and understand the research context. You will have to spend considerable time reviewing the research.

Data collection

After the literature review, if you plan to do a survey, whether it is qualitative or quantitative, you will have to make a plan for data collection. Data collection is time-consuming, and collecting primary data takes a lot of time. Even if you send the questionnaires online, people take time to fill out the forms. So, you will have to do follow-ups to ensure that you collect the required data to complete your dissertation. You will need at least a month for your Master’s dissertation data collection.

On the other hand, a PhD dissertation data collection requires three months. Primary data is crucial in completing your dissertation. Therefore, it requires at least one month to collect it.

Research Methodology

Research methodology takes between two to three days for a Masters dissertation. But a PhD dissertation takes between one to two months to write the methodology part. You will have to justify the chosen research methods and describe why the chosen methodology is appropriate for your research.

Compilation of Results

Once you collect the raw data, you will have to organize it and transform it into readable formats. You can sort and summaries quantitative data using statistical tools. If you are familiar with using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences), it will take 10 to 15 days to compile and organize the data. But if you are not familiar with statistical tools, you will have to take someone’s help or either learn to use statistical tools. It can even take more time to organize the data depending upon the scope of the data. It takes a week to transcribe the data and organize it as per themes for qualitative data. A PhD dissertation’s result compilation can take one month. 

Data Analysis and Discussion

Data analysis for a Master’s dissertation requires at least ten days analyzing the data based on your research questions. You will have to write the discussion and relate the key findings to the research questions. It also requires finding patterns in the data and correlations between the variables. So, depending upon the scope of your research, you must spend at least ten days writing the analysis part. On the other hand, a PhD dissertation data analysis and discussion part can take two months to analyze data and write the discussion section. 

Conclusion, Recommendations, Proofreading and Editing

Writing the conclusion and recommendations section for a Master’s dissertation takes five to seven days. Whereas for a PhD dissertation, you will have to spend one-month writing conclusions, recommendations, proofreading and editing.


If you plan to complete your dissertation on time, you must have a timeline and an outline to follow. Writing a dissertation is a difficult task, and you might procrastinate and get frustrated in the middle. Sometimes people lose motivation when they are writing their dissertations. You must keep a healthy routine and do some physical exercises to keep your head clear.

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