A dissertation is a type of academic research, which permits students to undertake their own study and present their discoveries. Most graduates would argue that writing a dissertation is the highest point, the culmination of any higher education programme and they would be right. This task is also most challenging and complex in students’ academic careers, which requires a high degree of perseverance and dedication.

However, many students, especially those enrolled in a Master’s or PhD education programme, often experience time constraints because of family obligations and work. That is why gaining a clear understanding of how long it will take to write a dissertation can help in planning and executing this challenging yet exciting task.

writing a dissertation

Writing a research proposal and its approval

Dissertation writing starts from selecting a research topic that you feel is appropriate and interesting enough. While it might sound like a no-brainer, it can actually take a lot of time and effort to select the subject and topic. Normally, this phase should not last longer than 2-3 weeks. Getting approval from your university will also take some time, meaning you cannot start working on your dissertation until then.

Conducting your research

Having selected your dissertation topic, thorough research on this topic can be carried out. This phase of the dissertation writing process can take up to several weeks or even months, depending on how effective your search strategy is and how thoroughly you read relevant sources. Through your research, you should investigate the selected phenomenon and call attention to the shortcomings and qualities of the sources you have picked up. Normally, the research phase takes around 1-2 months.

Collecting data

Before collecting data, you need to explain how this process is organised and how exactly your study will be carried out. It is also important to justify your choices and approaches. Afterwards, you will collect relevant data, analyse it, and organise the outcomes in a way that will allow the readers of your dissertation to get an understanding of what you have discovered. This is easily the longest phase of the dissertation writing process. However, the exact length of the data collection phase varies greatly from one study to another, depending on the selected methods and approaches to research. Allocating 1-3 months to this phase should be appropriate in most cases.

Reporting and explaining your results

This phase of the dissertation writing process is often the easiest to write because you merely reporting your results, explaining what they mean and how they fit into your study, as well as the existing literature. Writing the analysis and discussion chapters is likely to take around 1-2 months.

Finalising and revisiting your dissertation

At this point, you should have the analysis findings fully explained and discussed. Finalising your dissertation draft will involve writing the conclusion chapter, as well as the introduction chapter. That is right, the introduction is often written in the end.

You should also revise your dissertation to assess the extent to which it meets the university requirements. Editing is key at this phase because it is likely that your draft has grammar and spelling mistakes, formatting and punctuation issues, and inconsistencies. On average, this process can take up to a month of your life.

Many students underestimate the significance of this process, which often results in lower marks. Moreover, your dissertation draft is more likely to be reviewed by your tutor and their feedback might not be as positive as you would expect it to be. Coupled with a lot of academic and work stress, students may feel demotivated and frustrated to incorporate the suggested changes or properly edit their work. If you do not feel like you can pull this final task off yourself, using online editing services could be your chance to improve the quality of the dissertation without spending a lot of time on editing and improving.

Dissertation defence

Once your dissertation has been completed to the standard of your university, it is time to present it to the committee members. The length of this phase is determined by your university’s policies and it often takes 1-2 months.

It is important to stress that the time needed to write a dissertation could vary significantly, depending on your academic programme, university expectations, how fast you can type, how long it will take to collect data, and many other factors. This article is more focused on students who enter a Master’s programme though it can be of use to undergraduate and PhD students as well.