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Definition of thesis

Did you know.

In high school, college, or graduate school, students often have to write a thesis on a topic in their major field of study. In many fields, a final thesis is the biggest challenge involved in getting a master's degree, and the same is true for students studying for a Ph.D. (a Ph.D. thesis is often called a dissertation ). But a thesis may also be an idea; so in the course of the paper the student may put forth several theses (notice the plural form) and attempt to prove them.

Examples of thesis in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thesis.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

in sense 3, Middle English, lowering of the voice, from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, downbeat, more important part of a foot, literally, act of laying down; in other senses, Latin, from Greek, literally, act of laying down, from tithenai to put, lay down — more at do

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a(1)

Dictionary Entries Near thesis

the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children

thesis novel

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thesis. Accessed 5 Jan. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of thesis, more from merriam-webster on thesis.

Nglish: Translation of thesis for Spanish Speakers

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a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections: He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war.

a subject for a composition or essay.

a dissertation on a particular subject in which one has done original research, as one presented by a candidate for a diploma or degree.

Music . the downward stroke in conducting; downbeat. : Compare arsis (def. 1) .

a part of a metrical foot that does not bear the ictus or stress.

(less commonly) the part of a metrical foot that bears the ictus. : Compare arsis (def. 2) .

Philosophy . See under Hegelian dialectic .

Origin of thesis

Word story for thesis, other words for thesis, words that may be confused with thesis.

  • 1. antithesis , synthesis , thesis
  • 2. dissertation , thesis

Words Nearby thesis

  • shit will hit the fan, the
  • shoe is on the other foot, the
  • short end of the stick, the
  • The show must go on
  • thesis play
  • thesis statement
  • Sketch Book, The
  • Skin of Our Teeth, The
  • sky's the limit, the

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use thesis in a sentence

“The Saudis have been proving the thesis of the film — they do in fact have an army,” said Thor Halvorssen, founder and chief executive of the nonprofit Human Rights Foundation, which funded the movie.

It’s a hypothesis that Bush pursued in her master’s thesis , and last year she began attending virtual Goth parties in a final round of field work before defending her doctoral thesis later this year.

While this partnership was planned prior to the coronavirus outbreak, co-founder Jordana Kier said the pandemic instantly proved out the expansion thesis .

They’ve had to defend that thesis for a very, very long time in front of a variety of different customers and different people.

Over the past decade, In-Q-Tel has been one of the most active investors in the commercial space sector, with a broad investment thesis that touches many aspects of the sector.

In “Back Home,” Gil also revisits the nostalgia for the South explored in his Johns Hopkins thesis , “Circle of Stone.”

At least father and son were in alignment on this central thesis : acting “gay”—bad; being thought of as gay—bad.

Her doctoral thesis , says Ramin Takloo at the University of Illinois, was simply outstanding.

Marshall McLuhan long ago argued the now accepted thesis that different mediums have different influences on thinking.

He wrote his Master's thesis  on the underrepresentation of young people in Congress.

And indeed for most young men a college thesis is but an exercise for sharpening the wits, rarely dangerous in its later effects.

It will be for the reader to determine whether the main thesis of the book has gained or lost by the new evidence.

But the word thesis , when applied to Systems, does not mean the 'position' of single notes, but of groups of notes.

This conclusion, it need hardly be said, is in entire agreement with the main thesis of the preceding pages.

Sundry outlying Indians, with ammunition to waste, took belly and knee rests and strengthened the thesis to the contrary.

British Dictionary definitions for thesis

/ ( ˈθiːsɪs ) /

a dissertation resulting from original research, esp when submitted by a candidate for a degree or diploma

a doctrine maintained or promoted in argument

a subject for a discussion or essay

an unproved statement, esp one put forward as a premise in an argument

music the downbeat of a bar, as indicated in conducting

(in classical prosody) the syllable or part of a metrical foot not receiving the ictus : Compare arsis

philosophy the first stage in the Hegelian dialectic, that is challenged by the antithesis

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for thesis

The central idea in a piece of writing, sometimes contained in a topic sentence .

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Definition of thesis noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Students must submit a thesis on an agreed subject within four years.
  • He presented this thesis for his PhD.
  • a thesis for a master's degree
  • He's doing a doctoral thesis on the early works of Shostakovich.
  • Many departments require their students to do a thesis defense.
  • She completed an MSc by thesis.
  • her thesis adviser at MIT
  • in a/​the thesis
  • thesis about

Questions about grammar and vocabulary?

Find the answers with Practical English Usage online, your indispensable guide to problems in English.

  • The basic thesis of the book is fairly simple.
  • These latest findings support the thesis that sexuality is determined by nature rather than choice.
  • formulate/​advance a theory/​hypothesis
  • build/​construct/​create/​develop a simple/​theoretical/​mathematical model
  • develop/​establish/​provide/​use a theoretical/​conceptual framework
  • advance/​argue/​develop the thesis that…
  • explore an idea/​a concept/​a hypothesis
  • make a prediction/​an inference
  • base a prediction/​your calculations on something
  • investigate/​evaluate/​accept/​challenge/​reject a theory/​hypothesis/​model
  • design an experiment/​a questionnaire/​a study/​a test
  • do research/​an experiment/​an analysis
  • make observations/​measurements/​calculations
  • carry out/​conduct/​perform an experiment/​a test/​a longitudinal study/​observations/​clinical trials
  • run an experiment/​a simulation/​clinical trials
  • repeat an experiment/​a test/​an analysis
  • replicate a study/​the results/​the findings
  • observe/​study/​examine/​investigate/​assess a pattern/​a process/​a behaviour
  • fund/​support the research/​project/​study
  • seek/​provide/​get/​secure funding for research
  • collect/​gather/​extract data/​information
  • yield data/​evidence/​similar findings/​the same results
  • analyse/​examine the data/​soil samples/​a specimen
  • consider/​compare/​interpret the results/​findings
  • fit the data/​model
  • confirm/​support/​verify a prediction/​a hypothesis/​the results/​the findings
  • prove a conjecture/​hypothesis/​theorem
  • draw/​make/​reach the same conclusions
  • read/​review the records/​literature
  • describe/​report an experiment/​a study
  • present/​publish/​summarize the results/​findings
  • present/​publish/​read/​review/​cite a paper in a scientific journal
  • The results of the experiment support his central thesis.
  • Most people rejected this thesis at the time because it presumed evolution rather than creation.
  • fundamental

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definition d thesis

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Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim. A strong thesis is arguable, which means a thoughtful reader could disagree with it and therefore needs your careful analysis of the evidence to understand how you arrived at this claim. You arrive at your thesis by examining and analyzing the evidence available to you, which might be text or other types of source material.

A thesis will generally respond to an analytical question or pose a solution to a problem that you have framed for your readers (and for yourself). When you frame that question or problem for your readers, you are telling them what is at stake in your argument—why your question matters and why they should care about the answer . If you can explain to your readers why a question or problem is worth addressing, then they will understand why it’s worth reading an essay that develops your thesis—and you will understand why it’s worth writing that essay.

A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive , and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves. If your thesis is too narrow, you won’t be able to explore your topic in enough depth to say something interesting about it. If your thesis is too broad, you may not be able to support it with evidence from the available sources.

When you are writing an essay for a course assignment, you should make sure you understand what type of claim you are being asked to make. Many of your assignments will be asking you to make analytical claims , which are based on interpretation of facts, data, or sources.

Some of your assignments may ask you to make normative claims. Normative claims are claims of value or evaluation rather than fact—claims about how things should be rather than how they are. A normative claim makes the case for the importance of something, the action that should be taken, or the way the world should be. When you are asked to write a policy memo, a proposal, or an essay based on your own opinion, you will be making normative claims.

Here are some examples of possible thesis statements for a student's analysis of the article “The Case Against Perfection” by Professor Michael Sandel.  

Descriptive thesis (not arguable)  

While Sandel argues that pursuing perfection through genetic engineering would decrease our sense of humility, he claims that the sense of solidarity we would lose is also important.

This thesis summarizes several points in Sandel’s argument, but it does not make a claim about how we should understand his argument. A reader who read Sandel’s argument would not also need to read an essay based on this descriptive thesis.  

Broad thesis (arguable, but difficult to support with evidence)  

Michael Sandel’s arguments about genetic engineering do not take into consideration all the relevant issues.

This is an arguable claim because it would be possible to argue against it by saying that Michael Sandel’s arguments do take all of the relevant issues into consideration. But the claim is too broad. Because the thesis does not specify which “issues” it is focused on—or why it matters if they are considered—readers won’t know what the rest of the essay will argue, and the writer won’t know what to focus on. If there is a particular issue that Sandel does not address, then a more specific version of the thesis would include that issue—hand an explanation of why it is important.  

Arguable thesis with analytical claim  

While Sandel argues persuasively that our instinct to “remake” (54) ourselves into something ever more perfect is a problem, his belief that we can always draw a line between what is medically necessary and what makes us simply “better than well” (51) is less convincing.

This is an arguable analytical claim. To argue for this claim, the essay writer will need to show how evidence from the article itself points to this interpretation. It’s also a reasonable scope for a thesis because it can be supported with evidence available in the text and is neither too broad nor too narrow.  

Arguable thesis with normative claim  

Given Sandel’s argument against genetic enhancement, we should not allow parents to decide on using Human Growth Hormone for their children.

This thesis tells us what we should do about a particular issue discussed in Sandel’s article, but it does not tell us how we should understand Sandel’s argument.  

Questions to ask about your thesis  

  • Is the thesis truly arguable? Does it speak to a genuine dilemma in the source, or would most readers automatically agree with it?  
  • Is the thesis too obvious? Again, would most or all readers agree with it without needing to see your argument?  
  • Is the thesis complex enough to require a whole essay's worth of argument?  
  • Is the thesis supportable with evidence from the text rather than with generalizations or outside research?  
  • Would anyone want to read a paper in which this thesis was developed? That is, can you explain what this paper is adding to our understanding of a problem, question, or topic?
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Definition of 'thesis'

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thesis in American English

Thesis in british english, examples of 'thesis' in a sentence thesis, related word partners thesis, trends of thesis.

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In other languages thesis

  • American English : thesis / ˈθisɪs /
  • Brazilian Portuguese : tese
  • Chinese : 论点
  • European Spanish : tesis
  • French : thèse
  • German : These
  • Italian : tesi
  • Japanese : 主張
  • Korean : 논지
  • European Portuguese : tese
  • Spanish : tesis
  • Thai : ข้อสมมุติ, ข้อวินิจฉัย

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How to Write a Better Thesis pp 1–7 Cite as

What Is a Thesis?

  • David Evans† 4 ,
  • Paul Gruba 5 &
  • Justin Zobel 6  
  • First Online: 01 January 2014

23k Accesses

Simply defined, a thesis is an extended argument. To pass, a thesis must demonstrate logical, structured, and defensible reasoning based on credible and verifiable evidence presented in such a way that it makes an original contribution to knowledge, as judged by experts in the field. Among the many types of scholarly productions, theses are an oddity: each one is different, and there are no standard or generic constructions. Most of those who supervise theses have written just one, and, despite the effort they take to produce, the only people who carefully read a given thesis are the project supervisors, the examiners, and an otherwise rather select audience of specialized academics.

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University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia

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Evans†, D., Gruba, P., Zobel, J. (2014). What Is a Thesis?. In: How to Write a Better Thesis. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-04286-2_1

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Developing a Thesis Statement

Many papers you write require developing a thesis statement. In this section you’ll learn what a thesis statement is and how to write one.

Keep in mind that not all papers require thesis statements . If in doubt, please consult your instructor for assistance.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement . . .

  • Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic.
  • Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper.
  • Is focused and specific enough to be “proven” within the boundaries of your paper.
  • Is generally located near the end of the introduction ; sometimes, in a long paper, the thesis will be expressed in several sentences or in an entire paragraph.
  • Identifies the relationships between the pieces of evidence that you are using to support your argument.

Not all papers require thesis statements! Ask your instructor if you’re in doubt whether you need one.

Identify a topic

Your topic is the subject about which you will write. Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic; or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper.

Consider what your assignment asks you to do

Inform yourself about your topic, focus on one aspect of your topic, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts, generate a topic from an assignment.

Below are some possible topics based on sample assignments.

Sample assignment 1

Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II.

Identified topic

Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis

This topic avoids generalities such as “Spain” and “World War II,” addressing instead on Franco’s role (a specific aspect of “Spain”) and the diplomatic relations between the Allies and Axis (a specific aspect of World War II).

Sample assignment 2

Analyze one of Homer’s epic similes in the Iliad.

The relationship between the portrayal of warfare and the epic simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64.

This topic focuses on a single simile and relates it to a single aspect of the Iliad ( warfare being a major theme in that work).

Developing a Thesis Statement–Additional information

Your assignment may suggest several ways of looking at a topic, or it may name a fairly general concept that you will explore or analyze in your paper. You’ll want to read your assignment carefully, looking for key terms that you can use to focus your topic.

Sample assignment: Analyze Spain’s neutrality in World War II Key terms: analyze, Spain’s neutrality, World War II

After you’ve identified the key words in your topic, the next step is to read about them in several sources, or generate as much information as possible through an analysis of your topic. Obviously, the more material or knowledge you have, the more possibilities will be available for a strong argument. For the sample assignment above, you’ll want to look at books and articles on World War II in general, and Spain’s neutrality in particular.

As you consider your options, you must decide to focus on one aspect of your topic. This means that you cannot include everything you’ve learned about your topic, nor should you go off in several directions. If you end up covering too many different aspects of a topic, your paper will sprawl and be unconvincing in its argument, and it most likely will not fulfull the assignment requirements.

For the sample assignment above, both Spain’s neutrality and World War II are topics far too broad to explore in a paper. You may instead decide to focus on Franco’s role in the diplomatic relationships between the Allies and the Axis , which narrows down what aspects of Spain’s neutrality and World War II you want to discuss, as well as establishes a specific link between those two aspects.

Before you go too far, however, ask yourself whether your topic is worthy of your efforts. Try to avoid topics that already have too much written about them (i.e., “eating disorders and body image among adolescent women”) or that simply are not important (i.e. “why I like ice cream”). These topics may lead to a thesis that is either dry fact or a weird claim that cannot be supported. A good thesis falls somewhere between the two extremes. To arrive at this point, ask yourself what is new, interesting, contestable, or controversial about your topic.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times . Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Derive a main point from topic

Once you have a topic, you will have to decide what the main point of your paper will be. This point, the “controlling idea,” becomes the core of your argument (thesis statement) and it is the unifying idea to which you will relate all your sub-theses. You can then turn this “controlling idea” into a purpose statement about what you intend to do in your paper.

Look for patterns in your evidence

Compose a purpose statement.

Consult the examples below for suggestions on how to look for patterns in your evidence and construct a purpose statement.

  • Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis
  • Franco turned to the Allies when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from the Axis

Possible conclusion:

Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: Franco’s desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power.

Purpose statement

This paper will analyze Franco’s diplomacy during World War II to see how it contributed to Spain’s neutrality.
  • The simile compares Simoisius to a tree, which is a peaceful, natural image.
  • The tree in the simile is chopped down to make wheels for a chariot, which is an object used in warfare.

At first, the simile seems to take the reader away from the world of warfare, but we end up back in that world by the end.

This paper will analyze the way the simile about Simoisius at 4.547-64 moves in and out of the world of warfare.

Derive purpose statement from topic

To find out what your “controlling idea” is, you have to examine and evaluate your evidence . As you consider your evidence, you may notice patterns emerging, data repeated in more than one source, or facts that favor one view more than another. These patterns or data may then lead you to some conclusions about your topic and suggest that you can successfully argue for one idea better than another.

For instance, you might find out that Franco first tried to negotiate with the Axis, but when he couldn’t get some concessions that he wanted from them, he turned to the Allies. As you read more about Franco’s decisions, you may conclude that Spain’s neutrality in WWII occurred for an entirely personal reason: his desire to preserve his own (and Spain’s) power. Based on this conclusion, you can then write a trial thesis statement to help you decide what material belongs in your paper.

Sometimes you won’t be able to find a focus or identify your “spin” or specific argument immediately. Like some writers, you might begin with a purpose statement just to get yourself going. A purpose statement is one or more sentences that announce your topic and indicate the structure of the paper but do not state the conclusions you have drawn . Thus, you might begin with something like this:

  • This paper will look at modern language to see if it reflects male dominance or female oppression.
  • I plan to analyze anger and derision in offensive language to see if they represent a challenge of society’s authority.

At some point, you can turn a purpose statement into a thesis statement. As you think and write about your topic, you can restrict, clarify, and refine your argument, crafting your thesis statement to reflect your thinking.

As you work on your thesis, remember to keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Sometimes your thesis needs to evolve as you develop new insights, find new evidence, or take a different approach to your topic.

Compose a draft thesis statement

If you are writing a paper that will have an argumentative thesis and are having trouble getting started, the techniques in the table below may help you develop a temporary or “working” thesis statement.

Begin with a purpose statement that you will later turn into a thesis statement.

Assignment: Discuss the history of the Reform Party and explain its influence on the 1990 presidential and Congressional election.

Purpose Statement: This paper briefly sketches the history of the grassroots, conservative, Perot-led Reform Party and analyzes how it influenced the economic and social ideologies of the two mainstream parties.

Question-to-Assertion

If your assignment asks a specific question(s), turn the question(s) into an assertion and give reasons why it is true or reasons for your opinion.

Assignment : What do Aylmer and Rappaccini have to be proud of? Why aren’t they satisfied with these things? How does pride, as demonstrated in “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” lead to unexpected problems?

Beginning thesis statement: Alymer and Rappaccinni are proud of their great knowledge; however, they are also very greedy and are driven to use their knowledge to alter some aspect of nature as a test of their ability. Evil results when they try to “play God.”

Write a sentence that summarizes the main idea of the essay you plan to write.

Main idea: The reason some toys succeed in the market is that they appeal to the consumers’ sense of the ridiculous and their basic desire to laugh at themselves.

Make a list of the ideas that you want to include; consider the ideas and try to group them.

  • nature = peaceful
  • war matériel = violent (competes with 1?)
  • need for time and space to mourn the dead
  • war is inescapable (competes with 3?)

Use a formula to arrive at a working thesis statement (you will revise this later).

  • although most readers of _______ have argued that _______, closer examination shows that _______.
  • _______ uses _______ and _____ to prove that ________.
  • phenomenon x is a result of the combination of __________, __________, and _________.

What to keep in mind as you draft an initial thesis statement

Beginning statements obtained through the methods illustrated above can serve as a framework for planning or drafting your paper, but remember they’re not yet the specific, argumentative thesis you want for the final version of your paper. In fact, in its first stages, a thesis statement usually is ill-formed or rough and serves only as a planning tool.

As you write, you may discover evidence that does not fit your temporary or “working” thesis. Or you may reach deeper insights about your topic as you do more research, and you will find that your thesis statement has to be more complicated to match the evidence that you want to use.

You must be willing to reject or omit some evidence in order to keep your paper cohesive and your reader focused. Or you may have to revise your thesis to match the evidence and insights that you want to discuss. Read your draft carefully, noting the conclusions you have drawn and the major ideas which support or prove those conclusions. These will be the elements of your final thesis statement.

Sometimes you will not be able to identify these elements in your early drafts, but as you consider how your argument is developing and how your evidence supports your main idea, ask yourself, “ What is the main point that I want to prove/discuss? ” and “ How will I convince the reader that this is true? ” When you can answer these questions, then you can begin to refine the thesis statement.

Refine and polish the thesis statement

To get to your final thesis, you’ll need to refine your draft thesis so that it’s specific and arguable.

  • Ask if your draft thesis addresses the assignment
  • Question each part of your draft thesis
  • Clarify vague phrases and assertions
  • Investigate alternatives to your draft thesis

Consult the example below for suggestions on how to refine your draft thesis statement.

Sample Assignment

Choose an activity and define it as a symbol of American culture. Your essay should cause the reader to think critically about the society which produces and enjoys that activity.

  • Ask The phenomenon of drive-in facilities is an interesting symbol of american culture, and these facilities demonstrate significant characteristics of our society.This statement does not fulfill the assignment because it does not require the reader to think critically about society.
Drive-ins are an interesting symbol of American culture because they represent Americans’ significant creativity and business ingenuity.
Among the types of drive-in facilities familiar during the twentieth century, drive-in movie theaters best represent American creativity, not merely because they were the forerunner of later drive-ins and drive-throughs, but because of their impact on our culture: they changed our relationship to the automobile, changed the way people experienced movies, and changed movie-going into a family activity.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast-food establishments, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize America’s economic ingenuity, they also have affected our personal standards.
While drive-in facilities such as those at fast- food restaurants, banks, pharmacies, and dry cleaners symbolize (1) Americans’ business ingenuity, they also have contributed (2) to an increasing homogenization of our culture, (3) a willingness to depersonalize relationships with others, and (4) a tendency to sacrifice quality for convenience.

This statement is now specific and fulfills all parts of the assignment. This version, like any good thesis, is not self-evident; its points, 1-4, will have to be proven with evidence in the body of the paper. The numbers in this statement indicate the order in which the points will be presented. Depending on the length of the paper, there could be one paragraph for each numbered item or there could be blocks of paragraph for even pages for each one.

Complete the final thesis statement

The bottom line.

As you move through the process of crafting a thesis, you’ll need to remember four things:

  • Context matters! Think about your course materials and lectures. Try to relate your thesis to the ideas your instructor is discussing.
  • As you go through the process described in this section, always keep your assignment in mind . You will be more successful when your thesis (and paper) responds to the assignment than if it argues a semi-related idea.
  • Your thesis statement should be precise, focused, and contestable ; it should predict the sub-theses or blocks of information that you will use to prove your argument.
  • Make sure that you keep the rest of your paper in mind at all times. Change your thesis as your paper evolves, because you do not want your thesis to promise more than your paper actually delivers.

In the beginning, the thesis statement was a tool to help you sharpen your focus, limit material and establish the paper’s purpose. When your paper is finished, however, the thesis statement becomes a tool for your reader. It tells the reader what you have learned about your topic and what evidence led you to your conclusion. It keeps the reader on track–well able to understand and appreciate your argument.

definition d thesis

Writing Process and Structure

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Getting Started with Your Paper

Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses

Generating Ideas for

Creating an Argument

Thesis vs. Purpose Statements

Architecture of Arguments

Working with Sources

Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources

Using Literary Quotations

Citing Sources in Your Paper

Drafting Your Paper

Generating Ideas for Your Paper

Introductions

Paragraphing

Developing Strategic Transitions

Conclusions

Revising Your Paper

Peer Reviews

Reverse Outlines

Revising an Argumentative Paper

Revision Strategies for Longer Projects

Finishing Your Paper

Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist

How to Proofread your Paper

Writing Collaboratively

Collaborative and Group Writing

Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
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A thesis ( THEE-ses ) is the main (or controlling) idea of an essay , report , speech , or research paper , sometimes written as a single declarative sentence known as a thesis statement . A thesis may be implied rather than stated directly. Plural: theses . It's also known as a thesis statement, thesis sentence, controlling idea.

In the classical rhetorical exercises known as the  progymnasmata , the  thesis is an exercise that requires a student to argue a case for one side or the other.

Etymology From the Greek, "to put"

Examples and Observations (Definition #1)

  • "My thesis is simple: in the next century mankind must harness the nuclear genie if our energy needs are to be met and our security preserved." (John B. Ritch, "Nuclear Green," Prospect Magazine , March 1999)
  • "We watch baseball: it's what we have always imagined life should be like. We play softball. It's sloppy--the way life really is." (from the introduction to Watching Baseball, Playing Softball)
  • "Through Mansfield's skillful handling of point of view, characterization, and plot development, Miss Brill comes across as a convincing character who evokes our sympathy." (thesis statement in Miss Brill's Fragile Fantasy )
  • "Suppose there were no critics to tell us how to react to a picture, a play, or a new composition of music. Suppose we wandered innocent as the dawn into an art exhibition of unsigned paintings. By what standards, by what values would we decide whether they were good or bad, talented or untalented, success or failures? How can we ever know that what we think is right?" (Marya Mannes, "How Do You Know It's Good?")
  • "I think people are disturbed by the discovery that no longer is a small town autonomous--it is a creature of the state and of the Federal Government. We have accepted money for our schools, our libraries, our hospitals, our winter roads. Now we face the inevitable consequence: the benefactor wants to call the turns." (E.B. White, "Letter from the East")
  • "It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost." (Gore Vidal, "Drugs")
  • The Two Parts of an Effective Thesis "An effective thesis is generally composed of two parts: a topic and the writer's attitude or opinion about or reaction to that topic." (William J. Kelly, Strategy and Structure . Allyn and Bacon, 1996)
  • Drafting and Revising a Thesis "It's a good idea to formulate a thesis early in the writing process , perhaps by jotting it on scratch paper, by putting it at the head of a rough outline , or by attempting to write an introductory paragraph that includes the thesis. Your tentative thesis will probably be less graceful than the thesis you include in the final version of your essay. Here, for example, is one student's early effort: Although they both play percussion instruments, drummers and percussionists are very different. The thesis that appeared in the final draft of the student's paper was more polished: Two types of musicians play percussion instruments--drummers and percussionists--and they are as different as Quiet Riot and the New York Philharmonic. Don't worry too soon about the exact wording of your thesis, however, because your main point may change as you refine your ideas." (Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook , 6th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002)
  • A Good Thesis - "A good thesis tells the audience exactly what you want them to know, understand, and remember when your speech is done. Write it as a simple, declarative sentence (or two) that restates the speech purpose and states the main points that support the purpose. Although you may formulate a thesis statement early in the speech development process, you may revise and reword it as you research your topic.' (Sherwyn P. Morreale, Brian H. Spitzberg, and J. Kevin Barge, Human Communication: Motivation, Knowledge, and Skills , 2nd ed. Thomson Higher Education, 2007) - "An effective thesis statement singles out some aspect of a subject for attention and clearly defines your approach to it." (David Blakesley and Jeffrey L. Hoogeveen, Writing: A Manual for the Digital Age . Wadsworth, 2011)

Examples and Observations (Definition #2)

" Thesis . This advanced exercise [one of the progymnasmata] asks the student to write an answer to a 'general question' ( quaestio infina )--that is, a question not involving individuals. . . . Quintilian . . . notes that a general question can be made into a persuasive subject if names are added (II.4.25). That is, a Thesis would pose a general question such as 'Should a man marry?' or 'Should one fortify a city?' (A Special Question on the other hand would be 'Should Marcus marry Livia?' or 'Should Athens spend money to build a defensive wall?')" (James J. Murphy, A Short History of Writing Instruction: From Ancient Greece to Modern America , 2nd ed. Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001)

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Thesis Definition

The thesis is one of the most important concepts in college expository writing. A thesis sentence focuses your ideas for the paper; it's your argument or insight or viewpoint crystallized into a single sentence that gives the reader your main idea. It's not only useful for the reading audience to understand the purpose of the essay; this purpose is also useful for you as a writer, as it indicates the type of support that will follow in the paper and may indicate a logical structure or order for that support. Thus, you need to have a good grasp of the concept of thesis in order to proceed.

The thesis identifies two basics:

  • what your ideas are about, and
  • what your ideas are (i.e. what you will be trying to prove).

There are two parts to a thesis sentence that reflect these basics.

  • The topic in the thesis tells what you are writing about.
  • The angle in the thesis tells what your ideas are about the topic (again, what you are trying to prove).

For example:

  • All successful college students have certain basic characteristics. [The main topic is about college students, while the idea or angle about the topic is that successful students share certain characteristics. The thesis indicates the type of support needed--discussion of those characteristics that contribute to college success.]
  • For most adult students returning to college, the problems that they face along the way are outweighed by their achievements. [The main topic is about adult college students, while the idea or angle about the topic is that problems are outweighed by achievements. The thesis indicates the type of support needed and the order of that support--an explanation of the problems first and then an explanation of achievements second.]
  • Adult students returning to college make up a higher percentage of entering students than they did twenty years ago because of a number of statistical, economic, and social reasons. [The main topic is about adult students returning to college, while the idea or angle about the topic is that there are reasons for the higher percentage of adults returning to college. The thesis indicates the type of support needed and the order of that support--an explanation of the statistical reasons first, economic reasons second, and social reasons third.]

Do you understand the basic topic and angle concept? If so, then there are a few more things to consider about the thesis. (And if not, now's the time to start asking a learning coach for assistance, so Email [email protected] ). It's important to investigate additional thesis characteristics at this point to make sure that you'll be creating a working thesis sentence that is workable and appropriate for college essays.  In addition to knowing what a thesis is, you need to know what a thesis is not. A thesis sentence's angle should NOT be:

  • Too broad. For example, the following thesis really doesn't pinpoint a specific insight about the topic:  Adult students returning to college have a hard time. In what ways do adult students have a hard time? You'd need to identify a more specific insight in this angle.
  • Too narrow a statement of fact. For example, the following thesis really cannot be developed into a full essay because the angle doesn't contain the writer's own thoughts or insights about the subject:  Adult students returning to college read an average of 7.5 books per term. A reader may respond by saying, "So what?" A narrow statement of fact does not contain your own personal analysis, argument, or interpretation of the topic--that all-important angle which a thesis must have.
  • An announcement. For example, the following really is not a thesis at all because it lacks an angle that gives the writer's own insight into the topic: My topic is the adult student returning to college. Again, "So what?" What's the reader's idea here?

Once you create a working thesis, you should assess it to make sure that it fulfills thesis characteristics.  Make sure it has a clear topic (indication of what the thesis is about) and angle (what your own ideas are about the topic, i.e. what you are trying to prove). Make sure that the angle is not too broad, too narrow, a statement of fact, or an announcement. Work with the angle to make it indicate the order of your support, if you choose to do that for yourself or for your reading audience. And realize that the thesis is a working thesis until you finalize the essay (it's okay to revise the thesis as you go along, just as long as you retain important thesis characteristics.)

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thesis Statements

What this handout is about.

This handout describes what a thesis statement is, how thesis statements work in your writing, and how you can craft or refine one for your draft.

Introduction

Writing in college often takes the form of persuasion—convincing others that you have an interesting, logical point of view on the subject you are studying. Persuasion is a skill you practice regularly in your daily life. You persuade your roommate to clean up, your parents to let you borrow the car, your friend to vote for your favorite candidate or policy. In college, course assignments often ask you to make a persuasive case in writing. You are asked to convince your reader of your point of view. This form of persuasion, often called academic argument, follows a predictable pattern in writing. After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic directly and often in one sentence. This sentence is the thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make in the rest of your paper.

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement:

  • tells the reader how you will interpret the significance of the subject matter under discussion.
  • is a road map for the paper; in other words, it tells the reader what to expect from the rest of the paper.
  • directly answers the question asked of you. A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel.
  • makes a claim that others might dispute.
  • is usually a single sentence near the beginning of your paper (most often, at the end of the first paragraph) that presents your argument to the reader. The rest of the paper, the body of the essay, gathers and organizes evidence that will persuade the reader of the logic of your interpretation.

If your assignment asks you to take a position or develop a claim about a subject, you may need to convey that position or claim in a thesis statement near the beginning of your draft. The assignment may not explicitly state that you need a thesis statement because your instructor may assume you will include one. When in doubt, ask your instructor if the assignment requires a thesis statement. When an assignment asks you to analyze, to interpret, to compare and contrast, to demonstrate cause and effect, or to take a stand on an issue, it is likely that you are being asked to develop a thesis and to support it persuasively. (Check out our handout on understanding assignments for more information.)

How do I create a thesis?

A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. Formulating a thesis is not the first thing you do after reading an essay assignment. Before you develop an argument on any topic, you have to collect and organize evidence, look for possible relationships between known facts (such as surprising contrasts or similarities), and think about the significance of these relationships. Once you do this thinking, you will probably have a “working thesis” that presents a basic or main idea and an argument that you think you can support with evidence. Both the argument and your thesis are likely to need adjustment along the way.

Writers use all kinds of techniques to stimulate their thinking and to help them clarify relationships or comprehend the broader significance of a topic and arrive at a thesis statement. For more ideas on how to get started, see our handout on brainstorming .

How do I know if my thesis is strong?

If there’s time, run it by your instructor or make an appointment at the Writing Center to get some feedback. Even if you do not have time to get advice elsewhere, you can do some thesis evaluation of your own. When reviewing your first draft and its working thesis, ask yourself the following :

  • Do I answer the question? Re-reading the question prompt after constructing a working thesis can help you fix an argument that misses the focus of the question. If the prompt isn’t phrased as a question, try to rephrase it. For example, “Discuss the effect of X on Y” can be rephrased as “What is the effect of X on Y?”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? If your thesis simply states facts that no one would, or even could, disagree with, it’s possible that you are simply providing a summary, rather than making an argument.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? Thesis statements that are too vague often do not have a strong argument. If your thesis contains words like “good” or “successful,” see if you could be more specific: why is something “good”; what specifically makes something “successful”?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? If a reader’s first response is likely to  be “So what?” then you need to clarify, to forge a relationship, or to connect to a larger issue.
  • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? If your thesis and the body of your essay do not seem to go together, one of them has to change. It’s okay to change your working thesis to reflect things you have figured out in the course of writing your paper. Remember, always reassess and revise your writing as necessary.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? If a reader’s first response is “how?” or “why?” your thesis may be too open-ended and lack guidance for the reader. See what you can add to give the reader a better take on your position right from the beginning.

Suppose you are taking a course on contemporary communication, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: “Discuss the impact of social media on public awareness.” Looking back at your notes, you might start with this working thesis:

Social media impacts public awareness in both positive and negative ways.

You can use the questions above to help you revise this general statement into a stronger thesis.

  • Do I answer the question? You can analyze this if you rephrase “discuss the impact” as “what is the impact?” This way, you can see that you’ve answered the question only very generally with the vague “positive and negative ways.”
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not likely. Only people who maintain that social media has a solely positive or solely negative impact could disagree.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? No. What are the positive effects? What are the negative effects?
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? No. Why are they positive? How are they positive? What are their causes? Why are they negative? How are they negative? What are their causes?
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? No. Why should anyone care about the positive and/or negative impact of social media?

After thinking about your answers to these questions, you decide to focus on the one impact you feel strongly about and have strong evidence for:

Because not every voice on social media is reliable, people have become much more critical consumers of information, and thus, more informed voters.

This version is a much stronger thesis! It answers the question, takes a specific position that others can challenge, and it gives a sense of why it matters.

Let’s try another. Suppose your literature professor hands out the following assignment in a class on the American novel: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. “This will be easy,” you think. “I loved Huckleberry Finn!” You grab a pad of paper and write:

Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel.

You begin to analyze your thesis:

  • Do I answer the question? No. The prompt asks you to analyze some aspect of the novel. Your working thesis is a statement of general appreciation for the entire novel.

Think about aspects of the novel that are important to its structure or meaning—for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write:

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
  • Do I answer the question? Yes!
  • Have I taken a position that others might challenge or oppose? Not really. This contrast is well-known and accepted.
  • Is my thesis statement specific enough? It’s getting there–you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal.
  • Does my thesis pass the “how and why?” test? Not yet. Compare scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions and anything else that seems interesting.
  • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?”

After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write:

Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature.

This final thesis statement presents an interpretation of a literary work based on an analysis of its content. Of course, for the essay itself to be successful, you must now present evidence from the novel that will convince the reader of your interpretation.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Anson, Chris M., and Robert A. Schwegler. 2010. The Longman Handbook for Writers and Readers , 6th ed. New York: Longman.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. 2018. The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing , 8th ed. New York: Pearson.

Ruszkiewicz, John J., Christy Friend, Daniel Seward, and Maxine Hairston. 2010. The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers , 9th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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definition d thesis

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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definition d thesis

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

  • Ad hominem fallacy
  • Post hoc fallacy
  • Appeal to authority fallacy
  • False cause fallacy
  • Sunk cost fallacy

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

Home » The Writer’s Dictionary » What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

Thesis definition: A thesis is a statement in which the writer conveys his position regarding a topic.

What is a Thesis?

A thesis statement refers to part of an essay where the writer establishes his position regarding a topic. This is the position that the writer will further explore throughout his paper.

Example of Thesis

  • Topic : religious freedom.
  • Thesis : All citizens of the United States should be allowed to exercise the religion of their choice freely without interference from government.
  • Explanation : In this thesis statement, the writer has taken the position that all citizens should be free to worship and practice their religion as they see fit. The government should not pressure citizens into any religion, and it should not persecute members of any faith community.

The Importance of a Thesis Statement

Thesis statements are important in order to establish the writer’s position regarding a topic or idea. They help to introduce the essay and set a focus for the reader.

Narrative thesis statements are found in narrative essays or in literature. They set the scene for the lesson that will be explored or taught through the piece.

Famous opening lines that exemplify a narrative thesis:

  • The following narrative thesis is found in A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The Function of Thesis in Literature

Narrative thesis statements are important in literature in order to establish the purpose for the work or introduce the lesson that the novel will attempt to teach. This allows the reader to have a focus when beginning the novel in order to effectively engage them into the story.

Examples of Theses in Literature

In the memoir, I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai, a thesis statement can be found in the beginning pages of her story.

  • “One year ago I left my home for school and never returned. I was shot by a Taliban bullet and was flown out of Pakistan unconscious. Some people say I will never return home, but I believe firmly in my heart that I will. To be torn from the country that you love is not something to wish on anyone.”

In this thesis statement, Yousafzai establishes the basis of her memoir, which is to tell the story of how she was forced to leave her home.

In Vladmir Nabokov’s Lolita , a thesis can be seen in the line, “Lolita, light of my life, the fire of my loins”.

Here the narrator establishes the identity of the young nymph that he is unhealthily obsessed with in the story. Lolita is a young child while he is a grown man; therefore, this statement creates the uneasy feeling about him that continues throughout the novel.

Summary: What Are Theses?

Define thesis in literature: In summation, a thesis statement establishes a purpose in the piece of writing. It may establish the lesson or story to be told, or in an essay it may establish the position the writer assumes when exploring a topic.

Either way, it is important for the thesis to be clear in order to effectively convey the writer’s message.

Final Example:

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” the thesis statement can be found in the first line of the short story. Montresor immediately states his purpose, “the thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge.”

In this statement, Montresor states that he will be seeking revenge after being treated wrongly by Fortunato. By beginning the story with the narrative thesis establishes the purpose for the remainder of the piece.

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Everything You Need to Know About Thesis Statement

Deeptanshu D

Table of Contents

Thesis-Statement

Persuasion is a skill that every human leverages to achieve their goals. For example, you persuade your friends to join you on some trip, your parents to purchase you an automobile, and your committee or audience to provide you approval for your research proposal.

Likewise, every scholarly task is aimed to persuade your readers or audience for certain goals. And the end goal is to incline the readers towards your perspective (facts and evidence-based). So, the act of convincing readers of your viewpoints via research work is often termed academic argument, and it follows a predetermined pattern of guidelines-based writing. After providing a comprehensive introduction to the research topic, you are supposed to state your perspective on the topic in a sentence or two, known as Thesis Statement . It summarizes the argument you will make throughout the paper.

Also, the Thesis Statement often serves as an answer to your research question. Thus, the thesis statement is a must for every research paper and scholarly work.

What is Thesis Statement?

what-is-thesis-statement

A Thesis Statement:

  • Describes how you interpret the subject matter's cause, significance, and results.
  • Is a guideline for the paper. In other words, it provides an understanding of the research topic.
  • Directly answers the question you are asked. The thesis is not the question itself but an interpretation of it. For example, a thesis can be about World War II, and it should also provide a way to understand the war.
  • Claims that other people might disagree with.
  • Is a single sentence at the beginning of your paper or near the end of the first para (where you present your argument to the reader). The body of the essay is the rest of the paper. It gathers and organizes evidence to support your argument.

A thesis statement should be concise and easily understandable. Use it as a magnet to attract your readers to keep them reading your paper till the end.

What is the purpose or the goal of the thesis statement?

The real purpose of the thesis statement is:

  • To establish a gateway through which your readers can make an entrance into your research paper.
  • To bring the entire research paper together to an epicenter of various arguments provided throughout the paper.

Simply put, the goal of writing a strong thesis statement is to make your research paper appear interesting enough for the readers to understand it and prove your arguments right completely.

Additionally, the goal of the thesis statement varies from the kind of research you are presenting. If your thesis provides some claims, justifications, or study, you should present an argumentative thesis statement . However, if your thesis is based on analysis, interpretation, demonstration of cause and effect, comparisons, and contrast, you should develop a persuasive thesis statement.

What is the length of an Ideal Thesis Statement?

You should write your thesis statement in 1-2 sentences. Ideally, it should not be more than 50 words in total.

Also, you should try inserting the thesis statement at the end of the topic introduction or just before the background information.

While writing your thesis statement, be mindful that a thesis statement is never meant to be factual. Your thesis statement is one of the most important elements of your thesis that will help your audience understand what you discuss throughout your paper. So, ensure that your thesis statement must appear like an arguable statement, not a factual one.

Many early researchers or young scholars choose to write factual statements as thesis statements as they are easy to prove. However, resorting to factual statements instead of arguable ones will overshadow your analytical and critical thinking skills, which readers anticipate in your paper.

How to Start a Thesis Statement?

how-to-start-a-thesis-statement

The thesis statement is an outline of your research topic in one sentence. Therefore, you must write it in a concise and catchy style. So, here are a few quick tips that help you understand how to start a thesis statement for a research paper:

Discover Your Research Question

Once the subject matter is finalized for writing a research paper, the next requirement is to figure out the research question. While formulating your research question, make sure that it shows the gaps in the current field of study and should serve as a primary interrogation point for your research.

Figure out the answer and develop your argument

Carry out intensive research to determine the perfect answer for your research question. Your answer should further guide you to structure your entire research paper and its content flow.

For example, if you write an argumentative paper, craft your opinion and create an argument. Then, develop your claim against the topics you want to cover and justify it through various data & facts.

Establish back-up for your Answer with Evidence

The more you research, the more you will learn about the variations in the research answer that you were trying to formulate. Similarly, with various sources and newer evidence coming up, you should be able to make an answer that should stand coherently, correctly, relevant, and justified enough. The answer should enhance the reader’s understanding of your paper from beginning to end.

How to determine if my thesis statement is strong?

find-the-right-thesis-Statement

Make a self-evaluation of your thesis statement and check if it stands the following interrogation:

  • Does it answer the question?

Re-read to understand the question prompt to ensure that your answer or the thesis statement itself doesn't skip the focus of the question. Try rephrasing it if you feel that the question prompt is not structured or appropriately discussed.

  • Does my thesis statement appear like an argument (for or against)?

Suppose you have chosen to present the facts and rationality behind it in the best way possible and assume that no one would or could ever disagree with it. It indicates that you've presented a summary instead of presenting an argument. So, always pick an opinion from the topic and justify your arguments backed with various evidence.

  • Is the Thesis Statement explicit and specific?

It may lack a strong argument if you have written a very general statement or vaguely crafted a thesis statement. Your audience will figure it out instantly.

Therefore, if you have used words like “good’’ or “bad,” try to put it more specifically by answering and figuring out “Why something is good”? Or ''What makes something good or bad”?

  • Does it clear the “So What” test?

After reading any research paper, the prompt question that pops up from a reader's mind is, "So What?". Now, if your thesis statement urges the reader with such questions, you need to develop a strong argument or relationship that bridges your research topic to a more significant real-world problem.

  • Does it go beyond the “How” and “Why” assessments?

After going through your thesis statement, if the readers come up with questions like "How" and 'Why," it indicates that your statement failed to provide the reader with the critical insights to understand your thesis statement and is too open-ended. So, you must provide your readers with the best statement explaining the introduction's real significance and the impending need for further research.

Thesis Statement Examples

Follow through with some interesting and creative thesis statements to clarify your doubts and better understand the concept.

Example 1: Social Media affects public awareness both positively and negatively

Yeah, it does answer the question. However, the answer is pretty vague and generic as it shows the effects both positively and negatively.

Not accurately. The statement can be argued only with the people having opinions either on positive or the negative aspect. Therefore, it fails to address every section of the audience.

  • Is the Thesis statement specific enough?

Not exactly. This thesis statement doesn't provide any details on positive and negative impacts.

No, not at all. The thesis statement stated above provides no clarifications over how the positive or negative impacts build up or the factors that build up such impacts.

Again, No. It fails to justify why anyone should bother about the impacts, be it positive or negative.

A stronger and alternate version for the above thesis statement can be:

Since not every piece of information provided on social media is credible and reliable enough, users have become avid consumers of critical information and, therefore, more informed.

Even though the above thesis statement is lengthy, it answers every question and provides details over cause, effect, and critical aspects that readers can easily challenge.

Example 2: Analytical Thesis Statement

  • Water is extremely important for human survival, but consuming contaminated water poses many health risks.
  • The hibernation period is one of the most important periods in animals for healthy well-being. Still, it renders them in a state of weakness and exposed to external and environmental threats.

Example 3: Argumentative Thesis Statement

  • At the end of the nineteenth century, French women lawyers experienced misogynist attacks from male lawyers when they attempted to enter the legal profession because male lawyers wanted to keep women out of judgeships.
  • High levels of alcohol consumption have detrimental effects on your health, such as weight gain, heart disease, and liver complications.

Tips for writing a Strong Thesis Statement

tips-to-write-a-strong-Thesis-Statement

A strong thesis statement is the foremost requirement of academic writing, and it holds greater importance when written for research papers. However, it becomes more crucial when you want your readers to get convinced of your opinions or perspective of the subject matter.

Below are some pro-tips that can help you crack the code of how to write a strong thesis statement, especially for research papers, thesis, and dissertations:

Keep it specific

Readers often get disappointed and confused when you present a weak argument based on a generic thesis statement. To develop a strong thesis statement, focus on one key aspect and develop it further.

Keep it simple and clear

The essence of your entire research paper is dependent on your thesis statement. Also, a strong thesis statement stays hinged over the clarity it provides. Therefore, don't disrupt the meaning or clarity of your research paper by using some jargonish words or complexing it by combining different concepts.

Ingrain your opinions

Your thesis statement should explicitly display your opinion or position for the subject matter under discussion. Your reader wants to understand your position in detail and the factors you will justify with evidence and facts.

Make it unique and Original

Your audience or the readers have gone through the subject matter several times in their careers. Hence, you must present your thesis statement in a unique and completely original form. Never use generic statements; grow some risk-taking capability and surprise your readers.

Keep it Concise and Coherent

Your thesis statement can be considered good only if it is concise yet informational. Don’t make it wordy in any case, and never go beyond more than 50 words.

Additionally, your research paper will discuss many aspects of a topic. Still, in the end, every single aspect should come together to form a coherent whole, addressing, explaining, and justifying the research question.

Conclusion: How to write a Thesis Statement?

A strong thesis statement is the one of the most important elements of your research paper. The thesis statement always serves as a pillar that carries the entire load of a research paper and it’s several sections.

Whether your research paper is worthy of your audience time or not, entirely hinges upon your thesis statement. A thesis statement always depicts the plan for the research but a good thesis statement reflects your opinions, viewpoints and of course the trajectory that it sets for the entire paper.

So, always try to write a good thesis statement by carefully following its structure, about which we have already discussed.

Before you go: In view of your interest in simplifying research workflows, we suggest you take a look at SciSpace . In a single portal, you can complete all your research writing tasks, including literature searches.

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Definitions of terms in a bachelors', master's or PhD thesis - 3 cases

Finding a suitable definition for a term in a bachelor's thesis, master's thesis or dissertation is often tedious, but absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you start from scratch. There are often many definitions for the same term...

What definition do I use? Fortunately, there are proven methods for searching and formulating definitions. This will help you get a grip on the terms. Let's go!

What is a definition?

A definition always leads a term back to a generic term. In an academic paper, such as a Bachelor's thesis, Master's Thesis or dissertation, the definitions MUST come from recognized sources. But sometimes there aren’t any scientific sources for a research subject, which is especially true when exploring a new field. At that point, you have to formulate a definition yourself.

Three cases can be distinguished with regard to the definition of terms:

  • Accepted term - Case 1
  • New inconsistent concept - case 2
  • New, largely unexplored term (YOUR focus) - Case 3.

Let's go through the cases in order.

Case 1: Definition of an accepted term

The term has been known for a long time and is frequently used in scientific sources. The definitions in different sources are relatively consistent. This can be seen from the fact that the same source references appear repeatedly in definitions.

Examples of such terms are attitudes, motivation, incentives, learning disabilities or controlling.

Such terms are hardly ever discussed anymore. They are simply implied by the definition. Nevertheless, there may be new variations of definitions. However, they are usually for a very specific term and therefore not relevant for your text.

A quick way to get started in defining these terms:

  • Be sure to use the correct spelling of the term. Distinguish singular and plural. Search the term in Google.
  • Go to Wikipedia and look up the references inside the term article. Focus on scientific sources like books or papers. (Of course you can also do this without a wiki!)
  • Locate these sources and gather them. Search at the beginning of the chapter or book for possible definitions. Usually several authors are cited. This is followed by a proposal for a definition, as it is subsequently used in the textbook.
  • Adopt this definition, but refer to the original source if it came from another source.
  • Write the definition into your text, with the full reference.

IMPORTANT: Do not use Google, Wikipedia, other pure online sources or encyclopedias as a source reference for definitions of recognized terms. It signals carelessness, if not laziness... The only possible sources for the definition of terms are

  • textbooks or reference books
  • scientific articles (paper)
  • lists of standards like DIN, ISO, Law Codices...

By the way, the best sources are standards like DIN and ISO or laws of all kinds. These legal definitions are the best.

Case 2: Definition of still inconsistent term

A characteristic of this type of term is the existence of several definitions by different authors. Ultimately, each definition focuses on specific characteristics. That is why it is often not "either-or", but "both-also".

This is reminiscent of the example with the elephant, which six blind people examine by touch and then describe. The person who touches the trunk says it is a snake. The one sitting on his back says, "That's a mountain." Whoever touches the legs says it is a tree trunk, the ears are ferns, the ivory teeth are field cliffs, etc.

This situation is typical for relatively new subject areas where there is still a lot to discover. New is of course relative and depends on the subject. If there are only five to ten articles on a subject area, this indicates a need for research.

Examples of such terms are social media, trust, mediation.

Proceed as follows when defining these terms for the dissertation:

  • Search for the relevant authors on the subject area.
  • Search in their scientific articles for the definitions used.
  • Make an overview of these definitions. Literally and with reference!!
  • Filter out the substance from the respective definitions, the central words and the generic term.
  • Check which of these definitions fits your approach.
  • Use the appropriate definition or combine several definitions.
  • Reconsider and justify your decision. Further work depends on this.
  • Ask experts in the field, authors of papers.
  • Agree upon the definition with the supervisor of the dissertation.

Case 3: Definition of new, still largely unexplored terms = focus of a dissertation

In this case it is a completely new concept. So far, there are only definitions of experts with experience in the subject area. These have themselves formulated a definition, but it has not been recognized officially. In any case, there are no recognized scientific sources on the field of research to date. But you need a clear definition for your text.

IMPORTANT: Please think very carefully if you really want to work on this topic. The lack of scientifically formulated definitions suggests that this could be an extremely tedious project. You practically have to explore the field without any orientation in the literature. Maybe you are the first to build a model. It could be heroic, but I'm sure it's a lot of work.

This is how you should proceed with new terms in the dissertation:

  • Collect all available publications with information on this topic.
  • Sort the publications found according to their quality, substance and scientific quality. Use only the best sources (data sources must be traceable and trustworthy)
  • Make a comprehensive word cloud of relevant terms and variants.
  • Collect the characteristics for the object or terms.
  • Think carefully about which other terms are related to the term.
  • Filter the ideas and arguments from texts that describe characteristics and are heading towards a definition.
  • Make a list of these attributes. These are candidates for the definition.
  • Search for generic terms for the term in appropriate documents.
  • Make a list.

If you have collected enough sources or five days have passed (whichever happens first):

  • Formulate YOUR first definition.
  • Leave it for a day or two.
  • Check, revise, iterate, collect the evidence, share the definition with others.
  • Formulate the working definition for your text. It may be refined along the way.
  • Discuss the draft of your definition with the supervisor or even with experts as soon as you are sure you have something to show.

IMPORTANT: Include the reference for each quote.

Now formulate the preliminary working definition that you will use during your research for the dissertation. Refine it if necessary.

Good luck writing your text! Silvio and the Aristolo Team

PS: Check out the Thesis-ABC and the Thesis Guide for writing a bachelor's or master's thesis in 31 days.

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  • I wrote my thesis on literacy strategies for boys .
  • Her main thesis is that children need a lot of verbal stimulation .
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COMMENTS

  1. Thesis Definition & Meaning

    noun the· sis ˈthē-səs British especially for sense 3 ˈthe-sis plural theses ˈthē-ˌsēz Synonyms of thesis 1 : a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view especially : one written by a candidate for an academic degree 2 a : a proposition to be proved or one advanced without proof : hypothesis b

  2. THESIS

    a piece of writing involving original study of a subject, esp. for a college or university degree: a master's thesis A thesis is also the main idea, opinion, or theory of a speaker or writer, who then attempts to prove it: His thesis was that World War I could have been avoided.

  3. THESIS

    a piece of writing involving original study of a subject, esp. for a college or university degree: a master's thesis A thesis is also the main idea, opinion, or theory of a speaker or writer, who then attempts to prove it: His thesis was that World War I could have been avoided.

  4. What Is a Thesis?

    A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master's program or a capstone to a bachelor's degree. Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation, it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete.

  5. THESIS Definition & Usage Examples

    noun,plural the·ses [thee-seez]. a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections: He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war. a subject for a composition or essay.

  6. Thesis

    A thesis ( pl.: theses ), or dissertation [note 1] (abbreviated diss. ), [2] is a document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author's research and findings. [3]

  7. Thesis

    thesis: 1 n an unproved statement put forward as a premise in an argument Type of: assumption , premise , premiss a statement that is assumed to be true and from which a conclusion can be drawn n a treatise advancing a new point of view resulting from research; usually a requirement for an advanced academic degree Synonyms: dissertation Type ...

  8. thesis noun

    noun /ˈθiːsɪs/ /ˈθiːsɪs/ (plural theses /ˈθiːsiːz/ /ˈθiːsiːz/ ) thesis (on something) a long piece of writing completed by a student as part of a university degree, based on their own research Students must submit a thesis on an agreed subject within four years. Extra Examples Topics Education b2 Oxford Collocations Dictionary Join us

  9. Thesis

    Your thesis is the central claim in your essay—your main insight or idea about your source or topic. Your thesis should appear early in an academic essay, followed by a logically constructed argument that supports this central claim.

  10. THESIS definition in American English

    thesis in American English. (ˈθisɪs) noun Word forms: plural -ses (-siz) 1. a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, esp. one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections. He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war. 2. a subject for a composition or essay. 3.

  11. What Is a Thesis?

    Abstract. Simply defined, a thesis is an extended argument. To pass, a thesis must demonstrate logical, structured, and defensible reasoning based on credible and verifiable evidence presented in such a way that it makes an original contribution to knowledge, as judged by experts in the field. Among the many types of scholarly productions ...

  12. Developing a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement . . . Makes an argumentative assertion about a topic; it states the conclusions that you have reached about your topic. Makes a promise to the reader about the scope, purpose, and direction of your paper. Is focused and specific enough to be "proven" within the boundaries of your paper.

  13. What Is a Dissertation?

    Note "Thesis" and "dissertation" are sometimes used interchangeably, but their definitions differ per country. In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD. In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor's or ...

  14. Thesis: Definition and Examples in Composition

    A thesis ( THEE-ses ) is the main (or controlling) idea of an essay, report, speech, or research paper, sometimes written as a single declarative sentence known as a thesis statement. A thesis may be implied rather than stated directly. Plural: theses. It's also known as a thesis statement, thesis sentence, controlling idea.

  15. Thesis Definition

    Thesis Definition. The thesis is one of the most important concepts in college expository writing. A thesis sentence focuses your ideas for the paper; it's your argument or insight or viewpoint crystallized into a single sentence that gives the reader your main idea. It's not only useful for the reading audience to understand the purpose of the ...

  16. What is a thesis

    A thesis is an in-depth research study that identifies a particular topic of inquiry and presents a clear argument or perspective about that topic using evidence and logic. Writing a thesis showcases your ability of critical thinking, gathering evidence, and making a compelling argument.

  17. Thesis Statements

    A thesis is an interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself. The subject, or topic, of an essay might be World War II or Moby Dick; a thesis must then offer a way to understand the war or the novel. makes a claim that others might dispute.

  18. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay. It usually comes near the end of your introduction. Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you're writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across.

  19. The Writing Center

    A thesis statement is: The statement of the author's position on a topic or subject. Clear, concise, and goes beyond fact or observation to become an idea that needs to be supported (arguable). Often a statement of tension, where the author refutes or complicates an existing assumption or claim (counterargument).

  20. What is a Thesis? Definition, Examples of Theses in Literature

    Thesis statements are important in order to establish the writer's position regarding a topic or idea. They help to introduce the essay and set a focus for the reader. Narrative thesis statements are found in narrative essays or in literature. They set the scene for the lesson that will be explored or taught through the piece.

  21. Thesis Statement: Definition, Examples, and Tips

    A Thesis Statement: Describes how you interpret the subject matter's cause, significance, and results. Is a guideline for the paper. In other words, it provides an understanding of the research topic. Directly answers the question you are asked. The thesis is not the question itself but an interpretation of it.

  22. Definitions of terms in a bachelor, master or PhD thesis

    A definition always leads a term back to a generic term. In an academic paper, such as a Bachelor's thesis, Master's Thesis or dissertation, the definitions MUST come from recognized sources. But sometimes there aren't any scientific sources for a research subject, which is especially true when exploring a new field.

  23. THESIS

    a piece of writing involving original study of a subject, esp. for a college or university degree: a master's thesis A thesis is also the main idea, opinion, or theory of a speaker or writer, who then attempts to prove it: His thesis was that World War I could have been avoided.