This guide will help you to learn how to cite a thesis or dissertation in APA style format. You will learn the basic rules and see the examples as you format your writing. If you have been asked to use the APA (American Psychological Association) citation style, you should be extremely careful and check things twice because your research writing should be referenced with correct formatting. Learning how to cite a dissertation APA, take your time to check the rules, and evaluate the templates, and citations because there are many aspects that you should check before you publish your work, be it your science thesis or dissertation.
The main thesis or dissertation APA citation rules
This guide is based on the APA 7th edition, which is the latest set of rules that are provided by the American Psychological Association. For example, the thesis or dissertation may be available from a relevant database or might be only found in an archive of some university online or in print. Some dissertations are offered per request, which is possible when a researcher has a website. Regardless of whether you are learning how to cite a thesis APA or need to cite the dissertation of another person, you should think about the origin of the document. Likewise, you may be dealing with a dissertation that has not been published yet as you choose primary vs secondary sources, which might become a totally different scenario. Always check whether the document is available in print or can be accessed by asking the university.
Now, if you need to cite a dissertation that is based on a database source, you should use the following template below. Remember to provide square brackets where you specify what kind of dissertation or thesis is referenced. Here is how to cite a dissertation in APA style example:
APA format citation template
Author's Last Name, Initial(s). (Year). Dissertation title (Publication No. Number) [Type of Dissertation/thesis, University's Name]. Database Name.
APA Reference entry
King, J. (2020). The use of social distancing and the impact on middle school learners (Publication No. 24211321) [Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University]. ProMed Dissertations and PubMed Theses.
Note: As you can see, you must show that it is a doctoral dissertation or a Master's thesis. The publication's number must be present as well.
Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation rules, structure, and examples
When you need to cite an unpublished Master's thesis or work with a doctoral dissertation by using APA style format, you must include the following information:
- Year for your APA dissertation citation.
- Title of your dissertation in italics.
- State that it's an unpublished dissertation by mentioning it in brackets.
Last Name, A.C. (Year). Work title of your dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation or thesis]. Institution.
Campbell, M.A. (2019). The challenges of hurricanes in Jacksonville, Florida State [Unpublished doctoral dissertation or thesis]. Miami State University.
Let us note that when you are working on a dissertation or thesis that has not been published, you can also choose the information using it for the thesis at the undergraduate level. Likewise, when you encounter your document in an archive or database, you should follow the APA guidelines that are used for the published dissertation. Dealing with the APA dissertation format, the only variable is being unable to find the published dissertation, which is when you should state that it's unpublished.
Citing a published thesis or dissertation rules, structure, and examples
In basic terms, the rules of the APA 7th edition for citing something that has been published are not too difficult. Here is the APA reference dissertation template that you should start with:
Last Name, X. Y. (Year). Title of your cited doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis (Publication number) [Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis, Institution]. Publisher or database.
Here is the table breakdown of various scenarios for citation types as you quote:
Published dissertation in APA style
Pulsford, N.V. (2011). Marine life in Colombia: From simplest life forms to mammals [Publication No. 1223211) [Doctoral dissertation, Vancouver University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database.
Dissertation with no publication number
Nichols, M. (1995). Man of Nomadic Tales [Master's thesis, University of Birmingham]. Oxford Dissertations and Theses database.
How to cite published thesis or dissertation in APA when published online (not a database)
Citing a dissertation APA, you may have already seen that some dissertations and theses cannot be encountered in databases like Pubmed or ProQuest. When you appear in such a situation, you should use the URL of the original source by stating the publisher (if available). Here is what you have to do when you find your dissertation online.
Citing APA style dissertation:
Grant, J. (2018). The use of vaccination and the link to the cases of autism: Demystification and facts [Doctoral dissertation, University of MIT]. MIT Campus Repository. https://repository.mit.edu/url.
In-text APA citation for dissertation:
What's needed for an APA dissertation or thesis citation
The most important is to take notes as you research and seek relevant information when you have to cite a dissertation and/or thesis in the APA 7 format. Here is where you have to locate the information. First of all, you must define whether you are dealing with a dissertation or approaching a thesis. For example, the title of the paper will state that you are reading the thesis. In most cases, you will identify which is one. Once you get the basic information, check whether your document has been published or not.
Look for these elements as you are citing a thesis APA style:
- Name of the author.
- Publication date.
- Title of dissertation/thesis.
- Associated number.
- Type of degree (thesis or not).
- Name of the Institution.
- Database Name or URL
How to find APA thesis and dissertation citation information
In the majority of cases, you will have information for references if you have found the dissertation and/or thesis in the ProQuest, Google Scholar, or PubMed database. If you take a look at the top right corner, you will be able to choose the most famous writing style formats. If you cannot find it, see the bottom of the webpage or locate the DOI. When you enter the number or reference code on the university's website, you may be able to find the APA citation or APA format for thesis references already made. Just make sure that it follows the rules because there might be possible mistakes.
Why keep things unique when writing a dissertation or thesis?
First of all, when you keep your dissertation original as you cite various ideas, you show that you follow academic ethics and stay within academic integrity. Since some plagiarism cases are not intentional, you’re still able to avoid accidents when you check the rules and reference your sources accordingly. When you learn how to cite a law in APA style or check with a Ph.D. thesis statement, you are always safe. So take your time to learn and it will pay off in the end!
Can I cite a dissertation?
Of course, you can! The APA Manual allows referencing dissertations as you work on your research. The dissertations and relevant citations will help you to support your arguments and explain your ideas.
How do you cite a dissertation in APA 7?
You must check whether your dissertation (or thesis) is published or not. When you have a published document, provide the author's name, year, title, number of the publication, university's name, and publisher. If your document is not published, include the same information by adding [unpublished dissertation] in the square brackets.
How do you cite an unpublished dissertation?
Last Name, A.B. (Year). Title of your unpublished dissertation. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Institution/University.