How to cite a dissertation: guide on apa dissertation format

This guide is designed to navigate you through citing a dissertation APA format. As you progress, you’ll understand the basic principles and encounter example citations to enhance the structure of your writing.

When using the APA (American Psychological Association) citation style, it’s crucial to pay attention to detail and be precise. Ensure that your research writing has accurate references and formatting.

As you familiarize yourself with how to cite a dissertation in APA, it’s essential to thoroughly review the guidelines, assess sample templates, and scrutinize your citations. Whether it’s a science thesis or a dissertation, taking these precautions ensures that your work is presented in the best light before publication.

Essential guidelines for APA dissertation citation

Drawing from the APA 7th edition, this guide offers the most up-to-date standards the American Psychological Association sets. Theses or dissertations may be housed in a specific database, archived on a university’s digital platform, or even in traditional print form.

Occasionally, researchers might provide their dissertations upon request via their website. Whether you’re delving into the mechanics of citing a dissertation in APA or aiming to reference another individual’s dissertation, it’s pivotal to be mindful of its source. Furthermore, the citation process could differ if you encounter an unpublished dissertation while distinguishing between primary and secondary references.

Ensure that you confirm the availability of the document, whether in print or through direct university access.
The template provided below will be invaluable if your reference pertains to a dissertation retrieved from a database. It’s crucial to use square brackets to indicate the specific nature of the thesis or dissertation. Here’s an illustrative example of how to cite a dissertation :

APA dissertation format template

Author’s Last Name, First Initial(s). (Year). Title of the dissertation (Publication No. 1254623) [Type of Dissertation, Name of University]. Name of Database.

APA reference entry

Smith, A.B. (2021). Evaluating e-learning platforms in the age of remote work (Publication No. 1254623) [Master’s dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles]. AcademicWorks Database.


Ensure distinguishing between a doctoral dissertation and a Master’s dissertation. The publication number should also be included.

Sample In-text Citation

(Smith, 2021)

Citing an unpublished dissertation

When referencing an unpublished Master’s dissertation in APA style, it’s essential to include specific details:
– Author’s name
– Year of the citation
– Dissertation title (in italics)
– Mention its unpublished nature in brackets
– Affiliated institution

APA dissertation format template

Last Name, Initials. (Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation or thesis]. University Name.

Reference Sample

Roberts, L.B. (2021). Exploring urban wildlife: Adaptations and behaviors in New York City [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Columbia University.

In-text Citation Example

(Roberts, 2021)

It’s worth noting that the process remains essentially the same if you’re referencing a dissertation or thesis at an undergraduate level. If you come across your source in a digital archive or database, stick to the APA guidelines applicable to published dissertations. The primary distinction with unpublished works in APA dissertation format, is to mention their unpublished status.

How to cite a dissertation apa: things to consider

When citing a dissertation apa format, it’s crucial to be thorough in your research and note-taking. Begin by distinguishing whether the document is a dissertation. Typically, the title will help indicate the nature of the paper. In many instances, the type of work you’re referencing will be clear. Once you’ve established this, determine if the document has been published.

To ensure you’re accurately citing a thesis in APA style, gather the following details:
– Author’s name.
– Year of publication.
– Dissertation or thesis title.
Dissertation topics.
– Publication number.
– Designation of the degree (whether it’s a thesis or dissertation).
– Affiliated institution.
– Database name or direct URL, if available.


To cite a dissertation APA 7th, first determine if the dissertation (or thesis) is published. For a printed document, list the author’s name, publication year, title, publication number, university, and publisher. If it’s an unpublished dissertation, the format remains similar, but you’ll need to specify its unpublished status using square brackets.

The format for an unpublished dissertation in APA 7 is: Last Name, Initials. (Year). Title of the dissertation. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of University.

For online sources in APA, to cite a dissertation, start with the author’s name, followed by the dissertation title, and then the database where it’s available. The specific format might vary based on the APA edition you’re referencing

Sum up

In conclusion, mastering the art of how to cite a dissertation APA is essential for academic writing. Regardless of how to write a dissertation and whether it will be published or unpublished, understanding the nuances of the format ensures clarity and credibility of the work.

With the guidelines provided in this article, researchers and students can confidently and correctly reference dissertations, upholding the principles of academic integrity. Remember, proper citation not only gives due credit but also strengthens the reliability of your work.

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