How to cite a dissertation in APA Style

This article reflects the APA 7th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 6th edition guidelines.

The format for citing someone else’s dissertation or thesis in APA Style depends on whether the thesis is available from a database, published somewhere else (e.g. on a university archive or personal website), or unpublished (only available in print form directly from the author or university).

To cite a dissertation or thesis from a database, use the following format. In the square brackets, specify the type of dissertation or thesis and the university. As with other database sources, no URL or DOI is included.

Format Author last name, Initials. (Year). Dissertation title (Publication No. Number) [Type of dissertation/thesis, University Name]. Database Name.
Reference entry Ford, L. (2015). The use of experiential acceptance in psychotherapy with emerging adults (Publication No. 3731118) [Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.
In-text citation (Ford, 2015)

Citing a dissertation published elsewhere

To cite a dissertation or thesis published in a university archive (often in PDF form) or on a personal website, the format differs in that no publication number is included, and you do list a URL.

Format Author last name, Initials. (Year). Dissertation title [Type of dissertation/thesis, University Name]. Archive Name. URL
Reference entry Behrens, B. (2020). Linguistic markers of maternal focus within emotional conversations: The role of depressive symptoms and maltreatment [Master’s thesis, University of Notre Dame]. CurateND. https://curate.nd.edu/show/9k41zc80w8w
In-text citation (Behrens, 2020)

Citing an unpublished dissertation in APA Style

To cite an unpublished dissertation (one you got directly from the author or university in print form), add “Unpublished” to the bracketed description, and list the university at the end of the reference, outside the square brackets.

Format Author last name, Initials. (Year). Dissertation title [Unpublished type of dissertation/thesis]. University Name.
Reference entry Smith, J. (2020). Effects of cognitive behavioral therapy on agoraphobic patients [Unpublished master’s thesis]. University of Amsterdam.
In-text citation (Smith, 2020)

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

1 comment

Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
December 16, 2020 at 11:48 AM

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