Thesis & Dissertation Acknowledgements | Tips & Examples

Acknowledgements-section

The acknowledgements section is your opportunity to thank those who have helped and supported you personally and professionally during your thesis or dissertation process.

Thesis or dissertation acknowledgements appear between your title page and abstract and should be no longer than one page.

In your acknowledgements, it’s okay to use a more informal style than is usually permitted in academic writing, as well as first-person pronouns. Acknowledgements are not considered part of the academic work itself, but rather your chance to write something more personal.

To get started, download our step-by-step template in the format of your choice below. We’ve also included sample sentence starters to help you construct your acknowledgments section from scratch.

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Who to thank in your acknowledgements

Generally, there are two main categories of acknowledgements: professional and personal.

A good first step is to check your university’s guidelines, as they may have rules or preferences about the order, phrasing, or layout of acknowledgements. Some institutions prefer that you keep your acknowledgements strictly professional.

Regardless, it’s usually a good idea to place professional acknowledgements first, followed by any personal ones. You can then proceed by ranking who you’d like to thank from most formal to least.

Example: Thanking order
  • Chairs, supervisors, or defense committees
  • Funding bodies
  • Other academics (e.g., colleagues or cohort members)
  • Editors or proofreaders
  • Librarians, research/laboratory assistants, or study participants
  • Family, friends, or pets

Typically, it’s only necessary to mention people who directly supported you during your thesis or dissertation. However, if you feel that someone like a high school physics teacher was a great inspiration on the path to your current research, feel free to include them as well.

Professional acknowledgements

It is crucial to avoid overlooking anyone who helped you professionally as you completed your thesis or dissertation. As a rule of thumb, anyone who directly contributed to your research process, from figuring out your dissertation topic to your final proofread, should be mentioned.

A few things to keep in mind include:

  • Even if you feel your chair didn’t help you very much, you should still thank them first to avoid looking like you’re snubbing them.
  • Be sure to follow academic conventions, using full names with titles where appropriate.
  • If several members of a group or organization assisted you, mention the collective name only.
  • Remember the ethical considerations around anonymized data. If you wish to protect someone’s privacy, use only their first name or a generic identifier (such as “the interviewees”)/

Personal acknowledgements

There is no need to mention every member of your family or friend group. However, if someone was particularly inspiring or supportive, you may wish to mention them specifically. Many people choose to thank parents, partners, children, friends, and even pets, but you can mention anyone who offered moral support or encouragement, or helped you in a tangible or intangible way.

Some students may wish to dedicate their dissertation to a deceased influential person in their personal life. In this case, it’s okay to mention them first, before any professional acknowledgements.

How to write acknowledgements

After you’ve compiled a list of who you’d like to thank, you can then sort your list into rank order. Separate everyone you listed into “major thanks,” “big thanks,” and “minor thanks” categories.

  • “Major thanks” are given to people who your project would be impossible without. These are often predominantly professional acknowledgements, such as your advisor, chair, and committee, as well as any funders.
  • “Big thanks” are an in-between, for those who helped you along the way or helped you grow intellectually, such as classmates, peers, or librarians.
  • “Minor thanks” can be a catch-all for everyone else, especially those who offered moral support or encouragement. This can include personal acknowledgements, such as parents, partners, children, friends, or even pets.

How to phrase your acknowledgements

To avoid acknowledgements that sound repetitive or dull, consider changing up your phrasing. Here are some examples of common sentence starters you can use for each category.

Common sentence starters
Major thanks Big thanks Minor thanks
  • I am deeply indebted to
  • I would like to express my deepest appreciation to
  • I would like to express my deepest gratitude to
  • I’m extremely grateful to
  • This endeavor would not have been possible without
  • I could not have undertaken this journey without
  • Words cannot express my gratitude to
  • Many thanks to
  • Special thanks to
  • I am also thankful to/for
  • I am also grateful to/for
  • Thanks should also go to
  • I would like to extend my sincere thanks to
  • I’d like to acknowledge
  • Lastly, I’d like to mention
  • I’d like to recognize
  • I had the pleasure of working with/collaborating with
  • I would be remiss in not mentioning

Note that you do not need to write any sort of conclusion or summary at the end. You can simply end the acknowledgements with your last thank you.

What can proofreading do for your paper?

Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words and awkward phrasing.

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Acknowledgements section example

Here’s an example of how you can combine the different sentences to write your acknowledgements.

A simple construction consists of a sentence starter (in purple highlight), followed by the person or entity mentioned (in green highlight), followed by what you’re thanking them for (in yellow highlight.)

Example: Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements

Words cannot express my gratitude to my professor and chair of my committee for her invaluable patience and feedback. I also could not have undertaken this journey without my defense committee, who generously provided knowledge and expertise. Additionally, this endeavor would not have been possible without the generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, who financed my research.

I am also grateful to my classmates and cohort members, especially my office mates, for their editing help, late-night feedback sessions, and moral support. Thanks should also go to the librarians, research assistants, and study participants from the university, who impacted and inspired me.

Lastly, I would be remiss in not mentioning my family, especially my parents, spouse, and children. Their belief in me has kept my spirits and motivation high during this process. I would also like to thank my cat for all the entertainment and emotional support.

Acknowledgements dos and don’ts

Do:

  • Write in first-person, professional language
  • Thank your professional contacts first
  • Include full names, titles, and roles of professional acknowledgements
  • Include personal or intangible supporters, like friends, family, or even pets
  • Mention funding bodies and what they funded
  • Appropriately anonymize or group research participants or non-individual acknowledgments

Don’t:

  • Use informal language or slang
  • Go over one page in length
  • Mention people who had only a peripheral or minor impact on your work

Frequently asked questions about the acknowledgements section

Whom should I thank in the acknowledgements?

In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.

Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.

Do I have to thank my supervisor?

Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation.

Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you must acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.

Where do the acknowledgements go in a thesis or dissertation?

The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis, directly after the title page and before the abstract.

How long should the acknowledgements be?

In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.

Can I thank God in my acknowledgements?

You may acknowledge God in your dissertation acknowledgements, but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.

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Tegan George

Tegan is an American based in Amsterdam, with master's degrees in political science and education administration. While she is definitely a political scientist at heart, her experience working at universities led to a passion for making social science topics more approachable and exciting to students. A well-designed natural experiment is her favorite type of research, but she also loves qualitative methods of all varieties.