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How to Cite a Dissertation APA

Dissertations are lengthy research papers required in institutions of higher learning that students complete to get Ph.D. degrees. Doctoral dissertations or Master’s theses are part and parcel of postgraduate research, and you must understand how to format your paper using different styles. One common citation style is the APA format.

It is essential to learn how to cite your dissertation in APA. Apart from being a requirement in academic writing, citations are important in guiding your readers to locate your research sources. Whether you are dealing with a simple or complicated topic, mastering the crucial details in APA is imperative.

This article helps you learn more about APA citation for dissertation projects and how to apply the formatting rules.

What Is an APA Dissertation Citation?

APA refers to the American Psychological Association format, a popular citation style in the social sciences field. It is also used in various subject disciplines as a referencing style for numerous academic papers. Dissertations are among the many research products that APA can be applied to as a citation style.

However, citing a dissertation using APA is not a one-size-fits-all approach. This is because APA provides varied formats depending on the type of dissertation you are handling. Sometimes, a dissertation might be available in a specific database, published on a university website, or remain unpublished with the original author. Thus, you must first identify the nature of the dissertation before you start citing your work.

Fortunately, you can take advantage of our free APA dissertation citation generator. It is a simple tool that generates accurate results quickly. But you should fill out essential details in the form before clicking on the ‘generate’ button. Below are some of the details you need to get a proper APA dissertation citation:

  • Subject
  • Author or dissertation – first and last name
  • Title of dissertation
  • Level
  • University
  • Date of publication

Remember to choose the APA format and the source of your citation; in this case, it is a dissertation.

APA 7 Dissertation Citation: Published Dissertation

As mentioned above, dissertations are available in different formats. You must know if the paper is published or unpublished before you start to cite. But there is a standard APA format you need to master to guide you when citing doctoral dissertations or master’s theses.

APA format

Author’s last name, Author’s first and second initial, (Year). Title of dissertation (Publication number, if given) [Doctoral dissertation, University/institution]. Publisher, if given. URL, if given.

The following are points to remember when citing a dissertation in the APA format:

  • Ensure the dissertation title is in italics.
  • Specify the type of dissertation you are referencing after the title.
  • Indicate the publication number if it is available.

You can find many dissertations published online, either on personal websites, university archives, or other credible platforms. The above format is applicable if you want to cite a published dissertation.

Let us take a closer look at an example of a published dissertation citation in the APA 7th edition.

APA format: Reference entry

Hillson. K. S. (2005). Investigation of Gene Therapy advancement using vaccines (Publication No. 11564854) [Doctoral dissertation, Kennington University]. Academia Inc. database.

Sometimes the dissertation’s publication number might not be available. Here is an example of a published APA dissertation without a publication number:

Jeffery, R. (2010). An analysis of climate change in the west [Doctoral dissertation, University of Wellington]. Infortec database.

When you’re using APA citation, online dissertation papers fall under the published category. You can add the URL and the publisher if the dissertation is not located in a database.

APA format: online dissertation

Author’s last name, Author’s first initial, (Year). Title of dissertation [Doctoral dissertation, University/institution]. Publisher. URL.

APA Reference entry

Rowland, K. (2005). The qualitative analysis of the effectiveness of the healthcare industry in America. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan]. UM Campus Source.

In-text Citation APA of Dissertation

When citing a dissertation, you should include an in-text citation within your research paper. It is common in dissertations since it gives your readers brief highlights about your information source. APA dissertations usually use the author-date format for in-text citations. This format entails the author’s last name and the year the dissertation was published.

Keep in mind that all the in-text citations you include in your dissertation should correspond to the reference list. Don’t add suffixes in your in-text citation; it should be clear and straightforward.

APA in-text format

(Author’s last name, Year of publication)

APA in-text entry

(Peterson, 2010)

APA in-text entry – direct quotes

(Peterson, 2010, p.19)

Direct quotes help the readers to locate the exact page in the dissertation easily.

APA in-text – multiple pages

(Peterson, 2010, pp.22-25

When you reference multiple dissertation pages, you can use insert the pp. and the pages.

When using an in-text citation, you must first paraphrase the statement from the source before adding the bracketed text. The in-text citation is important since it makes your research paper credible and saves you from plagiarism cases. Besides, the readers will easily know where to search and verify your information sources.

APA Citation for an Unpublished Dissertation

An unpublished APA citation of a doctoral dissertation slightly differs from the other formats. This citation type doesn’t have a publication number or publisher because the dissertation is unpublished.

Below is a standard APA format you can use for an unpublished format:

Author’s last name, first name initial. Title of dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation] Name of university/institution.

APA format: Reference entry

Perry, S. (2011). A comprehensive analysis of media practitioners, ethical reporting, and modern journalism [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. The University of Missouri.

It is imperative to note that the unpublished dissertation above can also be applied to an undergraduate thesis.

However, if your dissertation source is located in a database or archive, you must follow the published dissertation format.

APA Format Citation for Dissertation: Database Citation

At times, you might encounter a dissertation from a database. It could be an open-access database online or a company database. Whatever the case, you must cite your source using the right format. Keep in mind that you must mention the specific dissertation and the university. Unlike in a published format, you will not include a URL in this citation.

APA format:

Author’s last name, first name initial. (Year). Title of dissertation (Publication number) [Type of dissertation, University]. Database name.

Example: APA reference entry

Smith. P. (2017). The impact of mobile technology in human interaction with young adults (Publication No. 548454) [Doctoral dissertation, MO State University]. KnowledgeBase Academics.

APA in-text citation

(Last name, year)

(Smith, 2015)


Citations give your work credibility and authority. So, the more information you include to support your arguments, the better the research paper.

Citing a dissertation might seem complicated, but it is simple if you master the APA formatting rules. Remember, incorporating various information sources in your research paper makes it credible and enjoyable for the readers. It shows that you did your research extensively and are well-informed academically. Thus, don’t just search for sources online; you can visit the library and access university archives and databases to get comprehensive information. You can also use published and unpublished sources as long as you cite your work correctly.

The good news is that you can get accurate citations to obtain top scores in your doctoral program even without extra effort. Contact us immediately if you are stuck and need doctoral dissertation help citation APA. We have professional writers with impressive qualifications in diverse disciplines. Reach out to us and experience grade-transforming writing assistance.

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