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EBSCO Open Dissertations

EBSCO Open Dissertations makes electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) more accessible to researchers worldwide. The free portal is designed to benefit universities and their students and make ETDs more discoverable. 

Increasing Discovery & Usage of ETD Research

EBSCO Open Dissertations is a collaboration between EBSCO and BiblioLabs to increase traffic and discoverability of ETD research. You can join the movement and add your theses and dissertations to the database, making them freely available to researchers everywhere while increasing traffic to your institutional repository. 

EBSCO Open Dissertations extends the work started in 2014, when EBSCO and the H.W. Wilson Foundation created American Doctoral Dissertations which contained indexing from the H.W. Wilson print publication, Doctoral Dissertations Accepted by American Universities, 1933-1955. In 2015, the H.W. Wilson Foundation agreed to support the expansion of the scope of the American Doctoral Dissertations database to include records for dissertations and theses from 1955 to the present.

How Does EBSCO Open Dissertations Work?

Your ETD metadata is harvested via OAI and integrated into EBSCO’s platform, where pointers send traffic to your IR.

EBSCO integrates this data into their current subscriber environments and makes the data available on the open web via .

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Utah State University

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Thesis/dissertation format and style (f&s) and electronic publication approval.

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Thesis/Dissertation Requirements


  • Monograph Format : This, the ‘traditional’ format, consists of a multi-chapter document that uses the same style throughout. A single chapter is not acceptable for a thesis or dissertation.
  • Multiple-Paper Format : A thesis or dissertation using this format consists of at least two chapters, typically written as independent papers, preceded by an introductory chapter that sets the context for the research, and followed by a summary and conclusions chapter that integrates all of the studies.
  • The style defines the way that text is presented on the page (e.g., fonts, font sizes, margins, indents, line spacing, page numbering). For a document in the monograph format, the style should be consistent throughout the document. For a document in the multiple-paper format, the style may differ for chapters that are targeted for publication in different journals, however the style should be consistent within each chapter. The style in which a thesis/dissertation is written is dependent upon the student’s departmental guidelines and the specifications of this document. The terms ‘journal style’ or ‘manual style’ refer only to the style guide a graduate student follows for citations, a reference list, headings/subheadings, table titles, figure captions, mathematical symbols, and other stylistic elements not specified by the USU Publication Guide. A journal style or a conventional style manual (such as APA or MLA) may be used as a guide for either a multiple-paper or a monograph format.
  • The USU Publication Guide and department-approved style manuals are the final authority for format and style. Do not use previously approved theses or dissertations as models. Handling of special problems/materials not covered by this guide or by the departmental style manual should be discussed with and approved by Erika Beckstrand, the thesis and dissertation reviewer for the School of Graduate Studies.
  • The USU publication guide is not a style guide. It should be referenced for your front matter and appendices.

You, your major professor and your supervisory committee should agree on the format and style of your thesis or dissertation early in the writing process. The Dissertation/Thesis Format and Style form communicates which format and style have been chosen.

You are responsible for proofreading your thesis/dissertation and having it read and approved by all committee members and the department reviewer before having the Graduate Program Coordinator submit an electronic version (PDF format) of the document to Box.

Erika Beckstrand in the School of Graduate Studies will review your thesis or dissertation for proper format and conformity to departmental and School of Graduate Studies standards. If corrections are required, an annotated copy of the electronic file will be uploaded to Box where it can be accessed by the student, the major professor and the department reviewer.

Electronic Thesis/Dissertation Approval

  • The Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Approval grants Utah State University a non-exclusive license to archive your work and make it accessible to the public. As the author, you retain ownership rights to the copyright and the right to use it in future works.
  • If you have questions about the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Approval form or uploading your digital copy in ProQuest, contact the Merrill-Cazier Library at [email protected] .

After your defense, before you are ready to begin the thesis/dissertation review process with the School of Graduate Studies. Your thesis or dissertation will not be reviewed until all necessary paperwork has been fully approved.

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  • What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

What Is a Thesis? | Ultimate Guide & Examples

Published on September 14, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.

A thesis is a type of research paper based on your original research. It is usually submitted as the final step of a master’s program or a capstone to a bachelor’s degree.

Writing a thesis can be a daunting experience. Other than a dissertation , it is one of the longest pieces of writing students typically complete. It relies on your ability to conduct research from start to finish: choosing a relevant topic , crafting a proposal , designing your research , collecting data , developing a robust analysis, drawing strong conclusions , and writing concisely .

Thesis template

You can also download our full thesis template in the format of your choice below. Our template includes a ready-made table of contents , as well as guidance for what each chapter should include. It’s easy to make it your own, and can help you get started.

Download Word template Download Google Docs template

Table of contents

Thesis vs. thesis statement, how to structure a thesis, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your thesis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about theses.

You may have heard the word thesis as a standalone term or as a component of academic writing called a thesis statement . Keep in mind that these are two very different things.

  • A thesis statement is a very common component of an essay, particularly in the humanities. It usually comprises 1 or 2 sentences in the introduction of your essay , and should clearly and concisely summarize the central points of your academic essay .
  • A thesis is a long-form piece of academic writing, often taking more than a full semester to complete. It is generally a degree requirement for Master’s programs, and is also sometimes required to complete a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts colleges.
  • In the US, a dissertation is generally written as a final step toward obtaining a PhD.
  • In other countries (particularly the UK), a dissertation is generally written at the bachelor’s or master’s level.

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The final structure of your thesis depends on a variety of components, such as:

  • Your discipline
  • Your theoretical approach

Humanities theses are often structured more like a longer-form essay . Just like in an essay, you build an argument to support a central thesis.

In both hard and social sciences, theses typically include an introduction , literature review , methodology section ,  results section , discussion section , and conclusion section . These are each presented in their own dedicated section or chapter. In some cases, you might want to add an appendix .

Thesis examples

We’ve compiled a list of thesis examples to help you get started.

  • Example thesis #1:   “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the ‘Noble Savage’ on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807” by Suchait Kahlon.
  • Example thesis #2: “’A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man’: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947″ by Julian Saint Reiman.
  • Example thesis #3:  “An Introduction to Higher-Order Frames in Communication: How Controversial Organizations Maintain Legitimacy Over Time” by Kees Smeets

The very first page of your thesis contains all necessary identifying information, including:

  • Your full title
  • Your full name
  • Your department
  • Your institution and degree program
  • Your submission date.

Sometimes the title page also includes your student ID, the name of your supervisor, or the university’s logo. Check out your university’s guidelines if you’re not sure.

Read more about title pages

The acknowledgements section is usually optional. Its main point is to allow you to thank everyone who helped you in your thesis journey, such as supervisors, friends, or family. You can also choose to write a preface , but it’s typically one or the other, not both.

Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces

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An abstract is a short summary of your thesis. Usually a maximum of 300 words long, it’s should include brief descriptions of your research objectives , methods, results, and conclusions. Though it may seem short, it introduces your work to your audience, serving as a first impression of your thesis.

Read more about abstracts

A table of contents lists all of your sections, plus their corresponding page numbers and subheadings if you have them. This helps your reader seamlessly navigate your document.

Your table of contents should include all the major parts of your thesis. In particular, don’t forget the the appendices. If you used heading styles, it’s easy to generate an automatic table Microsoft Word.

Read more about tables of contents

While not mandatory, if you used a lot of tables and/or figures, it’s nice to include a list of them to help guide your reader. It’s also easy to generate one of these in Word: just use the “Insert Caption” feature.

Read more about lists of figures and tables

If you have used a lot of industry- or field-specific abbreviations in your thesis, you should include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations . This way, your readers can easily look up any meanings they aren’t familiar with.

Read more about lists of abbreviations

Relatedly, if you find yourself using a lot of very specialized or field-specific terms that may not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary . Alphabetize the terms you want to include with a brief definition.

Read more about glossaries

An introduction sets up the topic, purpose, and relevance of your thesis, as well as expectations for your reader. This should:

  • Ground your research topic , sharing any background information your reader may need
  • Define the scope of your work
  • Introduce any existing research on your topic, situating your work within a broader problem or debate
  • State your research question(s)
  • Outline (briefly) how the remainder of your work will proceed

In other words, your introduction should clearly and concisely show your reader the “what, why, and how” of your research.

Read more about introductions

A literature review helps you gain a robust understanding of any extant academic work on your topic, encompassing:

  • Selecting relevant sources
  • Determining the credibility of your sources
  • Critically evaluating each of your sources
  • Drawing connections between sources, including any themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps

A literature review is not merely a summary of existing work. Rather, your literature review should ultimately lead to a clear justification for your own research, perhaps via:

  • Addressing a gap in the literature
  • Building on existing knowledge to draw new conclusions
  • Exploring a new theoretical or methodological approach
  • Introducing a new solution to an unresolved problem
  • Definitively advocating for one side of a theoretical debate

Read more about literature reviews

Theoretical framework

Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework, but these are not the same thing. A theoretical framework defines and analyzes the concepts and theories that your research hinges on.

Read more about theoretical frameworks

Your methodology chapter shows your reader how you conducted your research. It should be written clearly and methodically, easily allowing your reader to critically assess the credibility of your argument. Furthermore, your methods section should convince your reader that your method was the best way to answer your research question.

A methodology section should generally include:

  • Your overall approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative )
  • Your research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
  • Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment
  • Any tools or materials you used (e.g., computer software)
  • The data analysis methods you chose (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
  • A strong, but not defensive justification of your methods

Read more about methodology sections

Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. These two sections work in tandem, but shouldn’t repeat each other. While your results section can include hypotheses or themes, don’t include any speculation or new arguments here.

Your results section should:

  • State each (relevant) result with any (relevant) descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
  • Explain how each result relates to the research question
  • Determine whether the hypothesis was supported

Additional data (like raw numbers or interview transcripts ) can be included as an appendix . You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results.

Read more about results sections

Your discussion section is where you can interpret your results in detail. Did they meet your expectations? How well do they fit within the framework that you built? You can refer back to any relevant source material to situate your results within your field, but leave most of that analysis in your literature review.

For any unexpected results, offer explanations or alternative interpretations of your data.

Read more about discussion sections

Your thesis conclusion should concisely answer your main research question. It should leave your reader with an ultra-clear understanding of your central argument, and emphasize what your research specifically has contributed to your field.

Why does your research matter? What recommendations for future research do you have? Lastly, wrap up your work with any concluding remarks.

Read more about conclusions

In order to avoid plagiarism , don’t forget to include a full reference list at the end of your thesis, citing the sources that you used. Choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your thesis, taking note of the formatting requirements of each style.

Which style you choose is often set by your department or your field, but common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA.

Create APA citations Create MLA citations

In order to stay clear and concise, your thesis should include the most essential information needed to answer your research question. However, chances are you have many contributing documents, like interview transcripts or survey questions . These can be added as appendices , to save space in the main body.

Read more about appendices

Once you’re done writing, the next part of your editing process begins. Leave plenty of time for proofreading and editing prior to submission. Nothing looks worse than grammar mistakes or sloppy spelling errors!

Consider using a professional thesis editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect.

Once you’ve submitted your final product, it’s common practice to have a thesis defense, an oral component of your finished work. This is scheduled by your advisor or committee, and usually entails a presentation and Q&A session.

After your defense , your committee will meet to determine if you deserve any departmental honors or accolades. However, keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality. If there are any serious issues with your work, these should be resolved with your advisor way before a defense.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

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The conclusion of your thesis or dissertation shouldn’t take up more than 5–7% of your overall word count.

If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation , you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .

If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimizing confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.

When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .

A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.

Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation , such as:

  • Your anticipated title
  • Your abstract
  • Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review , research methods , avenues for future research, etc.)

A thesis is typically written by students finishing up a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Some educational institutions, particularly in the liberal arts, have mandatory theses, but they are often not mandatory to graduate from bachelor’s degrees. It is more common for a thesis to be a graduation requirement from a Master’s degree.

Even if not mandatory, you may want to consider writing a thesis if you:

  • Plan to attend graduate school soon
  • Have a particular topic you’d like to study more in-depth
  • Are considering a career in research
  • Would like a capstone experience to tie up your academic experience

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Copyright and your thesis or dissertation.

  • Using Others' Work
  • Reusing Your Published Work
  • Your Copyright
  • Publishing Your Thesis or Dissertation
  • Frequently Asked Questions and Resources

Preparing for Publication

Norms around publishing thesis or dissertation material vary from one field to another. For instance, in some science and engineering fields, it is common to publish individual chapters from the thesis or dissertation before it is submitted. In the humanities, it is common to develop a monograph from the dissertation after completing a doctoral degree.

Whether you publish before or after submitting your thesis or dissertation, it is important to plan ahead when signing publishing contracts or submitting your dissertation. Will the publishing contract you sign allow you to use the article in your thesis or dissertation later? How does depositing in the ETD repository impact this? Can you use material that you've coauthored in your dissertation or thesis? For questions about the norms in your field, talk with your advisors. With Graduate School policy questions, consult the Graduate School's Thesis and Dissertation Guide . With copyright questions, contact the Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright .

From Dissertation to Book

Thinking about transforming your dissertation into your first book? Hardly any dissertations are published as books without significant work on the author's part to refocus the manuscript for an audience beyond the dissertation committee.

Here are a few resources to help you understand the process of reworking a dissertation for publication as a monograph:

Cover Art

  • Dear First-Time Author: How to Turn Your Dissertation Into a Book, by Theresa MacPhail MacPhail shares advice from writing her own first book as well as advice from editors at university presses.

In reading some of the resources listed above, you might encounter discussions of how having your dissertation available online (for example, in Penn State's ETD repository ) could negatively impact a publisher's willingness to look at your manuscript. Some authors assert that you should not put your dissertation online if you hope to sign a publishing contract. However, please note there is very little evidence to support this view. In fact, research has shown that publishers will indeed consider manuscripts that are revised versions of openly-accessible dissertations:

  • Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities? Findings from a 2011 Survey of Academic Publishers, by Ramirez, et al.


This guide is based in part on Copyright for Dissertations , a guide from the University of Michigan Library Copyright Office, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license .

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What is a thesis and dissertation.

The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student's research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is chosen by mutual agreement between the student and major adviser, and must be approved by the student's Supervisory Committee. There is no fixed length for the thesis/dissertation, although the Supervisory Committee should provide guidance on format and content.

Masters theses should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student's ability to use the techniques employed in their field of investigation. Doctoral dissertations should demonstrate technical mastery of the student's field and advance or modify current knowledge. Dissertations should treat new material, find new results, or draw new conclusions; or it should interpret old material in a new light. It is expected that the research contained in the thesis/dissertation will be worthy of publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. Students are expected to prepare the manuscript(s) for publication prior to, or soon after, completion of their graduate program.

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Harvard University Theses, Dissertations, and Prize Papers

The Harvard University Archives ’ collection of theses, dissertations, and prize papers document the wide range of academic research undertaken by Harvard students over the course of the University’s history.

Beyond their value as pieces of original research, these collections document the history of American higher education, chronicling both the growth of Harvard as a major research institution as well as the development of numerous academic fields. They are also an important source of biographical information, offering insight into the academic careers of the authors.

Printed list of works awarded the Bowdoin prize in 1889-1890.

Spanning from the ‘theses and quaestiones’ of the 17th and 18th centuries to the current yearly output of student research, they include both the first Harvard Ph.D. dissertation (by William Byerly, Ph.D . 1873) and the dissertation of the first woman to earn a doctorate from Harvard ( Lorna Myrtle Hodgkinson , Ed.D. 1922).

Other highlights include:

  • The collection of Mathematical theses, 1782-1839
  • The 1895 Ph.D. dissertation of W.E.B. Du Bois, The suppression of the African slave trade in the United States, 1638-1871
  • Ph.D. dissertations of astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (Ph.D. 1925) and physicist John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (Ph.D. 1922)
  • Undergraduate honors theses of novelist John Updike (A.B. 1954), filmmaker Terrence Malick (A.B. 1966),  and U.S. poet laureate Tracy Smith (A.B. 1994)
  • Undergraduate prize papers and dissertations of philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson (A.B. 1821), George Santayana (Ph.D. 1889), and W.V. Quine (Ph.D. 1932)
  • Undergraduate honors theses of U.S. President John F. Kennedy (A.B. 1940) and Chief Justice John Roberts (A.B. 1976)

What does a prize-winning thesis look like?

If you're a Harvard undergraduate writing your own thesis, it can be helpful to review recent prize-winning theses. The Harvard University Archives has made available for digital lending all of the Thomas Hoopes Prize winners from the 2019-2021 academic years.

Accessing These Materials

How to access materials at the Harvard University Archives

How to find and request dissertations, in person or virtually

How to find and request undergraduate honors theses

How to find and request Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize papers

How to find and request Bowdoin Prize papers

  • email: Email
  • Phone number 617-495-2461

Related Collections

Harvard faculty personal and professional archives, harvard student life collections: arts, sports, politics and social life, access materials at the harvard university archives.

Home / Guides / Citation Guides / APA Format / How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

How to Cite a Thesis or Dissertation in APA

In this citation guide, you will learn how to reference and cite an undergraduate thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. This guide will also review the differences between a thesis or dissertation that is published and one that has remained unpublished. The guidelines below come from the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020a), pages 333 and 334. Please note that the association is not affiliated with this guide.

Alternatively, you can visit for helpful citation tools to cite your thesis or dissertation .

Guide Overview

Citing an unpublished thesis or dissertation, citing a published dissertation or thesis from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database, citing a thesis or dissertation: reference overview, what you need.

Since unpublished theses can usually only be sourced in print form from a university library, the correct citation structure includes the university name where the publisher element usually goes.

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case [Unpublished degree type thesis or dissertation]. Name of institution.

Ames, J. H., & Doughty, L. H. (1911). The proposed plans for the Iowa State College athletic field including the design of a reinforced concrete grandstand and wall [Unpublished bachelor’s thesis]. Iowa State University.

In-text citation example:

  • Parenthetical :  (Ames & Doughty, 1911)
  • Narrative :  Ames & Doughty (1911)

If a thesis or dissertation has been published and is found on a database, then follow the structure below. It’s similar to the format for an unpublished dissertation/thesis, but with a few differences:

  • The institution is presented in brackets after the title
  • The archive or database name is included

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year published). Title in sentence case (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Database name.

Examples 1:

Knight, K. A. (2011). Media epidemics: Viral structures in literature and new media (Accession No. 2013420395) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

Example dissertation-thesis

Trotman, J.B. (2018). New insights into the biochemistry and cell biology of RNA recapping (Document No. osu1523896565730483) [Doctoral dissertation, Ohio State University]. OhioLINK Electronic Theses & Dissertations Center.

In the example given above, the dissertation is presented with a Document Number (Document No.). Sometimes called a database number or publication number, this is the identifier that is used by the database’s indexing system. If the database you are using provides you with such a number, then include it directly after the work’s title in parentheses.

If you are interested in learning more about how to handle works that were accessed via academic research databases, see Section 9.3 of the Publication Manual.

In-text citation examples :

  • Parenthetical citation : (Trotman, 2018)
  • Narrative citation : Trotman (2018)

Author’s last name, F. M. (Year Published). Title in sentence case [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Name of institution]. Name of archive or collection. URL

Kim, O. (2019). Soviet tableau: cinema and history under late socialism [Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh]. Institutional Repository at the University of Pittsburgh.

Stiles, T. W. (2001). Doing science: Teachers’ authentic experiences at the Lone Star Dinosaur Field Institute [Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University]. OAKTrust.

It is important to note that not every thesis or dissertation published online will be associated with a specific archive or collection. If the work is published on a private website, provide only the URL as the source element.

In-text citation examples:

  • Parenthetical citation : (Kim, 2019)
  • Narrative citation : Kim (2019)
  • Parenthetical citation : (Stiles, 2001)
  • Narrative citation : Stiles (2001)

dissertation and thesis Citations for APA 7

We hope that the information provided here will serve as an effective guide for your research. If you’re looking for even more citation info, visit for a comprehensive collection of educational materials covering multiple source types.

If you’re citing a variety of different sources, consider taking the EasyBib citation generator for a spin. It can help you cite easily and offers citation forms for several different kinds of sources.

To start things off, let’s take a look at the different types of literature that are classified under Chapter 10.6 of the Publication Manual :

  • Undergraduate thesis
  • Master’s thesis
  • Doctoral dissertation

You will need to know which type you are citing. You’ll also need to know if it is published or unpublished .

When you decide to cite a dissertation or thesis, you’ll need to look for the following information to use in your citation:

  • Author’s last name, and first and middle initials
  • Year published
  • Title of thesis or dissertation
  • If it is unpublished
  • Publication or document number (if applicable; for published work)
  • Degree type (bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral)
  • Thesis or dissertation
  • Name of institution awarding degree
  • DOI ( or URL (if applicable)

Since theses and dissertations are directly linked to educational degrees, it is necessary to list the name of the associated institution; i.e., the college, university, or school that is awarding the associated degree.

To get an idea of the proper form, take a look at the examples below. There are three outlined scenarios:

  • Unpublished thesis or dissertation
  • Published thesis or dissertation from a database
  • Thesis or dissertation published online but not from a database

American Psychological Association. (2020a). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.).

American Psychological Association. (2020b). Style-Grammar-Guidelines.

Published August 10, 2012. Updated March 24, 2020.

Written and edited by Michele Kirschenbaum and Elise Barbeau. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist and the in-house librarian at Elise Barbeau is the Citation Specialist at Chegg. She has worked in digital marketing, libraries, and publishing.

APA Formatting Guide

APA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Multiple Authors
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Parenthetical Citations
  • Reference Page
  • Sample Paper
  • APA 7 Updates
  • View APA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
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  • Website (no author)
  • View all APA Examples

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To cite a published thesis in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, publication year, title of the thesis, institute name, archive name, and URL (uniform resource locator). The templates for an in-text citation and reference list entry of a thesis, along with examples, are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

Use the author surname and the publication year in the in-text citation.

Author Surname (Publication Year)

Cartmel (2007)


(Author Surname, Publication Year)

(Cartmel, 2007)

Reference list entry template and example:

The title of the thesis is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose the thesis and the institute awarding the degree inside brackets following the publication year. Then add the name of the database followed by the URL.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the thesis [Master’s thesis, Institute Name]. Name of the Database. URL

Cartmel, J. (2007). Outside school hours care and schools [Master’s thesis, Queensland University of Technology]. EPrints.

To cite an unpublished dissertation in APA style, it is important that you know some basic information such as the author, year, title of the dissertation, and institute name. The templates for in-text citation and reference list entry of an online thesis, along with examples, are given below:

Author Surname (Year)

Averill (2009)

(Author Surname, Year)

(Averill, 2009)

The title of the dissertation is set in sentence case and italicized. Enclose “Unpublished doctoral dissertation” inside brackets following the year. Then add the name of the institution awarding the degree.

Author Surname, F. M. (Publication Year). Title of the dissertation [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Name of the Institute.

Averill, R. (2009). Teacher–student relationships in diverse New Zealand year 10 mathematics classrooms: Teacher care [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Victoria University of Wellington.

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Dissertation vs Thesis: The Differences that Matter


As a graduate student, you will have many different types of challenging coursework and assignments. However, the biggest project that you’ll work on when earning your master’s or doctoral degree will be your thesis or dissertation . The differences between a dissertation vs thesis are plenty. That’s because each of these pieces of writing happen at different times in one’s educational journey.

Let’s break down what a dissertation and thesis are so that you have a strong handle on what’s expected. For both a thesis and a dissertation, there is an obvious fluency and understanding of the subject one studies.

Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences.

Photo by  Glenn Carstens-Peters  on  Unsplash

What is a dissertation.

When you enter a doctoral program to earn a PhD, you will learn a lot about how to conduct your own research. At the culmination of your degree program, you’ll produce a dissertation.

A dissertation is a lengthy piece of written work that includes original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic. As the doctoral student, you get to choose what you want to explore and write about within your field of study.

What is a Thesis?

A thesis is also a scholarly piece of writing, but it is for those who are graduating from a master’s program. A thesis allows students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying.

Main Differences Between a Thesis vs. Dissertation

The biggest difference between a thesis and a dissertation is that a thesis is based on existing research.

On the other hand, a dissertation will more than likely require the doctoral student to conduct their own research and then perform analysis. The other big difference is that a thesis is for master’s students and the dissertation is for PhD students.

Structural Differences Between a Thesis and a Dissertation

Structurally, the two pieces of written analysis have many differences.

  • A thesis is at least 100 pages in length
  • A dissertation is 2-3x that in length
  • A thesis expands upon and analyzes existing research
  • A dissertation’s content is mostly attributed to the student as the author

Research Content and Oral Presentation

Once completed, some programs require students to orally present their thesis and dissertation to a panel of faculty members.

Typically, a dissertation oral presentation can take several hours. On the other hand, a thesis only takes about an hour to present and answer questions.

Let’s look at how the two scholarly works are similar and different:


  • Each is considered a final project and required to graduate
  • Both require immense understanding of the material
  • Written skills are key to complete both
  • Neither can be plagiarized
  • Both are used to defend an argument
  • Both require analytical skills
  • You will have to draft, rewrite, and edit both pieces of writing
  • For both, it is useful to have another person look over before submission
  • Both papers are given deadlines


  • A dissertation is longer than a thesis
  • A dissertation requires new research
  • A dissertation requires a hypothesis that is then proven
  • A thesis chooses a stance on an existing idea and defends it with analysis
  • A dissertation has a longer oral presentation component

The Differences in Context: Location Matters

The united states.

In the US, everything that was previously listed is how schools differentiate between a thesis and a dissertation. A thesis is performed by master’s students, and a dissertation is written by PhD candidates.

In Europe, the distinction between a thesis and dissertation becomes a little more cloudy. That’s because PhD programs may require a doctoral thesis to graduate. Then, as a part of a broader post-graduate research project, students may complete a dissertation.

Photo by  Russ Ward  on  Unsplash

The purpose behind written research.

Each piece of writing is an opportunity for a student to demonstrate his or her ability to think critically, express their opinions in writing, and present their findings in front of their department.

Graduate degrees take a lot of time, energy, and hard work to complete. When it comes to writing such lengthy and informative pieces, there is a lot of time management that is involved. The purpose of both a thesis and a dissertation are written proof that you understand and have mastered the subject matter of your degree.

Degree Types

A doctoral degree, or PhD, is the highest degree that one can earn. In most cases, students follow the following path to achieve this level of education: Earn a bachelor’s degree, then a master’s, and then a PhD. While not every job title requires this deep educational knowledge, the salaries that come along with each level of higher education increase accordingly.

Earning Your Degree

Whether you are currently a prospective student considering earning your higher education degree or a student enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program, you know the benefits of education.

However, for some, earning a traditional degree on-campus doesn’t make sense. This could be because of the financial challenges, familial obligations, accessibility, or any other number of reasons.

For students who are seeking their higher education degrees but need a flexible, affordable, and quality alternative to traditional college, take a look at the programs that the University of the People has to offer.

University of the People is an entirely online, US accredited and tuition-free institution dedicated to higher education. You can earn your Master’s in Business Administration or your Master’s in Education . Not to mention, there are a handful of associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs to choose from as well.

If you want to learn more, get in touch with us !

The Bottom Line

Regardless of where and when you earn your master’s or doctoral degree, you will likely have to complete a thesis or dissertation. The main difference between a thesis and dissertation is the level at which you complete them. A thesis is for a master’s degree, and a dissertation is for a doctoral degree.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of having to research and write so much. Your educational journey has prepared you with the right time management skills and writing skills to make this feat achievable!

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Thesis Vs. Dissertation — Know the difference and similarities!

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The academic world is filled with many different types of writing assignments, each with its own unique set of requirements and expectations. One common source of confusion for students is the distinction between a thesis and a dissertation. Both are long-form academic works, but there are several key differences between the two that are important to understand.

In Shakespeare’s day, a candidate for a master’s degree would write a thesis, an original paper in which he maintained a certain proposition. Whereas, completion of a doctoral program required submission and defense of a dissertation. He would read his thesis to his committee, after which he sat in silence while two faculty members gave point-by-point refutations of everything the candidate said.

The focus here was on the student’s ideas and his ability to arrange and express them clearly. If a student wished to advance further in academia he could pursue a dissertation. This was more of a  literature review . He would read widely in a particular area and write up his findings, discussing the various authorities and their opinions. The point was to demonstrate that he was well-versed in the literature of the field. While the confusion between the two terms is understandable, we shall tackle the dissertation vs. thesis topic in this article and provide unambiguous insights on it.

Table of Contents

What Is a Thesis?

A thesis is a critically written scholarly piece of research work. Typically, it is submitted by students graduating from a master’s program. The purpose of a thesis is to allow students to showcase their knowledge and expertise within the subject matter they have been studying as part of the program.

What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a comparatively lengthier piece of scholarly writing that accounts for your research work throughout the doctoral program. A researcher earns the Ph.D. after submitting and defending his/her dissertation. It includes all information about the original research or expanded research on a new or existing topic conducted by the Ph.D. candidate.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Differences

  • The primary difference between a thesis and a dissertation is the time when they are completed. As mentioned earlier, a thesis is presented at the culmination of a master’s program, whereas, a dissertation is presented to earn a Ph.D.
  • A thesis is a compilation of research ensuring that the researcher is well-informed and has knowledge about the research topic learned in the study program. On the other hand, a dissertation provides an opportunity for the researcher to contribute new theories and information to the existing literature in the research field.
  • A thesis is a presentation of learned and existing information, while the purpose of a dissertation is to develop a unique concept and defend it based on theoretical and practical results.
  • A master’s thesis is approximately 100 pages in length. However, a Ph.D. dissertation should be much longer than a thesis and must include background and research information. A dissertation must include your research proposal, grant proposal, literature review , ideation of research topic, and every other minute detail about your research. Ideally, a dissertation inclusive of all details mentioned above should be three times the length of a master’s thesis.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Similarities

  • Both a thesis and a dissertation are considered final projects and are required to graduate from respective programs.
  • The thesis and dissertation both require a deep and accurate understanding of the research problem.
  • Both forms of scholarly written pieces must address specific research questions.
  • Academic writing skills are imperative for a thesis as well as a dissertation.
  • Ethical practices must be followed while collating and documenting research data.
  • Plagiarism is not accepted in either.
  • Both require analytical skills to support the findings.
  • It is essential that both undergo intense dissertation/ thesis editing  and  critical proofreading  before final submission.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: Europe

In Europe, the original distinction between a thesis and a dissertation has been largely retained. A doctoral thesis is a focused piece of original research that is performed to obtain a Ph.D. A dissertation is part of a broader post-graduate research project.


However, the thesis has evolved since original research nowadays requires plenty of background research . So, a thesis will contain extensive citations and references to earlier work, although the focus remains on the original work that comes out of it.

Dissertation vs. Thesis: USA

In the United States, the definition of a thesis is almost the opposite of that in Europe. Because a thesis is shorter than a dissertation it gradually came to mean a preliminary degree on the way to a doctorate. A thesis is now performed to earn a Master’s degree. In scientific fields, a master’s candidate takes advanced coursework and gains hands-on experience in a research project but does not direct the project to the same extent that he would in a doctoral program. In a master’s project, the student’s ideas are welcomed and expected but the focus is on obtaining technical expertise, not doing original research. Engineering students commonly obtain Master’s degrees and seldom go on to get PhDs. In other fields such as Chemistry, the opposite is true, with a Master’s degree no longer being required as the first step for a doctorate. Almost everyone I know who received a Master’s degree in Chemistry got one because they dropped out of graduate school and wrote their truncated research as a Master’s project.

In a Nutshell

Needless to say, the dissertation vs. thesis facts are real. Therefore, using one term instead of another is not acceptable as an academic. One must remember the purpose of each and use them accordingly. However, one is not undermined by the other. Whether you are writing a thesis or a dissertation, both must be done with the same seriousness. Both require critical technical and soft skills. Improving your time management and academic writing skills plays a major role in acing both forms of scholarly writing.

How do you decipher dissertation vs. thesis? Should the interchanged usage of these terms be acceptable? How is your approach to writing a thesis different from that of a dissertation? What are the other differences associated with the thesis and dissertation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Frequently Asked Questions

"Dissertation" and "thesis" are used interchangeably but differ in: Academic Level: Thesis for master's, dissertation for doctoral degrees (US). Scope and Depth: Thesis shorter, demonstrates mastery; dissertation extensive, original research. Originality: Thesis may involve original analysis; dissertation presents significant new insights. Time and Effort: Dissertations require more resources and time than theses.

The length of a dissertation varies depending on factors like academic discipline, research topic, institution, and country. Generally, dissertations are longer than theses, ranging from 10,000 to over 100,000 words. However, word count alone does not reflect the quality or depth of the research. Guidelines from the academic institution should be consulted for specific requirements.

The length of a thesis varies depending on factors like academic discipline, research topic, institution, and country. Generally, the word count ranges from around 10,000 to 50,000 words. Specific guidelines from the academic institution should be consulted for precise requirements.

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Dissertation vs Thesis: What is the Difference Between Them?

dissertation vs thesis

If you are a graduate student or planning to advance after attaining a bachelor’s degree, one of the requirements to graduate with a master’s or Ph.D. degree is writing a thesis or dissertation. Though the terms “thesis” and “dissertation” are used interchangeably in some universities, there are some outstanding differences. In most cases, a thesis is submitted at the close of a master’s degree while a dissertation is used at the Ph.D. level. Here is a deeper analysis of dissertation vs thesis to establish the main differences, and how to write them.

What Is The Difference Between a Dissertation and a Thesis

To demonstrate the main difference between a thesis and a dissertation, we will go back to back to the beginning. During Shakespeare’s days, a master’s student was required to write a thesis. That was an original paper where the student maintained a specific proposition. The focus was on the student’s ideas. Then, he would read the thesis to the thesis committee that would assess his/her ideas, their arrangement, and clarity.

When the master’s student wanted to advance in academics, he/she was required to work on a dissertation. Unlike the thesis, which was mainly based on the student’s idea, the dissertation was a sort of literature review of works done by others. The student was required to read widely in his area of interest and write findings discussing various opinions and authorities.

Dissertation vs Thesis in Europe : The distinction between dissertations and thesis in Europe largely follows what was used during Shakespeare’s era. However, the names are interchanged. A thesis is an original research work that a student has to complete to be awarded a Ph.D. However, a dissertation is part of the research project for a master’s degree.

Dissertation vs thesis in the US : In the United States, a thesis is shorter when compared a dissertation. It is performed by students working towards the award of a master’s degree. In some courses, especially the field subjects, master’s students are required to take advanced coursework.

If you want to pursue a Ph.D. in the US, you will be required to write a dissertation. That is an extensive and original research project.

Dissertation vs Thesis: Major Similarities

Once you have established “what is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation”, it is important to move a step further and check their similarities. Here are some of them:

Both papers are prepared by post-graduate students either at the master or Ph.D. levels.

In both dissertations and thesis, the student is required to select a topic of study and write a complex paper to demonstrate the level of skills and knowledge.

Whether you are working on a thesis or dissertation, the first step is writing a proposal .

Both thesis and dissertations require a defense. That means presenting your work to the assessment committee and defending the study before getting awarded a master’s or Ph.D. degree.

Plagiarism is forbidden when writing a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation.

Dissertation vs  Thesis: What It Takes To Pass

For graduate students or those planning to pursue postgraduate studies in the future, understanding the similarities and differences between a thesis and dissertation project is central to their success. Perhaps the most important thing is being able to look ahead and understand the dynamics along the way. Here are some dynamics of dissertation vs thesis that you need to pass

The role of your supervisor: Whether you are doing a Ph.D. thesis or dissertation, your university will allocate you a supervisor to help you along the way. However, the supervisor is not meant to do the work for you or tell you how to do it. You should consult the supervisor regularly to tell him/her about your progress with the thesis work.

Your thesis timelines: One of the answers to the question, “what is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation”, is timelines. When doing a thesis or dissertation for your master’s degree, will require about six to nine months. But a Ph.D. dissertation project will require more than one year. Irrespective of these timelines, the defense of your thesis is scheduled when the project is completed successfully – not at the convenience of the student. Therefore, if you plan to graduate faster, it is important to work towards completing your thesis or dissertation project fast.

Masters dissertation templates: In some universities, graduate students are provided with dissertation templates. You need to follow this strictly because it will be the first benchmark during your thesis assessment. If you do not have a thesis or dissertation template, you have to craft a good structure. A good way to know this is by looking at other top master’s thesis examples and using their structure.

When to seek thesis writing help: In thesis and dissertations preparation, the involved work can be exhausting. Even when you are sure that everything is done well, it is advisable to seek help from other master’s students, especially on editing and proofreading. Ask your friends to be critical and honestly tell you where the thesis or dissertation needs improvement. You can also procure cheap editing services from professional editors.

Dissertation and  Thesis  – Now You Know The Difference

The difference between a thesis and a dissertation, as demonstrated in this post, depends on the region and university where a student is studying. However, it was clear that whether you are working on a thesis or dissertation, a lot of work goes into preparing the final report. You need to study extensively, research, and write the report that will be submitted to the assessment committee. If you find it a challenge to prepare a complex thesis or dissertation paper, do not hesitate to seek thesis writing help from experts.

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Difference Between A Dissertation, Thesis, Paper, And Publication?

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Scratching your brain to figure out the difference between Thesis Writing and a dissertation? If you are a final year student or working on scientific projects of a PhD, the degree will be required to write a thesis, research paper, or dissertation.

Let us Discuss Deeply The Distinctions Between A Thesis, A Dissertation, And A Research Paper.

 Dissertation: It is a paper that is written for a university degree or diploma. Individual researchers can also start writing a Ph.D. dissertation.

 Thesis Writing: A qualified scientific research document written by students in order to acquire an education degree or credentials during their university education.

 Research papers: It is a type of Academic Paper that is usually written as part of a class necessity. You must conduct objective research when conducting research.

After you’ve completed it, you’ll need to write a summary of your findings. Furthermore, you present your thoughts and arguments on the subject at hand.

The inner core of such papers is something that all three of these have in widespread. In each of them, you’ll find an initiation, review of literature, methodology of the study, results, conversation, and summary.

Thesis Writing

5 Notable Distinguishment On Dissertation Vs Thesis:

 Dissertation, on the other way, you must conduct your own research.

 A thesis is shorter than a dissertation and gets less time to accomplish. A dissertation, on the other hand, is longer and takes more time to complete.

 In order to uncover your decision in the dissertation, you must have a good understanding of new discoveries.

 However, a hypothesis based on your research work must be included in a thesis.

 Mostly in a particular instance of a thesis, you are eligible for a scholarship, whereas, in the case of a dissertation, you are not.

Significant Configuration Between Thesis And A Dissertation:

In order to write a thesis, you must first study a specific topic, analyze it, and ask a question on the findings. You must be sympathetic to the topic you are working on. When writing a thesis, you must think critically gather information in great detail. Individuals must choose a subject for their Thesis Writing that is most relevant to the expert specialized field they want to continue. A thesis should be at least pages long, if not more.

In a Thesis Writing Services , you must conduct all of your research on your own because your facilitator will only be able to provide limited guidance. Another option is to hire a published author to assist you with your thesis. In contrast to a thesis, a dissertation makes use of other people’s research for inspiration. It’s up to you to prove your own hypothesis, theory, or concept. When a thesis and a dissertation are compared, the latter is longer. A dissertation entails a significant amount of research data.

Fundamental Steps On Thesis Writing Format:

 Step 1: Choose a methodological approach that interests you.

 Step 2: Choose an endeavor that is special.

 Step 3: Related to your project, ask well-defined questions.

  Step 4 : Take a glance at educational initiatives that integrate employable skills.

 Step 5: Visualize your final Publications

Finally, Academic papers are distinguished by a number of factors. The most essential thing, regardless of the technique or intention of these papers, is that students demonstrate their textual abilities. Furthermore, Thesis writing help to improves your knowledge of various aspects of the subject.

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