How to Cite a Dissertation

You have come to the right place if you are looking forward to learning different formatting styles. In this citation guide, you will come across several useful tips for your dissertation or master’s thesis. You will also learn the differences between a published dissertation and an unpublished one.

How to Cite an Unpublished Dissertation or Master’s Thesis?

Unpublished theses are usually accessible in print form via one source only; university libraries. In this case, the proper citation structure requires you to include the name of the university. This should be done where you usually find the publisher element. Also, you can buy dissertation online to seek professional help.

Its structure follows the sequence where you will be starting from the author’s last, F.M, followed by the year of publication. Next comes the title of the work in a sentence. Mention that it is an unpublished work by including [Unpublished dissertation or master’s thesis]. Finally, end it with the name of the institution or university. In short, answer these questions in order; who, when, what, where.


Luis, H. J., & Dough, M. H. (1952). The proposed design concerning the Iowa State College sports field including the structure of a concrete grandstand [Unpublished dissertations and theses database]. Iowa State College.

How to Cite a Published Thesis or Dissertation from a Database?

A published dissertation is available to you through a database. It follows almost the same format as the unpublished one with minute differences. First, the name of the institution is mentioned within brackets right after the title. Also, the database or archive name is written.  The rest of the formatting remains the same.

The structure starts from writing the author’s last, F. M. Next (year published). Then comes the title is written in sentence case (Documentation or Publication number). [Dissertation or degree type, name of the university or institution]. Finally, include the name of the database.


Kendal, K.A. (2001). Viral structures in new media (Documentation No. 20134768) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Ohio]. Pro-Dissertations Publishing.

How to Cite a Published Dissertation or Thesis Not from a Database?

There is another type of published dissertation or thesis which is not sourced from a database. It is published online, just not in a similar manner as the previous one. This means you do not have to include the name and source of the archive being utilized.  Here, the structure follows the following sequence.

First, the Author’s Last, F. M. Then comes the (Year Published), followed by the title written in sentence case. Next include, [dissertation or thesis type, Institution’s name]. Finally, include the name of the collection or archive and the URL.


Kyle, O. (2016). Soviet tableau: theatre and cinema under the umbrella of socialism [Doctoral dissertation, Cardiff University]. Institutional Repository at the Cardiff University.

An important consideration here is to understand that every online publication might not be associated with a collection or archive. In this case, provide the URL of the private website as the source element.

FAQ Section About Citing a Dissertation

Now that you know the distinction between a published and unpublished doctoral dissertation, you should have knowledge about different formatting styles. The most widely used are APA. MLA, and Chicago. Here are a few most commonly asked questions you might also be interested in while learning how to cite a doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis. Let’s look into it.

How to cite a dissertation in APA style?

For every citation made, you have to include an in-text citation within the paragraphs. For every in-text citation in your work, there needs to be a corresponding entry in the reference list at the end of your work.

When using APA in-text citations, the structure you have to follow is by starting from the author’s last name, then the year of publication. In case of direct quotations, you will be required to mention the page numbers as well. For sources where there are no page numbers, like an eBook or website, use paragraph number instead.


Several researchers in the field of linguistics have designed training programs that are aimed at improving the ability of native speakers to understand and interpret accented speech (Darwin et al., 2010; Tom, 2005). The training techniques employed are based on the research as described above. It proves that there is a noticeable improvement in comprehension with an increase in exposure to non-native speech.

For references, start by the author’s name where their last names should be mentioned first, then the published date next comes the title, followed by the location of the publisher and the retrieved URL.

Citation Example:
Taub, J. (2013). Reasons for short-term memory loss. Science and discovery, 1(34), 25-27. doi:11. 1134/T0069-7264-5492%1230%67897-9

How to cite a dissertation in MLA format?

For dissertation citation, write the name of the author, title, followed by publication date. As an optional component, list the name of the institution that is granting the degree. In cases where the name of the author is not known, you should use the title of the study as the in-text citation. There has to be a corresponding entry in the reference.


Najaf, Jessie. Performing with Passion: A Study on the Medieval Acting. 2016. Southwestern University, Ph.D. thesis. If you sourced your dissertation via an online repository, write this fact as the second container’s title.

Citation Example:
Najaf, Jessie. Performing with Passion: A Study on the Medieval Acting. 2016. Southwestern University, Ph.D. thesis. ProQuest, find. ProQuest/doc/20345766?accountID=3489.

How to cite a dissertation in Chicago format?

When referring to any source of information, the Chicago style gives a short citation in its simplest form. This consists of the name of the author and the publication date. Within the text, the brief references are given partly or wholly in round brackets.

In the references section, start with the surname of the author. Then add the year of publication. Mention the page as well as chapter, section, and specific page numbers. There is no such distinction in the formatting between journals, books, and other forms except the electronic documents.

The format is the author’s last name, then the first name. Year of publication. Title. Place of publication: publisher.


Intestinal scarring can be caused due to several factors (Olvie 2000, 16-18). would be written in the reference list as:

Olive, Tim H. 2000. Animal Medicine. MD: Wilkins and Williams. Huma, Albert. 1933. The theory of capitalism. Princeton: Press of Princeton University.

Formatting a dissertation can be very overwhelming for students. This guide will help you cite a Ph.D. dissertation with perfection. Follow the instructions above to write a professional-looking doctoral thesis. However, do remember that it is a skill that requires time to master. Be patient, consistent, and practice!

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