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Basic Format

Let’s start with the default option for citing a thesis or dissertation:

Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of dissertation or thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master’s thesis). Retrieved from database x. (Accession or order number)

In practice, this is what that looks like:

Nyet, D. (2005). Procrastination and dissertation completion times at three Ontario universities (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (Order No. 1234567)

However, sometimes a thesis or dissertation is not found in a commercial database such as ProQuest or Dissertation Abstracts International. In such cases you can provide a URL or a location instead (see below for examples).


Unpublished Dissertation or Thesis

For unpublished dissertations and theses, provide the institution and location (instead of retrieval information):

Fleming, C. T. (1998). Valentine’s Day and the Macedonian horticultural industry (Master’s thesis). Saints Cyril and Methodius University, Skopje, Macedonia.

Dissertation From the Web

When you’re not using a commercial database, you may want to include a URL and the name of the university.

Obvius, C. (2014). The psychology of common sense (Doctoral dissertation, Donair University). Retrieved from https://www.psychphds.edu/157/thesis/

If the URL links directly to the institution’s database, then you don’t have to include the name of the university in parentheses.

For universities outside the United States you can also provide the city and country name:

(Doctoral dissertation, Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France)


If you’re citing just the abstract then you don’t need to use italics for the title:

Cinder, E. (2003). A few insights into the aural passages of the hippopotamus (Doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B. Sciences and Engineering 63(4), 1556.