101 of Referencing Theses/Dissertations in APA, MLA, & Harvard

Referencing is a crucial factor in academic assignments, whether it’s an essay or a dissertation. However, for most students citing sources without using an APA, a Vancouver or Harvard referencing generator is a complete nightmare.

Referencing can be daunting if you are not thorough with the principles, be it AGLC referencing or Vancouver referencing. Since referencing vary between universities, departments, institutions, and lecturers, it’s crucial that you consult your professor about the referencing style accepted in your university.

For instance, Harvard, MLA, and APA are widely popular in most universities worldwide.

  • MLA (Modern Language Association) – Humanities, Music, Linguistics, etc.
  • APA (American Psychological Association) – Psychology, Education, Social Sciences, ,online exam etc.
  • Harvard – Natural Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences, etc.


To answer in two words – AVERT PLAGIARISM.

Plagiarism is copy-pasting an author’s ideas or using them directly or indirectly in your work without proper citations. Accurate citations:

  • Give the source its due credit.
  • Validate your point and increases your paper’s credibility
  • Allow readers to refer to the source of information and verify the accuracy.
  • Showcase your effort and proves your understanding of the topic
  • Save you from the unfavourable consequences of plagiarism.


Recording sufficient information in references can help your reader find the source quickly. Some of the vital details are:

  • Authors – Include the author/s name/s. First, write the surname and then the initials. For 3+ authors, cite the first author and use ‘et al.’
  • Title of the work – Write the title in italics and the edition for books.
  • Date of publication – Always include publication date in brackets for journals, web pages, or newspaper articles.
  • Page Numbers – Include the page numbers for referencing a specific chapter of a book. Use p. 34 for page number 34 or pp. 34-40 for multiple pages.
  • Publication information – Mention the publisher’s name and the place of publication.
  • URL and date of access – Include URL or DOI with the date when you accessed the page.


To help you get a proper idea of the formats, I have outlined the format for citing a dissertation/thesis in APA, MLA, & Harvard style.


While citing a thesis or dissertation, include the following:

  1. Author’s last name and then the initials
  2. Year of publication
  3. Title of the dissertation
  4. Degree type
  5. Thesis or dissertation
  6. Institution’s name

Note: In academic works, it’s necessary to list the institution’s name awarding the degrees.

In case of a published dissertation, also include,

  • Document number (if mentioned)
  • DOI or URL (if needed)

 Unpublished Thesis/Dissertation

Unpublished dissertations or theses are primarily available in print form. So, it’s essential to include the university name.


Author’s Last, F. M. (Year of publication). Title [Unpublished Degree type thesis or dissertation]. Institution’s name.


Jonas, J. K., & Peterson, L. T. (1999). The proposed plans for the sustainable use of oysters in Japan [Unpublished Master’s dissertation]. Kyoto University.

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical:  (Jonas & Peterson, 1999)
  • Narrative:  Jonas & Peterson (1999)

Published Thesis/Dissertation

For a published dissertation, follow the same structure but include the institution’s name after writing the degree type. Also, include the database’s name.


Author’s Last, F. M. (Year of publication). Title (Publication or Document No.) [Degree type thesis or dissertation. Institution’s name]. Database name.

Example 2:

Jonathan, M.B. (2019). New insights into the new strains of the coronavirus (Document No. osh15898730483) [Doctoral dissertation, St. Thomas University]. St.Thomas Electronic Dissertations Centre.

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical citation: (Jonathan, 2019)
  • Narrative citation: Jonathan (2019)

Published Thesis/Dissertation but no Database


Author’s Last, F. M. (Year of publication). Title [Degree type thesis or dissertation, Institution’s name]. Name of the collection. URL


Jim, T. (2017). Soviet influence: socio-culture under late modernism [Master’s dissertation, J&M University]. Dissertation Repository at the J&M University. https://J&M-kjkkk/3766865a%2Jimhyghhgjk20Finalo0pD.pdf

Steel, T. K. (1999). Teaching science: Teachers’ experiences at the community colleges [Master’s thesis, Tinsel University]. SunTrust. https://fgl.jkgsjggb198.1/KLK-TGHJ-1999-THESIS-S556

Note: Not every published thesis or dissertation will be a part of a collection. In the case of a private website, include only the URL.

In-text citation:

  • Parenthetical citation: (Jim, 2017)
  • Narrative citation: Jim (2017)
  • Parenthetical citation: (Steel, 1999)
  • Narrative citation: Steel (1999)


For citing a thesis or dissertation in MLA, include the following:

  1. Author(s) last name and then first name
  2. Thesis or dissertation title (italicised)
  3. Dissertation or thesis
  4. Institution name
  5. Year published
  6. Print/web
  7. Accessed date
  • Unpublished Thesis/Dissertation

Note: For unpublished dissertation/thesis, quote the titles.

Structure for print:

Author’s last nameFirst M. “Title of Dissertation/Thesis.” Dissertation/thesis.  Institute nameyear published. Format.


Dickson, Tara Samuel. “Understanding the Postmodernism Gender Diversity.” Diss. Sunflower University, 2010. Print.

In-text citation: (Dickson 119)

Structure for web:

Author’s last nameFirst M. “Title of Dissertation/Thesis.” Dissertation/thesis.  Institute nameyear published. Title of Database. Format. Accessed date.


Smith, Peach. “Psychological Distress and the Internet.” Diss. MGH University, 2009. Dissertations and Theses Repository. Web. 18 August 2011.

In-text citation: (Smith 21-101)

  • Published Thesis/Dissertation

Note: Help with My Report For a published thesis/dissertation, the title is italicised, and the year of publication is mentioned.

Structure for Print:

Author’s last nameFirst M. Title of Dissertation/Thesis. Dissertation/thesis.  Institute nameyear published. Publication Place: UMIpublication yearAccession No. Format.


Bergson, Jeff. Pollution and Natural Disaster in the 21st Century. MA Thesis. George University, 2010. AGK ACRE: UMI, 2010. ABR 9865622. Print.

In-text citation: (Bergson 11)

Structure for Web:

Author’s last nameFirst M. Title of Dissertation/Thesis. Dissertation/thesis.  Institute nameyear published. Format. Date assessed.


Hamilton, John K. Conquering Negativity: Improving Mental Health of the 21st Century Teenagers. Thesis. ERM Public University, 2017. Web. 17 October 2019.

In-text citation: (Hamilton 19-63)


The basics of citing a thesis or dissertation in Harvard style include:

  1. Author(s) last name and then first name
  2. Year
  3. Thesis or dissertation title in single inverted commas
  4. Type of Dissertation/thesis
  5. Institution name
  6. City
  7. Accessed date
  8. URL
  • Unpublished Thesis/Dissertation


Author’s last name, Initial(s) Year, ‘Title of Dissertation/Thesis’, Type of Dissertation/thesis, Institute namecity.


Colin, AK 2008, ‘Contribution of MA graduates in today’s economy, Unpublished MA thesis, Alliance University, San Diego.

In-Text Citation: (Colin 2008)

  • Published Thesis/Dissertation

Note: For published theses/dissertations, the title is italicised and no quotations.


Author’s last name, Initial(s) Year, Title of Dissertation/Thesis, Type of Dissertation/thesis.  Institute name, city.


Cords, J 2017, Investing the causes of increased use of marijuana in today’s teens, MA dissertation, Global University, Montreal.

In-Text Citation: (Cords 2017)

  • Online Thesis/Dissertation


Author’s last nameInitial(s), Year, Title of Dissertation/Thesis. Type of Dissertation/thesis, Institute namecity, accessed date, URL.


Ray, T 2014,  Investigation the changes in cell’s growth post-cancer treatment, PhD thesis, James Hawking University, Austin, viewed 22 March 2015, <http://jght.jhu.edu.au/jkk/eprint/87653>.

In-Text Citation: (Ray 2014)


Ray (2014) states that…

Referencing can be a tough nut to crack without a solid understanding of the fundamentals. Invest time in grasping the basics, so even you can complete the task as efficiently as a professional.

Good luck!

Author Bio

Jenny Bloom has a Master’s in Fine Arts and loves working at her art studio and experimenting with colours. She is also a certified citation specialist and offers personalised citation lessons at MyAssignmenthelp.com, a popular website for instant academic services and FREE academic tools such as essay maker, Harvard referencing generator, plagiarism checker, and more.

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