APA Referencing: Theses

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Basic format to reference an unpublished thesis

The basics of a reference list entry for an unpublished thesis:

  • Author. The surname is followed by first initials.
  • Year (in round brackets).
  • Title.
  • Level of Thesis (in round brackets).
  • University.
  • City.
  • Country.
  • The first line of each citation is left adjusted. Every subsequent line is indented 5-7 spaces.


Zarei, R. (2017). Developing enhanced classification methods for ECG and EEG signals (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

Please note:

  • A thesis can come in a number of formats, i.e. they can be published, unpublished or retrieved from a database.
  • The principles when referencing a thesis are similar to those employed when referencing a book. 
  • The example above is for an unpublished thesis, examples for an online or a published thesis can be found below.

Referencing a thesis: Examples

Material Type In-Text Example Reference List Example
Thesis: Unpublished

…”outperforms the other six recently reported methods” (Zarei, 2017, p. 141).

When giving a direct quote, include the page number.


…environmental issues caused by improper lactic acid disposal (Uduwerella, 2017).


Zarei, R. (2017). Developing enhanced classification methods for ECG and EEG signals (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.


Uduwerella, G. (2017). A novel strategy for minimizing acid whey generation during Greek Yoghurt production (Unpublished master’s thesis). Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.

Don't repeat the city of location if it is part of the University's name.

Thesis: Published …fast enough to impede a batter’s decision making (Callaghan, 2018).

Callaghan, S. J. (2018). The mechanics of front leg loading during cricket fast bowling: Delivery variations, spell demands, and the effects of strength training (Doctoral dissertation). Perth, WA: Edith Cowan University.

Thesis: Institutional Repository  According to Mosek (2017, p. 6) “flow was considered a highly functional state”.

Mosek, E. (2017). Team flow: The missing piece in performance (Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia). Retrieved from http://vuir.vu.edu.au/35038/

 Include the university and location for a non-U.S. online thesis.

Thesis: Commercial database … research is required to fill in gaps in our knowledge (Smith, 2018).

Smith, G. (2018). Examining the impact of mindset and personality on athletes’ attitudes towards sports psychology consultants (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses A&I database. (UMI No. 2019735374)

Thesis: from the Web Tsao (2016) compared populations in Kentucky and Taiwan.

Tsao, S.-F. (2016). Associations between consumption of fruits and vegetables among older consumers and farmers market shopping (Master’s thesis, University of Kentucky). Retrieved from https://uknowledge.uky.edu/foodsci_etds/47/

Location of the university is not included for a U.S. thesis.

If an author's first name is hyphenated, as in Shu-Feng Tsao above, retain the hyphen and include a full stop after each initial.