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APA 6th Referencing Style Guide

This guide introduces the APA referencing style with examples of citation styles for different types of resources.

Thesis, dissertation or exegesis?


Thesis and dissertation can mean different things, depending on which institution the work is from.  For study purposes and for your APA reference you need to know the level of the work.

  • Always check the title page, or subsequent pages, to determine exactly what the work is
  • Use the information there for your APA reference

At Auckland University of Technology (and other NZ universities)

Thesis is either for a doctoral or a master's degree.

Dissertation is either for a master's or a bachelor's degree with honours.

Exegesis is the written component of a practice-based thesis where the major output is a creative work;  e.g. a film, artwork, novel.


In some other parts of the world such as North America, a dissertation may be for a doctoral degree and a thesis for a master's degree.

See Section 7.05  in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition.

Theses and dissertations from online sources

Reference format for a thesis from a commercial database:

Author, A. A. (date). Title of doctoral dissertation or master's thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis). Available from Name of database. (Accession or Order No.)

Reference format for a thesis from an institutional repository:

Author, A. A. (date). Title of doctoral dissertation or master's thesis (Doctoral dissertation or Master's thesis, the name of the University, city, country). Retrieved from http://xxxxx

A Doctoral dissertation (USA) from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database

Reference list entry:

Pflieger, J. C. (2009). Adolescents' parent and peer relations and romantic outcomes in young adulthood (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global database. (UMI No. 3371229)

  • Include the name of the database and the order number of the document
  • Use this style for theses retrieved from a commercial database

Thesis from a NZ institutional repository:

Reference list entry:

Thomas, R. (2009). The making of a journalist: The New Zealand way (Doctoral thesis, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand). Retrieved from

  • Include the full URL for the thesis/dissertation and the full name of the degree-granting institution/university
  • Also include the location of the university, if outside the United States.

In-text citations guide  

Theses and dissertations in hardcopy format

Reference format for unpublished thesis/dissertation:

Author, A. A. (date). TItle of doctoral dissertation or master's thesis (Unpublished doctoral dissertation or master's thesis). Name of Institution, Location.

  • Give the correct full name of the university, not its abbreviation or brand name.

Reference list entry:

Knight, A. (2001). Exercise and osteoarthritis of the knee (Unpublished master's dissertation). Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

In-text citations guide