What is an APA Thesis?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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An APA thesis is a paper or dissertation that is written according to the regulations set out by the American Psychological Association (APA). The American Psychological Association is one of two organizations that have set out thesis guidelines that are widely accepted and used, the other being thesis guidelines set out by the Modern Language Association (MLA). These two kinds of guidelines are used to establish a common style for the content of the thesis that is being written. An undergraduate student working on a paper for a literature class on Shakespeare's sonnets is likely to use the MLA guidelines to write her thesis. On the other hand, a student completing a graduate degree in psychology would write an APA thesis, following the guidelines set out both by the American Psychological Association and any guidelines set out by the accrediting institution.


When students write an APA thesis, they must focus on the format of the thesis and the style of citations. These two issues are the hallmarks of the requirements set out by the American Psychological Association for students writing an APA thesis. Basically, once a student crafts a well-written paper based on good research and solid ideas, it must be formatted and dressed with citations in a certain manner that will allow the paper to be considered an APA thesis. Some of the formatting issues related to an APA thesis include the type of font that is used, the size of font that is used in different sections of the paper such as the body of the paper and the title page, the usage and placement of page numbers, and the format of the acknowledgements page.

There are also some rules about the content of an APA thesis. For example, it is important that students avoid the use of biased or derogatory language. In fact, this is generally considered to be an important rule in the composition of most papers written as part of an academic assignment. In general, any language that could be found offensive by a certain population should be avoided unless the language that is being used is part of a citation that is being used to support or inform one of the main arguments of the thesis. The institution that is granting the degree may also have rules about the types of language that may or may not be acceptable. These rules should also be studied and followed.


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