A thesis acknowledgement is a tribute to the individuals who have assisted a writer in the completion of his or her project. Thesis acknowledgements are typically placed somewhere in the front matter of a senior, master’s, or doctoral thesis. A thesis acknowledgement is different from a thesis dedication. A thesis is commonly dedicated to one or few individuals who the writer would like to honor. Thesis acknowledgements, however, note individuals who have assisted in the development and execution of the writer’s thesis project. It is common for thesis acknowledgements to follow the thesis dedication.
Some writers are overzealous in their acknowledgements and attempt to thank all of the individuals who have assisted them in their academic pursuits from kindergarten on. This should be avoided. Thesis acknowledgments should be kept to one page or less and should focus solely on the contributors to the writer’s thesis project. Though previous mentors and teachers have certainly contributed to the writer’s development as a thinker, it is best to leave a litany of thanks for speeches. A thesis acknowledgement should match the professional and sophisticated tone of any long and original academic text by being concise and gracious and by focusing only on the most important contributors to the thesis. For instance, it is common and courteous to acknowledge the student’s thesis advisor and committee. In addition, thesis acknowledgements should note any important individuals aside from the committee that contributed to the project, such as readers or other mentors.
The student may also wish to thank his or her department for its support of the project, and some writers choose to acknowledge any writing coaches or editors that assisted with the thesis composition. If the thesis reports on a study that utilized participants, it is appropriate to acknowledge the study participants for their time and contributions.
Each individual noted in a thesis acknowledgement should be called by his or her full professional name and title and should be briefly thanked for his or her specific contribution to the project. For instance, the writer may thank “My advisor, Dr. Paul L. Smith, for his support and guidance throughout the project; the University Writing Center, for its assistance with refining the finished document; and the Department of Physics, for its permission to carry out this research.”
On occasion, writers wish to acknowledge specific family members or friends who have supported them through the duration of the thesis project. This is also appropriate.