How to Write Acknowledgements for a Thesis

how to write acknowledgement for thesis

The acknowledgments section at the beginning of a dissertation or thesis provides a space to formally recognize the contributions and support that made the graduate-level research possible. During brief compared to the length of the full paper, well-written acknowledgments communicate genuine gratitude in a professional way.

This article provides guidelines on structuring your acknowledgments, determining appropriate individuals to include, crafting phrasing conveying the depth of your appreciation, ideal length, and optimal placement within the thesis.

What is a Thesis Acknowledgment?

The acknowledgments appear at the start of a thesis or dissertation manuscript after the abstract. This section expresses the author’s appreciation for the network of people and institutions that helped them complete their graduate-level research project. Essentially, it communicates gratitude to those who contributed in a meaningful way.

The acknowledgments formally recognize both professional assistance, such as from advisors, institution partners, and academic colleagues, as well as personal support systems like family and friends rooting for you behind the scenes. Any individual who made a noteworthy contribution deserving formal mention should be recognized in this section.

Structure of the Thesis Acknowledgement Section

Though acknowledgments sections take up less than a page, they still require careful thought and drafting. Every sentence should communicate genuine gratitude to the appropriate individuals. There is a basic expected structure to follow when organizing this section:

Brief Introduction

Open with a brief introductory sentence or two stating the purpose and explaining that you would like to extend acknowledgments to those assisting with making the work possible. This sets up the context of who you would like to acknowledge.

Gratitude to Your Supervisor

Offer sincere gratitude to your thesis supervisor, advisor, or mentor first. As the individual providing extensive guidance, direction, and feedback throughout the research process, from initial shaping through analyzing findings, the supervisor typically deserves prominent placement and acknowledgment of their integral role in enabling the finished product.

Recognition of the Other Professional Contributors

Recognize the contributions of other professionals, such as committee members who read early drafts and provided important input and revisions to improve the overall dissertation. Colleagues who collaborated on certain aspects of the research methodology or analysis can also be mentioned here.

Recognition of Personal Supporters

Finally, don’t forget statements of appreciation for family and friends who provided meaningful personal and emotional support during your graduate studies journey.

Who to Thank in Your Acknowledgments

The acknowledgments section provides space to recognize both professional assistance directly tied to moving the thesis work forward, as well as personal sources of support and encouragement helping you sustain momentum more broadly.

Professional Acknowledgments

Typical professional acknowledgement recipients include:

Thesis supervisor or advisor: As noted, the main supervisor or advisor guiding the direction of the project deserves prominent thanks for assistance throughout the process. This individual, often your graduate program mentor, will have invested significant time giving feedback on drafts, analyzing data with you, refining methodology approaches, editing writing, and preparing you for defense.

Committee members: Any faculty committee members reviewing early versions of the thesis proposal or final draft manuscripts should be recognized for their contributions, giving suggestions to enhance the research.

Institutional financial supporters: If you received any internal scholarships, fellowships, academic funds, or grants provided by the university or department to facilitate your thesis research, acknowledging this support is encouraged.

Colleagues and collaborators: Peers or other faculty members who collaborated on elements like statistical analysis or sample access should be mentioned for their unique contributions.

Key faculty or staff: University faculty or administrators who facilitated data access, methodological guidance, or any school resources to aid your research also deserve thanks.

Personal Acknowledgements

Common personal acknowledgment recipients highlight individuals offering more private support:

Family members: Parents, siblings, or partners/spouses who supported you emotionally or materially during the stresses of graduate school should be mentioned. Having this personal system cheering you on helps sustain motivation.

Friends: Particularly close friends propping you up during the ups and downs of the thesis process demonstrate importance beyond the actual project.

Mentors: Any early teachers or advisors on your academic journey who inspired your scholarship and growth into the scientist you became deserve appreciation, even years later.

How to Write Acknowledgments

The length of your acknowledgment of an individual’s contributions should align with the significance of their help and support. In other words, major assistance should receive more prominent and detailed gratitude, while minor assistance can still be mentioned but without extensive elaboration.

When showing appreciation for key contributors, and people who have helped your success, it is important to refer to professional collaborators by their full names and titles. Consider organizing your acknowledgments in alphabetical order by last name.

Here is a guide on how to appropriately match the scale of thanks to the type of contribution:

Major Thanks

The most prominent acknowledgment rightly goes to your thesis advisor, supervisor, or mentor who guided you throughout the entire journey. This lead individual, who played an absolutely integral role in enabling everything from initial conceptualization to final defense preparation, expressed more heartfelt, deep gratitude for the extensive guidance, insightful feedback, and dedicated time investment.

Use specific sentences like:

“I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Jane Smith, for the tremendous mentorship, encouragement, and advice she has provided me throughout my three years of doctoral work under her guidance. Her patience and willingness to give so generously of her time and vast knowledge have been invaluable and much appreciated on both an academic and personal level.”

Big Thanks

Next, offer similarly meaningful statements of gratitude to those who served as committee members, collaborators on key components, or institutional partners who substantially contributed to the academia project in noticeable ways. These individuals still merit personalized acknowledgment.

For instance:

“My sincere thanks go to Dr. Tom Wu for the long, thoughtful discussions, genuinely constructive suggestions for improvement, and incredible wealth of shared wisdom he contributed that never failed to challenge my thinking and inspire me to view aspects of this process through an entirely new lens.”

Or for an institutional assistance example:

“I received crucial financial support through a research fellowship generously provided by the University Institute of Health Sciences. This fellowship funding enabled critical data gathering that would not have otherwise been possible. I am deeply grateful for this assistance in making my PhD thesis project feasible.”

Minor Thanks

For minor assistance or more casual professional guidance, keep your acknowledgments brief, using concise phrases without extensive detail. This demonstrates you still noticed those playing even small roles in your journey.

For example:

“Technical guidance from the statistics help desk on specific data analysis approaches is also appreciated.”

“Gratitude is extended to the faculty’s diligent administrative team for promptly assisting me with various questions and requests over the years.”

How to Phrase Your Thesis and Dissertation Acknowledgments

In terms of phrasing acknowledgments of those who contributed, be sure statements communicate clear and earnest gratitude, praise, or attribution for the help received. The goal is sincere professional appreciation without going overboard into overt sentimentality or decorative language though. Find the right tone balance.

For example:

  • “I wish to express my sincere thanks to my incredibly supportive supervisor, Dr. Mathews…”
  • “My deepest gratitude goes out to my parents for encouraging me to keep pursuing this graduate degree.”
  • “Sincerest thanks to the scholarship committee members for seeing potential in my early proposal that enabled this foundational research.”
  • “I tremendously benefited from and appreciated Dr. Thompson’s insightful guidance on refining the methodological approaches employed.”
  • “Special mention goes to collaborating researcher Dr. Sanjay Patel of Central University for generously sharing imaging dataset access that greatly strengthened the study.”

How Long Should My Acknowledgements Be?

The acknowledgments section should be concise, keeping statements restricted to 1-2 paragraphs at maximum. This section appears in preliminary thesis pages before the actual core research content begins, so you don’t want it to stretch too long. Restrict acknowledgments to approximately 5-10 sentences total.  

The goal is to cover all appropriate recognition without becoming excessively effusive with praise or overly decorating language. Find the right tone balance between professional and personable appreciation.

Where Should My Acknowledgements Go?

The acknowledgments traditionally appear right after the abstract and before the table of contents or main chapters section of your thesis.

Placing the acknowledgements up front enables readers to immediately learn about key contributors to the project to appropriately contextualize the research they are about to read. This establishes a useful framework. It also adheres to an academic standard of clearly signaling upfront any potential conflicts of interest or perceived bias linked to professional involvements acknowledged.

Thesis Acknowledgement Examples

Here is an example acknowledgments section from a nursing thesis:

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to my research supervisor, Dr. Elizabeth Cole. As both my teacher and mentor over the past three years, she has enormously supported me throughout the entire process of conducting this thesis project and writing the manuscript with her immense patience, vast knowledge, and commitment to my learning needs, along with providing me extensive personal guidance at every stage. I attribute finally earning my Master’s degree substantially to her inspiration, encouragement, and concerted effort to invest in my development. It would not have been possible without her mentorship.

I would also like to thank my committee member, Dr. Ryan Peters, along with the other two members, Dr. William Cook and Dr. Felicia Zhou, for generously taking time to review earlier drafts of this developing thesis over the years and providing valuable, constructive criticism that pushed me to refine and improve the finished product presented here. Their insightful feedback strengthened my conclusions. Additionally, I thank both the Head of School, Professor Carlson, and other faculty and staff in the nursing department for promptly accommodating equipment, documentation, and scheduling requests that facilitated smooth data gathering critical for my research.

On a more personal note, I am extremely blessed to have supportive friends and my research group members, who have assisted me emotionally following the inevitable setbacks and frustrations inherent in a graduate program journey. Their loyal care and concern kept me centered on cherished ambitions. 

Finally and most importantly, my special thanks extend to my family – in particular my loving parents who first cultivated my curiosity and instilled confidence along with the value of perseverance that certainly came in handy; my sister Meera who keeps me aiming ahead with inspiration through her incredible persistence pursuing her own PhD path in a male-dominated STEM field, and my wonderfully patient husband Rajat without whose steady strength sharing this ride by my side, well-timed advice and unending willingness to discuss my ideas simply to help me think through concerns especially when no one else was available.

I am not sure I could have sustained momentum nor had sufficient confidence in my abilities to keep progressing forward. I share this milestone with all of them.

Acknowledgements for Thesis Dos and Don’ts


  • Do acknowledge every person who made a meaningful, tangible contribution in assisting your completion of the thesis project itself, as well as supporting advisors throughout your academic journey. But use appropriate length-matching significance.
  • Do communicate using a formal and professional tone while allowing some warmth to come through, reflecting legitimate gratitude. Finding the right sincerity balance avoids appearing overly effusive or decorative.
  • Do prioritize the order of acknowledgments statements appropriately – leading first with those like your supervisor/mentor, committees, then collaborators offering more involved, intensive contributions before briefly noting ancillary helping hands.
  • Do proofread the acknowledgments section especially carefully to confirm complete accuracy in names, titles, and associated organizations. This shows care, respect, and attention to important details.


  • Don’t include excessive, lengthy detail about the specific type of help certain individuals provided. Keep statements relatively high-level.
  • Don’t focus substantially more on personal supporters rather than professional assistance directly enabling the thesis completion itself. Find balance.
  • Don’t allow any typos, misspelled names, or formatting inconsistencies. Double check.
  • Don’t forget to mention any person or group that did significantly help in some capacity along the way. Appreciate everyone.

Writing Acknowledgements for Thesis Papers

Writing your thesis or dissertation acknowledgments statements is excellent practice for thoughtfully expressing gratitude – an undervalued skill in academics. The acknowledgment page allows you to formally recognize both visible and behind-the-scenes contributions from your village, enabling your higher education success. Thoughtfully honoring those who assisted with your research journey also reflects care and humility – human values at the heart of conducting impactful work.

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