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Find Dissertations

Quick Help

For all dissertations conferred at Illinois, try searching the Online Library Catalog.

For dissertations conferred across the U.S., try Proquest Dissertations and Theses.

There are also options for searching for international dissertations - see below for details by region.

Learn more about current awareness strategies. 

There are many different ways to locate dissertations including those conferred at Illinois, across the U.S. and internationally. 

How to find dissertations at Illinois

IDEALS: Dissertations from 1950-1997 and 2012-present are available in the University of Illinois institutional repository,  IDEALS.

Illinois Online Catalog: For some years you may need to search the Online Catalog for a paper copy. The Illinois library should have at least one copy of all dissertations deposited at Illinois prior to 2010. A non-circulating archival copy (prior to 2010) is held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, but a circulating copy can often be located in other libraries. To begin searching for dissertations, use the Advanced Search in our online catalog to search by author, title, subject or department. 

Example from 2003:

  1. Use the Advanced Search in the online catalog.
  2. Type Theses in the first search box and Psychology in the second.
  3. In the "Search by:" dropdown menu at the right, select Subject Words. If you want to limit by a certain year, type the year in the third search box and select Subject Words in the dropdown menu.
  4. Click on the Search button.

Following the above directions, the search screen should look like this:

searching the catalog for dissertations

Your results screen will look like this:

catalog search dissertations results

Click on a title of interest:

example dissertation record

Take the call number to the Main Stacks and request this item. You can borrow this dissertation and make copies.

Proquest Dissertations and Theses

Proquest Dissertations and Theses : Dissertations and Theses is a database that contains dissertation citations back to 1861, abstracts back to 1980, and the full text of many dissertations from 1997 (and sometimes earlier) to present. Masters theses have been selectively indexed since 1962. Almost all dissertations written at Illinois from 1997 forward are available as a free full-text download in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format. Here is an example of a subject search for education dissertations written at Illinois between 2000 and 2004:

  1. In the first search box, type Education and select Subject (SU) from the dropdown menu at the right.
  2. In the second search box, type University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and select School (SC) from the dropdown menu at the right. (Note: The full name of the school needs to be typed out, so "University of Illinois" or "UIUC" will not work.)
  3. To limit by year, type in the years 2000 to 2004 in the Degree Date from boxes.
  4. Click the Search button.

Following the above directions, the search screen should look like this:

Proquest Dissertation search

After performing your search and locating a dissertation of interest, you'll see a Free Download button at the bottom of the dissertation record if a full-text download is available, as seen below. If you click that button, you will be prompted for your email address and a link to the dissertation will be emailed to you shortly thereafter.

Proquest dissertation search results


If the full text is not available for download, a print copy of the dissertation should be available in the Illinois library--just do a search in the online catalog for the dissertation title to determine its location.

Abstracts for pre-1980 dissertations are available in Dissertation Abstracts , the print version of Digital Dissertations. You can view it in the Main Stacks Reference.

Dissertations available at Illinois

  • Illinois / I-Share catalogs: While the majority of dissertations available at the Illinois Library are those completed at the University of Illinois, the library does acquire some dissertations completed at other institutions. Search the Illinois Online Catalog by author or title to see if we have a copy. If we do not have a copy, check the I-Share catalog. I-Share is a catalog comprising 80 academic libraries in Illinois. If there is a circulating copy available in I-Share, you can borrow it by hitting the Request button at the top of the screen. (More info on I-Share requests)
  • Special library collections:If you still haven't found what you need, some libraries on campus do have special collections of dissertations. For help locating and using them, please visit the following libraries:
  • The Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library has a large, circulating collection of cataloged dissertations on microfiche distributed by the International Institute for Sport and Human Performance at the University of Oregon. The collection includes dissertations in the following subject areas: health, physical education, recreation, exercise and sport sciences. Dissertations from this collection can be identified in SportDiscus and located in the Illinois Online Catalog.

  • An extensive microfiche file of LIS dissertations from U.S., British, and Canadian universities between 1979 and 2003 are included in the Illinois Online Catalog. Please consult the catalog for locations.

Non-Illinois dissertations 

  • Proquest Dissertations and Theses: If no copy is found at Illinois, use Proquest Dissertations and Theses to obtain a citation for the dissertation. Most American and Canadian universities are represented in this database, as well as selected British and European universities. Dissertations completed at many major U.S. universities during the past 10 years (and sometimes earlier) are available as free full-text downloads. If the full text of a dissertation is not available through this database, you can fill out a standard interlibrary loan request.
  • Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations: Networked Digital Library Theses and Dissertations is a collection of over 200,000 theses and dissertations from around the world. Many items, including those dating back to the early 1900s, are available in full text for free. For those not available in full text, fill out a standard interlibrary loan request.
  • Theses Canada Portal: Theses Canada Portal is the central access point for Canadian theses. At this site, you can search AMICUS, Canada's national online catalog, for records of all theses in the National Library of Canada's theses collection, which was established in 1965. You can also access and search for free the full text electronic versions of Canadian theses and dissertations that were published from the beginning of 1998 to August 31, 2002. To request a Canadian thesis not available online in full text, fill out a standard interlibrary loan request.
  • Center for Research Libraries' Foreign Doctoral Dissertation Database: Try here when looking for a dissertation outside of the United States and Canada. This database includes 20,000 cataloged foreign doctoral dissertations. New records are no longer being added to this database, so if you don't find what you need here, please check the CRL catalog to view or search current foreign dissertations. Because UIUC is a member of CRL, loans to the UIUC community are provided free of charge - just fill out a standard interlibrary loan request and put "Item held by CRL" in the notes field.
  • Index to Theses: Search a comprehensive list of theses accepted for higher degrees by universities in Great Britain and Ireland since 1716. Index to Theses includes records for over 490,000 theses, with 44,000 abstracts added in PDF format for the period 1970 to 1986. From 1986 onwards, almost all entries include abstracts. To request a thesis, fill out a standard interlibrary loan request.


Interlibrary Loan Borrowing Office: If a dissertation is not available in any of the above locations, the Interlibrary Loan Borrowing Office can help you acquire a copy. Requests can be made online. If they cannot find a circulating copy, they will email you and give you the option of ordering through Dissertation Express, a fee-based service that obtains dissertations in 4-5 business days. The library pays for the dissertation, and retains it after you are finished with it. You, in turn, pay the $15 Dissertation Express shipping fee. For more information about this service, see the Interlibrary Loan Office's Dissertation Express FAQ entry.

Keeping track of dissertations in your field

The Proquest Dissertations and Theses database includes over 2 million items, with thousands of titles added each year. The database offers an RSS feed that can help you keep up to date on new theses and dissertations in your field. Find out more at the ProQuest RSS Feeds site.

Why would you be interested in keeping track of dissertations through an RSS feed? 

  • Keep current on new developments in your field as soon as they are published.
  • Organize all your feeds into one place. No more checking your bookmarks!

Proquest RSS feed

You can use an aggregator to keep track of your feeds eg. Comma Feed, Feedly. You can learn more about how to set up a current awareness service by attending a Savvy Researcher workshop. Learn more about current awareness strategies.