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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

How to Find Dissertations and Theses

This guide will help you find dissertations and theses.

Library Catalog

The Library should have at least one copy of all deposited Illinois dissertations prior to 2010. More recent dissertations are deposited in IDEALS, University of Illinois' institutional repository. Non-circulating archival copies (prior to 2010) are kept in the Rare Book and Manuscript library, with a circulating copy located in other libraries.

To begin searching for dissertations, use the Advanced Search in our online catalog and search by author, title, subject, and department.

  • Change your search to a "Subject" search and type in "Theses"
    • NOTE: You can use the term "Dissertations," but it pulls up less consistent results
  • Add another "Subject" term for the area of study you are looking in, for example "Education"
  • To search a specific time period, you can select a date under the "Limit To" "Publication Date" section
  • Dissertations and Theses will show up as manuscripts, as well as books and ebooks in the catalog

Screenshot of subject search for theses and education, publication date 2010.

Dissertations in IDEALS

IDEALS is the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship and is the University's open repository of scholarly content. As of 2009, graduate students have the option of depositing their dissertations and theses to IDEALS to make them freely available online. Dissertations from 1949-present available, but not all are open access.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses

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 Heading (all) - SU from the dropdown menu at the right.
  2. In the second search box, type University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and select University/Institution - SCH 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 a range of years, select "Specific Date Range..." from Publication Date
  4. Type in the years 2000 to 2004 in the Start Year and End Year boxes.
  5. Click the Search button.

Example Proquest Dissertations and Theses search for education dissertations at UIUC

Thesis and Serial Files (Card Catalog)

If you're unable to locate a pre-1985 U of I dissertation in the online catalog or in a database, search the physical thesis file that is in the card catalog on the second floor of the Main Library.

The card catalog holds records for the archival copies of all theses and dissertations on deposit in the library from 1873 until the beginning of 1984. It is also useful when searching without a complete citation.

Visit the Information Desk for assistance using the card catalog or for help finding dissertations in general. For more information, see this guide on how to use the card catalog.