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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.

Finding Electronic Dissertations in IDEALS

The Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) is the University's digital repository of research outputs and scholarly content produced by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign community. Since Fall 2010, all graduate students depositing a dissertation or thesis to the Graduate College are required to do so electronically. After approval and degrees are conferred, the dissertations and theses are made available in IDEALS. Scholarly Communication & Publishing, the U of I Library unit which administers IDEALS, has an excellent online guide to searching or browsing for materials there.

IDEALS Policies

Dissertations from Fall 2010-Present

Because these are official student records, some of the IDEALS policies and procedures do not apply to these documents. These are:

  • Withdrawal policy: Dissertations and theses may not be withdrawn except in extremely exceptional circumstances governed by the Graduate College.
  • Updating documents: Authors and faculty advisers may not update or change the dissertation or thesis once it has been deposited in IDEALS except in extremely exceptional circumstances governed by the Graduate College.
  • Access Restrictions: Authors and faculty advisers may not directly request an access restriction through IDEALS. These requests must be made by the author to the Graduate College.
  • Metadata Updates: Small corrections to metadata such as corrections to spelling errors may be made through a request in IDEALS. Per communication with the Graduate College, metadata is not considered part of the academic record. However, substantial changes should still be avoided if unnecessary. Metadata records can also be updated to include links to related items, such as a corresponding dataset in the Illinois Data Bank.

To contact the Graduate College regarding any of these policies, please email

Dissertations and Theses Prior to 2010:

IDEALS and the University Library are actively digitizing dissertations and theses that were originally deposited in paper. Unless we have the agreement of the author or the thesis or dissertation was published as a technical report or working paper series by a university department, these dissertations and theses are restricted to those with an active NetID and password issued by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dissertations and theses themselves may not be updated or changed.

If you have authored a dissertation or thesis in the past at the University of Illinois and would like to see it appear here or would like to open access to a dissertation or thesis already made available here, please fill out the Request to Make Dissertation or Thesis Available in IDEALS form or contact for more information.

Finding Dissertations through the Library Catalog

In theory, the Library should have at least one copy of all deposited Illinois dissertations prior to 2010. Most non-circulating archival copies (prior to 2010) are kept in the University Archives, with a circulating copy located in other libraries across campus.

To search for specific dissertations, use the Advanced Search in our online catalog.

  • Enter your search terms to browse by keywords.
  • If you are looking for a specific title, use the drop-down menu on the filters to search by title or author
  • Under Material Type, select the last option, Dissertations

You can look for electronic and print copies of dissertations concurrently through the library catalog.

  • Use the Advanced search to search by keyword, title, or author. Leave Material Type as all items.
  • Use the filters on the left to limit by Resource type, check Dissertations (print copies) and Text Resources (electronic copies)

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 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.) 
  2. About midway down the page, in the box that says "Subject heading (all)," type "Education."
  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.

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.