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Dissertations: Tips in Finding Dissertations

A quick guide to finding dissertations, with links.

Ask a Librarian

Ask a Librarian

Dissertations

What is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

A thesis is the culminating requirement for a master's degree. Not all master's degrees, however, require theses. In some countries, especially Great Britain, a thesis means the culminating requirement for either a master's degree or a doctoral degree, so it may be called either a master's thesis or a doctoral thesis.  A doctoral thesis in Great Britain is called a dissertation or doctoral dissertation in Canada and in the United States. Dissertations usually happen to be longer than theses.

How can I find dissertations that were written at Purdue?

Purdue theses (usually M.A. or M.S.) and dissertations (usually Ph.D)

The Purdue Libraries holds one copy of each title from 1876 to present that can be requested through the Libraries catalog:   https://www.lib.purdue.edu/Please log in to request your item. 

When the request is received, it is pulled from the Repository and delivered to be viewed in the Archives and Special Collections Research Center on the 4th floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (HSSE).   You will receive a confirmation email when the item is ready along with directions to the Archives.

Are you looking for a …

  • Purdue thesis or dissertation but unsure of the year?  
  • Dissertation published after 1997?
    • Most are available FREE in PDF files from ProQuest’s Dissertation and Theses database
    • There are also some available (years are sporadic) on Purdue’s e_Pubs website:   http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/etd/

How can I find theses or dissertations from U.S. institutions?

Go to Dissertations and Theses (PQDT). It offers a comprehensive listing of bibliographic entries for theses and dissertations in the Dissertation Abstracts database. Theses and dissertations listed since 1997 are available in PDF digital format for users affiliated with Purdue University with access to theses and dissertations from CIC institutions. For those entries not full-text, 24-page previews are available. For non full-text entries and possible borrowing of non-Purdue titles, consult Interlibrary Loan.

How can I find dissertations that are free?

  • From Center for Research Libraries search for available paper-bound titles, consult their database here. CRL has more than 750,000 uncataloged foreign [non-U.S. or Canadian] doctoral dissertations, of which approximately 20,000 are presently in this database. Please consult with CRL if you are unable to find a dissertation that you may require.
  • Cybertheses permits access to selected French dissertations from 1972 to the present. This database can provide access to another index where full-text provision for selected dissertations [th�ses in French] may be provided.