Skip to Main Content
Purdue University Purdue Logo Purdue Libraries


A quick guide to finding dissertations, with links.


The Purdue University Libraries collects, preserves, and provides access to dissertations as original works of scholarship in conjunction with doctorates awarded by the University. Other pertinent student works such as master's and honors theses may also be collected.


What is the difference between a thesis and a dissertation?

At Purdue, “thesis” typically refers to a Master’s program and “dissertation” refers to the Ph.D program. In the early years a thesis was written in many undergraduate programs (i.e B.S. in Engineering).

How can I find dissertations that were written at Purdue?

The Purdue Libraries holds one copy of each title from 1882 to present. In some cases these have been marked confidential or have restrictions in place for a limited period of time. The original paper copies do not circulate and must be viewed in Archives and Special Collections. These can be requested through the Libraries catalog. Please log in to request your item. When the request is received, it is pulled from the storage 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). This is located in Stewart Center, 504 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907. You will receive a confirmation email when the item is ready along with directions to the Archives.

More information:

The first Thesis is available to be viewed in Archives and Special Collections. Early Purdue University Theses and Dissertations (starting in 1882 and scanned up to 1906 so far) have been scanned and are available online. Open access copies are available online through the Theses and Dissertations, Purdue e-Puds (including some copies from ProQuest). Copies available for loan: Some of the theses and dissertations have been microfilmed and can be requested for off campus use through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Also, some paper duplicates will show up in the catalog, please request the copy that does not say “Only viewable in the Archives.” Alumni can request an electronic copy of their theses or dissertation from the past by contacting  If you have questions about depositing your thesis or dissertation, please contact the graduate school Thesis and Dissertation Office

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 (CRL) search for available paper-bound titles. 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 [theses in French] may be provided.
  • NDLTD - Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations. NDLTD provides access to thousands of digitally available dissertations and theses. Both U.S. and foreign dissertations and theses can be accessed through this site for those institutions participating within this association.