Finding Digital Dissertations

Having immediate access to thousands of dissertations and theses from institutions around the world from 1887 to the present can be immensely beneficial to Graduate Center researchers, especially those choosing topics for their research. Luckily, ProQuest Digital Dissertations & Theses provides such access.

The full text of most dissertations from 1997 to the present is available, although authors have the option of withholding access. An increasing number of dissertations and theses prior to 1997 is also available, as universities and ProQuest cooperate to digitize them. Text is accessible for 1,320,565 dissertations and 433,307 theses. Those for which text is not yet available are still indexed in the database.

A keyword search for art history will find more than 703,000 records, with text for over 672,000. Keyword searches for such broad topics, however, may not be desirable. Changing the search from Anywhere (keyword) to Subject heading reduces the number of art history titles to just under 23,000, with text for almost 19,000.

Diss narrow


The database’s Narrow results by function allows searches to be refined even further by selecting keywords such as painting, sculpture, renaissance, modernism, gender, China, England, etc. and by choosing specific institutions, locations, languages, and publication dates.




Searches can also be modified by choosing Anywhere except full text or Abstract (not included in pre-1980 records) from the search menu instead of Anywhere. Records can be searched  or refined by such categories as Advisor (not included in pre-1988 records), Supplemental file type (audio, video, etc.), University/institution, and University/institution location. The Advanced Search also allows for searching in multiple parts of records.

If you are uncertain about what search terms to use, try the Look up Subjects and Look up Index terms (keywords) indexes under Search options.

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Search for international dissertations by including University/institution location in your search. Recent dissertations and theses from other countries may not be as readily available as those from the United States and Canada.

Search for master’s theses by checking the Master’s theses box under Manuscript type. The availability both the records and text of master’s theses is not as comprehensive as that for dissertations.

Graduate Center dissertations and theses may be searched separately in ProQuest Digital Dissertations and Theses @ City University of New York Graduate Center.

Graduate Center master’s theses not available through this database may be found in Academic Works. An increasing number of dissertations, theses, and other documents is being added to this digital repository. As of 2014, all newly submitted dissertations and theses appear in Academic Works shortly after graduation. Some are available immediately, while others may be read electronically after an embargo period set by their authors. Pre-2014 dissertations are in the process of being digitized. Available dissertations and theses may be browsed by program.  Academic Works also includes the text of dissertations and theses not available in ProQuest Digital Dissertations and Theses @ City University of New York Graduate Center.

Dissertations are included in the search results of OneSearch, but as of this date indications of the availability of text may be misleading.

When the text of a needed dissertation or theses is unavailable electronically, it may be requested through interlibrary loan. Such requests are often filled with microfilm copies.

When a Graduate Center dissertation or thesis is unavailable electronically, a print copy can be found in the library. Print dissertations are in the Dissertation Reading Room on the first floor and on shelves near the reference stacks on the second floor. Print theses are on shelves across from the reserve desk on the first floor.

About the Author

Michael Adams has been a reference librarian at the CUNY Graduate Center since 1996.