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How to Find University of Minnesota Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses

Minnesota Doctoral Dissertations and Master's Theses

Table of Contents:

What dissertations and theses are available?

  • Plan A
    With minor exceptions, all doctoral dissertations and all "Plan A" master's theses accepted by the University of Minnesota are available in the University Libraries system. In some cases (see below) only a non-circulating copy in University Archives exists, but for doctoral dissertations from 1940 to date, and for master's theses from 1925 to date, a circulating copy should almost always be available.
  • Plan B
    "Plan B" papers, accepted in the place of a thesis in many master's degree programs, are not received by the University Libraries and are generally not available. (The only real exceptions are a number of old library school Plan B papers on publishing history, which have been separately cataloged in MNCAT.) In a few cases individual departments may have maintained files of such papers.


In what libraries are U of M dissertations and theses located?

Circulating copies of doctoral dissertations:
    Consult MNCAT under the author or title of the work desired to determine location and call number of a specific dissertation.
    Circulating copies of U of M doctoral dissertations can be in one of several locations in the library system, depending upon the date and the department for which the dissertation was done. The following are the general rules:
  • Dissertations prior to 1940
    Circulating copies of U of M dissertations prior to 1940 do not exist (with rare exceptions): for these, only the archival copy (see below) is available. Also, most dissertations prior to 1940 are not cataloged in MNCAT and can only be identified by the departmental listings described below.
  • Dissertations from 1940-1979
    Circulating copies of U of M dissertations from 1940 to 1979 will in most cases be held in the Minnesota Library Access Center (MLAC) within the Elmer L. Andersen Library, with three major classes of exceptions: dissertations accepted by biological, medical, and related departments are housed in the Bio-Medical Library in Diehl Hall; science/engineering dissertations from 1970 to date will be located in the Science and Engineering Library (in Walter); and dissertations accepted by agricultural and related departments are available at the Magrath Library or one of the other libraries on the St. Paul campus (the Magrath Library maintains records of locations for such dissertations).
  • Dissertations from 1980-date
    Circulating copies of U of M dissertations from 1980 to date at present may be located either in Wilson Library (see below) or in MLAC; consult MNCAT (our online catalog) for location of specific items. Again, exceptions noted above apply here also; dissertations in their respective departments will instead be in Bio-Medical Library or in one of the St. Paul campus libraries.


Circulating copies of master's theses
  • Theses prior to 1925
    Circulating copies of U of M master's theses prior to 1925 do not exist (with rare exceptions); for these, only the archival copy (see below) is available.
  • Theses from 1925-1996
    Circulating copies of U of M master's theses from 1925 to 1996 may be held in MLAC or in the Wilson Library Annex; consult MNCAT in specific instances. Once again, there are exceptions and theses in their respective departments will be housed in the Bio-Medical Library or in one of the St. Paul campus libraries.
  • Theses from 1997-date
    Circulating copies of U of M master's theses from 1997 to date will be located in Wilson Library (see below), except for the same exceptions for Bio-Medical and St. Paul theses. There is also an exception to the exception: MHA (Masters in Health Administration) theses through 1998 are in the Bio-Medical Library, but those from 1999 on are in Wilson Library (most recent five years' worth will be located in Business Reference).

    Archival Copies
    Archival (non-circulating) copies of virtually all U of M doctoral dissertations from 1888-1952, and of U of M master's theses from all years up to the present, are maintained by University Archives (located in the Elmer L. Andersen Library). These copies must be consulted on the premises, and it is highly recommended for the present that users make an appointment in advance to ensure that the desired works can be retrieved for them from storage. For dissertations accepted prior to 1940 and for master's theses accepted prior to 1925, University Archives is generally the only option (e.g., there usually will be no circulating copy).

    Archival copies of U of M doctoral dissertations from 1953 to the present are maintained by Bell and Howell Corporation (formerly University Microfilms Inc.), which produces print or filmed copies from our originals upon request. (There are a very few post-1952 U of M dissertations not available from Bell and Howell; these include such things as music manuscripts and works with color illustrations or extremely large pages that will not photocopy well; in these few cases, our archival copy is retained in University Archives.)

    How may a specific dissertation or thesis be located?
    To locate a specific dissertation or thesis it is necessary to have its call number. Consult MNCAT, our online catalog, under the author or title of the item you seek, just as you would for any other book. Depending on date of acceptance and cataloging, a typical call number for such materials should look something like one of the following:

    Dissertations: Plan"A" Theses
    MnU-D or 378.7M66 MnU-M or 378.7M66
    78-342 ODR7617 83-67 OL6156

    MNCAT will also tell the library location (MLAC, Bio-Medical Libary, Magrath or another St. Paul campus library, Science and Engineering, Business Reference, Wilson Annex or Wilson Library).

    Those doctoral dissertations still in Wilson Library (which in all cases should be 1980 or later and will have "MnU-D" numbers) are located in the central section of the third floor. Those master's theses in Wilson (which in all cases will be 1997 or later and will have "MnU-M" numbers) are also located in the central section of the third floor. Both dissertations and theses circulate and can be checked out, like any other books, at the Wilson Circulation desk on the first floor.

    How may dissertations and theses accepted by a specific department be identified?
    Reference Services (First Floor, Wilson Library) contains a series of bound and loose-leaf notebooks, arranged by department and within each department by date, listing dissertations and theses. Information given for each entry includes name of author, title, and date (but not call number, which must be looked up individually). These notebooks are no longer current, but they do cover listings by department from the nineteenth century up to approximately 1992. Many pre-1940 U of M dissertations and pre-1925 U of M master's theses are not cataloged in MNCAT(and exist only as archival copies). Such dissertations can be identified only with these volumes.

    The books and notebooks are shelved in the reference room under these call numbers:

    Wilson Ref LD3337 .A5 and Wilson Ref quarto LD3337 .U9x.

    Major departments of individual degree candidates are also listed under their names in the GRADUATE SCHOOL COMMENCEMENT programs of the U of M, available in University Archives and (for recent years) also in Wilson stacks (LD3361 .U55x).

    How may dissertations and theses on specific subjects be identified?
    Master's theses, and doctoral dissertations cataloged from circa 1940 to circa 1971, are cataloged by subject in MNCAT. (Doctoral dissertations after 1971 are cataloged by author and title in MNCAT, but are not assigned subject headings.)

    It is also possible to search MNCAT by keyword. If the words "thesis" and "Minnesota" are included in your strategy, your results will generally be effectively limited to U of M theses and/or dissertations-for instance, you might do a keyword search such as:

    folklore and thesis and minnesota

    This will retrieve U of M theses and dissertations (along with possibly a few false drops) that contain the word "folklore" in the MNCAT record (which will generally mean the in the title of the work). Other relevant works may use other terms, so a searcher will want to repeat the search substituting such terms as folk tales, folk songs, folk motifs, etc. as well as names of individual folk tales and the like. (By its nature, a keyword search will almost never be fully comprehensive.)

    Subject access to U of M dissertations as well as those accepted by almost all other universities across the United States (and to a large extent in Canada and various other countries) is provided by Dissertation Abstracts (also known in its online version as Digital Dissertations). We have this available in both a print format (Wilson Reference quarto Z5053 .D57) and an online version (select "Indexes" from our home page; then "Multidisciplinary Databases" and drop down to "Digital Dissertations;" click to connect). Our subscription to the print version ceased in 1999, so the online version is more up-to-date. (However, for dissertations previous to 1980, the online version includes only citations and no abstracts: thus for pre-1980 abstracts you must consult the print version.)

    Anyone may use Digital Dissertations from a terminal in one of the University libraries; U of M students, faculty, and staff may also dial in remotely via our web page, using their U of M id and password for authentication to the system.

    In either format, records for U of M dissertations are included along with those of many other universities. In the online version it is possible to limit your retrieval to dissertations from our own university, however (or from any other specified university).For more information, see the online help screens, ask reference staff, and/or see:Help Screens

    What do I do if I don't find a specific dissertation or thesis under the author's name?
    First, try to ensure that the spelling you have for the author is accurate; try possible variant spellings, elimination of middle name, etc. if appropriate.

    If the dissertation or thesis was only recently accepted it may be that it has not yet been received, cataloged, and marked. (It may still be available on Digital Dissertations.)

    What about dissertations and theses from other universities?
    While the chances are very slim that we will have any given dissertation which was accepted by another university, there are some avenues that should be explored if you are seeking such materials.

    Some dissertations subsequently may have been published as books or, with or without modifications, as journal articles; consult MNCAT and the appropriate indexes if you think this may be the case, or ask the reference staff for advice.

    University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students may be able to borrow such materials from the school at which they were accepted via Interlibrary Loan. (However, not all institutions will loan their dissertations.)

    Most U.S. dissertations since 1952 (and a few earlier ones and many Canadian and other non-U.S. ones) are available for purchase from Bell and Howell. Ordering information, options,and prices are explained at the DIGITAL DISSERTATIONS "about" screen at: About Digital Dissertations

    What about dissertations from other countries?
    Various indexes and bibliographies exist listing dissertations and theses done in other countries; a good but now somewhat outdated source listing such and many related sources is Michael M. Reynolds' Guide to Theses and Dissertations: An International Bibliography of Bibliographies (Wilson REF quarto Z5053.A1 R49 1985). Some long-running sets include:

    Canadian Theses / Theses Canadiennes
    Index to Theses with Abstracts Accepted for Higher Degrees by the Universities of Great Britain and Ireland

    Inventaire des theses de doctorat soutenues devant les universities de Francaises
    Deutsche Nationalbibliographie Reihe H: Hochschul-Schriften, Monatliches Verzeichnis

    (Titles, scope, etc. of all the above have varied over the years; note the "continues" and "continued by" notes on our MNCAT records for these and related materials.)

    The Center for Research Libraries will generally be able to supply foreign dissertations (for U of M clients only), though there may be a considerable lagtime involved in obtaining them. Requests can be initiated through our Interlibrary Loan service.

    Dissertations and Theses Written at the University of Minnesota
    Dates Locations Dates Locations

    PhD Dissertations: Circulating Copies

    PhD Disssertations: Archival Copies
    1940-1979
    • Minn. Library Access Ctr (MLAC) in Elmer L. Andersen Library, W. Bank
    • Bio-Med Library in Diehl Hall
    • Magrath Library, or other St. Paul
    1888-1952 University Archives in Elmer L. Andersen Library, W. Bank (Must be used on premises)
    1980 to present
    • Wilson or MLAC
    • Bio-Med Library in Diehl Hall
    • Magrath Library, or other St. Paul
    1953 to present Contact Bell and Howell, see ordering info at: http://www.lib.umn.edu/index/proquest.html
    1997 to present Current U of M students, faculty and staff may be able to download from Digital Dissertations (selected)

    Masters Theses: Circulating Copies

    Masters Theses: Archival Copies
    1925-1996
    • Wilson Annex or MLAC
    • Bio-Med Library in Diehl Hall
    • Magrath Library, or other St. Paul
    1907 to present University Archives in Elmer L. Andersen Library, W. Bank (Must be used on premises)
    1997-present
    • Wilson or MLAC
    • Bio-Med Library in Diehl Hall
    • Magrath Library, or other St. Paul
    • From 1999 on, Masters in Health Admin. are in Wilson Business Ref


    Connecting to Digital Dissertations
    Digital Dissertations

    Masters Abstracts, a Catalog of Selected Masters Theses on Microfilm
    Catalog of Selected Masters Theses of Microfilm

    Page Coordinator: Dennis Lien d-lien@tc.umn.edu
    This URL: http://www.lib.umn.edu/libdata/page_print.phtml?page_id=969


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