Finding Theses and Dissertations: Finding UNC Theses & Dissertations

A guide to finding theses and dissertations

Overview

The North Carolina Collection in Wilson Library has paper copies of ALL UNC Chapel Hill theses and dissertations, including those from Health Affairs, and also the only copies of some pre-1930 dissertations and theses. The NCC's copies do not circulate and are not in an area open for browsing. You can assume that the NCC will have a copy of a UNC-Chapel Hill dissertation or thesis even if the catalogs do not reveal this.

Davis Library has circulating copies of many theses and dissertations completed at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Health Sciences Library has copies of the theses and dissertations completed in Health Affairs departments. Some dissertations and theses are also located in the Library Service Center and can be requested through the Carolina BLU Campus Delivery Service. Most UNC-Chapel Hill theses and dissertations can be found in the online catalog.

  • Dissertation - Presents original research and is written as part of the requirements for obtaining a doctorate.
  • Thesis - Presents original research and is written as part of the requirements for obtaining a master's degree.
  • Master's Paper - Some master's programs at UNC do not have an official "thesis" but rather require a major paper or report.
  • Undergraduate Honors Thesis - Written and defended by Honors Carolina undergraduate students in order to graduate with Honors or Highest Honors.

Dissertations

Most UNC dissertations are in the UNC-CH catalog. If searching for a known author or title, searching the online catalog is the most efficient way to search: A sample search:

title = "Chaucer's relative constructions"

You can also use the Boolean Search feature of the Advanced UNC-CH Catalog to perform Keyword Searches for UNC dissertations.

Conducting a Keyword Search for Dissertations

Although most dissertations are in the online catalog, dissertations before 1964 have no subject headings. Searching for key words in the titles will help get at "subjects" for these items. Do not use ONLY standard LC Subject Headings. Be creative with appropriate key words, synonyms, and variants as well.

You will be searching for "thesis phd or thesis ph d", which will appear as a note in the catalog record. You can use subject headings, title words, an author's last name, etc., and add "and thesis phd or thesis ph d". It is advisable to enter the "phd" both ways because of spacing variations. A sample search:

shakespeare and (thesis phd or thesis ph d) and "north carolina"

However, as noted above, Dissertations & Theses is the most efficient way to search for dissertations on a topic. If you do search for dissertations in the online catalog, you should add  "and north carolina" to try and weed out dissertations from other schools, but this can lead to false drops and omissions.

Theses

Finding Theses

While some theses may be found in Dissertations & Theses, thesis coverage is not nearly as comprehensive as dissertation coverage in that database.

Most UNC theses are in the UNC-CH catalog. If searching for a known author or title, searching the online catalog is the most efficient way to search. A sample search:

title = Spenser and the diction of allegory : some uses of wordplay in the Faerie Queene

The online catalog does not offer an easy way to limit a subject search to master's theses. There is no group subject heading or subheading like "theses" for them. You can also use the Boolean Search feature of the Advanced UNC-CH Catalog to perform Keyword Searches for UNC theses.

Conducting a Keyword Search for Theses

Although most theses are in the online catalog, theses both before 1967 and after around 1990 have no subject headings. Searching for key words in the titles will help get at "subjects" for these items. Do not use ONLY standard LC Subject Headings. Be creative with appropriate key words, synonyms, and variants as well.

You will be searching for "thesis ma" or "thesis m a," which will appear as a note in the catalog record. You can use subject headings, title words, an author's last name, etc., and add "and thesis ma or thesis m a". It is advisable to enter the "ma" both ways because of spacing variations. A sample search:

shakespeare and (thesis ma or thesis m a) and "north carolina"

Master's Papers

Finding Master's Papers

Some departments do not have an official thesis but instead require a major paper or report. These papers and reports are not in Davis Library or, for the most part, in the North Carolina Collection or the Libraries' online catalog. Some departments and departmental libraries have online lists. Contact the department, or, if there is one, the departmental library for information.

Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Master's level students in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering can opt for one of two tracks: a Master of Science degree, which requires a thesis; and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, which requires a technical paper. The Health Sciences Library receives copies of the theses, but copies of the technical papers must be requested from the department.

Public Administration
Copies of the Master of Public Administration papers from 1976-1994 are in the North Carolina Collection. For copies of papers completed since 1994, contact the Manager of the Master of Public Administration Program (Knapp-Sanders Bldg., CB# 3330, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330, Phone: 919-966-5381, Fax: 919-962-0654, Email Contact Form).

UNC-Chapel Hill Master's Paper Collection
Full-text copies of master's papers can be found:

This database contains papers completed for the following departments:

  • City & Regional Planning: Coverage from May 2002 - present
  • Information & Library Science: Coverage from May 1999 - present*
  • Maternal & Child Health: Coverage from December 2010 - present
  • Public Health & Public Health Leadership: Coverage from August 2011 - present

*Print copies from 1963 - present are available in the SILS Library.

Undergraduate Honors Theses

Finding Undergraduate Honors Theses

Undergraduate Honors Theses are in the North Carolina Collection. They can be found using the card catalog located in that collection or the online catalog. They do not have subject headings unless they are about North Carolina. They do not circulate. Some departmental libraries also have copies but these are also non-circulating. To determine if a copy of an honors thesis can be obtained, contact the North Carolina Collection.

To find Undergraduate Honors Theses you can also use the Boolean Search feature of the Advanced UNC-CH Catalog to perform Keyword Searches. Do a keyword search for "honors essay" (with quotation marks) and then limit your search results to "North Carolina Collection" using the "Location" category in the left-hand column. A sample search:

shakespeare and "honors essay" – then limit to North Carolina Collection

Remember that Honors Theses lack subject indexing, so Keyword principally searches title and author fields. A thesis about Shakespeare may not have Shakespeare in the title.

You can also do a catalog search for a specific title or author if known. A sample search:

title = Broken emblems : allusion, irony, and utility in David Jones' In parenthesis