Many Ph.D. programs have an arrangement with ProQuest whereby a copy of each dissertation (or Ph.D. thesis) is deposited with ProQuest and made available for ordering.  One way to find them is by going to the ProQuest website.  Another is to search using MathSciNet!

ProQuest handles dissertations and theses in many, many disciplines.  Their classification scheme is necessarily coarser than what we use at Mathematical Reviews.    We receive bibliographic data about the theses published in Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics.  When we receive the data from ProQuest, there are no Mathematics Subject Classifications (MSCs) associated to them.  So we have used the “MSC” field in the MathSciNet search as the placeholder for the “Thesis” flag.

So how do you find a thesis?  One way is just to do a search in MathSciNet and have the thesis turn up as part of the search.  However, if you really want to find just the thesis, then you have to use one of MathSciNet’s hidden tricks.  Here is an example.

A famous thesis in number theory is John Tate’s, written under the direction of Emil Artin at Princeton.  Wikipedia even has its own entry for it!  Here is how to find it in MathSciNet.  In the Author field, enter “tate, jo*”.  In the MSC Primary/Secondary field, enter “thesis”.  (It also works in the MSC Primary field.)

Screen Shot Tate Thesis search

The result is:

Screen Shot Tate Thesis - result

If you click the link Thesis, you jump to the ProQuest website:

 Tate Thesis on ProQuest

From here, you can order a copy, either as a PDF download or in one of several printed formats.

MathSciNet began listing ProQuest theses and dissertations in October 2010. As of July 5, 2015, there are 76,413 such items in MathSciNet.  For the year 2014, we loaded 1,950 theses into our database. (A few more may drift in still.)  ProQuest delivers the data to us on a monthly basis.

There is also information about older theses.  For the year 1885, the search

Screen Shot Thesis search 1885


produces the results

Screen Shot Thesis results 1885

Note, though, that actual copies of many of the old theses may not be available.

So if you are looking for a thesis, even your own, trying using this little-known feature of MathSciNet!

Update [October 19, 2016]:  French theses from the “Between Two Wars” period have been added to MathSciNet, thanks to NUMDAM.  You can still find them by using “thesis” in the MSC field.  If you want to specifically find one of these theses, then put the work “numdam” in the Anywhere field.

About Edward Dunne

I am the Executive Editor of Mathematical Reviews. Previously, I was an editor for the AMS Book Program for 17 years. Before working for the AMS, I had an academic career working at Rice University, Oxford University, and Oklahoma State University. In 1990-91, I worked for Springer-Verlag in Heidelberg. My Ph.D. is from Harvard. I received a world-class liberal arts education as an undergraduate at Santa Clara University.
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2 Responses to Theses

  1. Mark Meckes says:

    It appears that some theses show up when you view the publications for their authors, and others do not. Is this something that’s still in the process of being sorted out?

    • Edward Dunne says:

      The information on theses comes to us as metadata from ProQuest. It is similar to other sources of contributed data in MathSciNet in that way. In particular, we do not do the author identification work that we do for regular items. If someone — usually it’s the author of the thesis — contacts us about joining the thesis to their MR Author Profile, we will happily do so. The address for that is

      This information is in the help files – if you know where to find it. Here is the link:

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