Just what the title says. As far as I know, Knuth's undergrad thesis was so good that the faculty at his university decided to honor him with both an undergrad degree and a master's automatically.

I wonder if this thesis is available for the public to see. I suppose students at Case Western have full access to it, but I'm unfortunately not one of them. Is there a way to get access to this thesis?

  • Do you have a reference that says there was a thesis? I've seen that Case Western awarded him B.S. and M.S. together, but no mention of him having written a B.S. thesis.
    – ff524
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 23:12
  • It's not listed on his C.V. - PDF version and there's nothing in Case Western's library catalog.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 23:34
  • What about emailing Knuth, the secretary of CWU's CS program, or their library?
    – Superbest
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 7:22
  • It is impossible to email Knuth directly, because he stopped using email in 1990 www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~uno/email.html I would approach the library directly. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 9:26
  • 3
    @Teckizt Isn't it necessary for graduation in all universities? - nope, not necessarily at B.S. and M.S. level.
    – ff524
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


Finally, I contacted CWU's library and was told by an archivist that Knuth indeed graduated from the Case Institute of Technology with a BSc and an MSc simultaneously in 1960.

However, he didn't need to present a thesis. It was not a graduation requirement at that time.

What a shame!

  • 1
    No problem :) I was dying to know the answer!
    – rlbstr
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 2:08
  • The faculty voted to give him a Master's degree not because he presented a great undergraduate thesis (there was no such thing, as you said), but because he had been taking mostly graduate (Master's) courses, and doing well at them. (In a recent interview he revealed that it was because he found the graduate courses easier… but whatever it was, it was sufficiently unusual that the faculty had a special vote and did things this way.) Commented May 27, 2018 at 7:12

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