I am trying to confirm if an individual actually graduated with a PhD from a university at around 2010. At my university, the PhD theses are archived in the university library. In some cases, the Masters theses are archived in the library, too. (Yes, I found my own thesis from my university library's search.)

This individual claimed to hold a PhD from a US university. I could not find this person's thesis from the university library.

From LinkedIn, I found the names of other individuals who claimed to hold PhD from the same university. This university library's online search returned those thesis.

If the PhD theses are not always archived at the university's library, I could use my benefit of the doubt.

  • 3
    It's certainly extremely common, but US higher education is so decentralized that there's really no way to answer a question like "always". Almost every common practice has an oddball exception somewhere. Oct 5, 2023 at 4:08
  • There are of course other possibilities: the person attended under a different name, their thesis was originally in the library but was lost, the thesis is in the library but due to some error it is not properly indexed by the catalog. Oct 5, 2023 at 4:10
  • 2
    Another place to search is the ProQuest database, which indexes the vast majority of theses in the US. (Again, it's hard to authoritatively say it indexes all of them.) Oct 5, 2023 at 4:14
  • I recall that some dissertations in the US during World War II were classified "secret" by the military, and therefore could not be published. I don't know whether that could still happen today.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 5, 2023 at 6:25
  • 2
    @GEdgar The top-voted answer to Can a PhD thesis be confidential? suggests it can still happen, or at least did so fairly recently.
    – Anyon
    Oct 5, 2023 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


I would guess that most, not all, universities have most, not all, dissertations available at the library. But your intent seems to be to verify that a degree was earned. Having the dissertation at a library is, at best, an incomplete indication.

In the US, at least, the National Student Clearinghouse can provide that information for most, not all, colleges and universities.

But the US system isn't unified for almost all questions, and, worldwide it is a much more difficult issue.

  • Yes, of course I can submit a request to the university's registrar or National Student Clearinghouse. Having the dissertation in the library is an incomplete indication but is an indication without consent of the individual. Oct 5, 2023 at 13:44

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