Searching for GSD Theses

To know before searching the GSD Theses Collection:

Thesis submission requirements and procedures have changed throughout the years across academic departments. The school has not always required theses from students, therefore the library does not necessarily have a thesis for every GSD graduate. 

The library’s collection practices and catalog descriptions for these works has also varied throughout the decades. Most of GSD submitted theses are in HOLLIS, but others (generally 1930s-1940s) may be in the GSD History Collection.

If you have questions about finding a specific thesis and cannot find it using this guide, please use Ask a Design Librarian.

Where are they located?

Theses submitted in print can be found in HOLLIS and are located in the Rare Book Room of Special Collections.

Electronic theses submitted between 2012 and Fall 2020 are downloadable in HOLLIS (HarvardKey required.)

Electronic theses submitted as of Fall 2020 can be found in HOLLIS and are downloadable through ProQuest and DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard) within a few months of submission. Some students may have requested embargoes on their theses, and therefore only abstracts are available for those, until the embargo is lifted.

Search by program:

Click on the links below to view HOLLIS records for recent theses by program.

More specific searches:

Use the search box below to locate thesis documents by subject, location, author, or advisor. Add additional terms to focus your results. For example:

  • harvard graduate school design thesis coast* (for coast or coastal)
  • harvard graduate school design thesis housing
  • harvard graduate school design thesis beijing
  • harvard graduate school design thesis Mori, Toshiko 
  • harvard graduate school design thesis Rowe, Peter
Searching early theses (1930s-1940s):

Most early GSD theses are included in the GSD History Collection [Student Work]. These are generally photostats of a final thesis project, and some include an accompanying text.

HOLLIS Search Tips
  • HOLLIS User Guide: Additional tips for refining your search to find the resources you seek. 
  • HOLLIS FAQs: Answers to frequently asked questions about searching in HOLLIS.

Accessing Copies of GSD Theses


Researchers can view paper GSD theses on site by placing a request through HOLLIS Special Request. Items are placed on the Special Collections Reading Room hold shelf for 1 week. Researchers can check the status of their request in HOLLIS Special Request. Paper theses do not circulate. Exceptions can be made for faculty to use in a class. 

Scanning and Photos

GSD theses five years and older from degree date that are in paper may be scanned or photographed by researchers on-site at no cost. If you can't come to the Special Collections Reading Room in person, photoduplication requests may be placed through HOLLIS Special Request, and you will receive a fee estimate from Harvard Library Imaging Services. Most theses submitted within the last five years and

Please note:

Most theses submitted within the last five years and before Fall 2020 are digital and are available through HOLLIS to Harvard affiliates only, who can access and download these digital theses from there. The library does not provide PDF or printed versions for theses within the last five years. The few that are available only in paper from the last five years have slips indicating that they may not be copied.

Access to GSD Theses

GSD online masters theses submitted before the Fall of 2020 are available for viewing online by members of the Harvard community with Harvard ID and key access, or from computers within our library. We do not offer any remote access to theses for unaffiliated users. We also do not lend out our previous print theses through interlibrary loan. Theses from Fall of 2020 onwards can be accessed through ProQuest, HOLLIS, and DASH, unless the author has requested an embargo on her thesis.

Searching for Non-GSD Theses