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About Theses Canada

Theses Canada

Our Mission

The mission of Theses Canada is to acquire and preserve a comprehensive collection of Canadian theses at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), to provide access to this valuable research within Canada and throughout the world. Our mission to preserve this portion of Canada's bibliographic heritage is achieved through partnership with the many Canadian universities who participate in our program.

Our Goals

  • to make the Theses Canada Portal internationally known as the source to find Canadian theses;
  • to be a model of excellence in providing access to the academic research of Canadian graduate students and to showcase it around the world;
  • to provide free access to as many Canadian electronic theses and dissertations as possible;
  • to provide access to non digital theses in the collection of Library and Archives Canada via interlibrary loan or sale;
  • to provide leadership and support to Canadian universities with respect to their theses programs;
  • to make Canadian electronic theses available for harvesting by other union catalogues such as that of the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD);
  • to provide timely and qualitative client service.

Our History

The National Library of Canada's Canadian Theses on Microfiche Service was launched in 1965 at the request of the deans of Canadian graduate schools. What they wanted was a national program to make theses and dissertations that had been accepted by Canadian universities easily accessible to researchers.

The new service had two main objectives. First, to preserve theses by microfilming paper manuscripts and storing the preservation microfilm masters according to archival standards and second, to facilitate access to theses both in terms of identifying what was available and in obtaining copies either by purchasing them or by borrowing them through the National Library's interlibrary loan program. All theses processed for the program were catalogued for listing in the national bibliography Canadiana.

Participation on the part of Canadian universities, while it was and continues to be voluntary, grew steadily. By 1975 twenty eight universities were submitting theses to the program. By 2002, the number of participating universities had grown to fifty five. Currently more than sixty universities participate in the national program.

The regulations for Legal Deposit do not require that theses be submitted to Library and Archives Canada since they are considered to be unpublished. Universities participating in the Theses Canada program voluntarily submit theses to LAC which then publishes the theses.


  • The Canadian Theses on Microfiche Service program was delivered in-house, with the exception of filming services which were contracted out to a local company.
  • Theses were available to clients only in the form of roll film.
  • In an effort to improve the turn-around-time for filming, NLC contracted with the Public Archives of Canada for microfilming services.
  • 1974 also saw the introduction of theses on microfiche, an easier format to handle than microfilm.
  • In 1986, the name of the program was changed to the Canadian Theses Service.
  • The closure of the Central Microfilm Operations of the Public Archives led to a period of instability when the CTS had simultaneous contracts for microfilming services with several companies since none of them were able to handle the volume alone.
  • The National Library had contracts with both Micromedia Canada, which filmed and acted as sales agent for Canadian theses submitted to the program, and with UMI Dissertations Publishing, which listed the theses in its various bibliographic products such as Dissertation Abstracts International.
  • NLC contracted with UMI Dissertations Publishing to provide most services required by the program, including the reproduction of theses on preservation quality microfiche and the listing and selling of theses.
  • UMI started to digitize theses in PDF format.
  • On April 1, 2003 the Canadian Theses Service changed its name to Theses Canada.
  • LAC launched the Theses Canada Portal and provided free access to full text versions of theses and dissertations digitized between 1998 and 2002.
  • LAC began to harvest electronic theses and dissertations from Canadian universitites.

Library and Archives Canada continues to catalogue all theses published by the program for inclusion in Amicus, Canada's national online catalogue and on the Theses Canada Portal.

All theses in Library and Archives Canada's collection are available on interlibrary loan. For more information on how to borrow a thesis, please consult the section entitled, To Borrow a Thesis.

For information on how to access an electronic thesis, please consult the section entitled To Find an Electronic Thesis.

Our Collection

Theses Canada publishes masters theses and doctoral dissertations through our current service provider, ProQuest. By 2002, there were over 220,000 theses and dissertations in our collection. Approximately 11,000 more are added to the collection annually.

Electronic Theses on the Portal

The majority of electronic theses that are available on the Theses Canada Portal are the ones that were submitted to the Theses Canada program between 1998 and August 31, 2002 and digitized on our behalf by our contractor, ProQuest. A number of ETDs that LAC has harvested from universities are also available on the Theses Portal.