Effective Date
May 14, 2012
Last Revised Date
February 7, 2022
Responsible Office
Graduate School - Academic Affairs
Deputy Dean of the Graduate School
Geoffrey B. Hill
  1. Policy Statement

    Like most institutions belonging to the Association of Research Libraries, Princeton University requires that a dissertation be made publicly available in order for a Ph.D. to be awarded.  Though the format has changed over time, beginning in 1950 the Graduate School has accepted the deposit of a dissertation to ProQuest via Mudd Library as fulfillment of this requirement.  Since 2011, the Graduate School has accepted this deposit via ProQuest and in DataSpace electronically.  Accordingly, Mudd Library, must have confirmed deposit of a copy of the dissertation upon review of the ProQuest submission before Ph.D. candidates may be placed on a degree list.  Students thereby grant to ProQuest a nonexclusive license to distribute the dissertation, but cede no copyright of the material.

    Changes in the Graduate School’s and University Archive’s procedure for archiving and making accessible doctoral dissertations in electronic form have caused some concern among graduate students and faculty, particularly those in the humanities and some social sciences, that their ability to publish their dissertations as scholarly books will be affected negatively by the new access policies and that their future careers in the academy may be hampered. Briefly, a major change was to archive the second copy of the dissertation in electronic form in Princeton’s DataSpace digital archive, which is searchable by major search engines and therefore, in effect, open access. Moreover, dissertations published by ProQuest are available for free in electronic form to users at research libraries that also publish their students’ dissertations with ProQuest and pay a subscriber’s fee for such access.

    Accordingly, the Policy Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee of the Graduate School instituted a dissertation embargo policy to protect the dissertation work of Ph.D. recipients.

  2. Who is Affected by this Policy

    This policy applies to all Ph.D. candidates and Ph.D. recipients.

  3. Definitions


    Final written document submitted to an academic department or program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D.  The dissertation must show a technical mastery of the field and consist of original research.

  4. Policy

    This policy requires that:

    Students be given an option to embargo (that is, delay the public release of and access to) their dissertation for a period of up to two years. 

    Embargoes may be requested for time periods of six months, one year, and two years.  Full two-year embargoes are reserved solely for students who wish to protect their ability to publish the dissertation in book form.

    Full two-year embargoes may be renewable for an additional two-year period with approval from the Graduate School.  Embargoes granted for less than two years are not renewable.

    This embargo applies both to publication with ProQuest and to accessibility on Princeton University’s DataSpace; that is, an embargoed dissertation will not be available to those in the Princeton domain, or to university subscribers to free ProQuest access, or for the purpose of Interlibrary Loan.

    Students who wish to embargo their dissertation must have the approval of their adviser or dissertation committee in writing (as well as that of any others who have a relevant interest, e.g., funding sources), as well as the approval of the Graduate School, and that the approval must be received at the time of filing the advanced degree application for the Final Public Oral (FPO).

    All other policies and procedures involving the submission of doctoral dissertations will remain in place.

    Features of the current dissertation submission and access policy will not change:

    A copy of the dissertation must be deposited with the University Archives and may be available in some form to those who visit the library to read it.

    Students who choose to embargo their dissertation must upload it electronically to ProQuest so that ProQuest can release it when the embargo ends. The dissertation abstract will be published immediately by ProQuest.

    Students not choosing the embargo option will have their dissertations published by ProQuest, available to researchers at other university subscribers, and archived and accessible through the University’s DataSpace, which is open access.

    Ph.D. recipients who have received approval for a full two-year embargo may just prior to the embargo expiration request a renewal of the embargo if they continue to believe that they need to protect their ability to publish their dissertation in book form. Renewal requests are subject to the following conditions:

    The renewal provides for a two-year extension to the original two-year embargo only. 

    Embargoes of six months and one year are not considered eligible for an extension.

    The embargo may be renewed only once, so that a dissertation may be embargoed for a maximum of four years, including the extension.

    An embargo renewal must be requested in writing at least one month before the original embargo has expired and may not be requested more than three months prior to the embargo expiration date. (Original embargoes are always set to expire two years from the date on which the Ph.D. was awarded.) So, for example, a Ph.D. recipient who was awarded the Ph.D. on June 4, 2013, and who wishes to request a renewal of an existing embargo must request the renewal in writing before May 4, 2015, and may not request it before March 4, 2015.

  5. Procedures

    Graduate students requesting an embargo must receive approval from their dissertation adviser. This approval is requested via completing the dissertation embargo questions in the Advanced Degree Application. Embargo questions must be completed before submitting the form to the adviser in order for the embargo approval questions to appear.

    All written embargo extension requests should be directed to Geoffrey Hill, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, who will acknowledge their receipt and approval.

  6. Roles and Responsibilities 

         Dean of the Graduate School
         Oversees Graduate School policies and associated procedures.

         Academic Affairs
         Administers Embargo policy and approves requests.

        Dissertation Adviser
         Approves student requests for an Embargo of the dissertation.

        Graduate Student
        Evaluates if an embargo is necessary and works with their adviser to complete and submit necessary forms.