Increasingly, electronic copies of dissertations are freely available on the internet through digital repositories and collaborative efforts.
Step #1. The fastest way to tell if the dissertation you need is accessible electronically is to do a Google phrase search for the dissertation title. A phrase search just means you put the title between quotation marks.
by Greene, Joshua David. Princeton University, 2002.
Scan the first few results links. Sometimes the PDF link is obvious. Other times, not and you have to click on a few titles to get to the PDF. DON'T WASTE A LOT OF TIME LOOKING through Google search results. If you don't find the dissertation in the first few search results, STOP! It is likely unavailable.
Step #2 - If the dissertation you need is not available on the internet, or, if you don't have time or the inclination to search Google, just submit a request to the Interlibrary loan department and let them do the work.
The ILL department will determine if the dissertation you need is available for loan or if a copy must be purchased at no cost to you. You will receive an email from the ILL department alerting you when the dissertation is available. If the dissertation is not available for loan or purchase, you will also receive an email letting you know. So, make sure you read your email!