• Home
  • Embargo Policy for Theses and Dissertations

Embargo Policy for Theses and Dissertations


This policy lists conditions under which a student may seek an embargo on a thesis or dissertation and provides instructions for requesting an embargo.

Applies to: 

Dissertations and theses produced by graduate students on the Lawrence and Edwards campuses

Policy Statement: 

When an exception to the immediate release of a thesis or dissertation is necessary, an embargo provides a temporary, delayed public release of the work. Embargo periods of six (6) months, one (1) year, or two (2) years are available. While embargoes are not intended to be permanent, renewals of the original embargo period are permissible. Considerations that may be deemed reasonable for granting permission for an embargo include, but are not limited to:

  • Patentable rights or other issues are contained in the work, the disclosure of which may be detrimental to the rights or interests of the author.
  • There is a need to prevent disclosure of government information about persons, institutions, technologies, etc. that is contained in the work.
  • An academic or commercial press has expressed interest in acquiring the rights to publish the work as a book that may require an embargo.
  • The work contains content that has already been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal that may require an embargo.
  • Approval for delay has been granted by the KU Restricted Research Committee (see Restricted Research link below for more information).

Requests for an extension of the embargo should be directed to embargo@ku.edu and must be received at least one (1) month prior to the expiration of the current embargo to ensure sufficient time to process the request. A request for an embargo submitted to the University of Kansas affects only the publication of the thesis or dissertation in KU ScholarWorks. It is the graduate student’s responsibility to request an extension from both the University of Kansas for the copy in KU ScholarWorks and separately through ProQuest/UMI. ​ 

While there is no limit to the number of times a student can request an embargo extension, embargoes that have been allowed to expire without a request for an extension will result in the thesis or dissertation being made publicly available. 

The embargo period will be calculated beginning at the end of the semester in which the student graduates with the specific dates being: December 31st, May 31st, August 31st.


Theses and dissertations at the University of Kansas are made available in two (2) electronic databases: KU ScholarWorks and ProQuest/UMI Dissertations and Theses. Items in KU ScholarWorks are publicly accessible on the world-wide web and can be indexed by search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others. 

A student who does not wish to have a thesis or dissertation made public in these two (2) venues for some limited period of time must receive permission to embargo the thesis or dissertation from the director of graduate studies in the student's department, the committee chair, the department chair, or the dean of the pertinent school/college. The student must request this permission with the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Release Form. The University of Kansas will accept the thesis or dissertation—thereby completing all degree requirements—only if the student signs this release form. Likewise, the University of Kansas will only entertain requests for an embargo on the publication of a thesis or dissertation through submission of this same form.

To ensure that embargoed work is restricted, students must take two (2) steps after receiving the appropriate signatures before graduation.

  • First, the student must submit the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Release Form to the school office. If an embargo has been approved, this form will ensure that the work is temporarily restricted in KU ScholarWorks.
  • Second, during the electronic submission process to ProQuest/UMI, the student must select the embargo option under the publishing restrictions section. If an embargo has been approved, this step will ensure that public view of the work is temporarily restricted in the ProQuest/UMI Dissertations and Theses database. See the related documents section below for more information.

Note: If a student does not receive permission for an embargo and/or does not submit the required documentation requesting such an embargo to Graduate Studies prior to graduation, the work will be made publicly available through KU ScholarWorks, and search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others will find and index the work. For this reason, once a work is released publicly, it is impossible to deploy an embargo in its entirety, because copies of a released work are likely to be stored on the web even if the KU ScholarWorks or ProQuest/UMI copies are retracted. It is therefore crucial for students who desire the embargo option to request it prior to graduation and to request extensions, if needed, prior to the work being exposed to public search engines.

Dissertation defenses are open to the public. In the event that an embargo is deemed necessary for a dissertation, the committee should consider holding an additional question period for the defense that is closed to the public. Any sensitive data may be discussed in the closed session.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Students from the following programs are permitted to request a permanent embargo of their thesis or dissertation (also see Related Forms section below):

  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing offered by the Department of English
  • Ph.D. in English: Literature and Creative Writing tracks

Graduate Studies

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Friday, October 29, 2010
Effective on: 
Friday, October 29, 2010
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)

Statement on Restricted Research (applies to externally funded projects that contain contractual stipulations regarding required delays of publication)

Additional information on the steps necessary for placing an embargo


Embargo, Thesis, Dissertation, ScholarWorks, Proquest, Graduation
Change History: 

07/18/2023: Approved by changed to Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, fixed broken links, updated renewal request contact to embargo@ku.edu.
07/05/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
10/17/2014: Graduate Studies added the link to the electronic thesis/dissertation release form for Creative Writing MFA/PhD students.
11/25/2013: Revisions approved by the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.
09/06/2013: Revisions approved by Graduate Studies, KU Libraries, Office of the Provost, and General Counsel.
10/20/2011: Revisions approved by Graduate Studies, KU Libraries, Office of the Provost, and General Counsel.
10/29/2010: Revisions approved by Graduate Studies, KU Libraries, Office of the Provost, and General Counsel.
This policy pre-dates the KU online Policy Library. The dates listed in the approval and effective date fields reflect the date it was moved into the Policy Library.

Academic Categories: 
Academic Work & Evaluations

Can't Find What You're Looking For?
Policy Library Search
KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times