Since the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation system launched in November 2009, Stanford's PhD and Engineering graduate students have had the option to submit their culminating works either online or on paper. For many students, the choice is easy to make: electronic submission is convenient, quick, and costs nothing whereas the traditional option requires producing multiple printed copies of the thesis and paying an accompanying fee (starting at $126).
Even with the clear advantages that the electronic submission option offers, each quarter a handful of students choose to submit on paper … until last quarter. In Winter 2012-2013 a total of 99 submissions were processed, and they were all electronic. This is a first in Stanford's history.
Paper submission will continue to be an option, and some number of students are likely to continue to exercise it (perhaps due to discipline norms or preferences of the thesis advisor or department). According to the Office of Registrar, over the past three years, 4% of all submissions (96 out of 2141) were in paper form. Nonetheless hard copy submissions are expected to continue to decline.
Electronically submitted theses and dissertations are preserved in the Stanford Digital Repository, along with the digital scans of Stanford's legacy theses and dissertations collection which has been digitized under the Google Books project.