Advanced OCW Search Queries

OCW Search has built-in advanced search operators to help you find exactly what you are looking for quickly. They are very simple to use and should be familiar to anyone who has used advanced search operators on other search engines.

Misc Topics

Case Sensitivity

OCW Search is not case sensitive. A search for "smith" is exactly the same as a search for "Smith".

Phrase Searches

To search for an exact phrase, simply add double quotes around it. For example, compare the results of these two searches:

Another fun search: "Python wouldn't complain".

Exact Word Searches & Stemming

By default, OCW Search intelligently matches your searches with the different related words; for example, a search for "politics" also matches "political". This is called stemming.

You can turn off this default stemming behavior by adding a plus sign before the word. For example, compare the results of these two searches:

Word Exclusion (Negation)

You can specify words in your search that must NOT be found in the course. To do so, simply add a minus sign in front of the word or phrase. For example, compare the results of these searches:


An operator is a search modifier to make your query more specific. An operator has this format: operator:. That is, the operator's name followed by a colon. What comes after the colon is what the operator applies to.

Course Title Searches

You can specify which words or phrases must appear in the course's title. For example:

Course Description Searches

To find words that are found in the official university-supplied course description, you can use the description: operator. For example:

Instructor Search

To find only courses by a specific instructor (usually a university professor/doctor/lecturer), you can use the instructor: operator. For example:

Institution Search

To find courses only from a specific university or institution, use the institution: operator. Compare the results of these example searches:

The operator for each institution:


All of the advanced search techniques described on this page can be combined to give you pin-point accuracy in what is returned. For example, compare these searches: