Outstanding Dissertation Award


The Outstanding Dissertation Award was established in 1979 by the Graduate School to recognize exceptional work by doctoral students and to encourage the highest levels of scholarship, research, and writing. Graduate Studies Committee Chairs are asked to submit one doctoral student from their programs for the award. Three awards will be presented in 2016.

Three categories will be used to group the nominations:

  • Area A – Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Area B – Social Sciences, Business and Education
  • Area C – Mathematics, Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Biological and Life Sciences

A dissertation may be considered in only one competition category. Because certain graduate programs may be included in several of these areas, please select the area most appropriate to the topic and methodology of the nominated dissertation.


To be eligible for the 2016 award, the dissertation must meet one of the following criteria:

  • It will be submitted in final form to the Graduate School by May 6 for a degree to be awarded in May 2016. (Note: Nominees who do not submit their dissertations by May 6 or who do not complete other degree requirements by this date will be ineligible to receive an award in this year’s competition.)
  • It was submitted for a degree awarded in August 2015 or December 2015.
  • It was submitted after April 1, 2015, for a degree awarded in May 2015.


Nominations must be submitted online using the Graduate School's online awards system. Nominations must be initiated by the Department Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) Chair. Nominators are required to solicit all required documentation from their respective nominees and upload them on their behalf. You will need the following items available to complete the online application.

  • A cover letter from the chair of the GSC Chair briefly describing why the dissertation was chosen for nomination by the program
  • Two letters of support from among the following: the dissertation supervisor, the graduate adviser, the department chair, or a committee member
  • One copy of the dissertation, including the abstract


The faculty review committees will consider both the methodological and substantive aspects of the dissertations, including:

  • the importance/impact of the subject
  • the originality/creativity of the work
  • the quality of the scholarship
  • the potential for publishing
  • the organization of the dissertation
  • the quality of the writing
  • other appropriate factors that denote excellence

Individuals writing letters of support should be encouraged to keep the above criteria in mind as they comment on the significance/major contribution of the dissertation and the particular aspects of the dissertation that distinguish it.

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Submit Nominations

Nominations Open: JAN. 29, 2016
Deadline: FEB. 26, 2016

Nominations and supporting documentation may be submitted via the online awards system.

Danielle Thoma, Program Coordinator


⋆ Meghan Andrews
⋆ Benjamin Liebeskind
Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
⋆ Paula Yuma
Social Work
Read more about their work »

Previous award winners »

For additional information

John Dalton, Assistant Dean


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