What is the Best Dissertation Award Program? 

Each year the Graduate School recognizes the University's top recent Ph.D. graduates by presenting 'best dissertation' awards.

The award is given in each of four broad areas:

  • arts & humanities (including history and philosophy)
  • biological and medical sciences
  • physical sciences and engineering
  • social & behavioral sciences and education

What is the application window?

The 2024 application window will open February 15, 2024. The submission deadline is April 5, 2024 by 5:00pm central time.

Deadline extensions will not be granted; late submissions will not be accepted.

What is the award?

$1,000 honorarium and consideration for nomination to the CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award.

How do I apply?

Program Nomination required. Please reach out to your Director of Graduate Studies or Graduate Program Coordinator.

For Program Nomination, log in to the electronic nomination form.

Application Requirements

A single PDF nomination file should include the documents listed below in the following order:

  1. Nomination Form
  2. Curriculum Vitae (not to exceed 5 pages), see details below
  3. DGS Nomination Letter, see details below
  4. Letter of Recommendation from Dissertation Advisor
  5. Layman’s Summary (one page), see details below
  6. Description of dissertation research and its conclusions, see details below

Required PDF title format: Nominee LastName_FirstName_2024BestDissertation

Who Is Eligible to apply?

Current and former students who will have been awarded the Ph.D., or who will have successfully defended and officially submitted their dissertations to the Graduate Student Services & Progress (GSSP) office, between July 1, 2022 and April 5, 2024., will be eligible to be nominated. UMN-Twin Cities and UMN-Duluth graduate programs that offer the Ph.D. may nominate one student.

If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate Fellowships Office.


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Nominee’s Curriculum Vitae

  • Maximum of 5 pages in length
  • Highlight education and employment history
  • List honors and publications

DGS Nomination Letter

  • Describe candidate pool and selection process within program
  • Describe nominee’s originality and importance of research
  • Describe nominee’s potential for significant contribution to the field
  • Describe nominee’s comparative publication record and quality of the journals, and other excellence indicators, such as: discoveries, unique theories, inventions, creative products, patens, publications, book publication offers, job offers, professional organization honors, etc.

Nominee’s Layman’s Summary

  • Maximum of one page, should be double spaced
  • Include a section on the significance of the research and, if available, the URL of the nominee’s website

Letter of Recommendation from Dissertation Advisor

  • Recommended length is 2-3 pages
  • Expectation of content: letter should evaluate the significance and quality of the nominee's dissertation work

Description of dissertation research and its conclusions

  • Written by the nominee
  • 10 pages maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font
  • Each page should contain nominee’s name and page number
  • Appendices containing nontextual material, such as charts or tables, may be included in addition to the 10 pages (no page limit for appendices)

Further Information

The UMN review committee may ask for a copy of the dissertation in making final decisions.