Canada’s Distinguished Dissertation Awards

For more than twenty years, the CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards (DDA) have recognized exceptional doctoral researchers making an impact in their field of study. We seek work that makes significant, original contributions to both the academic community and to Canadian society at large. Winners are selected every year from each of the following categories:
              * Engineering, Medical Sciences, and Natural Sciences
              * Arts, Humanities, and Social Science

NEW: This year, a first and second place winner will be selected from each of the above categories.



  • The award includes $1,500 cash prize, a certificate of recognition, and an opportunity to attend the 59th Annual CAGS Conference, to be held virtually in November 2021.

Nomination Procedure

 SGPS will accept one nomination per graduate program. Please ensure that the candidate is aware of their nomination for the award. 

A nomination package must include the following (in .doc format):

  • A letter of support from the Graduate Chair (max. 2 pages), highlighting the significance and quality of the candidate's dissertation work. It should also mention the candidate's overall excellence (academic, research, engagement, leadership) throughout the doctoral program, and include the following information:
    • the name and departmental affiliation of the candidate’s research supervisor
    • the name and affiliation of the external examiner
    • the date of the defence and the date of final acceptance of the dissertation by SGPS, i.e. the date at which the final copy of the thesis, including all required corrections, was submitted to SGPS.
  • A letter of support (no limit) from the student’s supervisor describing the reasons for the nomination, and why the dissertation constitutes an unusually significant and original contribution to their academic field and to Canadian society.
  • A copy of the external examiner's original pre-defence report. The examiner’s report must be dated and signed or otherwise authenticated. This is a critical component of the nomination that must adequately and legibly demonstrate the extraordinary quality of the dissertation. Please obtain the report from the SGPS Thesis Coordinator in advance of the SGPS deadline if you require a copy to complete your nomination package.
  • An abstract of the dissertation, not exceeding 350 words, written by the candidate in non-technical language
  • An up-to-date CV of the candidate 

Submitting Nominations to SGPS

The deadline for submissions to SGPS is Friday, April 2, 2021. Please send the complete nomination file (in .doc format) electronically to  

SGPS will consider all nominations received by April 2nd and forward one nomination for each competition category to the CAGS National Office by the April 30, 2021 deadline. Successful nominees will be notified directly by CAGS.

Eligible Dissertations

Eligible dissertations include:

  1. A dissertation in any discipline in engineering, medical sciences, and natural sciences completed and accepted by SGPS between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020.
  2. A dissertation in any discipline in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences completed and accepted by SGPS between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020.

Note: In interdisciplinary domains or in fields that overlap the two broad areas in which the awards are given, SGPS must decide for which award it is appropriate to submit the dissertation.