American Distinguished Dissertation Awards

Sponsored jointly by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) and ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, these awards are made each year to individuals who, in the opinion of the award committee, have completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.


Two CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards, each consisting of an award of $2,000 and a certificate of recognition, will be presented at the CGS Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon. Reasonable travel expenses of award recipients will be covered. 

2021 Fields of Competition

  • Biological Sciences/Life Sciences: biology; botany; zoology; ecology;
    embryology; entomology; genetics; nutrition; plant pathology; plant physiology;
    anatomy; biochemistry; biophysics; microbiology; pathology; pharmacology;
    physiology; and related fields (health sciences). Also included are agriculture,
    forestry, zoology; and related fields.
  • Humanities and Fine Arts: history; philosophy; language; linguistics;
    literature; archaeology; jurisprudence; the history, theory and criticism of the
    arts; ethics; comparative religion; and those aspects of the social sciences that
    employ historical or philosophical approaches.
If a dissertation is multi- or interdisciplinary in nature, a significant portion of the work must be comprised by at least one of the 2021 fields of competition.

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):

  • An abstract of the candidate's dissertation (not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages). Appendices containing nontextual material, such as charts or tables, may be included as additional pages. All pages should be numbered, and each should bear the name of the candidate.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation evaluating the significance and quality of the candidate's dissertation work. One of these letters must be from the candidate's dissertation supervisor, another from a member of the candidate's dissertation committee, and the third from a person of the candidate's choice. (no page limit indicated)
  • The candidate's curriculum vitae (not to exceed 5 pages)

Submitting Nominations to SGPS

The deadline for submissions to SGPS is Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Please send the complete nomination file (in .doc format) electronically to  

SGPS will consider all nominations received by June 1st and forward one nomination for each competition category to the CGS National Office by the July 2, 2021 deadline. Successful nominees will be notified directly by CGS.


Eligible dissertations include:

  1. A dissertation in the biological sciences/life sciences completed and accepted by SGPS between July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021, inclusive.
  2. A dissertation in any discipline in the humanities and fine arts completed and accepted by SGPS between July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021, inclusive.
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.