UW Graduate School

Distinguished Dissertation Award

Call for Nominations

The Graduate School is pleased to announce the 2021 Distinguished Dissertation Awards competition in the following four categories:

  • Biological Sciences*
  • Humanities and Fine Arts*
  • Social Sciences
  • Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering

*2021 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award fields of competition

These awards recognize outstanding and exceptional scholarship and research at the doctoral level. Nominations are due by 5 p.m., May 18, 2021. Each department can submit only one nomination per category. The nomination must be submitted by the department chair or graduate program coordinator.


The effective date of degree award, or the completion of doctoral degree requirements and dissertation, must fall within the period of July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, inclusive, for the nominee selected.


A complete nomination consists of the following components, all of which must be bundled into a single PDF, in this order:

  1. The nomination packet cover sheet
  2. A summary written in non-technical language of the purpose, methods, results of the research and its significance within the discipline of this dissertation. The summary must not exceed two pages, typed and double-spaced. Please include the nominee’s name and doctoral program on this page.
  3. An abstract of the nominee’s dissertation (not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages, typed and formatted to fit on 8-1/2″ x 11″ white paper). Appendices containing other material, such as charts, tables, and/or references may be included as additional pages (not to exceed five pages).  Each of the pages must be numbered and bear the nominee’s name.
  4. Three letters of recommendation evaluating the significance and quality of the nominee’s dissertation work. One of these letters is to be from the nominee’s dissertation supervisor, another from a member of the nominee’s dissertation committee, and the third from a person of the nominee’s choice.
  5. The nominee’s curriculum vitae (not to exceed five pages).

Deadline and Submission Method

  1. The above materials must be bundled into a single PDF and sent to graddean@uw.edu.
  2. Please save your file in this format: LAST NAME NOMINEE – Nominee’s Home Department – DISSERTATION – [Category].pdf


A Graduate School awards committee will select the award recipients. The nominated dissertations should represent original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the disciplines. Both methodological and substantive quality will be judged. Nominations will be evaluated on the following:

  1. Innovation: The degree of innovation, creativity and insight shown by the author.
  2. Scope: The scope and importance of the work to the department and to the field.
  3. Writing: The effectiveness of the writing (including whether it is written in language that is reasonably understandable to faculty in related disciplines).


Each recipient will receive an honorarium of $1,000 and will be publicly recognized by the Graduate School. Additionally, when the awardees’ dissertations fall within the current year’s fields of competition for the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, they will be submitted as the UW’s institutional nominations for this prestigious recognition.

CGS 2021 fields of competition

The 2021 fields of competition are Biological Sciences and Humanities and Fine Arts.  

We provide a non-inclusive list of fine fields that are considered to belong to the broader fields under consideration. If you have questions about whether a dissertation qualifies for consideration, please contact CGS/Anna M. Naranjo at anaranjo@cgs.nche.edu.  

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 composed of at least one of the 2021 fields of competition.  

For more details about the 2021 CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award and clarification regarding which fields/disciplines are included under these categories, please click here.

Nomination materials should be addressed to

Joy Williamson-Lott
Dean of The Graduate School

Questions should be directed to

Jerry Pangilinan
Assistant to the Dean