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Eligibility and Application

About The Award

Four Distinguished Dissertation Awards, consisting of a cash prize of $500 each and a recognition plaque, may be presented annually at an event co-sponsored by the Graduate Council and the Office of Research.

One award may be given in each of the following four subject areas:

  • Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Pharmacy, Health Sciences, and Nursing

The following list, although not all-inclusive, represents the fields considered under each dissertation area:

  • Physical and Biological Sciences: chemistry and biology;
  • Social Sciences: psychology, counseling, education, health care ethics;
  • Humanities and Fine Arts: English, rhetoric, philosophy, systematic theology;
  • Pharmacy, Health Sciences, and Nursing: pharmacy, rehabilitation science, and nursing.


Each graduate program may nominate a maximum of one doctoral student per year for this award. The nominee must have completed the dissertation and have been awarded, or will be awarded, the doctoral degree between the defined 2-year period July 1 to June 30, inclusive (see instructions below for key dates and application deadlines). This cycle corresponds with that of the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. Students enrolled in dual degree programs who have completed the dissertation but who have not yet met all the degree requirements for the second degree are also eligible. Nominations from a broad range of academic disciplines are desired.

Award winners are selected based upon the following criteria:

  • Originality
  • Innovativeness
  • Scholarly excellence
  • Methodological sophistication
  • Significant contribution to the discipline
  • Quality of writing

Selection Committee

The Chair of the Graduate Council, in consultation with the Council, will appoint a committee of at least four accomplished faculty members to evaluate and select award recipients. At least one of the faculty members will have served on the committee in the previous year. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, faculty members who serve on a dissertation committee of a nominated individual are not eligible to serve as members of the selection committee.


Nomination materials are due on or before Friday, May 4.  Applications no longer being accepted.

Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

Two of the recipients of the Distinguished Dissertation Award may be subsequently nominated by the Provost or Chair of the Graduate Council for the national competition for the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award. This award operates on a two year cycle in regards to the dissertation areas (social sciences and math, physical sciences and engineering one year and biological and life sciences and humanities and fine arts the next year).

Duquesne's application process/deadline, selection criteria, and award categories are modeled after the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards so that selected award-winners from Duquesne may also be nominated for these national awards at the appropriate time.

Learn more about the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards.

View the CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards 2018 Nomination Form.