Distinguished Dissertations Award

Each year the Graduate School recognizes outstanding doctoral dissertations in four broad fields:

  • Life Sciences (1 award)
    • Biostatistics, biological and life sciences, biomedical sciences, chemistry, epidemiology, physics-biophysics, psychobiology, pharmaceutical sciences, allied health professions, and nursing.
  • Social Sciences, Business, and Education (1 award)
    • Economics, international relations, political science, government, public policy studies, sociology, urban studies, psychology, communications, social work, business and management, and education.
  • Math, Physical Sciences and Engineering (1 award)
    • Physics, chemistry (excluding biochemistry), environmental sciences, mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, and engineering.
  • Humanities and Fine Arts (1 award)
    • History, english, art, music, and theater.


Four awards, one in each of the broad fields, of $500 and a certificate of recognition will be presented by the Graduate School. Further awardees are eligible to be nominated to compete in the Council of Graduate Schools/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award competition: http://cgsnet.org/node/476


VCU School/College Deans or their designee may nominate one person in each of the broad fields whose dissertation has been accepted in partial fulfillment of PhD degree requirements during the past academic year (Summer through Spring). Embargoed dissertations are not eligible for these awards. The School/College Dean or designee shall submit a nomination dossier to be received no later than June 1, 2021.

The nomination packet consists of:

  • CGS Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Awards Nomination Form
  • An abstract of the nominee’s dissertation; not to exceed 10 double-spaced pages. Appendices containing other materials, such as charts, tables, and/or references, may be included as additional pages
  • Three letters of recommendation evaluating the significance and quality of the nominee’s dissertation from the nominee’s dissertation advisor, another member of the nominee’s graduate advisory committee and a third person of the nominee’s choice
  • The nominee’s curriculum vitae; not to exceed five pages

An Email with the nomination materials should be submitted to the Graduate School as a single pdf document no later than June 1, 2021 to graddean@vcu.edu. Please indicate the field of competition in the subject line.

Evaluation Process

Each thesis will be reviewed by a faculty committee and will be evaluated on the basis of methodology, substantive quality of the work and significance to the discipline.

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