Distinguished Dissertation Award

The Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes the scholarly contributions of UNC Chapel Hill doctoral students in their dissertation projects. The award highlights original and innovative work. Four students receive this award each year.

There is one award in each of four subject areas:

Awardees receive a cash award. They are recognized at the Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration.

The Graduate School Dean may nominate two awardees for the national CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Submit Application »

Eligibility

You are eligible if:

If you have not yet graduated by the nomination deadline, you must show that you will be able to graduate by May 2014.

Selection Criteria

We prefer nominees who will have completed their doctoral training in six years or less. If time to degree is longer than six years, your dissertation advisor should address this in the letter of recommendation.

Award Amount

Awardees will received special recognition at the annual Graduate Student Recognition event, along with a cash award of $500 and a plaque.

Nomination

Each department can nominate one student per year.

Deadline

The nomination deadline is in mid-November.

How to Apply

Submit Application »

  1. Please check with your department for their internal deadline. You must complete your application early enough for your department to nominate you to The Graduate School by the deadline.
  2. Prepare a research description and curriculum vitae. Arrange for two letters of recommendation. Be sure to follow the application guidelines.
  3. View Frequently Asked Questions about the online application.

  4. Submit your materials to the Graduate School Award Online Application.
  5. Once you submit your application, your recommenders will receive an email asking them to submit a letter via the online system.
  6. At the same time, the fellowship and award approver for your department will receive an email notifying them that you submitted your application.
  7. Once your letters of recommendation have been submitted, your department may nominate you for the fellowship. If your department selects your application, they must nominate it to The Graduate School by the deadline.
  8. We will notify awardees at the end of January.

Application Guidelines

We will not consider your application if you exceed any of the specified page limits or if you do not follow the proper format.

A complete application includes:

  1. Research Description

    Format:
    No more than 11 pages plus appendix, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page.

    Dissertation Summary:

    • No more than 10 pages
    • If you have not yet graduated by the nomination deadline, show that you will be able to graduate in May of the current year.

    Long-term Interest Statement:

    • One paragraph
    • No more than half a page
    • Describe your long-term interest or vision for your career (i.e. where you plan to go with the research)

    Research Contribution Statement:

    • One paragraph
    • No more than half a page
    • Describe your contribution to the research

    Citations (optional):

    • May be included for important references
    • Can be either footnotes or endnotes
    • Can be single-spaced
    • Must be within the 10 page Dissertation Summary limit

    Appendix (optional):

    • Non-textual material, such as charts or tables
    • No more than five pages (in addition to dissertation summary)
  2. Curriculum Vitae

    Include recent professional activities, awards, honors, and courses you have taught.

    Format: No more than two pages, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page

  3. Dissertation area

    When filling out the online application, choose a dissertation area. This list is not all-inclusive, but examples of fields considered under each dissertation area are:

    • Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering: mathematics, statistics, computer science, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geological sciences, earth sciences, materials science, biomedical engineering, pharmaceutical chemistry
    • Biological & Life Sciences: biology, marine sciences, ecology, genetics, pathology, microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, biophysics, nutrition, toxicology, epidemiology
    • Social Sciences: sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, geography, education, public policy
    • Humanities & Fine Arts: English and comparative literature, history, classics, philosophy, religious studies, linguistics, romance languages, German studies, Slavic languages and literatures, communication studies, journalism, art, music
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation:

    You will need two letters of recommendation evaluating the significance and quality of the dissertation project.

    1. One letter must be from your dissertation advisor
    2. The second letter can be from anyone, but it should be someone who is familiar with your work.

    Indicate the email addresses of your recommenders in your application.

    Once you submit your application, your recommenders will receive an email asking them to submit a recommendation letter for you.

    Instructions for recommenders:
    Address letters of recommendation “To the Distinguished Dissertation Award Committee.”
    Include:

    • The quality of the student's research,
    • The recommender's assessment of the originality, innovativeness and significance of the student's research to the overall field of study, and
    • If applicable, an explanation of why time to degree is longer than six years (only needed from Dissertation Advisor)

    Each letter of recommendation is limited to 4,000 characters (spaces included) which is approximately 600 words or one single-spaced page.

    We can only accept letters of recommendation through the online system. Recommenders cannot submit letters directly to The Graduate School or to the student’s department.

Contact Us

Graduate School Fellowships Office
gradfunding@unc.edu