Dean's Distinguished Dissertation Award

The Dean's Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes the highest level of graduate student scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill, highlighting the original and innovative work of our doctoral candidates and graduates.

There is one award in each of four broad fields:

Biological & Life Sciences

biology; botany; zoology; ecology; embryology; entomology; genetics; nutrition; plant pathology; plant physiology; anatomy; biochemistry; biophysics; microbiology; pathology; pharmacology; physiology; and related fields. Also included are agriculture, forestry, and related fields

Humanities & 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.

Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering

Mathematics: mathematics, statistics, computer sciences, data processing, systems analysis

Physical Sciences: chemistry, earth sciences, physics, geology, meteorology, astronomy, metallurgy, geophysics, pharmaceutical chemistry

Engineering: aeronautical, architectural, biomedical, ceramic, chemical, civil, and electrical engineering sciences; environmental health engineering; geological, mechanical, mining, nuclear, and petroleum engineering

Social Sciences

agricultural economics, geography, anthropology, archaeology, economics, education, sociology, government (political science), demography, and psychology

Please note that the program lists for each broad field have been defined by the Council of Graduate Schools for their competition. They are non-inclusive, and applicants should choose the field they feel is the best fit for their dissertation research.

Awardees receive a cash award and are recognized at the Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration. The Graduate School may nominate two awardees each year for the national CGS/Proquest Distinguished Dissertation Award.

Submit Application »


Current doctoral students and recent graduates (with a graduation date between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2024)

Selection Criteria

View an in-depth description of the review and selection process.

Award Amount

Awardees will receive special recognition at the annual Graduate Student Recognition event, along with a cash award of $1,000 and a plaque.


Each department may nominate one student per year.


Deadlines are posted on the funding deadlines calendar.

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 dissertation summary, long-term interest, research contribution statement, and curriculum vitae. Arrange for two letters of recommendation.
  3. View Frequently Asked Questions about the online application.
    Submit your materials to the Graduate School Award Online Application. Once you submit your application, your recommenders will receive an email asking them to submit a letter via the online system.
  4. Once your application and 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.
  5. We will notify awardees in January.

Application Guidelines

Your application will not be considered if you exceed any of the specified page limits or if you do not follow the proper format.

A complete application includes:

Dissertation Summary

Format: No more than 5 pages. Double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins, numbered pages, and your name on each page

Long-term Interest Statement:

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

Research Contribution Statement:

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

Curriculum Vitae:

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

Two Letters of Recommendation:

Contact Us

Graduate School Fellowships Office