Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Report Award

The Outstanding Master’s Thesis/Report Award was established in 2003 by the Graduate School to recognize exceptional work by master’s students and to encourage the highest levels of scholarship, research, and writing.

Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) chairpersons nominate one master’s student from their programs for the award. Winners are selected in three categories:

  • Area A — Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Area B — Social Sciences, Business, and Education
  • Area C — Mathematics, Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Biological and Life Sciences

A thesis or report may be considered in only one competition category. Select the category most appropriate to the topic and methodology of the nominated dissertation.


To be eligible for the award, the thesis/report must meet one of the following criteria:

  • It will be submitted in final form to the Graduate School by May 7 for a degree to be awarded in May 2021.
  • It was submitted for a degree awarded in August 2020 or December 2020.
  • It was submitted after April 1, 2020, for a degree awarded in May 2020.


Nominations must be submitted using the Graduate School’s online awards system. Nominators are required to solicit all required documentation from their respective nominees and to upload it on the nominee’s behalf.

To complete the online application, collect the following:

  • A cover letter from the chairperson of the GSC briefly describing why the thesis/report was chosen for nomination by the program
  • Two letters of support from among the following:
    • The thesis supervisor
    • The graduate adviser
    • The department chair
    • A committee member
  • One copy of the thesis, including the abstract


The faculty review committees will consider both the methodological and substantive aspects of the thesis or report, including the:

  • Importance/impact of the subject;
  • Originality/creativity of the work;
  • Quality of the scholarship;
  • Potential for publishing;
  • Organization of the dissertation;
  • Quality of the writing; and
  • Other appropriate factors that denote excellence.

Individuals writing letters of support should be encouraged to keep these criteria in mind as they comment on the significance/major contribution of the thesis or report and the particular aspects of the thesis or report that distinguish it.