Outstanding Dissertation Award

The Outstanding Dissertation Award was established in 1979 by the Graduate School to recognize exceptional work by doctoral students and to encourage the highest levels of scholarship, research, and writing.

The Michael H. Granof Award recognizes the University’s top dissertation. The recipient of this year’s award will be selected from one of the three dissertation winners. The Granof Award is considered the top graduate student award.

Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) chairpersons nominate one doctoral 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 dissertation 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 2023 award, the dissertation must meet one of the following criteria:

  • It will be submitted in final form to the Graduate School by April 21 for a degree to be awarded in May 2023.
  • It was submitted for a degree awarded in August 2022 or December 2022.
  • It was submitted after April 1, 2022, for a degree awarded in May 2022.


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


The faculty review committees will consider both the methodological and substantive aspects of the dissertations, 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 dissertation and the particular aspects of the dissertation that distinguish it.