Canada’s Distinguished Dissertation Awards

Canada’s Distinguished Dissertation Awards (DDA) recognize Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic field. They were established in 1994 and are presented annually. There are two awards: one for engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences; and one for fine arts, humanities and social sciences. The Awards are granted by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) and are sponsored by Proquest-UMI (University Microfilms International).


  • The award includes a $1,500 prize, a Citation Certificate, and travel expenses of up to $1,500 to attend the 2018 CAGS 56th Annual Conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba - Fort Garry Hotel.

Nomination Procedure

Each Western graduate program may nominate one dissertation to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by March 1, 2018. Please ensure that a candidate is aware of his or her nomination for the award. Each program’s nomination (single PDF) must include the following:

  • Letter of support from the Graduate Chair (1-2 pages), which also includes the following information:
    • a description of the process used to select the candidate
    • the name and departmental affiliation of the candidate’s research supervisor
    • the name and affiliation of the external examiner
    • the date of the defense and the date of final acceptance of the dissertation by SGPS, i.e. the date at which the final copy of the thesis, including all required corrections, is submitted to SGPS.
  • Letter from the student’s supervisor describing the reasons for the nomination, and why the dissertation constitutes a significant piece of original work. (no page limit, normally 2-3 pages)
  • Copy of the external examiner's pre-defence report. The examiner’s report must be dated and signed or otherwise authenticated. This is a critical component of the nomination that must adequately demonstrate the extraordinary quality of the dissertation. Please consult with the Thesis Coordinator well in advance of the SGPS deadline if you require a copy to complete your nomination package.
  • A lay abstract of the dissertation, not exceeding 350 words, written by the candidate in non-technical language
  • An up-to-date CV of the candidate

Submitting Nominations to SGPS

The annual deadline for submissions to SGPS is March 1st.  Please send nomination file (single PDF) electronically to  The SGPS Executive Committee will select two nominations – one in each Award category. SGPS will prepare the two final nominations, endorsed by the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, for submission to CAGS annually by March 31st.


  • A dissertation in any discipline in engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences completed and accepted by SGPS between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.
  • A dissertation in any discipline in the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences completed and accepted by SGPS between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017.