Virginia Tech®home

Graduate Student Awards

The Graduate School recognizes the contributions of the university's most outstanding graduate students each year. Winners are recognized at an awards banquet during Graduate Education Week, celebrated annually in the last full week of March.

Outstanding mentors from each college are also recognized during Graduate Education Week. Information about the Outstanding Mentor Award can be found here.

View a sortable list of past winners since 2001

Award nomination process and timeline

Call for nominations announced · Download nomination form from website · Colleges develop their own selection criteria and process for outstanding master master’s , doctoral student , and mentor awards · Identify nominees · Collect supporting documents Compile nomination form and supporting documents in single pdf file · Complete nomination survey and upload supporting documents in Qualtrics · Colleges finalize their selection of outstanding student and mentor winners Colleges submit notification survey & upload supporting documents in Qualtrics for outstanding master master’s and doctoral student and mentor winners
Award nomination process and timeline

Awards Selected by Colleges

Award Criteria

Each college must set its own submission guidelines and inform departments of its timeline for nominations, college review and selection of the top master’s and doctoral students. Graduate School guidelines for outstanding performance by a master's or doctoral student: Demonstrated excellence in one or more of the tripartite missions of Virginia Tech (teaching, research, and outreach).  Clear documentation of the exceptional achievement(s) should be provided.
Graduate students must be enrolled in a master’s or doctoral program at the time of their nomination. Colleges must submit the names of their winners and description of their accomplishments to the Graduate School by February 11, 2022.

Award winners will receive a certificate and $500 at the GEW awards banquet.

Notification Requirements

Outstanding Master's Student Form

Outstanding Doctoral Student Form

  • Submit completed notification form with signature of college dean or designee confirming selection of one outstanding master’s student and one outstanding doctoral student, per college
  • Provide description of the specific criteria used by the college to select the top master’s student and top doctoral student, per college in the survey (see below)
  • Provide summary describing the student’s achievements in the survey (see below)


Submit notification, description of college criteria, and winning students' achievements through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_55X8uN4jc2luX2e  

The signed form must be uploaded as a PDF as part of the survey.

Deadline:  February 11, 2022

 

Additional Information

For more information, contact 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in the subject line.)

 

Awards Selected by the Graduate School

This award recognizes up to two exemplary graduate students for their character, service and outstanding contributions, and academic achievements. Nominees must be graduate students in good standing (full- or part-time) and have a minimum GPA of 3.0. Self-nominations are accepted. Winners are selected by a committee of five graduate students (majority vote), one staff member representing Student Engagement and Campus Life, and one staff member from the Washington DC Metro Area campus.

Winners receive a certificate and $500.

Award Criteria

  • Involvement in professional organizations, campus activities, and/or the community
  • Contribution to knowledge through research, teaching, and scholarship
  • Evidence of living by the VT Principles of Community and Aspirations for Student Learning
  • Demonstrated characteristics such as adaptability, charisma, competence, creativity, curiosity, generosity, humility, integrity, professionalism, reliability, responsibility, service-orientation, thoughtfulness, tolerance, trustworthiness.

Nomination requirements

  • Completed Nomination form
  • 2-page essay or max. 3-minute video by nominee, reflecting on how nominee lives by the VT Principles of Community and Aspirations for Student Learning, or embodies characteristics described in the award criteria.
  • Two letters of reference (limit of 2 pages per reference)
  • One by an academic faculty member at Virginia Tech
  • One from an individual who has personal knowledge of the candidate's character and involvements (e.g., administrator, supervisor, club advisor, etc.)
  • Resume (maximum 3 pages) outlining nominee's experiences, achievements and contributions in the following areas:
    • Presentations, performances, publications/installations
    • Scholastic awards and recognitions
    • Service and extracurricular involvement

To nominate a student, compile signed nomination form and all supporting documents on the checklist (in the above order) in a single PDF file. Upload this package through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

Deadline:  January 28, 2022

Additional information

For more information, call 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in the subject line.)

The Graduate School presents two dissertation awards each year, one per category. Winners are selected by a committee of graduate faculty, chaired by the Graduate School.

Winners receive a plaque and $1,000 for each category.

Category 1: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics

Category 2:  Social Science, Business, Education, Humanities

Note: The Graduate School may nominate winning dissertation for ProQuest/Council of Graduate Schools Distinguished Dissertation Award in years that subject area matches rotating fields of competition.

Award criteria

  • Originality of idea
  • Clarity and effectiveness of presentation
  • Quality of writing
  • Significance of the contribution to the field
  • Dissertation must have been submitted and approved during calendar year 2021, or defended in fall 2021 and approved before the nomination deadline
  • Only one nomination per department or interdisciplinary degree program
  • Secured dissertations are not eligible

 

Nomination Requirements

  • Completed nomination form
  • Double-spaced summary (maximum 2 pages) written by nominee so that reviewers outside the field can gain insight into contribution
  • One-page nomination letter from major professor addressing all selection criteria and including nominee's current position, if applicable
  • One-page support letter from a member of dissertation committee
  • Curriculum vitae from nominee (maximum 2 pages)

 

To nominate a student, compile signed nomination form and all supporting documents on the checklist (in the above order) in a single PDF file. Upload this package through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

Deadline:  January 28, 2022

Additional details

For more information, contact 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in the subject line.)

 

This award recognizes demonstrated excellence and achievements by an interdisciplinary doctoral student. The selection committee is comprised of faculty members active in interdisciplinary graduate programs and is chaired by an associate dean of the Graduate School.

Award Criteria

  • Must be enrolled in an interdisciplinary program
  • Must demonstrate clarity, effectiveness and originality of interdisciplinary ideas through academic efforts that expand and promote the concept of interdisciplinary studies across a minimum of two academic colleges
  • Only Ph.D. students enrolled full-time at the time of the  nomination are eligible

 

Nomination Requirements/Checklist

  • Completed nomination form
  • Nomination letter from the  major professor (not to exceed two pages) addressing the novel interdisciplinary activity through academic efforts clearly identifying contribution across a minimum of two academic colleges
  • Support letter from a committee member or other collaborator from a different discipline, highlighting interdisciplinary nature of the work
  • Nomination packet may not exceed 4 pages including nomination form

 

Submit nominations through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

 

Enter all information required for the award on the survey.  Compile the signed nomination form and all supporting documents into a single pdf file and upload it as part of the survey.

Deadline:  January 28, 2022

Additional Information

For information, contact 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in subject line.)

 

The Outstanding Master's Thesis award was established  in 1999 by the William Preston Society to recognize graduate students whose thesis presents the best original research with potential to benefit all people. Nominations may be made in three categories. Winners are selected by a committee of graduate faculty, chaired by the Graduate School.

Category 1: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Category 2: Social Science, Business, Education, and Humanities

Category 3: Digital Scholarship - Innovative Application of Technology in a Master's Thesis: Evaluation will be based on the use of technology in the presentation of the ETD, scholarship, research methodology, and contributions to the field or discipline.

Winners receive a plaque and $500.

The Graduate School may submit the winning theses to the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools for its thesis award in years when award criteria align.

Award Criteria

  • Originality of idea
  • Clarity and effectiveness of presentation
  • Quality of writing
  • Significance of contribution to the field
  • Theses must have been submitted and approved during calendar year 2021
  • Only one nomination per department
  • Secured theses are not eligible

Nomination requirements

  • Completed nomination form
  • Double-spaced summary (maxiumum 2 pages) written by the nominee so that reviewers outside the field can gain insight into contribution
  • Nomination letter from major professor addressing all of the selection criteria, including nominee's current position, if applicable (maximum one page)
  • Support letter from member of the thesis committee (maximum 1 page)
  • Curriculum vitae from the nominee (maximum 2 pages)
  •  

To nominate a student, compile signed nomination form and all supporting documents on the checklist (in the above order) in a single PDF file. Upload this package through the survey found at this link:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

Deadline:  January 28, 2022

 

Additional information:

Contact: 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW in subject line.)

 



The Graduate School presents one service award each year to honor students who demonstrate excellence in service internally or externally to the university. This award is sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association. The winner is selected by a committee  chaired by a representative of graduate student services in the Graduate School and  comprised of student and staff representatives of service-focused areas of campus.

Winners receive a plaque and $1,000 honorarium.

Award Criteria

  • Should demonstrate innovation, creativity or a new kind of engagement
  • Should be for "promoting the public good,"  in service internal or external to the university
  • If service is internal to university, it must be separate and distinctly different from paid engagements in the student's home department or academic program
  • If student is also an employee of VT, service must have been performed in primary role as student
  • Service effort must have occurred during calendar year 2021 while nominee was in student status

 

Nomination Requirements

  • Completed nomination form
  • Two letters of recommendation ( 2 pages maximum each) that address significance of the impact of service(s) performed:
    • One from a supervisor of the services performed, if applicable; otherwise from a beneficiary of the service
    • One from anyone in the community who has had an opportunity to observe the performance of the service
  • One letter from the nominee describing the service, including the time and/or level of commitment required to complete nomination project(s) - maximum two pages.

To nominate a student, compile signed nomination form and all supporting documents on the checklist (in the above order) in a single PDF file. Upload this package through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

Deadline:   January 28, 2022

Additional Informatioin

For more information, contact 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in the subject line.)

 

 



The Graduate School presents two teaching awards each year to honor students who demonstrate excellence during their teaching assistantships. This award is sponsored by the Alumni Association. Winners are selected by a committee chaired by an associate dean of the Graduate School and comprised of graduate faculty.

Winners receive a plaque and $1,000 in each category.

Category 1: GTA Instructor of Record: Primary instructor of course or course section. GTA typically has more control of the content and delivery of the material and assigns grades for students. Student SPOT evaluations are completed regarding the nominee.

Category 2: GTA - Assistant Award: Provides support to faculty instructor of record. Duties may include: grading, occasional lecturing, student office hours and similar tasks. College, department, or course specific evaluations may be collected in place of SPOT evaluations.

Award criteria

  • Teaching or instructional support must have been done at Virginia Tech by GTA for at least a full semester in Spring, Summer or Fall 2021 (P14 or wage appointments are not eligible)
  • Only one nomination in each category per department
  • Excellent teaching as evidenced by:
    • Thorough knowledge of the subject matter
    • Effective communication skills
    • Enthusiasm for the subject
    • Learner-centered pedagogy
    • Demonstrated evidence of participation in teaching-effectiveness seminars, classes or FDI programs
    • Ability to motivate students to learn
    • Demonstration of innovation

Nomination requirements

  • Completed and signed nomination form verifying student as the department's nominee
  • Two recommendations addressing criteria of excellent teaching (maximum one page each)
    • One from a supervising faculty member
    • One from faculty or staff member, or graduate student who has observed the nominee's teaching skills
  • Student evaluations (summaries only – maximum 2 pages) or alternative measure of outstanding performance
  • Statement of personal teaching philosophy from the nominee (should include summary of primary teaching accomplishments - maximum one page)
  • Curriculum vitae from the nominee highlighting information relevant to teaching excellence (maximum 2 pages)
  • Complete nomination packet not to exceed 8 pages

To nominate a student, compile signed nomination form and all supporting documents on the checklist (in the above order) in a single PDF file. Upload this package through the following survey:

https://virginiatech.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8dJysIqMgTnSUXc

Deadline:  January 28, 2022

 

Additional Information

For more information, contact 540-231-9561 or email grads@vt.edu (type GEW Awards in the subject line.)