CAGS/ProQuest- Distinguished Dissertation Awards & John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize for Interdisciplinary Research

Award Overview

Value & Duration

CAGS/ProQuest: two prizes nationally each of $1,500, a certificate of recognition, and an opportunity to attend the Annual CAGS Conference.

SGS will award the two CAGS/ProQuest nominees (selected by the SGS Awards Committee to be forwarded to the national competition) $1,000 each, in recognition of their outstanding doctoral dissertations at the University of Toronto in their respective categories.

John Leyerle-CIFAR: one prize at the University of Toronto of $1,000 and a certificate of recognition.


The CAGS/ProQuest and Leyerle-CIFAR awards both recognize Canadian doctoral dissertations that make significant, original contributions to both the academic community and to Canadian society.

The CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards annually present two awards:
1) arts, humanities and social sciences; and
2) engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences.
The Awards are granted by the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) and are sponsored by ProQuest.

The John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize for Interdisciplinary Research was established to honour John Leyerle, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) in the late 1970’s, who played an instrumental role in founding the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) in 1978. This prize recognizes an excellent student who is clearly performing outstanding interdisciplinary research.


Candidates must:

  • Demonstrate outstanding work (through their dissertation) which showcases original research and makes significant contributions, both to their respective academic communities and to Canadian society at large;
  • Have completed and had their dissertation accepted by SGS between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023;
  • For the John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize: Demonstrate work with strong emphasis on interdisciplinary approach (i.e. combines or involves two or more academic disciplines or fields of study) to an original research topic.

Nomination Process

Graduate units may submit one candidate per award below, for example:

  • One (1) candidate to be considered for both the CAGS/ProQuest and the Leyerle-CIFAR awards;
  • Two (2) candidates: one to be considered only for the CAGS/ProQuest award and one to be considered only for the Leyerle-CIFAR award.

Interested applicants must submit a copy of their entire application package—scanned and saved as a single PDF (in the order provided below)—to their graduate unit by the unit’s established deadline. Applicants from doctoral collaborative specializations should submit their application to their home graduate unit.

Application Package

Completed applications will consist of the following:

1. A letter from the applicant’s supervisor or graduate coordinator describing the reasons for the nomination, clearly addressing why the dissertation constitutes a significant piece of original work (approx. 2 pages);

It would also be helpful to:

    • Highlight the outstanding nature of the nominee in comparison to other students within the same program; and
    • Include information relevant to the field of study, degree or culture of the department (e.g. publishing norms, degree requirements, grading practices at specific international universities, unusual accomplishments) that would otherwise not be known outside the discipline.

*Nomination letters for the John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize must describe why the applicant’s work is deemed interdisciplinary in nature.

2. A copy of the external examiner’s pre-defence report, signed and dated by the examiner (if not signed and dated, SGS will authenticate after nomination submission);

3. An abstract of the dissertation in non-technical language not exceeding 350 words, written and signed by the applicant. Appendices containing non-textual material, such as charts or tables, may be included (reviewers are not required to review these appended items);

4. A statement written by the applicant summarizing the dissertation in non-technical language that can be understood by individuals outside the field, and clearly addressing how the research is unusually significant and makes an original contribution to the field; and for the John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize, also describe why the applicant’s work is deemed interdisciplinary in nature (max 1 page); and

5. Up-to-date curriculum vitae (no page restrictions); updates to the CV are not permitted after submission. The pages should be numbered, and each should bear the name of the nominee.

Note: Letters of support from the Dean of Graduate Studies will be prepared and included with the applications of those candidates selected to go forth by SGS to compete in the final CAGS national competition.


The John Leyerle-CIFAR winner and the CAGS/ProQuest nominees will be notified by SGS in early April. CAGS/ProQuest will announce the winners of the national competition in June.

Contacts & Resources

For complete CAGS/ProQuest program information, visit the Canadian Associate for Graduate Studies’ (CAGS) website.

Please direct questions regarding this competition to:

Tara Lock
Graduate Awards Officer
Graduate Awards Office, School of Graduate Studies