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

Award Overview


The CAGS/ProQuest-UMI and Leyerle-CIFAR awards both recognize Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic field.

The CAGS/ProQuest-UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards annually present 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 John Leyerle-CIFAR Prize for Interdisciplinary Research was established to honour John Leyerle, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies 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.


2022 candidates must:

  • Demonstrate work (through their dissertation) that makes significant, original contributions​ to both the academic community and to Canadian society
  • Have completed and had their dissertation accepted by SGS between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021
  • 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 nominations for this competition occur in the Winter session.

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 programs should submit their application to their home graduate unit.

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 original work that has made significant contributions to both the respective field and Canadian society (max 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 by SGS to compete in the final CAGS national competition.


Nominees will be notified by SGS in early April. CAGS/ProQuest-UMI will announce the winners of the national competition in June.

Contacts & Resources

For complete program information, please refer to the Canadian Associate for Graduate Studies’ (CAGS) website.

For inquiries regarding the nomination process, please contact:

Debbie Chau, Graduate Awards Officer
Graduate Awards Office
School of Graduate Studies