The purpose of this award is to recognize a completed dissertation that demonstrates scholarly excellence and makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the general field of student affairs/student services. It may be in any scholarly tradition or methodology and focus on any topic in the field.


  1. Eligible dissertations must have met all requirements of the applicant's institution and have been signed by the applicant's dissertation committee between April 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017.
  2. A dissertation may only be nominated once. Dissertations previously nominated will not be reconsidered.
  3. The faculty nominator must be the dissertation committee chair or member of the dissertation committee and a member of ACPA at the time of the nomination.
  4. The nominee must be a member of ACPA prior to receipt of the award.


  1. One recipient will be selected annually. Additional nominees may be cited for excellence.
  2. The recipient will receive a plaque, complimentary annual convention registration for the recipient and their advisor, and a cash award of $2500.
  3. The recipient will have a reserved slot to present the dissertation results in a session at the convention.

Selection Process

The application package should be submitted using the online application linked below. Nominators will upload the required documents when submitting the application. The applicant must submit a 15 double-spaced page abstract of the dissertation (inclusive of any tables and/or figures). The abstract should include the following:

  • full dissertation title;
  • statement of the study’s purpose;
  • research questions, if applicable;
  • significance of the study;
  • theoretical or conceptual underpinnings, if applicable;
  • methods – research design/approach, sampling, data collection procedures or data sources used, and data analysis;
  • summary of key findings; and
  • implications for practice, policy, and/or future research.

The abstract should contain no identifying information that reveals the author, committee members, or institution. Additionally, up to three single-spaced pages of references in APA format can accompany the abstract and will not be included in the 15-page limit.

The selection process is masked. That is, the applicant and the dissertation committee members’ identities are masked from the reviewers. The committee chair will ensure that dissertations from the reviewers’ institutions do not review nominees’ materials. Committee members will recuse themselves if they are acquainted with the nominee, committee members, or the dissertation.

The applicant’s dissertation advisor must sign and submit a certificate statement verifying the applicant has met the degree requirements of the institution and has been signed off by the applicant’s dissertation committee between April 1, 2016 and August 1, 2017. The recipient will be selected no later than December 15, 2017.

Decisions of the committee are final. The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2017. Complete the application andupload documents here. Please direct questions to Dr. Dawn R. Johnson, Dissertation of the Year Committee Chair at