Awards for Excellence in Service and Academic Achievement

University and College Awards

The James F. Harris Art and Humanities Visionary Scholarship The competition is open to Masters and Doctoral students. Applicants are to write a 2-page application describing how their breadth of interests and activities exemplify key principles of an arts and humanities education. A letter of support written by a faculty member who can speak to the student's suitability for this award should be submitted to the home department/program. Departmental deadline is 15 November.

The James W. Longest Memorial Award provides $2,000 to support doctoral dissertation research in the social sciences with potential benefits for small and/or disadvantaged communities. Candidacy tuition remission is granted for each of two semesters (if not covered by other tuition remission). Departmental deadline for application is February 15.

The Michael J. Pelczar Award for Excellence in Graduate Study offers $1000 to a doctoral candidate who has served at least one academic year as a teaching assistant with a commendable performance, and who has demonstrated excellence beyond his or her coursework. The student must have advanced to Candidacy for the doctoral degree, and have demonstrated a high level of accomplishment in research. The student must have served at least one academic year as a teaching assistant, with a commendable performance. The student must demonstrate evidence of excellence beyond course work, e.g., a dissertation that makes a significant contribution to a
discipline, publications in national or international journals, election to honorary societies, or honors or awards by other groups. The departmental deadline for application is February 15.

The Phi Delta Gamma Graduate Fellowship offers $1,000 to a doctoral student (ENGL or CMLT) who “best exemplifies interdisciplinary scholarship achievement.” Students may be at any stage of their program. Students must exemplify the spirit of interdisciplinary focus in research. Membership in Phi Delta Gamma is optional. Departmental deadline for application is February 15.

The Dr. Mabel S. Spencer Award for Excellence in Graduate Achievement. Dr. Spencer taught at the University of Maryland from 1948 to 1968. Her energy, dynamic personality, and commitment to bringing about positive change made her a leader in the University community. Dedicated to programs and activities that advanced the interests of women at the University, Dr. Spencer was also known for her extraordinary ability to communicate with and provide assistance to her students, especially students from underrepresented minorities and from foreign countries. The Spencer Award is available on a competitive basis for students who will have achieved candidacy by June 1, 2017. The stipend for the Spencer Award is currently $15,000. Departmental deadline for application is February 15.

The All-S.T.A.R. Award provides a $10,000 stipend to recognize outstanding scholarship together with a significant contribution or impact while serving as a teaching assistant, research assistant, or administrative assistant. All MA and PhD students are eligible who hold at least a half-time graduate assistantship (RA, TA, or GA) and have done so for at least two semesters and will also hold an assistantship in the following year. The departmental deadline is March 15.

Essay Prizes

The Kinnaird Awards are given in honor and in memory of John Kinnaird, formerly a professor of Romantic literature in the English department. Professor Kinnaird was admired as both a fine teacher and scholar here; his great biography of the English essayist William Hazlitt was published only a year before his death in 1980. Two awards are given each year, one for the best seminar paper by a master’s student in English, the other for the best seminar paper by a doctoral student in English, written in the preceding calendar year. Details on the administration of this award will be announced in the spring.
Eligibility for the two Kinnaird prizes:
1. ENGL MA; $100 prize
2. ENGL and CMLT PhD; $100 prize


The Comparative Literature Essay Prize recognizes excellence in graduate student writing about literatures in multiple languages. The award is open to graduate students in Comparative Literature, SLLC, and English. The paper must be written in English and deal with at least two languages/literatures and demonstrate, through quotations and bibliography, that the texts were analyzed in their original languages of publication. The prize carries an award of $500.

Dissertation Awards

The following three awards recognize outstanding dissertations by the department and by the Graduate School; there is no application process because the Graduate Studies Office solicits nominations directly from the faculty in December. If you are nominated, you will be contacted by the GSO for materials.

Charles A. Caramello Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Both methodological and substantive quality will be judged. Awards will be given each year in four broad disciplinary areas: 1) Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Engineering; 2) Social Sciences; 3) Humanities and Fine Arts; and 4) Biological and Life Sciences. The Council of Graduate Schools uses these categories for its annual national dissertation awards. Recipients of the Distinguished Dissertation Award will receive an honorarium of $1000 and may be nominated by the University for the CGS national award.

The Carl Bode Dissertation Prize is given in honor and in memory of Carl Bode, emeritus professor of English, who died in 1993. Professor Bode was a beloved teacher and invaluable member of our department for nearly forty years, and he wrote prolifically in the fields of American literature and American studies. This award is presented each year to a graduate student in English for the best dissertation in American literature.

The Alice L. Geyer Dissertation Prize was established in 1996 through the generosity of Mrs. Alice L. Geyer, who earned a master’s degree from this department in 1951 with a thesis on the English Romantic poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, and who was a longtime friend and supporter of the English Graduate Program here. This award is presented each year to the graduate student in English with the best dissertation on British literature.