Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship Guidelines

The UWM Graduate School’s Fellowships competition has closed, and applications are no longer being accepted for the 2023-24 Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship (DDF).

Graduate School Fellowship Application Review Timeline

This page will be updated by August 1, 2023, to announce the release of the application for the 2024-25 DDF. In the meantime, UWM graduate students interested in the DDF should note the following anticipated timeline for the next fellowship competition. All dates noted below are to be confirmed (TBC) until August 1, 2023.

Mid-October 2023 (TBC) The UWM Graduate School Fellowship application system opens and will receive applications for consideration of a 2024-25 DDF award. Please see requirements for submission below.
December 2023 (TBC) DDF applications are due and must be marked as “complete” within the app system prior to the graduate program’s internal deadline. No exceptions will be made.
Letters of recommendation must be uploaded directly by the recommender prior to the graduate program’s internal deadline.
All applicants must contact their Graduate Program Representative to confirm their graduate program’s internal deadline.
Early January 2024 (TBC) Deadline for graduate programs to complete required evaluations of nominated applicants. All fellowship nominations must be submitted in the app system by the graduate program representative before the deadline.
Tuesday, February 28, 2024 (TBC) Announcement of the 2024-25 DDF awards and all other UWM Graduate School Fellowship awards.
Monday, April 15, 2024 Deadline for all UWM Graduate School Fellowship recipients to accept any UWM Graduate School fellowship offer, per the Council of Graduate Schools April 15 Resolution.

DDF Guidelines

The Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) award recognizes and supports the most academically excellent PhD students who have achieved dissertator status at UWM or will do so by the start of the academic year of the award. Students are nominated for this award by their programs and compete with other nominees from across the university. Fellowship award decisions are made by a university faculty committee.

Awards are for full-time study only. The DDF 2023-2024 academic-year stipend is $17,000. In addition, DDF recipients benefit from full coverage of resident tuition, a remission of the out-of-state portion of the tuition (if applicable), low-cost comprehensive health benefits, and a $1,000 travel award. The money should be spent in accordance with UWM travel regulations by the end of the fiscal year following the year in which the fellowship award is held. The money will be spent on travel to present at a major national or international conference in the student’s discipline. Awardees retain full responsibility for segregated fees and additional instructional/course fees (including distance education) above basic graduate tuition levels. These fees are to be paid by the fellowship recipient and are due at the start of each enrollment term.

Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship applicants must have:

  1. Completed all major and minor coursework.
  2. Passed preliminary examinations.
  3. Completed PhD residency requirements.
  4. Attained dissertator status by the start of the academic year of the fellowship award.

A DDF recipient who has not attained dissertator status by the start of the academic year forfeits the award.

DDF Instructions for Students, Letter-Writers, and Graduate Programs (PDF)

This document contains instructions for applicants, letter-writers, and graduate program representatives for Graduate School Fellowships administered by the Graduate Student Fellowships Committee. All of those involved in the application process should review this document in its entirety.

For questions regarding the DDF, please email gs-fellowships-distinguished@uwm.edu

DDF Application Requirements

  1. Contact Information and Identification
  2. Residency
  3. Academic History Details
  4. Current Graduate Program and Major Professor
  5. Achievements and other Relevant Information:
    1. Honors, previous fellowship awards, publications (peer-review journals, newsletters, etc.), major exhibitions, performances, presentations (local, regional, national conferences, student-only conferences, and annual meetings), departmental assistantships and/or other employment experiences or internships)
    2. Applicants are asked to clearly distinguish published or completed work from work that is still in progress
  6. Dissertation Title and Abstract
  7. Letter of Recommendation from Major Professor

Submission & Selection Process

The applicant’s complete DDF application, including the letter of recommendation, must be submitted by the graduate program’s internal deadline. Contact your graduate program representative for internal application deadlines.

Following the internal application deadline, each program evaluates all applications received, selects applicants for nomination, completes all nomination procedures, and forwards nominations to the formal competition. The Graduate Student Fellowships Committee reviews nominations and selects recipients basevd on application requirements and departmental assessment, through use of the DDF Application Rubric.

UWM Graduate School Fellowship Compliance

All fellowship recipients must be enrolled in a graduate degree program at UWM during the award period. Fellows must meet the Graduate School continuation requirements each semester and comply with the following UWM Graduate Faculty Committee regulations:

  1. Fellowship nominees/awardees must maintain a 3.0 GPA and make reasonable progress toward their UWM graduate degree. Fellowship nominees/awardees cannot be on academic probation and cannot have engaged in academic or non-academic misconduct during their current graduate program, based on transcript notations at the time of nomination/award. If the fellowship nominees/awardees become ineligible, the graduate fellowship award/offer is forfeited, effective the date that the sanctions are implemented.
  2. Fellowship recipients must have attained dissertator status by the start of the academic year and carry three dissertator credits per semester. A DDF recipient who has not attained dissertator status by the start of the academic year forfeits the award.
  3. Fellowship recipients may not hold any other external or internal fellowship or scholarship concurrently with a Graduate School award, except for small monetary awards under $10,000; the UWM Chancellor’s Graduate Student Award; or a philanthropic award.
  4. Fellowship recipients may not accept full-time employment. University appointments (maximum of 25% TA, PA, or RA), or other student outside employment of up to 15 hours per week, are allowable.

Note: Fellowships are factored in determining eligibility for federal student aid. Please know that a fellowship stipend and tuition waiver may significantly reduce a student’s financial aid loan eligibility.

Nominations Instructions for Graduate Program Reps

Graduate programs are asked to be highly selective in nominating no more than two (2) students for the DDF. Nominees should represent exceptional students in your graduate program. Only students with all completed answers and documents will be considered nominated. Please verify all information in the application submitted by each nominee, confirming application status as complete with a letter of recommendation from the student’s major professor.

After the applicant’s information has been verified, use the online application to submit a summary statement detailing why the nominee is a strong candidate for the DDF.

After submitting nomination materials, please notify all of your program’s DDF applicants (non-nominated as well as nominated) regarding the status of their fellowship application.

Distinguished Dissertation Fellowships are highly competitive. Fellowships are awarded on the basis of the applicant’s previous academic record, scholarly and other achievements, status toward degree, and faculty recommendations.

  • Evaluation is based on the totality of information available. No single factor is decisive.
  • It is understood that excellence takes many forms across disciplines.
  • Each application is considered holistically, and factors such as academic background, experiences, perspectives, aspirations, values, and accomplishments are taken into account.

For the sake of these fellowships, a “graduate degree program” is defined more broadly than the UW System definition to include any graduate program that meets both of the following criteria:

  1. Student must make specific application to the degree program on their applications to the Graduate School or department.
  2. Students cannot transfer out of the program without making explicit application to another program, even within the same department or unit.

Program nominations for the 2023-24 award year must be submitted online no later than 4:30 p.m. (CST) January 17, 2023. No nominations will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. on this date. THIS IS THE DEADLINE DATE AND TIME.

DDF awards are capped at three awards per degree-granting program as recognized by the UW System.

For questions regarding any of these procedures, please contact the Graduate School at (414) 229-7177 or gs-fellowships-distinguished@uwm.edu.