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Prize-Winning Thesis and Dissertation Examples
Published on September 9, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 18, 2023.
It can be difficult to know where to start when writing your thesis or dissertation . One way to come up with some ideas or maybe even combat writer’s block is to check out previous work done by other students on a similar thesis or dissertation topic to yours.
This article collects a list of undergraduate, master’s, and PhD theses and dissertations that have won prizes for their high-quality research.
Table of contents
Award-winning undergraduate theses, award-winning master’s theses, award-winning ph.d. dissertations, other interesting articles.
University : University of Pennsylvania Faculty : History Author : Suchait Kahlon Award : 2021 Hilary Conroy Prize for Best Honors Thesis in World History Title : “Abolition, Africans, and Abstraction: the Influence of the “Noble Savage” on British and French Antislavery Thought, 1787-1807”
University : Columbia University Faculty : History Author : Julien Saint Reiman Award : 2018 Charles A. Beard Senior Thesis Prize Title : “A Starving Man Helping Another Starving Man”: UNRRA, India, and the Genesis of Global Relief, 1943-1947
University: University College London Faculty: Geography Author: Anna Knowles-Smith Award: 2017 Royal Geographical Society Undergraduate Dissertation Prize Title: Refugees and theatre: an exploration of the basis of self-representation
University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Nick J. Martindell Award: 2014 Best Senior Thesis Award Title: DCDN: Distributed content delivery for the modern web
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University: University of Edinburgh Faculty: Informatics Author: Christopher Sipola Award: 2018 Social Responsibility & Sustainability Dissertation Prize Title: Summarizing electricity usage with a neural network
University: University of Ottawa Faculty: Education Author: Matthew Brillinger Award: 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Humanities Prize Title: Educational Park Planning in Berkeley, California, 1965-1968
University: University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Sciences Author: Heather Martin Award: 2015 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title: An Analysis of Sexual Assault Support Services for Women who have a Developmental Disability
University : University of Ottawa Faculty : Physics Author : Guillaume Thekkadath Award : 2017 Commission on Graduate Studies in the Sciences Prize Title : Joint measurements of complementary properties of quantum systems
University: London School of Economics Faculty: International Development Author: Lajos Kossuth Award: 2016 Winner of the Prize for Best Overall Performance Title: Shiny Happy People: A study of the effects income relative to a reference group exerts on life satisfaction
University : Stanford University Faculty : English Author : Nathan Wainstein Award : 2021 Alden Prize Title : “Unformed Art: Bad Writing in the Modernist Novel”
University : University of Massachusetts at Amherst Faculty : Molecular and Cellular Biology Author : Nils Pilotte Award : 2021 Byron Prize for Best Ph.D. Dissertation Title : “Improved Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Molecular Diagnostics for Soil-Transmitted Helminths”
University: Utrecht University Faculty: Linguistics Author: Hans Rutger Bosker Award: 2014 AVT/Anéla Dissertation Prize Title: The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech
University: California Institute of Technology Faculty: Physics Author: Michael P. Mendenhall Award: 2015 Dissertation Award in Nuclear Physics Title: Measurement of the neutron beta decay asymmetry using ultracold neutrons
University: Stanford University Faculty: Management Science and Engineering Author: Shayan O. Gharan Award: Doctoral Dissertation Award 2013 Title: New Rounding Techniques for the Design and Analysis of Approximation Algorithms
University: University of Minnesota Faculty: Chemical Engineering Author: Eric A. Vandre Award: 2014 Andreas Acrivos Dissertation Award in Fluid Dynamics Title: Onset of Dynamics Wetting Failure: The Mechanics of High-speed Fluid Displacement
University: Erasmus University Rotterdam Faculty: Marketing Author: Ezgi Akpinar Award: McKinsey Marketing Dissertation Award 2014 Title: Consumer Information Sharing: Understanding Psychological Drivers of Social Transmission
University: University of Washington Faculty: Computer Science & Engineering Author: Keith N. Snavely Award: 2009 Doctoral Dissertation Award Title: Scene Reconstruction and Visualization from Internet Photo Collections
University: University of Ottawa Faculty: Social Work Author: Susannah Taylor Award: 2018 Joseph De Koninck Prize Title: Effacing and Obscuring Autonomy: the Effects of Structural Violence on the Transition to Adulthood of Street Involved Youth
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What Is a Master’s Thesis?
Before enrolling in a master’s degree program , it’s important that you know what a thesis is and whether you’ll need to write one. Your thesis is the sum of all of your learned knowledge from your master’s program and gives you a chance to prove your capabilities in your chosen field.
A thesis also involves a significant amount of research, and depending on the subject, may require you to conduct interviews, surveys and gather primary and secondary resources. Most graduate programs will expect you to dedicate enough time to developing and writing your thesis, so make sure to learn more about the department’s requirements before enrolling in your master’s program.
What is a Master’s Thesis?
Unlike thesis projects for undergraduates, which are shorter in length and scope, a master’s thesis is an extensive scholarly paper that allows you to dig into a topic, expand on it and demonstrate how you’ve grown as a graduate student throughout the program. Graduate schools often require a thesis for students in research-oriented degrees to apply their practical skills before culmination.
For instance, a psychology major may investigate how colors affect mood, or an education major might write about a new teaching strategy. Depending on your program, the faculty might weigh the bulk of your research differently.
Regardless of the topic or field of study, your thesis statement should allow you to:
- Help prove your idea or statement on paper
- Organize and develop your argument
- Provide a guide for the reader to follow
Once the thesis is completed, students usually must defend their work for a panel of two or more department faculty members.
What is the Difference Between a Thesis and a Non-Thesis Master’s Program?
A thesis is a common requirement in many research-focused fields, but not every master’s program will require you to complete one. Additionally, some fields allow you to choose between a thesis and a non-thesis track . In the case of a non-thesis program, you won’t have to write a lengthy paper, but you will have to take more classes to meet your graduation requirement.
Whether you choose a thesis or non-thesis program, you’ll still be required to complete a final project to prove your critical thinking skills. If you favor a non-thesis program, your project may be a capstone project or field experience.
Thesis vs. Dissertation
It's common for graduate students to mistakenly use the words "thesis" and "dissertation" interchangeably, but they are generally two different types of academic papers. As stated above, a thesis is the final project required in the completion of many master's degrees. The thesis is a research paper, but it only involves using research from others and crafting your own analytical points. On the other hand, the dissertation is a more in-depth scholarly research paper completed mostly by doctoral students. Dissertations require candidates create their own research, predict a hypothesis, and carry out the study. Whereas a master's thesis is usually around 100 pages, the doctoral dissertation is at least double that length.
Benefits of Writing a Thesis
There are several advantages that you can reap from choosing a master's program that requires the completion of a thesis project, according to Professor John Stackhouse . A thesis gives you the valuable opportunity to delve into interesting research for greater depth of learning in your career area. Employers often prefer students with a thesis paper in their portfolio, because it showcases their gained writing skills, authoritative awareness of the field, and ambition to learn. Defending your thesis will also fine-tune critical communication and public speaking skills, which can be applied in any career. In fact, many graduates eventually publish their thesis work in academic journals to gain a higher level of credibility for leadership positions too.
Tips for Your Master's Thesis
Writing your thesis paper will be a long process, so the first step is to make certain you have a close faculty advisor to guide you along the way. Before starting, consult with other scholarly texts to see exactly how a master's thesis should be structured with an introduction, literary review, main body, conclusion, and bibliography. Finding a thesis topic may be the simplest or hardest part for you, but choose one that interests you and gives you room to explore, according to Ta Da! Creating a detailed outline will prompt an easier flow of ideas for a well-written thesis. It's advised that you stay aware of your thesis defense date to allow enough time for proofreading and possibly sending your work to an editor.
Related Resource: Oral Exam Preparation
Overall, a master's thesis is designed to support a graduate student's academic and professional qualifications for a degree by presenting research findings. While it's important to note that some graduate programs offer non-thesis tracks for master's degrees, the thesis is the main capstone staple for many others. Now that you know what a thesis is, you can decide whether it's a good option for your career or whether a comprehensive exam would be better.
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How long is a thesis for a master’s?
A master’s thesis typically ranges from 100 to 300 pages , not including the bibliography. The length will depend on various factors, including the subject matter and method of your research. There’s no ‘correct’ page length you should aim for. Instead, your thesis should be long enough to properly convey all necessary information in a clear and concise manner.
Can you fail a master’s thesis?
While it’s not common, it is possible to fail your master’s thesis.
When you defend your thesis, the committee evaluates whether you understand your field and focus area. In most cases, the advisor you’re working with might help you go over your defense beforehand and address any questions that might come up during the final presentation. If you can’t correctly answer crucial questions from the committee, you will likely be given a chance to resubmit your thesis after making corrections.
Are there specific subjects that don’t require a thesis versus those that do?
Not all subjects will require a thesis at the end of your studies. Applied graduate school programs that focus on hands-on experience over theoretical work will mostly favor evaluating you through applied research projects. For example, nursing, education, and business programs prepare graduates for specific career placements and require them to complete internships or supervised fieldwork.
/images/cornell/logo35pt_cornell_white.svg" alt="masters thesis master's theses"> Cornell University --> Graduate School
Guide to writing your thesis/dissertation, definition of dissertation and thesis.
The dissertation or thesis is a scholarly treatise that substantiates a specific point of view as a result of original research that is conducted by students during their graduate study. At Cornell, the thesis is a requirement for the receipt of the M.A. and M.S. degrees and some professional master’s degrees. The dissertation is a requirement of the Ph.D. degree.
Formatting Requirement and Standards
The Graduate School sets the minimum format for your thesis or dissertation, while you, your special committee, and your advisor/chair decide upon the content and length. Grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other mechanical issues are your sole responsibility. Generally, the thesis and dissertation should conform to the standards of leading academic journals in your field. The Graduate School does not monitor the thesis or dissertation for mechanics, content, or style.
“Papers Option” Dissertation or Thesis
A “papers option” is available only to students in certain fields, which are listed on the Fields Permitting the Use of Papers Option page , or by approved petition. If you choose the papers option, your dissertation or thesis is organized as a series of relatively independent chapters or papers that you have submitted or will be submitting to journals in the field. You must be the only author or the first author of the papers to be used in the dissertation. The papers-option dissertation or thesis must meet all format and submission requirements, and a singular referencing convention must be used throughout.
ProQuest Electronic Submissions
The dissertation and thesis become permanent records of your original research, and in the case of doctoral research, the Graduate School requires publication of the dissertation and abstract in its original form. All Cornell master’s theses and doctoral dissertations require an electronic submission through ProQuest, which fills orders for paper or digital copies of the thesis and dissertation and makes a digital version available online via their subscription database, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses . For master’s theses, only the abstract is available. ProQuest provides worldwide distribution of your work from the master copy. You retain control over your dissertation and are free to grant publishing rights as you see fit. The formatting requirements contained in this guide meet all ProQuest specifications.
Copies of Dissertation and Thesis
Copies of Ph.D. dissertations and master’s theses are also uploaded in PDF format to the Cornell Library Repository, eCommons . A print copy of each master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation is submitted to Cornell University Library by ProQuest.
ASU Dissertations and Theses
- How to Get a Copy
- Doctoral Dissertations
- Masters Theses
Masters Theses: Introduction
Masters theses: fall 2011 to the present, masters theses: 1999-spring 2011, masters theses: 1938-1998.
- Honors Theses
At ASU, "thesis" refers to documents produced by masters and undergraduate honors programs; documents from the doctoral level are called "dissertations". Not all Masters programs at ASU require a thesis; instead, some programs require an applied, capstone or research project or a different type of documentation more suitable to the program, such as a portfolio. The ASU Library only collects the master's theses. Documentation from the non-thesis master's programs is not available from the ASU Library; individuals wanting non-thesis documents from a Master's program should contact the academic unit that granted the degree and/or the author to see if the documents are available.
The availability, location, and format of theses depend on the time period in which the student completed the master's degree:
- Fall 2011 to the present
- 1999-Spring 2011
Starting with the 2011/2012 academic year, the Graduate College requires students in masters programs with thesis requirements to submit an electronic copy of their thesis to ProQuest; ProQuest waits for approval from the Graduate College before the theses are released into the ProQuest databases. ProQuest sends a digital copy of the bibliographic information and full text of these documents to the ASU Library for inclusion in several different databases.
Note: Not all theses are available soon after graduation. The ASU Graduate College currently allows students to request an embargo of up to 2 years before their thesis is made public; students may choose this option to protect their intellectual property rights or to preserve commercial publication opportunities among other issues. The full text of an embargoed thesis will not be available for viewing in the following databases until the embargo period has ended. Information about which theses are embargoed and for how long is not made public.
The theses from this time period are available as follows:
- ASU Digitial Repository: ASU Electronic Dissertations and Theses Collection Has the full text of the theses, except for cases where a thesis is within a requested embargo period; the full text is in PDF and is available for all to view, print, and/or download.
- ASU faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students may access these databases from both on- and off-campus
- ASU Alumni and community members who live in the Phoenix area may access these databases from within an ASU Library; ProQuest does not permit us to offer off-campus access to alumni and community members.
- Alumni and individuals outside of the Phoenix area should check with their local libraries, particularly libraries at publicly funded colleges and universities, for the availability of the "ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT) database.
- ASU Library's Catalog Contains bibliographic records for the theses and each record has a link to the full text in the ASU Digital Repository.
- The ASU Library does not retain or accept print copies of theses available in the ASU Digital Repository.
The Graduate College required master's students in thesis programs to submit two printed copies of their thesis to the ASU Library and one printed copy to their academic unit. The College gave students the option to submit an electronic copy to ProQuest but did not require it. Very few students took the option so almost all masters theses from this time are only available in print.
The theses from this time period are available as follows:
- ASU Digitial Repository: ASU Electronic Dissertations and Theses Collection Only those 2010/2011 theses chosen for the electronic submission trial are available in full text; no full text is available for the 1999-2009 theses.
- The first copy, aka the archival copy, is kept in storage and the user must contact the Wurzburger Reading Room (480-965-4932 or [email protected] ) in advance to set an appointment to view a thesis. The copy may only be viewed in the Reading Room and is not available for checkout or interlibrary loan.
- The second copy, aka the circulating copy, is kept in Hayden Library and may be checked out or loaned to other libraries. Note: not every thesis has a second copy and some of these copies may be shelved in libraries other than Hayden; see the catalog record for availability. ASU theses are given call number: LD179.15 [year] [cuttered by author]
- ASU Alumni and community members who live in the Phoenix area may access these databases from within an ASU Library; ProQuest does not permit us to offer off-campus access to alumni and community members
- The first copy, aka the archival copy, is kept in storage and the user must contact the Wurzburger Reading Room (480-965-4932 or [email protected] ) in advance to set an appointment to view a thesis. The copy may only be viewed in the Reading Room in Hayden Library and is not available for checkout or interlibrary loan.
- The second copy, aka the circulating copy, is kept in the Library's high-density storage and must be retrieved in advance of a visit. These second copies may be checked out or used for interlibrary loan. Some theses during this time do not have a second copy. ASU theses are given call number: LD179.15 [year] [cuttered by author]
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- Last updated: Jun 12, 2023 3:50 PM
- URL: https://libguides.asu.edu/asudissertations
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