Moussa Thiam (left) and Teri Slade (center), winners of the 2017 uOttawa Ma thèse en 180 secondes and 3MT competitions. Danny Jooma (right), has won second place at the competition as well as Raphaëlle Robidoux (absent from the picture).

Thesis prizes and contests

Prizes list and description

Each year the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies presents eleven awards to students whose theses make a significant contribution to the academic community and to the society at large.

The Governor General's Academic Medal, first awarded in 1873 by the Earl of Dufferin, has become one of the most prestigious awards available to students in Canadian educational institutions. The Governor General of Canada continues to encourage academic excellence across the country and to recognize outstanding graduate students. The Governor General's Academic Medal is awarded to the best doctoral dissertation in three research areas based on the evaluation and defence of the dissertation, along with the originality and significance of the research. The three research areas are:

  • Arts, Social Sciences, Law, Education and Management;
  • Science and Engineering; and,
  • Health Sciences, Medicine and Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Programs.

The Pierre Laberge Thesis Prize recognizes the excellence of two doctoral theses, one in the Humanities and one in the Sciences. The prize was created in honour of Pierre Laberge, a specialist in Kantian philosophy. His career at the University of Ottawa included appointments as Professor and Dean of the former Faculty of Philosophy, then as Dean of the former Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (1983-89), and finally as Professor of International Ethics. Professor Laberge was President of the Canadian Philosophical Association, the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (CAGS). He was a brilliant, kind and generous mentor, colleague and philosopher who contributed enormously to the university community.

The Joseph De Koninck Thesis Prize recognizes two theses, one for a Master's and one for a doctoral thesis, which demonstrate an outstanding contribution to knowledge in an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary program. The award salutes the leadership of Joseph De Koninck, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at the University of Ottawa and member of the Institute for Brain Research. In addition to his teaching and research on sleep and dreams, he was Dean of the former Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (1994-2004) and served as President of the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) (1997) and the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (2001-02). He is known for spreading good cheer with his mischievous sense of humour.

The Humanities Graduate Commission Thesis Prize recognizes the excellence and originality of a Master's thesis in the Humanities.

The Science Graduate Commission Thesis Prize recognizes the excellence and originality of a Master's thesis in the Sciences.

The René Lupien Thesis Prize recognizes a Master's thesis that makes an outstanding contribution to the understanding of the Francophonie in Canada. The award was created in honour of René Lupien, a long-time employee of the former Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Mr. Lupien was committed to helping students have the best possible experience, particularly during their thesis journey.

The International Graduate Thesis Award recognizes the outstanding quality of the thesis of an international student studying in French at the graduate level.

Who is eligible?

Any thesis recommended for a prize at the oral defence is eligible. In order to be eligible, the final version of the thesis must have been submitted electronically through uO Research between January 1st and December 31 of the previous year. A thesis submitted after December 31, will be considered for next year’s competition.

How to nominate candidates?

The graduate studies office of each faculty is responsible for pre-selecting and submitting the complete nomination files to the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. If a thesis meets the eligibility requirements of more than one prize, it can be recommended for each one.

The faculty must ensure that the file contains a nomination letter of no more than two pages. The nomination letter must include the name of the student and describe the following:

  • The reasons the thesis is deserving of the prize
  • The nominee’s contribution to the body of research in the discipline
  • The nominee’s contributions in other scholarly endeavours
  • The nominee’s potential as a researcher

The letter must be signed by the nominee’s thesis supervisor, the chair of the nominee’s academic unit or the director of graduate studies.


The winners are chosen in February-March among the recommendations of the faculties.

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will convene a selection committee to review the nominees’ files.

The selection committee will announce the winners by May 15. Decisions are based on the examiners’ reports submitted prior to the oral defence and the nomination letter of the Faculty.


Presentation of prizes

The winners of the Governor General’s Gold Medal will be announced at the Spring Convocation ceremonies. The medal will be handed in person to those winners who are present. As such, attendance at the ceremony of these recipients is especially important. All other prize winners will receive their certificate and prize money shortly after the Convocation.

The names of the winners and the prizes will be announced on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website. A mention of the prize will also appear on winning students’ transcripts.

Other prizes

Prizes list and description



3MT and Ma thèse en 180 secondes 3-Minute Thesis and Ma thèse en 180 secondes competitions give to graduate students the opportunity to take on a big challenge:  present in a compelling way their thesis topic and its significance in just three minutes. 3MT and MT180 are the perfect occasion for them to improve their communication skills while offering a unique environment to present their research in the public  space.
Canada's Distinguished Dissertation Awards (CAGS) The CAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards have been recognizing outstanding Canadian doctoral dissertations for more than 20 years. The Association seeks work that makes significant, original contributions to both the academic community and to Canadian society. There are two awards: one for engineering, medical sciences and natural sciences; and one for fine arts, humanities and social sciences. 
CO-OP student of the year award

Each academic year (summer, fall and winter), one student per faculty receives a Student of the Year Award. These students must have shown excellence in the following areas:

  • On-the-job achievement
  • Academic achievement
  • Extra-curricular activities at school, at work or in the community
John Charles Polanyi Prizes

In honour of the achievement of John Charles Polanyi, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Government of the Province of Ontario has established a fund to provide annually up to five prizes to outstanding researchers in the early stages of their career who are continuing to post-doctoral studies or have recently started a faculty appointment at an Ontario university.