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Graduate Student Awards

2023-2024 Awards and Scholarships

Award Winners


The SDSU Graduate School is soliciting nominations for the Distinguished Master's Thesis Award. The award is to recognize and reward distinguished scholarship and research at the master's level. SDSU is seeking nominations in the two broad categories of Biological Sciences and Life Sciences OR Humanities, which align with the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Thesis Awards. The effective date of degree award, or the completion of master’s degree requirements, must fall within the period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023. Degree completion must be confirmed by SDSU. Students who have already received a Ph.D. or comparable research degree in any discipline prior to their master’s degree program are not eligible. However, recipients of a first professional degree awarded prior to writing the thesis may be nominated. Deadline: October 12, 2023.

Submit a nomination and brief letter of recommendation

The SDSU Graduate School Travel Awards help provide funding for graduate students to present original research and scholarly activity at professional meetings and conferences. These monetary awards subsidize travel costs and serve to encourage scholarship, recognize excellence in research, and support opportunities for professional development.


  • Awards will be made for costs to attend meetings and conferences only, and will not exceed $500
  • Members of the Graduate Council will select awardees
  • Application deadlines will be October 15 and February 15 annually, with approximately half of the funding awarded for each time period
  • Applications must be submitted electronically 
  • Departments are encouraged to supplement these awards where possible to cover full travel costs
  • Travel awards will not be given to students who have completed degree requirements

Applicationsmust be submitted electronically.

The Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award was established by the Graduate Council in 2010 to honor faculty members who have truly shown excellence in mentoring graduate students. The award honors faculty for efforts in supporting, encouraging and promoting their graduate students' research, education, professional and personal development, and career plans. Nominate a faculty member for this award. Deadline: December 1, 2023.

The SDSU Graduate School is pleased to announce the Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award, in recognition of graduate students who exemplify excellence in the teaching/learning mission of SDSU.

Nominations must be submitted electronically: Deadline: December 14, 2023.

The SDSU Graduate School is seeking to recognize outstanding creativity, impact and innovation in all disciplines offered at SDSU. This award includes original works accepted by the university "in lieu of thesis" - including non-thesis papers, projects, portfolios, media, computer software, etc. Nominations should be made by the student who is completing either B, C or D options or a DNP student.

Submission requirements include:

  • Completion of electronic nomination form.
  • A non-technical summary prepared by the nominee (2 pages max) describing the research, impact, innovation and/or benefit to the field and its significance.
  • A nomination letter from the major adviser and/or faculty member who can speak to the student’s contributions to the discipline.
  • An updated resume or curriculum vita.

Nominations must be submitted electronically via the MyState submission form. Deadline: April 4, 2024.

To submit your nomination form, log into MyState and click the Dashboard tab. Under the forms portlet, click the Distinguished Innovation and Creative Work Award link.

The SDSU Distinguished Dissertation Award recognizes a doctoral student who has completed a dissertation representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to their discipline. There are two broad fields of competition: Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering; and the Social Sciences OR Biological and Life Sciences, and Humanities and Fine Arts. If a dissertation is multi- or interdisciplinary in nature, a significant portion of the work must be comprised by at least one of the 2022 fields of competition. The effective date of the degree awarded, or the completion of doctoral degree requirements and dissertation, must be within the period of July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2024, inclusive, for each nominee selected. Such degree award or completion is to be confirmed by the Graduate School. The award recipient will be selected by a committee of graduate faculty. SDSU awardee’s dissertation will also be submitted to the national CGS/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Awards competition. Deadline: April 11, 2024

Submit a Nomination


The SDSU Graduate School has created two scholarships to assist graduate students who do not have funding support for tuition, including graduate assistantships, funding from home countries, or other types of formal support. The goal is to help increase access to Graduate School for those who have demonstrated financial need.


  • Two scholarships will be awarded to active graduate students: one for new students (starting Fall 2023) and one for current students
  • Members of the Graduate Council will select awardees
  • Each awardee will receive $2500 toward the cost of graduate tuition
  • To be considered for the scholarship, graduate students must submit a completed electronic application by October 1, 2023 at 11:59pm
  • Applications must include:
    • Personal statement (one page limit) describing financial need, commitment to pursue and complete a graduate degree at SDSU, and future contributions after degree completion
    • Letter of recommendation from advisor or faculty member

Applications must be submitted electronically.

The Joseph F. Nelson Graduate Scholarship Award is open to graduate students at South Dakota State University who are in good standing (a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above) and meet the specified criteria for the award (see guidelines). This year, the Joseph F. Nelson Endowment Fund will provide for two graduate student scholarships in the amount of $2,500 each. Graduate student applicants must have successfully completed 15 semester credit hours of academic work toward a Master’s or Ph.D. degree. Students must be completing, as part of their degree, original research; preferably in one of the following sciences: Physics, Chemistry, Physical Geography, Biology, Soil Science, Geology, Mathematics or other Physical Sciences. Awards for M.S. students are restricted to students pursuing a thesis (option A).  These awards are to be made in addition to any graduate assistantship students may have, and may not be used to substitute for or partially replace an existing assistantship.

Applications must be submitted electronically. Deadline: November 16, 2023.

Scholarships will be awarded by the Admissions Office in collaboration with the American Indian Student Center. These scholarship opportunities exist for graduate students who have been accepted into a graduate program and are an enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe in the United States, including Alaska Natives. Selected Wokini Graduate Scholars will be awarded up to $5,000 scholarship based on enrolled credits that may be renewable for an additional two years

Review the guidelines and complete and submit the application to be considered for the Wokini Scholarship.


South Dakota State University invites you to participate in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition. The 3MT is an academic competition that challenges Ph.D. and Master's students to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. 3MT celebrates the discoveries made by research students and encourages you to communicate the importance of your research to the broader community.

This year’s 3MT competition will be held in the Lewis and Clark Room, University Student Union, on February 8, 2024 at 5 p.m. We encourage all graduate students to participate. Interested students must register no later than Friday, February 2, 2024. More detailed information will be sent out to registered students after that date.

For more specific details about the competition, view the 3MT PowerPoint.

Register for the competition. If you are not already logged into MyState, you will have to enter your MyState credentials in the top right corner of the screen, click "Dashboard," followed by "Forms," (in the 4th column) and you'll find "3 Minute Thesis Competition Registration."