The purpose of this award is to recognize a completed dissertation that demonstrates scholarly excellence and makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in the general field of student affairs/student services. The dissertation may be in any scholarly tradition or methodology and focus on any topic in the field.

The Dissertation of the Year Award is named in honor of Dr. Marylu McEwen, Professor Emerita in the Student Affairs concentration with the Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education, at the University of Maryland, College Park. The financial award is funded by the ACPA Foundation through an endowment started by a generous gift in honor of Marylu McEwen. Read additional information on Dr. McEwen.


  1. Eligible dissertations must have met all requirements of the applicant's institution and have been signed by the applicant's dissertation committee between April 1, 2020 and August 1, 2021.
  2. A dissertation may only be nominated once. Dissertations previously nominated will not be reconsidered.
  3. The faculty nominator must be the dissertation committee chair or member of the dissertation committee and a member of ACPA at the time of the nomination.
  4. The nominee must be a member of ACPA prior to receipt of the award.


  1. One recipient will be selected annually. Additional nominees may be cited for excellence.
  2. The recipient will receive a plaque, complimentary annual convention registration for the recipient and their advisor, and a cash award of $1,000
  3. The recipient will also get to participate in a one-on-one phone call/virtual chat with Dr. McEwen.
  4. The recipient will have a reserved slot to present the dissertation results in a session during ACPA22.

Selection Process

1. The application package should be submitted using the Online Application

2. Applicants will upload the required documents when submitting the application.

3. The applicant must submit a 15 double-spaced page abstract of the dissertation (inclusive of any tables and/or figures). The abstract should include the following: (1) full dissertation title; (2) statement of the study’s purpose; (3) research questions, if applicable; (4) significance of the study; (5) theoretical or conceptual underpinnings, if applicable; (6) methods – research design/approach, sampling, data collection procedures or data sources used, and data analysis; (7) summary of key findings; and (8) implications for practice, policy, and/or future research. The abstract should contain no identifying information that reveals the author, committee members, or institution. Additionally, up to three single-spaced pages of references in APA format can accompany the abstract and will not be included in the 15-page limit. Please submit the abstract as a .PDF document and use the first few words of the Running Head as the title of the document. Please use this same file name for naming all files, including the abstract and certification form. This standardized naming convention is essential to efficient processing of the submission.

4. The selection process is masked. That is, the applicant and the dissertation committee members’ identities are masked from the reviewers. The committee chair will ensure that dissertations from the reviewers’ institutions do not review nominees’ materials. Committee members will recuse themselves if they are acquainted with the nominee, committee members, or the dissertation.

5. The applicant’s dissertation advisor must sign a certificate statement verifying the applicant has met the degree requirements of the institution and has been signed off by the applicant’s dissertation committee. The applicant will submit this form with the application.

6. The recipient will be selected and notified no later than January 2022. Decisions of the committee are final.

7. The deadline for submissions is October 1, 2021.

Please direct questions to Dr. Orkideh Mohajeri ( and Dr. Tricia Shalka (, Dissertation of the Year Committee Co-Chairs.