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Policies and Procedures

The Pennsylvania State University Annual Philosophy Graduate Awards for Excellence

The Philosophy Graduate Student Organization, in conjunction with the faculty of the Philosophy department, will hold a yearly awards celebration to honor outstanding graduate research, teaching, and service. The purpose of these awards is to recognize and affirm outstanding achievement in the graduate student body, to foster a sense of community among the graduate students and between the graduate students and the faculty, and to encourage graduate students to excel in the areas of research, teaching, and service.

An award will be given once annually in March or April of the spring semester in each of the three categories: Research, Teaching, and Service. Awardees will be selected following a nomination process; students may be nominated by a fellow graduate student or by a faculty member. Self-nominations are also permitted.  In special circumstances, a particular award and its cash prize may be shared between two individuals.  The Graduate Awards Committee will give general precedence to seniority, with special attention to fourth-year students who could receive the award in time to list it when applying to jobs. The Graduate Awards Committee may also, at its own discretion, decide to offer an honorable mention with no cash prize. After the applications have been received, the Chairperson will distribute all relevant application materials to the other members of the Graduate Awards Committee. The Committee will make its decision in March before Recruitment Week.

Conflicts of Interest: Occasionally, members of the Graduate Awards Committee may have a conflict of interest.  Any faculty member who is the Dissertation Advisor of an applicant under consideration must recuse himself or herself.  Committee members who feel they are not able to judge impartially must also recuse themselves.

Confidentiality: The members of the Committee will not share the details of their deliberations with anyone outside of the Committee. The Committee will not share the details of any of the application materials (transcripts, SRTE scores, etc.) unless this information is already publicly available (e.g., some CVs are available online).

Penn State Philosophy Graduate Prize for Excellence in Research

Eligibility: To be eligible, the student must be a current, full-time graduate assistant in good academic standing.  In addition, s/he must have completed a major piece of research during his/her time at the University (e.g. a journal publication or conference presentation).  Additional criteria for selection include the number and location of publications, including forthcoming works, and/or the number of conference presentations. Preference for the research award is given to cumulative output rather than a single publication.

Nomination: Students may be nominated by a fellow graduate student or by a faculty member.  Self-nominations are permitted.  Nominations should specify which award is being proposed for the nominee and should include a short statement (maximum 100 words) about why the nominee should be considered, and must be submitted by January 25 of each year.

Application: Students who will accept their nomination must submit the following materials to the Graduate Awards Committee Chairperson by February 25:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of Purpose which provides the nominee’s qualifications for the award (maximum one page)
  • Current transcript
  • Overview of work that discusses major research goals and the way that the student’s previous scholarship (i.e. journal articles, conference papers) has contributed to these goals (maximum two pages)

Penn State Philosophy Graduate Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Eligibility: To be eligible, the student must be a current, full-time graduate assistant in good academic standing.  In addition, s/he must have must have taught at least two semesters of classes with sole responsibility and cannot be on teaching probation.  Additional criteria for selection include the amount of teaching experience, SRTE scores and student comments, and the quality of the teaching philosophy statement.

Nomination: Students may be nominated by a fellow graduate student or by a faculty member.  Self-nominations are permitted.  Nominations should specify which award is being proposed for the nominee and should include a short statement (maximum 100 words) about why the nominee should be considered, and must be submitted by January 25 of each year.

Application: Students who will accept their nomination must submit the following materials to the Graduate Awards Committee Chairperson by February 25:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of Purpose which provides the nominee’s qualifications for the award (maximum one page)
  • Current transcript
  • SRTE Summary. The summary should include only those courses for which student had sole teaching responsibility. TA scores will not be considered. The SRTE scores summary must be submitted in a readable table, which lists the main categories of semester taught; course number and section number; overall course (average); overall instructor (average), response rate; and whether the course was residential or online.
  • Teaching philosophy (maximum two pages).

Penn State Philosophy Graduate Prize for Excellence in Service

Eligibility: To be eligible, the student must be a current, full-time graduate assistant in good academic standing.  In addition, s/he must have contributed in a substantial way to the life and community of the department and of the Philosophy Graduate Association. Additional criteria for selection include the cumulative amount of time and effort spent in service; dedication to both official departmental service and to the graduate community; adequate progress toward the completion of the doctoral degree; and adequate performance in teaching.

Nomination: Students may be nominated by a fellow graduate student or by a faculty member.  Self-nominations are permitted. Nominations should specify which award is being proposed for the nominee and should include a short statement (maximum 100 words) about why the nominee should be considered, and must be submitted by January 25 of each year.

Application: Students who will accept their nomination must submit the following materials to the Graduate Awards Committee Chairperson by February 25:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Statement of Purpose which provides the nominee’s qualifications for the award (maximum one page)
  • Current transcript
  • Statement describing specific service contributions to both the department and the philosophy graduate student body, as well as a sense of the student’s plans for future service and of his/her vision for department community (maximum one page). This statement should focus on one or two major projects that the nominee has performed to better the department and graduate community, and how the project will be carried forward into the future.

Awards Committee

An Awards Committee made up of three graduate students and two faculty members will be assembled each year. The graduate student judges should be senior members of the philosophy community who are in good academic standing.

In the fall semester, the Philosophy Graduate Student Organziation (GSO) will select the Committee Chairperson. The Chairperson must have completed his or her coursework by the time that applications start and have no outstanding incompletes. Preference should be given to seniority and to past record of departmental service.

The other two graduate members of the Committee should be selected by the spring semester. Committee members should have the same qualifications as the Chairperson. Awards Committee members may not apply for awards themselves. Third year students who have completed their coursework by the beginning of the spring semester are probably ideal for this position.

Of the two faculty members who participate, one will be the Director of Graduate Studies or someone appointed by him or her, and one will be the Department Chair or someone appointed by him or her.

In the case of conflicts of interest, at least three members of the Committee are needed for quorum. If that is not possible, the Chairperson, in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, may appoint an alternate who meets the same eligibility requirements as the other graduate judges.