The Graduate School created the Dean’s Award for Inclusive Excellence in Graduate Education to acknowledge extraordinary achievements by departments and programs that help create an environment of inclusive excellence in graduate education.

The Graduate School is committed to excellence, equity, and inclusion in its graduate programs and to creating a welcoming environment that engages all of its diversity in the intellectual development of its students. Inclusive excellence in graduate programs means not only demographics but is also reflected in the departmental and program climate, curriculum, intellectual discourse and recruitment, retention and graduation of individuals underrepresented in the discipline, field, or area. 


The 2023–24 nomination cycle has ended. Please check back again in Fall 2024.

Some examples of extraordinary inclusive excellence include the following:

  • Recruiting, retaining, and graduating students with graduate degrees who are historically or currently underrepresented in their field. This applies to women in traditionally male-dominated fields, men in traditionally female-dominated fields, racial and ethnic underrepresented individuals, members of the LGBT community, and those whose life experiences may include the challenge of access due to a disability.
  • Effective strategies to address barriers that have prevented full participation of graduate students from historically or currently underrepresented groups in graduate fields and the professoriate.
  • Collaborative partnerships with colleges and universities that have large underrepresented populations (e.g., HBCUs, Hispanic Serving Institutions).
  • Membership and participation in various national consortia or professional associations dedicated to increasing the enrollment of underrepresented groups in graduate education.
  • Participation, sponsorship, or administration of summer or undergraduate research programs to attract students from underrepresented groups to pursue research-based graduate degrees.

Departments, programs and interdisciplinary initiatives that have demonstrated a commitment to inclusive excellence by advancing equitable access to graduate education at Duke University. Nominations should emphasize recent (within the last five years) concrete accomplishments. Departments, programs and interdisciplinary initiatives may be nominated multiple times, but can only receive the award once in a five-year period.

Who May Be Nominated

Departments, programs, and interdisciplinary initiatives that support inclusive excellence among students of The Graduate School may be nominated. Graduate students, faculty, and the broader university community are eligible to nominate departments, programs and interdisciplinary initiatives. Departments and programs may also self-nominate.

Nomination Procedure

The 2023–24 nomination cycle has ended. Please check back again in fall 2024.

The selection committee will consist of members of the graduate faculty and graduate student body. The department or program selected will receive an award of $5,000, which will be deposited into its discretionary account. The award recipients are notified early in the spring semester and will be honored at a reception later in the spring.