NOTICE: In response to the rapidly emerging COVID-19 crisis, CAGS will be postponing all of its 2020 awards and competitions until further notice.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the Graduate Student Experience Award (GSE Award) has been postponed indefinitely. The adjudication process for this award will likely take place during the late-summer or fall.

Please note that CAGS is continuing to accept nomination packages for this award.

CAGS is pleased to announce the 2019 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Enhancing the Graduate Student Experience (GSE Award).

An innovative graduate school can make a significant impact in the lives of its students. In addition to granting degrees, today’s graduate schools are responsible for providing a supportive and accessible learning environment, and for fostering creativity and research excellence at the highest levels. Graduate schools that embrace new methods and approaches to learning can empower students to transform their worlds.

The purpose of the GSE Award is to recognize and reward programmatic excellence in enhancing the experience of graduate students from recruitment through degree completion.

GSE Award Guidelines:

  • The GSE Award focuses specifically on co-curricular or administrative innovations and excellence. Applications may relate to any facet of the graduate education process, including programs and initiatives that address accessibility, financial issues, physical and mental health, inclusion, prejudice and violence.
  • An applicant must be a CAGS member graduate school.
  • CAGS will accept only one application from each member institution. The internal selection process at each institution is the responsibility of the Graduate School Dean or comparable official.

All Application Packages Must Include:

  1. An application letter from the Graduate School Dean or comparable official.
    • The letter should describe the program or initiative being nominated and explain in broad terms the innovation(s) that it makes to graduate education. Comments on the internal process used to select the program or initiative are also welcome.
  2. A word document (500–1500 words) or short video that showcases the program or initiative being nominated.
    • The document or video should describe all pertinent innovation(s) in graduate programming and provide information about challenges and successes that have been encountered.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to include relevant data and performance metrics in their document or video.

Additional Documentation:

  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to include testimonials from current and former students in their application package.
  • Applicants may submit publicity materials related to the program or initiative being nominated. These materials can include (but are not limited to): website pages; video links or files; photographs; local news media coverage; social media posts and activities, etc.

Judging Criteria:

  • Application packages will be reviewed by a panel of senior administrators.
  • Each application package will be judged according to the following criteria:
    • Excellence
    • Innovation
    • Impact


  • The 2019 GSE Award includes an official certificate and an invitation to attend the CAGS annual meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in November 2019. The winning program or initiative will also be presented in a workshop form at the annual meeting.

    Submission Information:

    • Complete nomination packages must be submitted electronically in a single file to Please include “CAGS/ACES GSE Award” in the subject line.
    • Nomination packages are currently being accepted – the submission deadline has been postponed indefinitely.