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Dean's Excellence Awards

The Dean's Excellence awards were created to recognize top first-year and sophomore students for their achievements. This university-wide award is presented annually to two (2) first-year students and two (2) sophomores in each college who display exceptional promise. The award is administered in partnership with the TAMU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, one of the oldest and most prestigious honor societies in the world. The goal of the Dean's Excellence awards is to identify and honor those students who exemplify the Phi Kappa Phi motto to "let the love of learning rule humanity."


All applicants must be fulltime students and a member of the awarding college (as shown in university records). Applicants must not possess a record of academic dishonesty or any student conduct violations.

To compete in the first-year category a student must have been admitted to TAMU through the Freshman admissions process in the fall or spring semester immediately preceding the application due date.​

To compete in the sophomore category a student must have completed at least 2 but no more than 4 fall/spring semesters at any institution by the application due date.

Application Components

A completed application consists of 5 documents. The student is responsible for producing these documents and, with the exception of transcripts, each document should be single spaced, 12pt font, and no longer than 1 page. Each document should be in PDF format and saved as 'Last Name_UIN_Document Type. For example, a personal statement would be saved as Smith_123004567_Personal Statement. The 5 required documents are:
  • Personal statement

    Discuss your background and interests in relation to both your short-term goals and life ambitions. Remember that a good personal statement not only answers the question, 'what?' but also the question, 'why?'.
  • Research and/or Creative Production

    Discuss any research you have conducted or are currently conducting and any creative endeavors you pursue (music, art, theatre, creative writing, etc.). Remember that reviewers will not necessarily be experts in your field.
  • Community Engagement

    Discuss the ways in which you engage with your university, local, national, or even international community. How do you find meaning in this engagement? What have you learned from the experience?
  • Accomplishments/Awards

    Explain any notable milestones or achievements and contextualize them within your interests and goals.
  • Unofficial TAMU transcript

    The transcript should come from Howdy. Applicants should select the option for a PDF version of the transcript. 

Letters of Recommendation


Each application must be accompanied by two (2) letters of recommendation. There is no page limit for the letters of recommendation. Requirements are:
  • Academic Reference

    This reference must be someone at TAMU who has provided academic instruction or guidance. A letter may obviously come from one of your course instructors but a research mentor could also be appropriate. The letter should discuss your academic abilities relative to your field and the reference's opinion of your role as a scholar.
  • General Reference

    This reference can come from anyone in the TAMU community (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ANOTHER UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT) who can comment on the applicant's promise and potential with clear, specific examples. Ideally this letter would provide a different perspective than what is offered in the academic reference. If the student is double-majoring in two disparate fields they might request a letter from a course instructor in the other major. If a student is double-majoring in closely related fields (such as physics and math or psychology and sociology this may not be a good idea).


  • Applications Due: 11:59AM Friday, June 16, 2017 (No Exceptions)
    • Letters of recommendation are also due on this day
  • Semifinalists Announced: Early August
  • Finalists Announced: Early September
  • Awardees Announced: Early October


Awardees will be honored with an official certificate at the annual Phi Kappa Phi Fall Breakfast in October.


Students may access the application here

Recommenders should submit their letters of recommendation here

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes. The review process is designed to provide a holistic assessment of each applicant. Grades are only one factor of the application.
Yes. You can submit an application in each college and it is possible to win the Dean's Excellence Award from both colleges.
Yes. The review process is designed to accommodate applicants who have significant experience and participation in fewer categories as well as those who have only shallow participation in all categories. Since the goal of the award is to acknowledge and reward excellence you may find that the review process will favor these applicants over those who appear to be a "jack of all trades and master of none."
It depends. While it is expected that applicants may not be "superstars" in every category the Dean's Excellence Award seeks to encourage and acknowledge students who show depth and promise in more than one area.
No and no. You do not have  to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi to submit an application and you are not required to join Phi Kappa Phi if you are selected as an awardee. We do hope that applicants and awardees will show interest in Phi Kappa Phi and the benefits of membership.
No and no. You do not have to be a member of any campus honors program to submit an application and you do not have to join the University Honors program if you win. We do encourage all students at the university to challenge themselves and participating in an honors program can provide significant benefits to your academic endeavors.
The letter of recommendation system is designed to require a NetID and password to login. This ensures the legitimacy of the references that are received.
Yes. Letters may come from anyone who meets the given criteria (see Letters of Recommendation section) and is not an undergraduate student.
Personal letters, no matter the title or authority of the person who authors them, have no weight in an application process. You are much better served by getting a letter from someone who knows you and your work directly and in a professional capacity.
No. The page limit is firm and each document written by the applicant can be no longer than 1 page. Unofficial transcripts and letters of recommendation may be longer than 1 page. Applicants who do not follow the directions will not be considered.
No. Unfortunately the review process at this time does not accommodate applications from students who do not belong to a specific college.

Additional questions? Contact LAUNCH at natlfellows@tamu.edu.