Distinction in Research and Creative Work

Distinction in Research and Creative Work is a university award for select undergraduates, granted at commencement, which appears on the transcript and diploma. Students must apply to be considered for the award, and the application must be supported by a letter from a faculty member (or Center director). The most common path of application will be to the student’s major department. A student whose research or other creative project is in a field outside of his/her major should submit an application to the academic department or program most closely associated with the subject matter of their project.

Eligibility for the award extends widely to include a variety of research, design, and other creative projects, as well as persistent dedication to research. Projects completed in part or entirely at other institutions or with community partners will be eligible for consideration.

The award will be granted only to projects that produce a concrete outcome--e.g. an essay, invention, design, musical composition--and demonstrate commitment and/or achievement above and beyond the norm. Students who complete senior theses, senior design projects or other required senior capstone projects are eligible—but do not qualify automatically--for consideration for this university distinction.

Students who wish to be considered for this award must submit an application to the academic department most closely associated with the subject matter of their project.

Responsibility for judging applications and determining those that merit the distinction award rests with the undergraduate degree programs or departments. Departments publish annually clear expectations and criteria for the research and design projects that will be considered for the award, as well as guidelines for what constitutes research or creative work above and beyond the norm within their respective fields. Departments may designate additional requirements as well, such as completion of a research seminar or oral defense.

For more details, please contact the administrative coordinator or director of undergraduate studies of your major department (or other department most closely associated with the subject matter of your project). The programs/centers linked below also have information about the award on their Web pages.

*Note for Departments/Centers: the deadline for reporting the names of December 2024, May 2025, and August 2025 graduates selected for the award is April 2025. While other departments require a reporting deadline earlier in April for the commencement program, DIR's deadline remains April 24th. DIR will be in the commencement program. Please email as60@rice.edu for the DIR submission link.


  • Distinction in Research and Creative work will be listed in the commencement program and on the student's final transcript and diploma.
  • Students can be awarded Distinction multiple times, from multiple departments.
  • Students do not have to have a major in the department awarding Distinction - only a corresponding project, capstone, seminar, or something of that nature.
  • Each May, OURI will collect nominations for the full academic year. This includes graduates from the previous December, May graduates, and graduates from the coming August. For example, in May 2024, OURI will collect names of graduates from December '23, May '24, and August '24.

School of Architecture

George R. Brown School of Engineering

School of Humanities

The Shepherd School of Music

Wiess School of Natural Sciences

School of Social Sciences