Joseph C. Beckham Award

Dissertation of the Year

Awarded at the ELA Annual Conference

Deadline for 2022 nominations: August 1, 2022


To recognize exemplary dissertations by doctoral students in the field of education law. In addition to the traditional legal research type of dissertations, studies that utilize empirical research on specific problems will be considered. Topics selected should reflect a direct relationship with educational law. The award is named after Joseph C. Beckham, ELA's President in 1991 and Professor Emeritus of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University.


Dissertations defended in the three years prior to the current ELA Annual Conference year (e.g., if the conference is occurring in 2021, dissertations could have been defended in 2021, 2020, or 2019).


The dissertation will be evaluated on how well it:

  • Is conceptually clear and addresses important problem and/or present an important hypothesis;
  • Includes a comprehensive and relevant review of applicable literature;
  • Utilizes a methodologically sound approach;
  • Includes a cogent analysis of the data;
  • Provides significant results and discussion; and
  • Features polished writing style and appropriate documentation.


While it is preferable that the chair or a member of the student’s dissertation committee who is a member of ELA nominate the dissertation, any ELA member in good standing may nominate an exemplary dissertation for the award. Self-nominations will not be accepted. The nominating ELA member should submit 1) a letter of nomination that includes an endorsement attesting to the nominee’s eligibility and specifying the meritorious nature of the dissertation, and 2) a copy of the dissertation that has no personally identifying information and has the abstract as the first page. 

Please submit the nomination by email to ELA's Awards Committee, at . Please include the name of the award in the subject line of the email message.


ELA's Joseph C. Beckham Dissertation of the Year Subcommittee reviews and evaluates submissions for the Dissertation of the Year Award and selects the award recipient, if one is granted for the year. The subcommittee uses a blind-review process, with multiple readers. If necessary, the first review will be based on the nominee’s abstract. While the subcommittee will make every attempt to select a meritorious dissertation each year, the award will only be given if the committee finds an exemplary dissertation.


The award recipient will receive:

  • A presentation of an award plaque during the ELA Annual Conference;
  • Complimentary Annual Conference registration for the year of award; and
  • One year's complimentary ELA membership.