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Dissertation Award

The best PhD dissertation on a theme of Iranian Studies is chosen based on several criteria, including imagination, novelty of approach, clarity in stating the problematic, theoretical foundation, methodological rigor, efficient and intelligent use of primary source material, and quality of fieldwork, among others.

The Foundation may also recognize up to two runner-up dissertations with honorable mention and subject to budgetary considerations and the decision of an advisory board of readers, may also help towards the publication of outstanding dissertations.

Each year the award is granted to a dissertation approved during that academic year and announced in October/November of the year for which it is granted.

Dissertations must be nominated by the author's advisor and be accompanied by the Dissertation Committee's letter of acceptance. A digitized copy of the dissertation must be submitted by August 15 either on a disc to

Foundation for Iranian Studies
Suite 200, 4343 Montgomery Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
or emailed to
fis@fis-iran.org or

Notice of the awards appears in the MESA and ISIS mail lists and journals, in Iran Nameh, and in various Persian language and other academic publications. It will also be posted on the FIS website.

The award for 2015 was conferred on Daniel Beben on November 20, 2015 with the following announcement.


Foundation for Iranian Studies

Announcement of the Recipient of Award


The Best Ph.D. Dissertation on a Topic of Iranian Studies, 2015


 November 20, 2015


The Foundation for Iranian Studies is pleased to announce that the Committee on Selection of the Best Ph.D. Dissertation of the Year on a Topic of Iranian Studies of the Foundation for Iranian Studies has chosen Daniel Beben’s dissertation “The Legendary Biographies of Nâsir-i Khusraw: Memory and Textualization in Early Modern Persian Ismâ`îlism,” submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Indiana University, as the recipient of the Foundation's annual Ph.D. dissertation award for the academic year 2014-2015.

In making its decision, the Committee, following the criteria established by the Foundation’s Board of Directors, noted that Daniel Beben has made an "exceptional contribution to the field of Iranian and Central Asian Studies” by, among other achievements, “stating clearly the study’s problematic… constructing an adequate and efficient theoretical framework…developing and employing successfully a rigorous methodology to bring together a significant array of primary and secondary sources in Europe and Central Asia, including critical information secured through interviews judiciously conducted in the field in Tajikistan and elsewhere to support an innovative approach to the study of Nâsir-i Khusraw’s intellectual and religious influence on the form and force of the Isma`ili da`wa methodically connecting data, text, and speech to construct a credible framework for evaluating the effect of chanced confluence of ideas, values, socio-political tensions, and time on the evolution of Ismâ`ili organization and faith in Central Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere and, by extension, potential applicability of the lessons derived to studies of other historically relevant events … excellent organization of the work.”

The Committee also cited Seyyed Ahmad Hashemi’s dissertation “The Question of Freedom within the Horizon of the Iranian Constitutional Movement, 1906-1921” submitted to the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, and Keenan Baca-Winters’ dissertation “From Rome to Iran: Identity and Xusro II” submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of California, Irvine, with honorable mention for superior scholarship, originality, clarity, and significant contribution to Iranian Studies.

Notice of the awards will appear in the Foundation’s interactive web, in Iran Nameh, MESA and ISIS journals, and in various Persian and English language academic publications.


Gholam Reza Afkhami


Ph.D. Dissertation Awards Committee

Foundation for Iranian Studies

To see a list of the recipients of the Foundation's award over the past years, Click here.