Yale University and Howard University established the Edward Alexander Bouchet Graduate Honor Society in 2005. Named for the first African American doctoral recipient in the United States (PhD in physics from Yale University in 1876), the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education and the professoriate.

The Bouchet Graduate Honor Society at Washington University in St. Louis seeks to develop a network of preeminent scholars who exemplify academic and personal excellence, foster environments of support, and serve as examples of character, leadership, advocacy, scholarship, and service for students and postdocs who have been traditionally underrepresented in the academy. In the spirit of  Edward A. Bouchet‘s commitment to these pursuits both in and out of the academic realm, inductees into the honor society bearing his name also exhibit these qualities.

Edward Bouchet (1852-1918) graduated from Yale College in 1874. He went on to be the first African American to earn a doctorate from an American university when he earned a PhD. in physics at Yale University in 1876. At that time, Bouchet was the sixth person in the western hemisphere to earn a doctorate in physics. He was also one of the first African Americans to be elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

BGHS Member Qualities

Bouchet Graduate Honor Society members exhibit the highest values of their university, through their integrity, honor, and exemplary conduct and behavior. Character may be exemplified through an individual’s emotional courage, principles, endurance, and perseverance. He or she must be reliable and consistent. At each member’s core must be an awareness of the importance of contributing and working for the good of society.
LeadershipBouchet Graduate Honor Society members take their responsibility for their departments and their academic fields of study seriously. Bouchet Society scholars are the embodiment of the ideals of their respective universities. They not only represent the mission of their university, but they also demonstrate strong initiative. WashU. Bouchet Scholars play a leadership role in extending access to the university to a wider community by creating and sharing knowledge.
Bouchet Graduate Honor Society members should advocate for broader access to graduate education and other resources within the academy. Activities might include advocating for the concerns of diverse faculty members and students, serving as a mentor, helping to address the needs of communities, and educating others on the issues that may be at the heart of the continued inequities and disparities in our society, particularly in education.
ScholarshipThe Bouchet Graduate Honor Society is an academic honor society that is committed to the goals of lifelong education, as well as the production and dissemination of knowledge in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Bouchet Society members are committed to contributing to the development of their field(s) of study and to the application of knowledge into action that improves the lives and conditions of their communities.
ServiceBouchet Graduate Honor Society members are expected to actively contribute to the well-being of society by giving, remaining involved, sharing personal gifts and talents, and exhibiting a Bouchet-like commitment to the service of others. Examples of service might include participating in an educational program for youth, serving in local or state politics, or volunteering with a local non-profit organization.
Eligibility and Application Process

To be eligible, an individual must:

  • Be enrolled in a PhD program at WashU and be in good academic standing.
  • Be considered “All But Dissertation” (ABD) (i.e., completed qualifying exam, orals, qualifying papers or equivalent) and be within a reasonable time frame of completing their PhD degree as expected within their discipline.
  • Through initial research achievement in a humanities, social sciences and sciences field, show outstanding promise as a scholar, as evidenced by independent investigation or current work on a dissertation project.
  • Priority consideration is given to those who intend to pursue academic careers, have a demonstrated commitment to advancing diversity, equity, access, and inclusion in higher education, and are from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the academy.
BGHS Member Responsibilities

Members of the BGHS at Washington University are required to:

  • Register for and attend the Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education in the year that they are inducted into the Society and participate in the BGHS Induction Ceremony. The 2023 conference dates are March 31 – April 1, 2023.
  • Participate in WashU chapter inductee reception.
  • Represent WashU’s BGHS chapter and may be asked to speak at events.
BGHS Member Benefits

Members of the BGHS at Washington University receive:

  • Coverage of travel costs and registration fees for the Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education in the year that they are inducted into the Society to participate in the BGHS Induction Ceremony.
  • Participate in WashU chapter inductee reception and chapter events on campus.
  • Access to the BGHS member network via the Bouchet Connect platform.
Application Materials
  1. Personal statement (no more than two pages) that explains how the applicant embodies the characteristics of Dr. Bouchet. The statement should describe the applicant’s character, leadership, advocacy, scholarship, service, and anticipated contribution to the Society.
  2. Current CV.
  3. Two letters of recommendation. One letter should be from the applicant’s dissertation advisor or graduate faculty member who is knowledgeable about the applicant’s research and can describe the nominee’s current and potential contributions to their field(s) of study. One of the letters should address how the applicant exemplifies each of the core values of the Bouchet Graduate Honor Society (i.e., CLASS: Character, Leadership, Advocacy, Scholarship, and Service) and embodies the Bouchet legacy.

The 2023 application cycle is closed. The 2024 application cycle will open in Fall 2023.

Please contact Jessica Cissell, Director of Graduate Programming and The Graduate Center, with questions at jessica.k.cissell@wustl.edu.

2022 Bouchet Society Inductees

2022 Bouchet Graduate Honor Society Reception. Pictured: Kaché Claytor, Vijay Ramani (VPGE), Ananda Rankin, Peter Ogunniran.