Among the most important activities of the American Forensic Association is recognizing achievement and quality in commitment to argumentation and public advocacy.
Each year the Association offers four awards selected by the appropriate committees: the Distinguished Service Award, The DSR-TKA Lifetime Achievement Award, the Speaker of the Year Award, and the Daniel Rohrer Memorial Outstanding Research Award. Beyond these awards, the Association sponsors the National Debate Tournament and the National Individual Events Tournament, collegiate competition in policy debate and public speaking events. Affiliates of the Association sponsor many other competitions that recognize excellence in students of forensics.
- Delta Sigma Rho-Tau Kappa Alpha Lifetime Achievement Award An annual award recognizing lifetime achievement in competitive speech and debate activities. DSR-TKA represented two honorary societies that combined to advance and recognize the educational opportunities in competitive speech and debate. When the organization stopped its operations, it donated its remaining funds to AFA to give a distinguished lifetime award in its name.
- Distinguished Service Award An annual award recognizing long-term service to the American forensics community.
- Daniel Rohrer Memorial Outstanding Research Award Honors the outstanding research monograph published in argumentation research during the given year.
- Speaker of the Year Award Honors a speaker from American public life who exemplifies the values of a public advocate in a democracy.
- Outstanding Dissertation or Thesis Award Recognizes the best dissertation or thesis in the theory and practice of argumentation and forensics completed in the previous calendar year.
- Brockriede Award Given to support research projects in Argumentation and Debate.
- Champions of the National Speech Tournament Winners of competition at the National Speech Tournament (formerly the National Individual Events Tournament), 1978 to present.
- Champions of the National Debate Tournament Winners of competition at the National Debate Tournament, 1966 to present, and its predecessor, the West Point National Tournament.
- NDT-NIET Joint Award The award honors the college or university whose students perform best in the two national tournaments conducted each year by committees of the American Forensic Association.
- Golden Anniversary Honors. In conjunction with its Golden Anniversary, the AFA has honored fifteen of its members with Golden Anniversary Honors, five in scholarship and ten in service to the forensics community.