Essay Contests

Essay Scholarships offer students an opportunity to stand out based on their writing. You are evaluated by how you put your thoughts on paper and not on your GPA or community service. The essay competition represents an opportunity for creative students, those with good ideas and those capable of in depth research to stand out.

Deadlines change, please check the sponsor’s website for specific dates.

Cancer Survivor Scholarship
Deadlines varies by state
The American Cancer Society has many local divisions that ask cancer survivors to write essays about their experiences.

AES Engineering Solutions Scholarship
Deadline is in early October
AES Engineering offers scholarships to students to help them pay for their education.
Students will be judged on their essay.

Williams-Mystic Essay Contest in Honor of Joseph Conrad
Deadline is in mid October
Create an essay about the ocean or any major body of water (fiction or nonfiction) using 1000 to 5000 words and submit it for consideration. The essay can be a great story or it can deal with the environment, political activism, history or nature.

Bennington Young Writers Competition

Deadline is in early November
High school students in grades 10 through 12 can submit their writing to the Bennington Young Writers Competition.  Over 2000 students have submitted poetry, fiction and nonfiction in past years to be eligible for the $500 first place prize and the $250 second place awards.

Voice of Democracy Audio Essay
Deadline is in early November
Can you write? Do you have strong opinions about certain subjects?  The Voice of Democracy Program is an audio essay contest for students in grades 9 through 12.  If you are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories you are eligible to participate.

First Freedom Student Competition
Deadline is in mid November
The First Freedom Student Competition is open to 9th to 12th grade high school students. You are required to submit an essay or video commenting on the history and current-day relevance of religious freedom in our country.

Americanism Essay Contest
Deadline is in early December
The Fleet Reserve Association Essay Contest asks 7th through 12th grade students to write an essay up to 350 words on a different topic every year. The best essay will get a prize of a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, with $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000 Savings Bonds awarded to the first, second and third place winners in each grade category. All regional winners are judged at the national level and receive a certificate of recognition.

Being an American Essay

Deadline is in mid December
In 1000 words or less, you need to answer the question: How does the Constitution establish and maintain a culture of liberty?

Foot Locker Scholar Athletes
Deadline is in mid December 
The Foot Locker Scholar Athletes program honors high school athletes who engaged in leadership activities in their communities.

To compete you need to answer three essay questions (between 200 and 350 words each) and obtain two non-family recommendations.

George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest
Deadline is in late December 
To participate in the George S. & Stella M. Knight Essay Contest you must do research and write an essay that deals with: an event, person, philosophy, or ideal associated with the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, or the framing of the United States Constitution.

Apprentice Ecologist Initiative
Deadline is in late December 
An $850 educational scholarship will be awarded annually to the authors of the top Apprentice Ecologist essay in the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative™. This tax-free and merit-based scholarship is available to any full or part-time student (aged 13 to 21) who is a candidate for a degree/diploma at a primary, secondary, or accredited post-secondary educational institution from any country around the world.

Profile in Courage Essay Contest
Deadline is in early January 
Students are asked to write a Profile in Courage, an essay of no more than 1,000 words about an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official that occurred during or after 1956, the publication date of Profiles in Courage.  The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state, or national level.

GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program
Deadline is in early January
GE has created a scholarship program to award 20 students a year a $10,000 renewal scholarship (the maximum scholarship is $40,000).

Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship Awards
Deadline is in mid January
In order to compete in the Washington Crossing Foundation Scholarship Awards, students are asked to write a one-page essay indicating why they are interested in a career in government service.  Include in the essay any inspiration to be derived from the leadership of George Washington in his famous crossing of the Delaware.

National MS Society Scholarship Program
Deadline is in mid January
The National MS Society Scholarship Program was established to help highly qualified students who have been diagnosed with MS or who have a parent with MS achieve their dreams of going to college.

American Mensa Educational & Research Foundation Scholarship
Deadline is in mid January
If you’re looking for a college scholarship that is based solely on your ability to write here it is. The American Mensa Education & Research Foundation college scholarship program is based on essays written by you, no grades, academic programs or financial need issues are considered.

Union Plus Scholarship
Deadline is in late January
The Union Plus Scholarship Program is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation. To be eligible you must the child of a union member or a union member.

DuPont Challenge Science Essay

Deadline is in late January
The DuPont Challenge© Science Essay Competition encourages students in grades 7 through 12 to express their enthusiasm for science by writing an essay. The essay must be at least 700 words and no more than 1000 words and it must be submitted online.

National Peace Essay Contest
Deadline is in early February
The Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding runs the National Peace Essay Contest. They believe that questions about peace, justice, freedom, and security are vital to civic education. Over 1,100 students submit entries to the essay contest annually.

Optimist International Essay Contest
Deadline: Varies by district
The Optimist International Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International. You must enter the contest through your local Optimist Club (each club has their own deadlines, however, all club contest are done by early February).

National Co-op Scholarship Program
Deadline is in mid February
Several colleges that provide cooperative education for their students are participating in the National CO-OP Scholarship . They are offering over 100 scholarships ranging up to $30,000 ($6,000 per year up to 5 years).

AFA Teens College Scholarship
Deadline is in mid February
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a national nonprofit organization, has established a college scholarship to encourage teens to express their thoughts about Alzheimer’s disease and to engage the younger generation in this cause.

Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship
Deadline is in mid February
The $5,000 Vegetarian Resource Group Scholarship is awarded to two high school seniors who have promoted vegetarianism in their schools and/or communities.

Spirit of Anne Frank Awards
Deadline is in early March
The Anne Frank Center is looking for high school seniors that have played a leadership role in their community. The Spirit of Anne Frank Award will go to a student who has exhibited some of the principles and ideals of Anne Frank.

EngineerGirl! Food Engineering Essay
Deadline is in early March
Every year the EngineerGirl Essay Contest asks boys and girls to write an essay about a different subject.
The competition is run by the National Academy of Engineering.

Kaplun Essay Contest
Deadline is in early March
The Kaplun Essay Contest is broken up into two levels. Level 1 is for 7th through 9th graders, they get one essay. Level 2 - Is for 10th through 12th graders, they get another essay.

Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of the Press High School Essay Contest
Deadline is in early March
The Society of Professional Journalists believes that the American people need to understand and be informed about the issues in order to make decisions that impact their lives. Journalists provide this information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely and understandable manner.

Young Naturalist Awards
Deadline is in early March
The Young Naturalist Award is a research-based science competition for students in grades 7-12 to promote participation and communication in science. The student needs to plan and conduct a scientific investigation, one that will include observations, questions, predictions, trips into the field to gather data, and analysis.

DNA Day Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid March
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) sponsors Annual DNA Day Essay Contest.  Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate.  The contest asks students to think about the important concepts of genetics.

Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award Competition
Deadline is in mid March
The Sylvia K. Burack Writing Award is a writing contest for juniors and seniors made in memory of Sylvia K. Burack, an editor and publisher of The Writer magazine.

PFLAG National Scholarship Program
Deadline is in mid March
The PFLAG National Scholarship Program is sponsored by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) a national non-profit organization. In addition to the National Scholarship Program, there are many local programs, see below for more information.

Ayn Rand Institute "Anthem" Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid March
Anthem is a short novel written by Ayn Rand.  It takes place in the future when the world has entered a dark age.  Written in pre-war (1937) England, it talks about a period of time when the concept of individuality no longer exists and the word "I" has disappeared from the language.

Youth Scholarship Program
Deadline is in late March
The Electronic Security Association maintains the Youth Scholarship Program, which will award scholarships to two children of active-duty police officers and firefighters. The first place winner will receive $7,500 to put toward their college education and the second place winner will receive $2,500. Awards are based on a combination of academic achievement, national test scores, extracurricular participation and an essay titled, “What it means to me to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community.”

American Foreign Service Association - National High School Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid April
The American Foreign Service Association has an essay competition open to 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders who are required to write an essay of 1000 to 1250 words.  

Signet Classics Student Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid April
Read a Signet Classic and write an essay. Each English teacher can only submit one junior and one senior essay.  See the Penguin Books Website for more details about how the essays must be submitted.  Students must be between the ages of 16-18.

Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid April
The Holocaust Remembrance Project is a writing contest about the Holocaust.  Participants should study the holocaust and then, in an essay of no more than 1,200 words: (a) analyze why it is so vital that the remembrance, history and lessons of the Holocaust be passed to a new generation; and (b) suggest what they, as students, can do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in our world today.

Toby Nussbaum Contest Jewish Heritage- Writing Contest
Deadline is in early May
To celebrate Jewish Heritage Week the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is sponsoring The Toby Nussbaum Jewish Heritage Writing Contest for students in the New York City school system.  To enter you must write 250 to 300 words about the current year's theme.

NPG Essay Scholarship Contest
Deadline is in mid April
Negative Population Growth (NPG) is a national membership organization whose goal is to educate the American public and political leaders about the detrimental effects of overpopulation on our environment, resources and quality of life.  One of the ways they do this is with their Annual Scholarship Contest.

Ayn Rand Institute "Fountainhead" Essay Contest
Deadline is in late April
The Fountainhead is a novel written in 1943 by Ayn Rand. It was an early literary success for her.  Over 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide.

It is the story of Howard Roark, is a young architect who acts on principal and works in obscurity rather than changing his artistic and personal vision.  His fight is to practice modern architecture as opposed to more traditional work.  More information about the essay contest can be found on the Ayn Rand Institute Website.  Submitted essays must be no fewer than 800 and no more than 1,600 words.

Young Native Writers Essay Contest
Deadline is in late April
The Young Native Writers Essay Contest is open to Native American high school students with a relationship with a Native American tribal community.

Skandalaris Family Foundation Scholarship
Deadline is in early May
The Skandalaris Family Foundation is an independent, non-profit foundation that awards scholarships to students characterized by their special talents, leadership skills, unselfish ways, strong values, and commitment to excellence. The majority of their scholarships will be granted to residents of the State of Michigan, but the scholarship is not limited to Michigan residents.

 

We the Living Essay Contest
Deadline is in early May
The essay contest asks high school students in the 10th through 12th grade to write about the book in an essay of 700 to 1500 words.
 

BP Community Scholarship Program
Deadline is in mid May
The BP Scholarship Program is sponsored by BP employees and dealers in the New York and New Jersey area.

James Beard Foundation Scholarship Program

Deadline is in mid May
Whether you’re interested in baking, pastry, culinary arts or some other aspect of food or hospitality management, the James Beard Foundation School Scholarships may be for you.  Fourteen US and international schools are participating in this culinary scholarship and each program is somewhat different in both the amount of tuition waiver and what programs of study are eligible.

JASNA Essay Contest
Deadline is in mid May
The Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) Essay Contest celebrates the life and work of the author. Students at the high school, college and even graduate level are encouraged to enter. This essay contest is open to students worldwide.

Dream Deferred Essay Contest

Deadline is in late May
The Dream Deferred Essay Contest was inspired by a 1951 Langston Hughes poem, What happens to a dream deferred? Just as the Langston Hughes poem helped inspire the civil rights movement, the contest sponsors feel that essay contest will also be regarded as an opportunity for American and Middle Eastern youth to unite over the issue of advancing civil liberties in the Middle East.

Samsung Techwin America Scholarship
Deadline is in mid May
The Samsung Techwin America Scholarship is for high school students. To enter applicants must submit a 300 word essay on: How will technology enable the collaboration process in the future?

Big Dig Scholarship
Deadline is in early June
Make your grandchildren rich, at least in theory.  This essay scholarship asks you imagine that you could bury something in your backyard that would make your heirs wealthy.

Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship

Deadline is in late June
The Automotive Hall of Fame Scholarship is for high school seniors and college students with an interest in the automotive field and financial need. In addition to the eligibility requirements listed below, you need to write an essay describing your career goals and objectives for the next five years.