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Essay Contests & Non-Fiction Writing Competitions

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Last updated 22nd March 2017

Below are tables listing various essay contests and other non-fiction writing competitions, prizes and awards. Some are academic, some offer scholarships and others are just for fun.

If you run an essay competition or non-fiction writing contest and would like me to add it to the lists below, please contact me providing the following information in the body of an email:

  • How often you will be running the contest (eg, annually, quarterly, one-off)
  • The name of your competition
  • A link to your website
  • The country you run the competition from
  • Closing date
  • The date you announce winners
  • Maximum word count for essays
  • Entry fee
  • Top prize
  • Any other details, including how winning writers' essays might be published and any guidelines on theme / style of essays you accept

I do my best to keep this page up-to-date, but if you spot any errors, incorrect information or links that no longer work, please get in touch and let me know - I try and fix any problems quickly :-)

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Regular Essay Contests

This table lists non-fiction competitions that are run regularly; weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually etc.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize
Custom Writing Essay Writing Contest UK Quarterly Quarterly 650 FREE $800
Notes on Custom Writing Contest: Any style or subject but check website for current topics - winners published on the Custom Writing blog
EssayHub Essay Writing Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,000 FREE $500
Notes on EssayHub Contest: Any style but check website for current topics - winners published on website
EssayPro Writing Contest USA Varies Varies Varies FREE Varies
Notes on EssayPro Contest: Any style or subject, but you need to chose from a list of topics so check the link for current details - winners published on the EssayPro website
Essay Service Writer’s Encouragement Scholarship USA Bi-Annually Bi-Annually 1,200 FREE $500
Notes on Essay Service Scholarship: Check website for current topic and other rules regarding citations and style
Lifesaver Essays Essay Writing Contest USA Varies Varies 1,300 FREE $600
Notes on Lifesaver Essays Contest: Any style but see website for list of current topics - competition will be run up to 4 times a year - winners published on the Lifesaver Essays blog
New Millennium Essay Award USA Bi-Annually Bi-Annually 6,000 $20 $1,000
Notes on New Millennium Awards: Any style or subject - entry fee includes a copy of the anthology
Ninja Essays Writing Contest USA Varies Varies 1,000 FREE $500
Notes on Ninja Essays Competition: Themed, so check website for current topics - competition is run every 3 to 4 months
OmniPapers Writing Contest USA Varies Varies 1,500 FREE $500
Notes on OmniPapers Contest: Themed, so check website for current theme - participants must be 20-25 years old - winners published on the OmniPapers website
Showboxa.Com Writing Contest For Science & Tech Enthusiasts USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,500 FREE $1,000
Notes on Showboxa Contest: Any style but themed, so check website for current details

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Prestigious / Large Prize Essay Contests

This table contains details of renowned contests, often offering large amounts of prize money. Any prize awarded in excess of £1,000 ($, € or other currency) is listed here.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize
123Writings Scholarship Writing Contest USA August September 1,000 FREE $2,500
Notes on 123Writings Contest: Any style, subject or theme, but see website for current list of topics - winners published on website
Best of Bests Scholarship USA November December 1,200 FREE $1,000
Notes on BoB Scholarship: Any style, subject or theme - winners published on website
Best Pressure Cooker Student Scholarship Bangladesh December December 1,000 FREE $2,000
Notes on BPC Scholarship: Any style, but see website for current topics - you have to be a student to enter - the scholarship
Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize UK January ? 3,500 FREE £1,000
Notes on Bodley Head/FT Prize: Any style or subject - entrants must be between 18 and 35 years old - you can find more information on the FT website

Boom Essays Writing Contest

USA February March 1,000 FREE $2,000
Notes on Boom Essays Contest: Any style, but check website for current topics - winner published by Boom Essays - 2nd prize $1,500 and 3rd prize $1,000

EssayRoo Australian Writing Contest

Australia March March 800 FREE $3,000
Notes on EssayRoo Contest: Any style or subject but check website for current topics - 2nd prize $2,500, 3rd prize $1,500 - winners published on the website
Hourglass Literary Magazine Best Essay Award Bosnia April September 9,000 $15 $1,000
Notes on Hourglass Contest: No theme, or genre limitations - winners published in Hourglass Literary Magazine
New Millennium Essay Award USA Bi-Annually Bi-Annually 6,000 $20 $1,000
Notes on New Millennium Awards: See notes in regular awards list above
Prism International Creative Non-Fiction Contest Canada Varies Varies 6,000 See notes C$1,500
Notes on Prism International Contest: Any style or subject - all contest entrants receive a 1 year subscription to Prism International - winners published in the Prism International magazine - second prize C$600 and C$400 third prize - entry is C$35 if you live in Canada, C$40 if you live in the US and C$45 if you live anywhere else in the world
Productivity Spot Education Scholarship India October November 1,000 FREE $1,000
Notes on Productivity Spot Scholarship: Any style but check website for current subject/theme - winners published on website
Ruminate Magazine's Nonfiction Contest USA November January 5,500 $20 $1,500
Notes on Ruminate's Contest: Any style or subject - entry fee includes a complimentary copy of Ruminate Magazine - winner published in Ruminate Magazine
SiW Internet Marketing Scholarship USA December January 1,200 FREE $1,000
Notes on SiW's Scholarship: Any style but themed around internet marketing - winners published on the SiW website
SolidEssay Essay Contest USA September September 800 FREE $1,000
Notes on SolidEssay Contest: Any style or subject but you need to chose from a list of topics, so check website for current details - winners published on website
The Notting Hill Editions Biennial Essay Prize UK Varies Varies 8,000 £20 £20,000
Notes on Notting Hill Prize: Any subject in classic essay format - 2,000 to 8,000 words - 5 runner up prizes of £1,000 - winners published in anthology - entry fee includes copy of previous anthology
ThePensters Scholarship USA May June 500 FREE $1,000
Notes on Pensters Scholarship: Any subject, but narrative writing preferred - check the website for details of essay requirements
Wonder Institute Essay Contest USA November December 1,500 $20 $1,000
Notes on Wonder Institute Contest: Any style or subject but see website for current topic - winner published on the Wonder Institute website
UK Writing's British Essay Writing Contest UK May June 900 FREE £3,500
Notes on British Essay Contest: Any style or theme, but check website out for the list of current topics - the 3 winning essays are published on the UK Writing website

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How to Write a Short Story

Annual Essay Competitions

This table lists contests that are run on a yearly basis.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize
Apps Free For PC Digital & Technology Scholarship USA March April 1,000 FREE $500
Notes on Apps Free For PC scholarship: Any style, subject or theme - winner published on the website
Australian Help Writing Contest Australia August August 1,200 FREE $700
Notes on Australian Help Contest: Any style or subject but check website for current list of topics - winners published on website
Blue Mesa Review Non-Fiction Writing Contest USA August October 6,000 $12 $500
Notes on Blue Mesa Review Contest: Any style, subject or theme - winners published in the Blue Mesa Review

Juicingbeasts Staying Healthy Scholarship

Malaysia October November 1,000 FREE $500
Notes on Juicingbeasts Competition: Any style but check website for current topic - winners published on website
Phenq Avis Value Of Being Fit Scholarship Program USA March April 1,000 FREE $750
Notes on Phenq Avis Contest: Any style, subject or theme - winners published on the Phenq Avis website
Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition USA May September 2,500 $25 $750
Notes on Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Competition: Any style or subject - winners might be published
San Francisco Writers' Conference Writing Contest USA January February 1,500 $35 $250
Notes on SF Competition: Any style, subject or theme - in addition to cash prize, winner receives conference with an agent - they also accept short stories - winners published on website
The Royal Commonwealth Society 'Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition' UK May September See notes FREE See notes
Notes on Royal Commonwealth Society Competition: check website for current topics - 2 age groups; under 14s (max 750 words) and 14 to 18 year olds (max 1,500 words) - prizes vary, but in past prizes have included certificates, resources for schools, visits to London and activities /work experience at international organisations winners published in worldwide media
Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot Non-Ficiton Contest UK August October 500 See notes See notes
Notes on Verbolatry Laugh-a-Riot Contest : Humorous style and check website for current topic - if you enter for FREE, the top prize is £50; if you pay £5 entry, the top prize is £100 - winning entries published in Verbolatry newsletter and on their website

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How to Write a Short Story book

Memoir Competitions

This table lists contests that are run on a yearly basis.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize

Field of Words Memoir Competition

Australia September ? 2,000 $20 $400
Notes on Field of Words Competition: Any style or theme - winners published on website - runner up receives $100
Fish Publishing Short Memoir Competition Ireland January April 4,000 €16 €1,000
Notes on Fish Publishing Competition: Any style or theme - winners published in anthology

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How to Write a Short Story book ad

One-Off Non-Fiction Writing Competitions

This table lists details of one-off essay and non-fiction competitions.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize
Londnr Magazine New Voices Competition UK 1st June 2017 1st August 2017 1,000 £4 See notes
Notes on Londnr Magazine Competition: Any style or theme - winner receives a paid feature-length article, published in A/W 2017 magazine and a paid contract for a set of three articles for the Londnr online, mentoring, free tickets to the launch party and other Londnr events
Noplag Scholarship Essay Contest USA 25th June 2017 20th July 2017 5,000 FREE $2,500
Notes on Noplag Contest: Any style but there are a number of topics to choose from, so visit the Noplag website for full details
Swift River 'My Mother, My Hero' Essay Contest USA 1st May 2017 12th May 2017 250 FREE $200
Notes on Swift River Contest: Any style but themed - Swift River will use the winning essay as part of their efforts to fight addiction

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How to Write a Short Story Get Published & Make Money

A History of Closed Essay Contests

For reference, a record of non-fiction writing contests that have closed.

Competition Country Closing Date Winners Announced Max Words Entry Fee Top Prize
24Writer 'How Winning Are Your Essays' Contest USA 15th May 2016 1st June 2016 1,000 FREE $500
Notes on 24Writer Contest: Any style but themed so check website for details - CLOSED, was a one-off
Academic Help Writing Contest USA August September 1,200 FREE See notes
Notes on Academic Help Competition: Any style or subject, but must be persuasive - winner receives a writing certificate - entrants must be a high-school, college or university student - CLOSED 2016
AskPetersen Scholarship: Essay Writing Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,000 FREE $200
Notes on AskPetersen Scholarship: Any style or subject, but themed so check website for current topics - CLOSED 2016
Bid 4 Papers Essay Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,500 FREE $500
Notes on Bid 4 Papers Essay Competition: Themed, so check website for current theme - entrants must be 25 or under - winners published on Facebook - CLOSED 2016
Build Your Own Blog New Writer Scholarship USA 29th Nov 2015 Dec 2015 no max stated FREE $4,000
Notes on Build Your Own Blog Scholarship: Any style or theme - CLOSED
Craft Resumes Creative Workforce Transition Scholarship USA Bi-Annually Bi-Annually 1,000 FREE $1,000
Notes on Craft Resumes Scholarship: Any style or subject but themed so check website for details - winners published on the Craft Resumes blog and offered a paid 1 to 3 month internship - CLOSED 2016
EduBirdie Essay Writing Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,500 FREE $500
Notes on EduBirdie Essay Contest: Themed, so check the website for current details - winners published on website - cash prizes for 2nd and 3rd place writers too - CLOSED 2016
Essay Mama Writing Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,300 FREE $450
Notes on Essay Mama Competition: Themed, so check the website for current details - winners published on the Essay Mama website - CLOSED 2016
Essay Mama Christmas Writing Contest USA 25th December 2014 5th January 2015 4,000 See notes $450
Notes on Essay Mama Competition: Any style / genre, but themed around Christmas - to enter, you must like their Facebook page and share the competition link - 15 winning stories published in a printed book - CLOSED 2015
EssaysCapital Writing Contest USA Biannually Biannually 1,700 FREE $3,000
Notes on Prism International Contest: Any style or subject but there are a choice of topics, so check website for current details - winners' essays will be published on EssaysCapital Blog - I've recently received some concerns from users about this competition - it seems they have not announced winners and not contacted entrants - you can learn more on the EssaysCapital Facebook page, where users are asking what's going on with no response - I've contacted EssaysCapital to ask them if the competition is still running - if I don't hear back soon I'll remove this listing - UPDATE JAN 2017: I NEVER HEARD BACK FROM THEM SO HAVE RETIRED THIS LISTING
Garden Museum’s Festival of Garden Literature Writing Competition UK May June 2,500 £5 £2,500
Notes on Garden Museum’s Writing Competition: Memoirs inspired by or set in a garden - winners published by Granta Online - CLOSED 2015
Highfield Press 'Picture Worth 1000 Words' Essay Contest USA Quarterly Quarterly 1,000 $20 $1,000
Notes on Highfield Press Competition: Themed - uses a different picture to inspire writers for each contest, see website for current details - winners published on website - entries may be a personal essay, memoir, narrative nonfiction, commentary, travel piece, historical account, biography, or short story - CLOSED 2016
JetWriters Essay Writing Contest 2nd Edition USA 15th Nov 2015 23rd Nov 2015 1,200 FREE $400
Notes on JetWriters Competition: Themed, so check website for current topics - 2nd prize $250, 3rd prize $150 - CLOSED
ProEssayWriting Challenge USA 10th February 2017 20th February 2017 1,000 FREE $1,000
Notes on ProEssayWriting Challenge: Any style but there are a number of topics to choose from, please visit the website for full details - 2nd prize $500, 3rd prize $250 - CLOSED, was a one-off
Smart Paper Help Writing Scholarship USA January January 1,000 FREE $1,000
Notes on Smart Paper Help Scholarship: Any style but check website for current topics - 2nd prize $700, 3rd prize $400 - CLOSED 2016
Smart.Study Essay Writing Scholarship UK 1st August 2016 15th August 2016 700 FREE $700
Notes on Smart.Study Scholarship: Any style but there are 3 topics to choose from, visit the site for details - winners published on the Smart.Study blog
Student Scholarship from Unplag Cyprus 1st Mar 2016 9th Mar 2016 500 FREE $2,000
Notes on Unplag Contest: Any style but themed so check website for details - winners published on the Unplag blog - prize money given to the University the student studies at, so goes towards their tuition fees - 2 runners-up receive free subscription to Unplag plagiarism detection service
Student Wordsmith 'The Growing Unease' Journalism Competition UK 18th December 2015 Jan 2016 2,000 £5 See notes
Notes on Student Wordsmith Competition: Themed, so check website for current topics - winners published in a pamphlet and 'exciting prizes' offered to winners
The Travelex Next Great Travel Writer 2017 UK 5th February 2017 ? 1,000 FREE £1,500
Notes on Travelex Competition: Any style but themed around travel - in addition to cash, the winner receives a session with a Penguin editor - there's also a student category with a £500 prize - the contest is judged by journalists, Penguin editors and international bloggers - CLOSED, was a one-off
Widows & Widowers Magazine Writing Competition UK 1st Sept 2015 12th Dec 2015 5,000 FREE See notes
Notes on Widows & Widowers Competition: Themed, so check website for current details - 3 winning essays published in magazine - all shortlisted entries published in an anthology

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How to Write a Short Story by Christopher Fielden

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Cathy M
I am semi retired and thinking about taking up writing. I am in the process of putting together my biographical memoirs about a woman growing up during the 20th century in America. I have had a fairly interesting life being born in Southern California just after World War II and wondered if you could direct me to whomever might be interested in reviewing it.

Chris Fielden
Cathy, you could try some memoir writing competitions. I know Fish Publishing and Writers Digest accept memoir entries and are well renowned. You could also try the Creative Nonfiction website as they accept all sorts of nonfiction submissions.

If you want to do some research, the Writers' & Artists' yearbook is a good place to start. It's UK based, but contains all sorts of details about different publishers that might be appropriate for you.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with publishing your work :-)

Justin S
Hi Christopher, this question is purely out of curiosity and not at all an attempt at criticism, but when you post potential writing competitions on your website, have any of them turned out to be fraudulent? I've heard people running into problems with the Essays Capital essay competition and was wondering if you had any more information on the legitimacy of the company and the contest.

Thanks!

Chris Fielden
Hi Justin. No, I haven't heard of any problems regarding the Essays Capital competition.

The only website I've ever encountered that kind of problem with was called Chapter One Promotions. A couple of my users highlighted issues and with a bit of research (and personal experience, unfortunately - I had a short story due to be published by them at the time; needless to say, it never happened) I found that there were lots of complaints about the contest and made that clear on my site, linking to other resources that highlighted the problems.

So, if you have any information on issues with this particular competition, please let me know so I can research it. And if there are any relevant links you can send, that would be much appreciated.

Justin S
Hello Chris. Well it's mostly from what I've seen from their facebook page. They announced a very truncated time - roughly 6 days - until winners would be notified of their status, however, there hasn't even been any emails of declination. My nephew who entered the competition told me there were no confirmation emails; no social media status updates and basically no aid from their 24/7 help desk. Looking at your description of their competition, it seems like they've done this more than once (since you wrote they hold it biannually in their description).

I'd love to know more about it if you find more information about their legitimacy.

Thank you!

Chris Fielden
Hi Justin. Great stuff, thanks for letting me know.

I’ve had a search about and can’t find any other feedback about them, but their Twitter hasn’t been updated for months either.

It looks like there might be issue, so I’ll change the listing on my site to reflect this and link to their Facebook profile as an example. That might spur them to get in touch.

I’ll let you know if I hear from them.

Madeeha K
Hi Christopher. Thanks for the links which provide us with information regarding Essay writing contests. Back in August I participated in the EssayPro writing contest. Later they extended the date for the submissions to their essay writing contest. It's now December 2016.

I've also participated in EssayHelp's writing contest which happens to also be a project linked with EssayPro writing services. Now it's been a month, I'd like to know about some Twitter handle for EssayPro so that I can know about the results of the contest, but I'm not able to get in touch with any of customer service representatives there.

It's making me a bit confused and I would very much appreciate it if you could help me in solving this matter. If the chat option is available on their site, why don't they respond to my queries?

Chris Fielden
Sorry to hear about your experiences with EssayPro. And thank you for letting me know about it.

I recently liaised with Kurtis (in November), who runs it. So I assume the contest is still active.

I’ve emailed him for you and asked him what is going on.

I’ll let you know if I hear back from him.

In the meantime, this is their Twitter profile: @EssayPro_

Madeeha K
Many thanks for your response. I'll be glad if you'll let me know when you hear back.

Chris Fielden
Hi Madeeha

I’ve heard back from Kurtis. Please see his message below.

He said you can feel free to contact him.

I hope that’s helpful. Please let me know if you need any more help.

Hi Christopher,

The contest is actually extended, that's absolutely right. We are going to announce names of the winners after the contest is over.

We decided simply to update the page with the contest details rather than get in touch with the participants because there were not many.

EssayHelp is another organization and I can't help with that.

But I will be happy to help this person with the EssayPro contest and to answer all the questions she/he has.

Thank you for this letter.

Let me know if there is anything else you'd like to clarify.

Regards, Kurtis

Madeeha K
Thanks Christopher, I've just heard from Kurtis and have found answers to most of my queries.

Chris Fielden
Hi Madeeha. OK, great – thanks for letting me know :-)

John S
Hi - was looking through your list of essay prizes, and didn't see one on there which you might want to add: The Bodley Head/Financial Times Essay Prize.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for this, John – much appreciated. I’ve added the competition to the listings.