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Young Writers Guide to Contests

Updated October 16, 2019

This is a select list of contests from reputable sources. There are many contests that charge fees, but for this resource, I have sought contests which mean to recognize and encourage young writers and do not charge reading or entry fees. Of those listed that do charge a fee, some provide a publication subscription in return as they are trying to gain new readers; that seems fair and the publishers are up front about it.

Please avoid contests that tell you you've won and then want you to purchase expensive copies of the book in which you have been published. These types of "scam" contests publish hundreds, even thousands of entrants and profit greatly from the book sales. These contests take advantage of young writers and inexperienced writers of all ages.

Also see the NCTE Guidelines for Contests, which is helpful for contest organizers who want to reach out to K-12 students and for teachers assessing the legitimacy of contests for their students.

Contest Deadlines: I make every effort to update the contest list monthly and update deadline dates as the contest sponsors update them on their websites. Contest dates may change without anyone notifying me, so users of this guide should check the contest website for the most accurate information. If a previous year's date is noted here, then the contest sponsor may not have updated their website yet, but they will likely be running the contest again. Please check back here or the contest sponsor's site if you are interested in that contest.

Deadline Dates
(Updated regularly as contest organizers update their websites.)

January - February - March - April - May - June - July
August - September - October - November - December


The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
Grades 7-12 during the current school year
Deadline: Varies by Region - Enter zip code to find deadline

Manning Trust Student Poetry Contest

National Federation of State Poetry Societies
Grades 6-12
Each participating state conducts it's own contest with deadline.
Each partiucipating state sends its top entrants to the national contest.
Click here for a list of participating states.

New York Times

Ages 13-19
Various contests with varying deadlines
Editorial Cartoon Contest, Civil Conversation Challenge, Review Contest, Year in Rap Contest, Vocabulary Video Contest, Editorial Contest, Found Poetry Contest, Summer Reading Contest

YES! Magazine

National Student Quarterly Writing Competition
Based on essay from YES! Magazine and writing prompt.
Several age categories Grade 5 - Adult Learner
Biannual deadlines set for each semester


January Deadline

New Montana Voices

Whitefish Review
Anthology of poems, fiction, essays and photos
For Montana High School Students: Grades 9-12
Deadline: January 1, 2019

The Writing Conference

Theme-based contest for poetry, narrative, and essay.
Grades K-12
Deadline: January 8, 2019

Letters About Literature

National Reading-Writing Contest
Grades 4-8 (Different age groups have different deadlines)
Deadline: January 11, 2019

Columbia College Chicago

Young Authors Writing Competition
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 15, 2019

Ringling College of Art and Design

High School Creative Writing Contest
High School Age Writers
Deadline: January 15, 2019

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

Sponsored by Fidelity Investments
Grades 9-12
Deadline: January 18, 2019 postmark

VSA Playwright Discovery Competition

Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
Ten-minute play, screenplay, or music theater exploring the disability experience
Written by young writers with disabilities and colllaborative groups that include students with disabilities
Deadline: January 23, 2019

The Telling Room

Themed Poetry and Fiction
Grades 6-12 / Ages 11-18
For Maine Residents only
Deadline: January 31, 2019


February Deadline

Bluefire 1000-word Story Contest

Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation
Grades 6-12
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Engineer Girl Writing Contest

Fiction in which the main character is a female who uses engineering skills to solve a problem.
Grades 3-12
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Gannon University

High School Poetry Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Holocaust Art and Writing Contest

Chapman University
Grades Middle and High School
Deadline: Postmark February 1, 2019 or by February 4, 2019 for digital submissions

North Carolina Poetry Society

Student Poetry Contest
Grades 3-College Undergraduate
North Carolina Residents Only
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Scripts for Short Plays for Lower Elementary School Actors

Written by Playwrights 20 years and older
Target Performers Grades K-2
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Worldwide Plays Festival Competition

Writopia Lab
8-minute Play
Grades 1-12
Deadline: February 1, 2019

Harriet Beecher Stowe Student Prize

High School and College Categories
For published or publicaly presented works that have had a tangible impact on a social justice issue critical to contemporary society.
Deadline: February 2, 2019

NASA Scientist for a Day Essay Contest

Grades 5-12
Deadline: February 8, 2019

Davidson Fellows Scholarship

Davidson Institute, Reno, NV
Ages 18 and under as of Oct. 1, 2019
For completion of a significant work in STEM or Humanities categories
Deadline: February 13, 2019

We the Students Essay Contest

Bill of Rights Institute
Ages 14-19
Deadline: February 14, 2019

Austin Poets Di-Verse-City Anthology

Adult and Youth Categories
Deadline: February 15, 2019

Kay Snow Student Writing Contest

Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry
Grades 1-12 and College
Deadline: February 15, 2019

Kay Snow YA Writing Contest

Roland Smith Award for YA and Middle Grade Fiction
Written by adults for young adult or middle grade readers.
Deadline: February 15, 2019

NCTE Achievement Awards for Superior Writing

For Juniors in the current academic school year
Students must be nominated by their school's English Department
Deadline: February 15, 2019

NCTE Promising Young Writers Program

For 8th grade students in the current academic year
Students must be nominated by a school committee or department
Deadline: February 15, 2019

Carl Sandburg Student Poetry Contest

Grades 3-12
Deadline: February 25, 2019


March Deadline

Hunger Mountain

International Young Writers Prize
Open to High School writers worldwide
Dealdine: March 1, 2019

Hunger Mountain

Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing
Young Adult (YA); Middle Grade (MG); Picture Book or Writing for Young Children
Deadline: March 1, 2019

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society

University of Central Florida
Middle & High School Writing Contest
Story, Poem, Essay
Deadline: March 1, 2019

It's All Write! Teen Writing Contest

Ann Arbor District Library
Flash Fiction and Short Story Grades 6-12
Deadline: March 3, 2019

American Society of Human Genetics

DNA Day Essay Contest
Grades 9-12
Deadline: March 8, 2019

The Blank Theatre Young Playwrights Festival Competition

Original Plays or Musicals on any subject
Ages 9-19
Deadline: March 15, 2019

Short Plays for Horror Anthology for High School-Age Performers

Written by Playwrights 20 years and older
Target Audience 14-18 years old
Deadline: March 15, 2019

United States Institute for Peace

High School Essay Contest
Deadline: March 15, 2019

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Young Writers Creative Writing Contest
Ages 5-18
Deadline: March 15, 2019

The Legacy Project

"Listen to a Life" Writing Contest
Ages 8-18
Deadline: March 22, 2019

The Haiku Society of America

Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition
Grades 7-12
Deadline: March 21, 2019

ukiaHaiku Festival

Haiku Contest
All Ages
No Fee (except for Adult Contemporary Haiku)
Deadline: Postmark March 23, 2019
The website includes helpful guidelines for writing haiku.

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art, Video, Projects
Grades 1-12
Deadline: Postmark March 27, 2019

The Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge

Ages 14-18 or 19-29
Deadline: March 31, 2019

The Caterpillar

Best Poem for Children Contest
This contest is actually for adults writing for readers ages 7-11(ish).
Deadline: March 31, 2019

Princeton University

10-Minute Play Contest
Grades 11and 12 in the current school year
Deadline: March 31, 2019

Sarah Mook Poetry Prize

Grades K-12
Deadline: March 31, 2019

Save the Earth Poetry Prize

The Weeden Foundation
American High School Students
Grades 11 and 12
Deadline: February 1 - March 31 *On sabbatical for 2019 to publish an antholgy of past submissions.


April Deadline

Columbus State University

The Carson McCullars Literary Award
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction, Expository Essay, Playwriting, Screenwriting
High School Age Category
Deadline: April 5, 2019

Outdoor Writers Association of America

Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards
Grades 6-8 or 9-12
For outdoor-oriented works.
Deadline: April 12, 2019

Signet Classics (Penguin)

Student Scholarship Essay Contest
Grades 11 and 12
Deadline: Postmark April 15, 2019; Received by April 22, 2019

The Adroit Journal

Prizes for Poetry and Prose
Open to Secondary and Undergraduate Students
Fee Waiver Deadline: April 28, 2019
Deadline: April 30, 2019

Dear Poet Project

Grades 5-12
Letters written in response to poets reading poems
Select letters will be published online; Select letters will receive a response
Deadline: April 30, 2019

Humane Education Network

A Voice for Animals
Essay Contest for 14-15 year olds
Action Project for 16-18 year olds
Video, Essay with Photo, Essay submissions accepted
Deadeline: April 30, 2019

Lake Superior State University Short Story Prize

Genre: Historical Fiction
Open to high school age writers
Deadline: April 30, 2019


May Deadline

The Geek Partnership Society

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural and Alternate History Fiction
Poetry, Fiction, Graphic Novel
Various age categories (K-Adult)
Deadline: May 1, 2019

Harmony Ink Young Author Challenge

LGBTQ+ Genre Fiction
Ages 14-21
Deadline: May 1, 2019

New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights

Non-musical, one-act play suitable for HS audience
Written by Playwrights 19 years and under
Deadline: May 1, 2019

Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center

Holocaust Writing, Art and Film Contest
Open to grades 5-12 in WA, OR, ID, AK
Deadline: May 1, 2019

World Historian Student Essay Competition

World History Association
Grades K-12
Deadline: May 1, 2019

Epiphany Breakout 8

Open to 2yr/4yr Accredited College Undergrads/Grads
Manuscripts: short fiction, novel excerpt, creative nonfiction, poetry
Deadline: May 15, 2019

William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition

Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society
Category for Short Story by a High School Student
Deadline: May 15, 2019

The Claudia Ann Seaman Poetry Award

The Community Foundation of Dutchess County and Polyphony Lit
Grades 9-12
Deadline: Received by May 31, 2019


June Deadline

Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize

State University of New York
Only undergraduates enrolled full-time in American and Canadian universities and colleges for the academic year are eligible
Deadline: June 1, 2019

Writing for Peace

Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction that explores social, political, and environmental pressures, and universal themes 
Ages 13-19
Deadline: June 1, 2019

Jane Austen Society of North America Essay Contest

Ages High School / College / Graduate School
Topic changes each year
Deadline: June 3, 2019

Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest

Theme: Kindness
Ages 25 and under
Deadline: June 15, 2019

Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Contest

Art, Poetry, Prose, Film, Music
Ages 11-18
Deadline: June 17, 2019

International Torrance Creativity Awards

The Center for Gifted
Creative Writing, Visual Arts, Music, Inventions
Ages 8-18
Deadline: June 30, 2019


July Deadline

Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award

Ages: Adult; Youth (13-18); Youth (12 and under)
No fee for 12 and under.
Deadline: Postmark July 1, 2019

Fraser Institute Student Essay Contest

Open to students studying in Cananda and Canadian students studying abroad.
High School / Undergraduate / Graduate Categories
2019 Essay Contest – "What in the world would Adam Smith say?"
Deadline: July 1, 2019

NCTE Excellence in Student Literary Magazines

Open to all accredited middle and secondary schools (US, CA, VI, US schools abroad)
Deadline: Entries accepted May 1 - July 1, 2019

Library of Lincoln: Voices of Lincoln

Poetry Contest
All Ages; 18-younger category
Deadline: July 20, 2019

Gigantic Sequins: Teen Sequins

Ages 13-19
Deadline: On hiatus for 2019; will return in 2020.

Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

The Poetry Society
Ages 11-17
Deadline: July 31, 2019

The Lincoln Forum

Platt Family Scholarship Prize Essay Contest
Specific topic posted on the website.
For full-time college/university students.
Deadline: Postmark July 31, 2019

Young Writers of Canada

Annual Open All Ages Poetry Contest
Deadline: July 31, 2019


August Deadline

William Faulkner Literary Competition

Student Short Story Category
Deadline: August 31, 2019


September Deadline

The Critical Junior Poet's Award

The Critical Pass Review
Ages 13-18
Deadline: September 1, 2019


October Deadline

Transitions Abroad Travel Contest

Student Writing Contest
Currently enrolled undergrad and grad students & recent grads.
Deadline: On hiatus until 2020

Embracing Our Differences

Art Exhibit and Quote Contest
For all ages
Deadline: October 8, 2019 for quotes / October 15, 2019 for art

National YoungArts Foundation

Ages 15-18
Various Arts Categories
Receive up to $10k + educational support
Applications Open June 4, 2019
Deadline: October 11, 2019

Rattle Young Poets Anthology

Open Call for Submissions
Ages 15 or younger
Deadline: October 15, 2019

Teachers Against Prejudice Art Contest

Grades 1-4 incl homeschool
Deadline: October 15, 2018

American Geosciences Institute

Earth Science Week Essay Contest
Theme: "Finding 'Art' in Earth"
Grades 6-9
Deadline: October 18, 2019

VFW Voice of Democracy

Audio Essay Competition
Grades 9-12
Deadline: October 31, 2019

Hollins University

Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest
For High School Sophomore and Junior Girls
Deadline: October 31, 2019


November Deadline

Bennington College

Young Writers Competition
Grades 10-12
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction
Deadline: November 1, 2019

Ohio Northern University

Single Poem Broadside Contest
Open to all current juniors and seniors in high school.
Prize includes Talent Award upon acceptance at ONU.
Deadline: November 1, 2019

US Forest Service

"Get to Know Your Wild Neighbors"
Art, Writing, Photography, Videography, Music
Ages 19 and under
Deadline: November 1, 2019

Lions International

Essay Contest: "Journey of Peace"
Ages 11, 12, 13 years old on November 15, 2019
Open to students who are considered visually impaired according to their national guidelines.

Young Writers of Canada

Young Writers Poetry Contest
Ages 5-18
French & English entries accepted
Deadline: November 15, 2019

Rachel Carson Sense of the Wild Contest

Poetry and Prose w/ or w/o Photograph
Intergenerational Team of two or more only
Deadline: November 16, 2019

Princeton University

Leonard Milberg '53 Secondary School Poetry Prize
Any student who is in the eleventh grade in the academic year is eligible.
Deadline: November 29, 2019

Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The Kenyon Review
High School Sophomores and Juniors
Award: First place: Full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop and publication. Second and third place: Publication.
Deadline: November 1 - 30, 2019

NaNoWriMo's Young Writers Program

National Novel Writing Month
November 1 - 30, 2019

International Bipolar Foundation

High School Essay Contest
Ages 13-29
Deadline: November 30, 2018
New prompt will be announced September 2019.


December Deadline

Piedmont Institute of Communication, Art and Music

Emerging Writers Contets
High School and Community College Students
All styles, forms, genre under 5000 words
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Saint Mary's College

River of Words Poetry and Art Contest
Grades K-12 (Ages 5-19)
Deadline: December 1, 2019

Smith College

The Poetry Center High School Prize
An annual prize for sophomore & junior girls in New England
Deadline: September 1 - December 1, 2019

Barbara Pym Society

Ellen J. Miller Memorial Short Story Contest
Entries must prominently feature one or more characters from Barbara Pym’s published novels.
Deadline: December 2, 2019

Radiant Peace Education Awards

Essay, Art
Grades 1-8
Deadline: December 4, 2019
Note: This contest is run twice each year. See entry under April.

Interlochen Arts Academy

Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Screenplays, Drama, Hybrid Genre
Grades 8-11
Deadline: December 6, 2019 

Rider University

Annual High School Writing Contest
Essay, Fiction, Poetry
Deadline: December 15, 2018

Teachers Against Prejudice Essay Contest

Grades 5-12 incl homeschool
Deadline: December 15, 2018

The Living Rainforest

International Schools Essay Competition and Debate
Ages Primary and Secondary School Categories
Deadline: December 20, 2019
Teachers must register class of students.
Registration opens in September.

Poetry Society of America

Louise Lois / Emily R. Bourne Student Award
Teacher/Administrator Nominated unpublished poem by 9-12 grade student.
Deadline: Postmark October 1-December 23, 2019

The National WWII Museum Essay Contest

Topic changes each year
Middle School and High School Students
Deadline: December 27, 2019

The Fire Scholarship Contest

Essay: Prompt using video examples on topic of Free Speech
Grades High School Juniors & Seniors
Deadline: December 31, 2019

The Fitzgerald Museum

Fiction, Poetry, Multi-Genre
High School and College Students
Deadline: September 1 - December 31, 2019

The Lyric Magazine

Poetry Contest
Undergraduate Students – USA and Canada
Deadline: Postmark December 31, 2019

The Society of Classical Poets

Poetry Competition
High School Students
Deadline: December 31, 2018


Looking for a list of publications that publish young writers? Check out our guide here.



The NewPages Young Writers Guide to Contests is a free and ad-free resource for anyone looking for writing contests for teens, writing contests for high school students, scholastic writing contests, writing contests for middle school students, writing contests for kids, high school writing contests, writing contests for elementary students, creative writing contests for high school students, poetry contests for high school students.


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