First Prize $5,000, Second Prize $2,500, Third Prize $1,500, Honorable Mention $500.
All submissions to the essay contest are judged anonymously. A distinguished committee reviews the essays and a jury, headed by Elie Wiesel, chooses the winners. Any interested professor at the student's school may act as a faculty sponsor. Students entering the contest are required to have a faculty sponsor review their essay and sign the Entry Form. Faculty members should only endorse thought-provoking, well-written essays that fall within the contest guidelines. Students studying abroad may have professors at their home or abroad institution serve as their faculty sponsor.
Full-time undergraduate juniors and seniors at accredited U.S. four-year colleges and universities. International and non-citizen students, as well as students studying abroad are eligible, as long as they are registered as full-time juniors or seniors at their home institutions in the U.S.
Please note that essays may not be submitted elsewhere until the awards have been announced. Winning essays become the property of The Elie Wiesel Foundation and may not be reproduced elsewhere without written permission.
Students are encouraged to write thought-provoking personal essays that raise questions, single out issues and are rational arguments for ethical action. Students may submit an essay on the year's suggested topic, or choose any subject they feel strongly about related to the domain of ethics. Readers look for clear articulation, originality and imagination, eloquence of writing style, intensity and unity in the essay, and genuine grappling with an ethical dilemma. The selection committee's criteria are: clear articulation and genuine grappling with an ethical dilemma; adherence to guidelines and carefully proofread essays; observation of rules for standard English usage (grammar, punctuation, mechanics) in writing. As importantly, the committee values: thoroughly thought-out, tightly focused essays; originality and imagination; eloquence of writing style; intensity and unity in the essay.
There are no citizenship requirements associated with this program.
Usually in early December.
All First, Second and Third Place winning essays from 1990 to the present are also available on the Foundation website; these essays are located under Past Winners. All essays are available in both html and PDF format.
How To Apply:
Students or alumni, as applicable, may apply directly to this program. Applicants are encouraged, however, to work with SF State's fellowship advisor well in advance of the program deadline to perfect their application essays and other materials.