Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes

All entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 4, 2016


The Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes are awarded every May by MIT’s Comparative Media Studies/Writing program. This competition was named in honor of the late Ilona Karmel, novelist, poet and Senior Lecturer in the writing program. Throughout her teaching career, Karmel’s outstanding contributions to creative writing at MIT were her inspirational teachings and relationships with students.

Description of Prizes

Ellen King Prize for Freshman Writing

Writing by freshmen at MIT in any category is eligible; e.g., short story, poetry (must contain at least three poems), essay, and drama.

AWARDS: $300 First prize; $200 Second prize

Enterprise Poets Prize for Imagining a Future

Essays, short stories or poems, that convincingly imagine a future human enterprise are eligible. The word enterprise is used in the broadest possible sense to cover products, processes, companies, industries, forms of government, social movements, artistic forms – any human endeavor. This prize is open to undergraduate and graduate MIT students.

AWARDS: $350 First Prize, $200 Second Prize

Robert A. Boit Writing Prize

Writing by MIT undergraduate students in the categories of essay, poetry and short story is eligible.

AWARDS: $300 First prize; $250 Second Prize; $150 Third prize

S. Klein Prizes

Open to MIT undergraduate and graduate students.  Entries should be 10-40 pages long, not including appendices, for both Science and Technical Writing . Co-authored entries are acceptable, if all authors are MIT undergraduate or graduate students at the time of submission.

  • Scientific Writing
    Manuscripts should be intended for non-specialized but educated audiences and show evidence of publishable quality.
  • Technical Writing
    Manuscripts should be intended for an audience of peers and professionals.

AWARDS: $300 First prize; $200 Second prize

DeWitt Wallace Prize for Science Writing for the Public

Writing of any length addressed to lay audiences on issues and developments in science, medicine, and engineering. Open to MIT undergraduate students only.

AWARDS: $350 First prize; $200 Second Prize

Boit Manuscript Prize

Awarded for longer works and collections, in any category mentioned above, which give evidence of publishable quality. Both completed manuscripts and those in progress are eligible.Works of substantial length by MIT undergraduate students are eligible in the categories of fiction, poetry (minimum length of 200 lines or 10-15 poems), essay, and drama (a play in one act or equivalent). Manuscripts eligible for entry must be less than 50 pages.

AWARDS: $350 First prize; $200 Second prize

Writing and Humanistic Studies Prize for Engineering Writing

Manuscripts should be intended for an audience of engineers and other professionals who are knowledgeable about the subject matter. Writing from any engineering discipline is welcome. Types of papers may include design documents, engineering lab reports, literature reviews focused on a particular technology or engineering problem, design reports or proposals, and analyses of testing or other experiments. Group- written  reports are acceptable if all authors are MIT undergraduates at the time of submission.

AWARDS: $250 First Prize; $200 Second Prize

Prize for Writing Science Fiction

Writing by MIT undergraduate students in the category of science fiction short story.

AWARDS: $350 First prize; $200 Second Prize

Vera List Prize for Writing on the Visual Arts

Open to MIT undergraduate and graduate  students. Writing should demonstrate unusual and thoughtful expression on some aspect of contemporary visual art. Works can be prose,poetry, or graphic format. Please contact Courtney Klemens, cklemens@mit.edu, to inquire about  eligibility of other formats prior to submission for this prize. Maximum length is 15 pages. Sponsored by the List Visual Arts Center.

AWARDS: $500 First prize; $250 Second prize for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Obermayer Prizes For Writing on the History of Innovation

The Obermayer prizes recognize excellence in student writing about one of the core goals of an MIT education: understanding how innovation happens. The awards seek to encourage undergraduate interest in that process; in the history of invention as an intellectual and imaginative pursuit; academic investigation of that process in historical context; and the importance of sharing the stories of what can be understood as the making of the modern world with the broadest possible audiences.

Obermayer Prize for Undergraduates

For the best writing by MIT undergraduates on the themes of this award.
AWARDS: $500 in prizes

Obermayer Prize for Academic Writing by Graduate Students

For the best academic studies by MIT graduate students on the themes of this award. These papers may be written for an assignment or as part of the authors’ graduate research. Published works (within the prize year) are eligible.
AWARDS: $1,000 in prizes

Obermayer Prize for Writing for the Public

For on the best writing for the public on the themes of this award by MIT graduate students. Published works (within the prize year) are eligible.
AWARD: $2,000 stipend or summer tuition support

PLEASE CAREFULLY REVIEW THE GUIDELINES BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR ENTRY.