2020 are now closed.
Although the Institute has cancelled on-campus classes and public events for the rest of the term, student submissions to The Karmel Writing Prizes will continue through the website, and winners will be announced later this term online. The on-campus awards dinner and ceremony will unfortunately have to be cancelled, following Institute policy.
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 First-Year Writing
Writing by first-year students at MIT in any category is eligible; e.g., short story, poetry (must contain at least three poems), essay, and drama.
AWARDS: $700 First prize; $500 Second prize; Honorable Mention $300
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: $700 First Prize, $500 Second Prize
Robert A. Boit Writing Prize
Writing by MIT undergraduate students in the categories of essay, poetry and short story is eligible. Up to four prizes in each category.
AWARDS: $700 First prize; $500 Second Prize; $300 Third prize; Honorable Mention $100
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: $700 First prize; $500 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 for each category: $700 First prize; $500 Second prize; $200 Honorable Mention
Boit 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: $700 First Prize; $500 Second Prize; Honorable Mention $100
King Prize for Writing Science Fiction
Writing by MIT undergraduate students in the category of science fiction short story.
AWARDS: $700 First prize; $500 Second Prize; $300 Honorable Mention
Vera List Prize for Writing on the Visual Arts
Open to MIT undergraduate and graduate students. Writing in an accessible forum about contemporary art and culture in the world today. Essay and interview formats of a maximum length of 15 pages. Sponsored by the List Visual Arts Center.
AWARDS: $700 First prize; $500 Second prize for both undergraduate and graduate students.
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 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.
The Rebecca Blevins Faery Prize for Autobiographical Essay
Writing by undergraduate students in the category of autobiographical essay (20 pg. or less) is eligible.
AWARDS: First and Second ($700, $500)
PLEASE CAREFULLY REVIEW THE GUIDELINES BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR ENTRY.