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Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes

The Ilona Karmel Writing Prizes, awarded each May to acknowledge the best MIT student writing across a range of categories, 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.

Submissions for the 2023 prizes open soon.

Ellen King Prize for First-Year Writing

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
First-year studentsShort story
Essay
Drama
Poetry (at least three poems)
$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)

Enterprise Poets Prize for Imagining a Future

Essays, short stories or poems that convincingly imagine a future human enterprise. 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.

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
Undergraduates and graduate studentsEssay
Short story
Poetry
$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)

The Prize for Writing to Advance Anti-Racism

The best writing on what it means to be anti-racist, engaging with the history of anti-racist thought and expressing how to take anti-racist action now.

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesAny genre$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)

Robert A. Boit Writing Prize

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesEssay
Poetry
Short story
$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)
$100 (4th prize)
Up to four prizes in each genre.

S. Klein Prizes

Entries should be 10-40 pages long, not including appendices. 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.
EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
Undergraduates and graduate studentsScientific writing
Technical writing
$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
Up to two prizes in each genre.

DeWitt Wallace Prize for Science Writing for the Public

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesWriting of any length addressed to lay audiences on issues and developments in science, medicine, and engineering.$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)

Boit Manuscript Prize

Awarded for longer works and collections that give evidence of publishable quality. Entries must be less than 50 pages.

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesFiction
Poetry (minimum length of 200 lines or 10-15 poems)
Essay
Drama (a play in one act or equivalent)
$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)
Both completed manuscripts and those in progress are eligible.

Boit Prize for Engineering Writing

Manuscripts from any engineering discipline intended for an audience of engineers and other professionals who are knowledgeable about the subject matter. These might 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.

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesSee description above$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)
Group-written reports are acceptable if all authors are MIT undergraduates at the time of submission.

King Prize for Writing Science Fiction

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesScience fiction short stories$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
$300 (3rd prize)

Vera List Prize for Writing on the Visual Arts

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.

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
Undergraduates and graduate studentsSee description above$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)

Obermayer Prizes For Writing on the History of Innovation

The three Obermayer prize categories 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 CategoryTopic/EligibilityPrize Amount
Prize for UndergraduatesUndergraduate writing on any Obermayer Prize theme.$500
Prize for Graduate StudentsGraduate student writing on any Obermayer Prize theme. Papers may be written for an assignment or as part of the authors’ graduate research. Published works (within the prize year) are eligible.$1,000
Prize for Writing for the PublicGraduate student writing for the public. Published works (within the prize year) are eligible.$2,000

The Rebecca Blevins Faery Prize for Autobiographical Essay

EligibilityGenresPrize Amounts
UndergraduatesAutobiographical essay$700 (1st prize)
$500 (2nd prize)
Entries must be 20 pages or less.