Prizes and Fellowships

Across the university

Many of Wesleyan's more than 150 academic scholarships, fellowships, and prizes celebrate excellence in writing. From the Annie Sonnenblick fellowship for independent projects to the Wise Prize for the best essay on moral science, these awards recognize achievements in scholarly and creative expression and enable students to undertake projects and pursue their studies at Wesleyan and beyond.

These awards, many of which are named in honor of alumni, administrators, faculty, and friends of the university, also connect current students to living traditions of intellectual and artistic endeavor at Wesleyan. 

Essay prizes are conferred by programs including African American Studies, Classical Studies, Economics, English, Government, Jewish Studies, Philosophy, and Queer Studies. Many others, such as American Studies, the College of Social Studies, Earth and Environmental Sciences, English, History, and Sociology recognize the best honors thesis completed each year. Creative writing prizes are conferred by the College of Film and the Moving Image, English, and the Writing Certificate.

The FYS Writing Prize

The First-Year Seminar Writing Prize celebrates the work of first-year writers at Wesleyan. Transitioning to college writing is no easy feat. And yet, semester after semester, Wesleyan students go above and beyond in their first-year seminars, discovering their voices and ideas while acclimating to expectations of academic writing. This essay prize celebrates all of the work that happens during this process. In addition to receiving a cash prize, winners are published in the archive and honored on a poster in the Shapiro Center.

Check out the Previous Winning Essays!

To Nominate a Writer:

Any person at Wesleyan (student, staff, faculty, etc.) can nominate a student to submit their essay. Nominations for 2022 are now open. To nominate please complete the following short form. 

To Submit an Essay:

Submissions for 2022 are now closed. All essays must include a brief author's statement that describes the purpose and goals of the writing project. Names and identificatory features must be removed from the essays. Once you have updated your essay, please submit your work by completing this form. All submissions are due on January 31, 2023 at midnight. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. I took an FYS during Summer Session. Can I submit my paper?

Yes! Any paper written for a First-Year Seminar during the calendar year is eligible to win the FYS Writing Prize.

2. Can I edit my paper more before I submit it?

Yes! We welcome you to continue your writing process and make any edits, revisions, or changes to your paper before submitting it, although you cannot receive any further feedback on the paper from a professor.

3. Can I submit more than one paper?

Yes! You may submit as much work as you like, as long as it was all written for an FYS during the calendar year.

Creative Writing Prizes

The Creative Writing Program awards prizes for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and offers a post-graduate fellowship. We encourage you to apply. If you have questions about these awards, contact Ryan Launder,


  • Offered in memory of Sarah Hannah, class of 1988, in association with the Academy of American Poets.  Awarded for an outstanding poem.
  • 2023 Applications are due MONDAY MARCH 13, 2023 BY MIDNIGHT
  • Submission Instructions


  • Named for philanthropist John "Jack" Paton, class of 1949 and created by his wife Sybil Paton to honor his memory. He retired in 1988 after thirty-six years of service at Wesleyan: teaching English and journalism, creating a department of public information, and founding the Wesleyan Writers' Conference. Paton believed everyone has stories to tell and that they should be told. Awarded for the best piece of narrative creative writing endeavoring with issues of social justice.
  • 2022-2023 Applications are due MONDAY MARCH 13, 2023 BY MIDNIGHT
  • Submission Instructions


  • Funded by a gift from Norman Mailer to the Wesleyan Writing Programs, this award recognizes an outstanding piece of fiction written by a Wesleyan student.
  • 2022-2023 Applications are due MONDAY MARCH 13, 2023 BY MIDNIGHT
  • Submission Instructions


  • Awarded for a piece of nonfiction writing--on a topic in the social sciences or sciences--that is designed to interest general readers. Funds for this award were given originally by members of the class of 1936 In honor of their classmate, James L. McConaughy, former governor of Connecticut and president of Wesleyan University. This new version of the prize was established in 2015.
  • If possible, the submission should include a brief note from a faculty member, nominating the piece. The faculty note nominating a McConaughy prize submission may be included with the materials that the student submits electronically (via email) OR, if the faculty member prefers, the note may be sent directly to Ryan Launder,
  • 2022-2023 Applications are due MONDAY MARCH 13, 2023 BY MIDNIGHT
  • Submission Instructions


Do you like to write and work with writers? Are you interested in teaching or the arts? Would you like to begin your post-graduate career with a prestigious fellowship? If so, apply to be the Kim-Frank Creative Writing Fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year!

Established in 2013 by a gift from the Kim-Frank family, the Kim-Frank Creative Writing Fellowship is a one-year post-graduate position. The fellow works closely with the Director and Assistant Director of Creative Writing and assists in a broad range of writing programs and events. The job offers teaching experience and an opportunity to work with distinguished writers, journalists, and other artists, and to hire and supervise event staff. The fellow also works closely with writing students, has a teaching role in several writing classes, and contributes to the development of new courses. 

  • The Kim-Frank CW Fellow has graduate student status and is eligible to take two academic courses, conduct research, and work collaboratively with faculty members. 
  • Previous Fellows have been admitted to their first choice of graduate and professional schools  (including recently Yale, Princeton, and the MFA program at Iowa) and been hired promptly for jobs in publishing, teaching, journalism, law, business and other fields.
  • The Fellowship includes a generous stipend, health insurance, and ongoing student status, offering the opportunity to defer repayment of student loans. The Fellow also has full access to the university's libraries, facilities and career services.
  • The Fellow is selected based on an outstanding academic record and writing or teaching interests. Seniors from all majors are encouraged to apply.