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. To nominate a writer for the 2023 FYS Essay Prize please email Professor Silber at with the writer's name and email.

To Submit an Essay:

Submissions for 2023 are open. 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 29, 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.