Essay Competition

Quick Facts
  • WHAT: Essays submitted in Discovery Courses from April 24, 2019 through April 15, 2020
  • WHO: Current first- and second-year students
  • MAXIMUM LENGTH: 3,000 words
  • DEADLINE: April 18, 2020
  • OTHER: Essay must be endorsed in a brief written statement by the instructor of the course.
  • SUBMIT entries via email attachment to Dante Scala, Department of Political Science (

Phi Beta Kappa is pleased to announce its 31st Annual Essay Competition for first- and second-year students. The Phi Beta Kappa competition was initiated by Professor Barbara Cooper to encourage students in general education (now Discovery) courses to strive for excellence in written work.

Students do not have to be Phi Beta Kappa members to submit essays. All are encouraged to submit their superior work.

The competition will award prizes at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony in May 2020 for superior essays of no more than 3,000 words, written as regular assignments in Discovery (including Inquiry) courses offered in last Spring 2019, Fall 2019 or Spring 2020.

Essays submitted in courses offered during spring semester 2019 are eligible, but only if their due date was after April 23, 2019.

Essays will be judged on depth of analysis, clarity of thesis, originality of thinking, synthesis of evidence, clarity of expression, correct usage, and organization. Submissions should be scholarly essays rather than personal narratives. For further details, contact Dante Scala at