Essay Competition

Quick Facts
  • WHAT: Essays submitted in Discovery Courses from April 15, 2017 through April 23, 2018
  • WHO: Current freshmen and sophomores
  • MAXIMUM LENGTH: 3,000 words
  • PRIZES: $100 first prize; $50 second and third (if applicable)
  • DEADLINE: April 23, 2018
  • OTHER: Essay must be endorsed in a 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 Twenty-Ninth Annual Essay Competition for freshmen and sophomores. The Phi Beta Kappa competition was initiated by Professor Barbara Cooper to encourage freshmen and sophomores 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 a first prize of $100 and up to two additional prizes of $50 at the Phi Beta Kappa initiation ceremony in May 2018 for superior essays of no more than 3,000 words, written as regular assignments in Discovery (including Inquiry) courses offered in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018.

Essays submitted in courses offered during spring semester 2017 are also eligible, but only if their due date was subsequent to April 15th, 2017. The deadline for submission of essays is April 23, 2018. Essays must be endorsed in a statement by the instructor of the course. (A sentence or two would do nicely.)

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