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DIRECTORY

Best Personal Essay Writing Scholarships in 2024

Showing 80 scholarships that match your search.

The winner will be offered the opportunity to occupy during her or his first academic year the residence room where J. D. Salinger lived; and Leadership standing in the Ursinus writing community. The winner will be expected to join the previous award winners in reading subsequent creative portfolios, and will help the Office of Admission in selecting the next winner. Award winners are also expected to be prominent members of Ursinus’ Literary Society, The Lantern, and the creative writing community.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Ursinus College.

Deadline: January 15, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Apply now →

Sub Pop Records is extremely proud to offer a grand total of $15,000 in college scholarship money to three eligible high school seniors. To apply you must submit a one-page essay using any combination of our questions as a guide (or write something completely your own, be inspired and creative!). Applicants must be residents of Washington or Oregon in pursuit of higher education.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Sub Pop Records.

Deadline: March 23, 2025.

Additional awards: Second place scholarship of $5,000, third place scholarship of $3,000.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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Students who are Muslim or active members of the Muslim community may apply for the Islamic Scholarship Fund. The ISF awards multiple scholarships each year ranging from $3,000-$10,000, though the amounts and number of recipients will vary. Students must submit applications including essay questions, work samples, and letters of recommendation, and must also be majoring in an ISF-supported field related to media or politics.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Islamic Scholarship Fund.

Deadline: March 21, 2025.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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BBB Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating consumers on a variety of marketplace issues; this scholarship is in pursuit of that goal. Applicants must attend high school in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington or Western Wyoming, and will submit a 500-word essay for BBB’s online magazine Torch Talk on one of the given topics.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Better Business Bureau.

Deadline: March 16, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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The Christine B. Dexter Scholarship was established in honor of Christine B. Dexter after her passing from stomach cancer in 2008. This scholarship awards undergrad students a $2,000 scholarship towards their fall tuition. All recipients demonstrate a history of community service and resilience through their cancer journey.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Christine B. Foundation.

Deadline: March 31, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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The INCIGHT scholarship is open to students in Washington, Oregon, and California who have a documented disability. Applicants must complete two detailed essay responses (video essays also welcome) in order to be eligible. The number of awards and total amount awarded will be determined during the selection process, and winners will be notified in June.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: INCIGHT.

Deadline: April 01, 2025.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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The Marguerite Young Endowment Fund was established at The Pittsburgh Foundation to provide scholarships for students who plan to study theology. Candidates must be attending a Protestant seminary as a master of Divinity candidate, preparing for full-time ministry and/or be a seminary intern at a Protestant Church. Application must includes proof of this, as well as a personal essay.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Deadline: March 31, 2025.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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The Dr. Jerry Pournelle Scholarship may be awarded to a candidate of any gender majoring in engineering, math, biological or physical sciences, or “science fiction as literature” as an eligible field of study. Applicants must submit a 500-1,000 word essay on one of several scientific topics.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: The Heinlein Society.

Deadline: April 01, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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The Dr. Yoji Kondo Scholarship may be awarded to a candidate of any gender majoring in engineering, math, biological or physical sciences, or “science fiction as literature” as an eligible field of study. Applicants must submit a 500-1,000 word essay on one of several scientific topics.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: The Heinlein Society.

Deadline: April 01, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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Project Sleep’s Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship is a national scholarship program to support students with narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. Students must complete an application form that includes a response to the esssay question: "If you could go back in time and speak to yourself on the day you were diagnosed, what would you say? Write a letter to yourself on that day."

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Project Sleep.

Deadline: April 01, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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To apply for this scholarship, you must have a declared major or course of study relevant to the transportation, travel, and tourism industry. You will be required to submit a short essay on how your major or course of study is relevant to one of these industries. Two scholarships are awarded in the amount $5,000 each.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: American Bus Association.

Deadline: April 02, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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Each year, qualified African-American and Black junior and senior high school students participate in the Essay Contest and Issue Forum. Students are presented with a topic that embodies some of our communities’ most pressing issues and are asked to write an essay to defend their research, analyses, and opinion.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Deadline: May 04, 2025.

Additional awards: $1,000 for second place, $750 for third place, invitation to awards ceremony in Washington, D.C..

Categories: Personal Essay.

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Each year the Gordon Hay Scholarship Committee selects a high school senior or college underclassman to receive a unique $5,000 scholarship. The Gordon Hay Scholarship benefits a student within the Charlotte region who demonstrates technical or artistic accomplishment in a non-performance area of the performing arts. Full application can be found on our website.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Deadline: April 01, 2025.

Categories: Personal Essay.

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This scholarship is intended to assist current student or alumni members in furthering their education on a part-time or non-degree-seeking basis in areas of study. Examples of eligible areas of study include teacher certification, summer coursework, publishing institutes, and professionalization opportunities. Applicants will describe current or past academic scholarship and campus, community, or chapter service, as well as context for their part-time or non-degree-seeking student status.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Sigma Tau Delta.

Deadline: April 05, 2025.

Additional awards: 1 runner-up award of $1,500.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Apply now →

This scholarship, named in honor of Sigma Tau Delta's Executive Director, recognizes academic excellence and outstanding service to the Society at the local, regional, and/or national level. This scholarship requires applicants to submit, in addition to the application information and scholarship essay, a paper originally submitted as coursework and a declaration of authorship.

Categories: Personal Essay

Organization: Sigma Tau Delta.

Deadline: April 05, 2025.

Additional awards: 2 runner-up awards of $2,500 each.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Apply now →

What are writing scholarships?

Writing scholarships are financial awards given to students based primarily on written work, though other factors are usually taken into consideration as well. Most writing scholarships involve a prompt or series of prompts to which applicants must respond. Some writing scholarships — especially those that award large amounts of money — require applicants to submit past writing samples, or even a full portfolio.

The good news is that, with so many writing scholarships to choose from, you don’t have to apply for any that are “out of your league.” Indeed, though most students have heard of writing scholarships, you may not realize just how many different varieties there are! Here are five of the most common types of writing scholarships, all of which you can find in this directory.

1. Personal essay scholarships

Personal essay scholarships involve writing on a topic related to your own experience. You’ll often see personal essay prompts like, “How have your experiences influenced your choice of major?” and “What are your career aspirations and how do you plan to achieve them?” Other prompts may ask you to write about a role model, a life-changing event, an aspect of your identity, etc. Suggested length is usually about 500-1,000 words, but varies depending on the level of detail requested and how many essay questions are provided.

Just about every scholarship these days has a personal essay component of some kind. This is because personal essay responses both demonstrate writing skills and give the judges a clear sense of each applicant’s goals. No one wants to throw away money on an aimless student — so if you’re applying for a personal essay scholarship, make sure to convey both your writing abilities and your ambitions in your work!

2. Critical essay scholarships

Critical essay scholarships are more in line with what students might consider  “academic” essays. The prompts typically ask applicants to analyze works of literature. However, unlike open-ended English class essays, most critical essay scholarships provide a very specific prompt (e.g. “Examine The Great Gatsby in the context of its World War II-era revival”).

Critical essay scholarships can also involve non-literary subject matter. Some may ask applicants to evaluate a historical event or figure; others may ask them to defend their stance on a political or legal issue. Though the line between critical and personal essays can sometimes blur, for the purposes of this directory, we define critical essays as those that use evidence from an external source to prove a point.

3. Short fiction scholarships

Short fiction scholarships include scholarships for short stories, one-act plays, poetry, and any other form of fiction that isn’t a novel or full-length script. Short fiction scholarships tend to be easier to find than long-form fiction scholarships, since most judging panels don’t have time to read more than a few thousand words per entry. Therefore, if you write fiction and you’re hoping to nab yourself a scholarship, this category is the way to go! (That said, if you’re a hardline novelist, some places will accept a sample chapter or two as short fiction entries.)

4. Journalism scholarships

Journalism scholarships are for students interested in pursuing a career in news, magazine, and/or online journalism. These scholarship applications almost always ask for writing samples to show the candidate’s interest. Depending on the organization, they may prefer topical news reports, informative articles, thinkpieces, or a mix. Some journalism scholarships provide a prompt and ask applicants to write a new article, but the focus is usually on samples. Speaking of which…

5. Portfolio scholarships 

Portfolio scholarships are the most rigorous kind of writing scholarship, requiring a substantial body of work from each applicant — usually 5-10 pieces of writing, if not more. The upside is that awards for portfolio scholarships tend to be pretty sizable, and may even cover your entire tuition!

If you decide to apply to a portfolio scholarship, make sure you have several strong pieces of work in your oeuvre, and consider writing a few new pieces as well. What you shouldn’t do is rush through a dozen new pieces to throw together as a portfolio. If you don’t have samples at the ready from previous assignments or projects, you’ll be better off applying to a less intensive writing scholarship.

Why apply to writing scholarships?

Applying to writing scholarships is a huge undertaking, especially if you’re pursuing multiple scholarships at once. It can sometimes feel like the effort isn’t worth it, or that you have little chance of actually winning any awards. But in truth, submitting to writing scholarships is one of the best investments you can make in your education, your creative writing skills, and your professional life.

Scholarships for larger amounts do attract more applicants, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to land — only that you have to work a little harder to stand out. And you can definitely sway the odds in your favor by applying to lots of small scholarships ($500 or less) for which you’ll have fewer competitors. Remember that every little bit helps! For example, if you plan on taking out student loans, even a $500 scholarship could save you much more in interest down the line.

Another compelling reason to apply to writing scholarships is that oftentimes, you’ve already done the work, or the work required is minimal. For scholarships that require writing samples, you’ll simply submit what you’ve already written in the past — and even for scholarships with specific prompts, you rarely have to write more than a couple of pages. If you were seriously committed, you could apply to a scholarship every day, spending a single concentrated evening on each application.

Jumping off that thought, as English majors love to say: the more writing scholarships you apply for, the better a writer you’ll become. Writing tons of scholarship essays will make you a much more creative and efficient writer. Not only will this help with your personal writing projects, but it will also be invaluable to your education and even your career! Writing is a crucial skill for every major — you’ll always have to write papers and emails to professors, after all — and even if you don’t plan to pursue a writing-based job, you'll still need writing skills to polish your résumé.

Finally, remember that there’s a writing scholarship out there for everyone, no matter what your interests or intended field. This directory includes plenty of creative writing scholarships, yes; but there are also personal essay scholarships for future doctors, lawyers, salespeople, and so much more. You have nothing to lose by giving it a shot, so why not start searching for your dream writing scholarship today? (And if you’re unsure about your writing skills, you might benefit from some of the resources below.)

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