Writing Scholarships & Grants
Prospective college students with a passion for writing can turn it into a rewarding career in one of several key areas.
Creative writing and journalism degrees are two of the most popular ones for writers, and a number of schools have excellent programs in these fields. Aspiring professional writers typically complete a two-year degree at minimum.
A good percentage of them go on to complete four-year undergraduate degrees, and some elect to earn advanced graduate credentials as well.
Hard-working graduates who have honed their craft can go on to successful careers in book writing, article publication, reporting and editing. Strong writing skills are also in high demand across the board for careers in many other fields.
Writing majors have a range of sources for financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships. Some awards are available from private foundations. Others come from individual colleges and government agencies.
Depending on the school and program of study, some journalism and creative writing departments may require a portfolio submission and a separate application. A number of grants and scholarships also use applicants’ current grade point averages and documented financial need as criteria for eligibility. Maximizing chances of receiving these forms of financial aid involves researching and submitting applications as early as possible.
Just as with other programs of study, finding grants and scholarships for writing degrees may take some time but is worth the effort for covering the costs of a college education. The following awards are broken down by sources as well as by specific program of study.
Studying creative writing is an intensive process designed to refine skills in expressing ideas effectively through words.
Writers and writing students of all levels want to have their work read, and a good creative writing degree program teaches them how to connect with their audiences. Popular specialties in creative writing include fiction, poetry, theatrical scripts and children’s literature. Some creative writing graduates also have successful careers in areas such as advertising and public relations.
Several schools offer both graduate and undergraduate scholarships for students who plan to enroll in creative writing programs. Each of these awards has specific requirements, and the application process can vary from one college to the next. Scholarships from both schools and private foundations may require letters of recommendation, school transcripts and at least one writing sample. Submitting all of these materials according to instructions is essential for consideration.
- The Lycoming College Creative Writing Scholarship. Lycoming is a small Pennsylvania college that offers a $3,000 scholarship to incoming freshmen and transfer undergraduate students who declare a creative writing major. The application requires a submission of five original poems or a 10-page maximum short story. Applicants have the option to submit both types of writing if they prefer, and this portfolio needs to be sent by mail to the college’s vice president of admissions and financial aid. A portfolio review in person is an additional requirement and is scheduled by appointment each spring. Interested students can review the details by visiting Lycoming’s financial aid web page.
- The Mary Helen Richardson Memorial Scholarship. This award is open to current creative writing majors attending the University of Arizona in Tucson, and selection is based on academic achievement and demonstrated good character. Students can be either undergraduate or graduate creative writing majors, and a selection committee from U of A’s College of Humanities reviews each application. More information is available on this scholarship’s web page.
- The Bill and Jane Spain Scholarship. U of A creative writing majors can apply for this award that is available through a joint endowment to the departments of fine arts and humanities. Portfolio submission is required for consideration, and applicants need to have junior or senior undergraduate standing. The selection committee gives special consideration to creative writing majors, and portfolios are examined for originality as well as skill. Additional scholarship details are available on the Spain Scholarship web page.
- The Robert and Minnie M. Torrance Scholarship in Creative Writing. This final U of A scholarship is open to upper level undergraduate and graduate creative writing majors. In addition to US-born applicants, students in the process of becoming naturalized American citizens are eligible as well. Applicants need a minimum grade point average of 3.5, and awards are also based on documented financial need. Interested students need to have at least one letter of recommendation from a creative writing faculty member. This scholarship is renewable each academic year and requires a written promissory note of eventual repayment once recipients are able to do so. More information about this award can be found at www.humanities.arizona.edu/graduate_scholarships/Torrance. Each of these described University of Arizona scholarships has varying award amounts based individual recipients.
- The Writers’ Studio Scholarship at Arapahoe Community College. This college is located in Littleton, Colorado and offers a $500 award to two deserving students per academic year. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in at least 6 credit hours at Arapahoe with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Completion of introductory creative writing is preferred, and the scholarship application form is available on the Writers’ Studio Scholarship website.
- The Carnegie Writing Scholarship. Undergraduate students who plan to attend Lake Forest College in Chicago can apply for this award by submitting a portfolio of their best work. The selection committee looks at each portfolio for writing proficiency as well as variety. Applicants are encouraged to include several different pieces such as short stories, poems and non-fiction prose. A PDF of the accompanying application is available from Lake Forest’s website. Scholarship amounts range from $3,000 to $8,000, and applications are open to all majors besides creative writing.
- The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. This prestigious scholarship competition is open to junior high and high school students with passion and dedication to writing or art. Applicants can submit work in one of 10 categories such as science fiction, novels or humorous essays. The application process requires interested students to create profiles on the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers website before uploading their work for consideration. Awards range from $1,000 to $10,000 for scholarship winners, and applicants are judged solely on the quality of their portfolio submissions. A minimum grade point average is not required, though this scholarship is limited to grades 7-12.
- The YoungArts Competition Awards. Outstanding high school student writers are eligible to compete for one of 20 awards of up to $10,000 towards college tuition. Submitting a completed application packet also qualifies interested students for master classes in various creative writing topics. Eligible applicants need to be 15-18 years old the year they apply, and finalists are invited to compete in person at the annual YoungArts Week convention. The process requires an online application and fee of $25-$35 depending on the month of submission. Once YoungArts receives this form and payment, applicants are sent a login and link to a submission page for uploading their writing portfolios. Writers can get started by visiting www.youngarts.org/apply.
- The Go On Girl! Book Club Scholarships. This organization offers two different scholarships each worth $500. The Unpublished Writer Award is open to college-bound and current college students with interests in fiction writing. Applicants need to submit an original short story or novel excerpt of up to 2,000 words. A brief biographical statement about educational and career goals is also required. The Aspiring Writer scholarship is available to current college students who have at least attained sophomore standing and who are majoring in creative writing, English, journalism or a related field. More information about both of these scholarships’ requirements is available on the Go On Girl! Book Club’s scholarship page.
- The Hertog Fellowship at Hunter College. This New York college offers a $5,000 grant to students pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Eligible applicants need to have declared either fiction or non-fiction as a degree emphasis, and there is no formal application process. The graduate creative writing faculty selects four or five current students per year based on their current portfolios of work and academic excellence. Fellowship recipients are also paired with established professional writers as a mentors and are required to work a certain number of hours for them as assistants.
- The Norma Lubetsky Friedman Fund. This MFA award is available to Hunter College MFA candidates completing degree emphases in poetry. Grant amounts range from $2,000 to $5,000 in exchange for working under the guidance of a published poet. In addition to financial assistance, recipients gain practical experience in the editing, research and organizing tasks needed for any successful writing career. More information about this award is available at www.hunter.cuny.edu/creativewriting/aid.shtml.
- The Ohio Northern University Talent Award. Graduating high school students who have been accepted to ONU are eligible to apply for this $4,000 award. The process requires a writing portfolio submission and a letter of recommendation from a high school English or creative writing teacher. Applicants need to have declared an English major, and this award is open to any department emphasis such as creative writing, literature or language arts in preparation for teaching. The ONU Talent Award is also renewable each academic year to recipients who maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Applicants are encouraged to submit written work in several different genres, and further details about the application process are available on ONU’s English department website.
- The Rice University Research and Travel Grant. Writers who want to complete independent study summer projects can receive needed funding from this award. The grant is available through RU’s department of English and can range from $700 to $3,000 depending on individual project proposals. Eligible students are pursuing graduate level study in one of RU’s English major emphases. Creative writing majors have the option to apply for this award in order to complete full-length projects that require research at distant locations. Applying for this grant requires submission of a project proposal, an estimated budget and a letter from a faculty adviser. The English department gives priority to students who have not previously secured research grant funds. More details about this grant can be located on the Rice English department home page.
Related Grants and Scholarships
Some creative writing financial awards are open to bloggers as well. A few scholarships and competitions are available to students who create blog posts on a specific topic and submit the relevant link. Others award monetary prizes for blogs with outstanding overall quality. Student writers also have a competitive advantage when applying for general scholarships that require an essay submission.
- America’s Best Blogging Scholarship. YourLocalSecurity.com sponsors this annual competition for a $1,000 award to the best post on an assigned topic. Bloggers are required to create a post of 300 words minimum, and they can also include photos or video if preferred. Submissions need to be on a blogging platform, and posts written on Facebook pages are not eligible. Awards are based on the quality of the content, and the judges also consider the numbers of shares, reposts and comments each blogger’s post generates. Applicants can be incoming or current college students and need to have at least a 2.5 grade point average.
- The Blogging Scholarship. This $10,000 award is available from CollegeScholarships.org. Current college student bloggers can have blogs on any niche topic of choice, and applicants can choose one of five possible questions to answer in a post to be submitted. Blog posts are limited to 1,000 words maximum. Each entry is judged for high quality and original content that reflects each blogger’s unique voice.
- The Political Blogging Scholarship. CollegeScholarships.org offers this additional scholarship to students who maintain blogs about current political issues and their own takes on current events. Applicants need to be enrolled in a full-time program of study and have a minimum 3.0 grade point average. They are also required to list their political party affiliation in their submitted applications. A selection committee determines the finalists, and an open public vote selects the $2,000 grand prize winner. Bloggers who do not win this scholarship are welcome to post a maximum 350 word concession essay that will be posted on the CollegeScholarships.org page, a bonus that could lead to increased blog exposure.
- The DirectTextbook.com Scholarship Essay. Student writers can apply for this award of up to $2,500 by submitting an essay on an assigned topic. Two other awards of $1,000 and $250 are also available. Written work needs to be a maximum of 500 words and is judged for thoroughness as well as creativity. Eligible students have at least a 2.0 grade average and are planning to enroll full-time in the next consecutive college semester. This scholarship is open to all majors, and essays can be submitted online through the DirectTextbook Scholarship web page.
- The Signet Classics Student Scholarship Essay Contest. College-bound writers with a passion for literature have a chance to win a $1,000 award towards their school expenses. This scholarship is open to high school juniors and seniors who are either attending a regular school or who are home-schooled. An English teacher or homeschooling parent needs to submit a completed essay on each student’s behalf. Applications also need to include a statement verifying the essay is the applicant’s original work. The assigned work of literature varies from one year to the next, and applicants can pick one of five possible essay questions to answer. Additional instructions about applying for this scholarship are available on the Signet Classics website.
A range of scholarships and grants are open to college students with goals of creative writing careers. No matter which specific type of writing each applicant wants to pursue, higher education is essential for reaching those goals. Skilled writers with the dedication to improve their work are those who get the most benefits out of a college creative writing program. Even those graduates who do not become novelists, poets or screenwriters find that their writing skills serve them well in any type of career field.
Aspiring students interested in the informative side of writing often find journalism a good fit as a college major. The ability to create accurate, engaging and informative news content is a valued skill in this particular industry. In spite of current sentiments that print news is in decline, journalism standards and techniques still apply to news broadcasting in any format. A quality journalism degree program teaches college students effective ways to communicate stories in written words paired with digital media. Many journalism undergraduates continue on to advanced studies, and those skilled in the latest technology applications can find a range of job choices in the field. Financial assistance for a journalism major is often available from individual college departments and from professional organizations.
- Journalist of the Year Scholarships. The Journalism Education Association sponsors this national competition for excellent high school journalists who have portfolios of clips from their school yearbooks or newspapers. State finalists are selected to compete at the national level, and the top winner receives a $5,000 scholarship. Eligible students need to be graduating high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Participation in school journalism for at least two years is an additional requirement. Details about the application process are listed on the JEA scholarship web page.
- The Richard G. Zimmerman Journalism Scholarship. Outstanding high school journalism students are eligible for this $5,000 award from the National Press Club. Eligible applicants are high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 grade average and plans to enroll in a college journalism degree program. The application is available to download from the National Press Club’s scholarship web page. Students need to include three samples of their best work in either written or multimedia formats. Other required documents include a current high school transcript and acceptance letter from their college of choice.
- The Dorothy D. Greer Journalist of the Year Scholarship Competition. Colorado high school seniors with student newspaper experience are eligible for this award. Each applicant needs to attend a member school of the Colorado High School Press Association, and the application form can be downloaded from the CHSPA website. Recipients can win up to $2,000 to help with college costs. Additional requirements include a 3.0 grade point average, a portfolio submission and at least three letters of recommendation. Scholarship winners have a two-year window in which they are able to use this award.
- The AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship. This scholarship is open to students interested in learning how to incorporate journalism and technology for news reporting. Applicants need to have a project in mind that includes both of these elements for presenting stories with multimedia. Interested students are encouraged to come up with new and innovative ideas for the field of online journalism. The application packet requires a personal statement presentation, resume, one letter of recommendation and project submission. Additional details are available on the Online News Association’s website. Scholarship winners can receive up to $20,000 for tuition and other expenses.
- The Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship. This award is open to students who are pursuing a journalism career and who have a vested interest in issues affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Scholarship recipients receive up to $3,000 for school and agree to become active members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Applicants need to submit a portfolio of work that demonstrates dedication to communicating the importance of diversity and equality. Completed packets also require a one-page resume, proof of college enrollment and a maximum 1,000 word student autobiography written in the third person. Further application instructions and deadlines are available at www.nlgja.org/students/aarons.
- The Association of Young Journalist and Writers Scholarships. Members of the AYJW can receive up to $2,000 towards their tuition with one of these awards. Application forms are available at www.ayjw.org/scholarships. Interested students who are not yet AYJW members can sign up at no cost. All members receive additional benefits such as resume help and feedback on their current written work. This award is open to current undergraduate and graduate journalism students.
- The Freedom Forum Scholarships. These awards are tailored for students interested in sports reporting, and this organization partners with the National Collegiate Athletics Association to award eight $3,000 scholarships each year. Undergraduate journalism majors who have reached junior status are eligible to apply for this award. Required materials for submission include a current college transcript, a letter of recommendation and three samples of sports writing. Women and minorities are also encouraged to apply for this scholarship. More information is listed on the Freedom Forum’s scholarship page.
- The Ohio Newspapers Foundation Scholarship. This professional organization awards three $1,500 scholarships to students currently enrolled in an Ohio college and working towards a journalism degree. The selection committee gives preference to applicants who demonstrate intent to enter the newspaper or other print journalism field. A complete application packet needs to include a current transcript indicating a minimum 2.5 grade average as well as two recommendation letters from professors. Students also need to submit a written autobiography detailing their academic and career goals. Needed scholarship forms can be downloaded from the ONF website.
- Knight Science Fellowships from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT offers this opportunity to seasoned journalists who are interested in learning more about relevant news topics in science and technology. Recipients are given nine months’ worth of funding to pursue research projects of their own design. Fellows receive a grant of $65,000 for living expenses and project costs. Additional funds are also awarded for seminars and audited courses at both MIT and Harvard. These amounts depend on individual research needs. Eligible applicants need to have three to five years of full-time experience as journalists. This grant program has no specific education requirements or age limits. Recipients need to reside in the Cambridge area for one academic year in order to participate in this program. More information about the application process is available on the Knight Science Fellowship website.
- The National Associations of Black and Hispanic Journalists. Each of these professional associations offers stipends for promising journalism students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in this field. The NABJ has partnered with NBC Universal to offer a summer internship program that includes a $5,000 grant award. Eligible candidates have completed at least one year of college with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. A resume and essay of intent are additional requirements in the application packet. Details are available on the NABJ’s student web page. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists awards stipend amounts between $1,000 and $5,000 to undergraduate and graduate journalism majors who demonstrate dedication to issues affecting Hispanic communities. Awards are based on academic achievement, quality of current written work and submitted recommendations. Interested students can request more information by visiting www.nahj.org.
- The Feldman Fellowship for Graduate Studies in Journalism. The National Press Club offers this $5,000 award to students with goals of completing a postgraduate degree in journalism. Qualified applicants need to submit proof of enrollment in one of these degree programs, though students in the process of applying to graduate school are also eligible. Three letters of recommendation, a maximum of five writing samples and an undergraduate transcript are additional application packet requirements. All documents need to be submitted in triplicate, and digital copies of work samples saved to a CD are also acceptable. Further information and the application forms are available as PDF documents on the Feldman web page.
Related Grants and Scholarships
- The New York Women in Communications Scholarship. This organization gives up to 20 awards to promising women who plan to complete degrees in a communications field such as broadcast journalism, advertising or digital media. Eligibility is open to residents of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Connecticut. Graduating high school seniors, undergraduate and graduate students are all eligible to apply provided they meet the rest of the scholarship requirements. An official school transcript, an essay on an assigned topic and two letters of recommendation also need to be included in the application packet. Additional information is outlined on the NYWICI’s website. Awards can range from $2,500 to $10,000.
- The Carlos M. Castañeda Journalism Scholarship. Spanish-speaking students who are planning on completing graduate journalism studies are eligible for this $7,000 award. Applicants need to submit proof of acceptance to an accredited postgraduate program along with a current transcript indicating a minimum 3.0 grade average. A complete CV and recent tax return are additional required documents for this scholarship application. Fluency and professional-level writing in the Spanish language are emphasized requirements as well. Eligible students will need to include a 2,000 word essay written in Spanish on an assigned topic, and past recipients have demonstrated in-depth interest in writing about issues surrounding Hispanic culture and communities. Application forms and details are available on this scholarship’s web page.
- The Delete Cyberbullying Scholarship Award. Incoming and current college students can showcase their research and writing skills on a current event by applying for this $1,500 award. Applicants are required to submit a 500-word essay on this issue and explain why it warrants activism. This scholarship is open to all college majors who are US citizens or permanent residents. Essays are judged for creativity and commitment to stopping cyberbullying. The application form is available at www.deletecyberbullying.org/scholarship.
- The “From Failure to Promise” Essay Scholarship. This $1,500 award is presented to a college-bound or current college student who submits the best essay on the autobiographical book From Failure to Promise: An Uncommon Path to Professoriate by Dr. C. Moorer. Written work is judged on thorough research of the author’s philosophies and an explanation of the book’s positive impact on the applicant’s personal life. Applicants also need to write about how they plan to use their education and career path to make a difference in the lives of others. Essays need to be 1,000 words minimum, and each candidate needs to have at least a 3.0 high school or college grade point average. Interested students can download the application from Dr. Moorer’s website.
Experts in both the creative writing and journalism professions often report that students selecting these majors have plenty of advantages and opportunities. Financial awards for dedicated writers and reporters are plentiful due to the demand for talented graduates who are able to express ideas in written words. Both of these fields have changed dramatically due to the Internet revolution, and new graduates will need to be skilled in applying the written word to various forms of digital communication. Each of these described awards has the potential to offset the expenses of required higher education and allow recipients to focus on building their writing skills in their specific areas of choice.