Critical Writing Program Prizes


The Samuel P. and Ida S. Mandell Undergraduate Essay Contest

The Mandell contest rewards public distinction for student writing produced or initiated in a Penn Writing Seminar. Public distinction can include print or digital publication of the work in a professionally-produced newspaper, magazine, or blog; use of the work to create a curated exhibit or installation; incorporation of the work into a funded research project; or similar vetting and distinction of a public nature.

    Eligibility Criteria

  • Submissions must have been originally undertaken in a Critical Writing Seminar and thereafter published in a professional venue;
  • Submissions must be selected and edited by a veritable and professional editorial board or process;
  • Submissions published in an undergraduate journal also qualify for entry;
  • Editorials must have been published after January 1, 2017.
  • Prizes for Distinguished Work Produced in a Seminar

  • First Place: $750
  • Second Place: $250
  • Honorable Mentions: $100
  • Prize for Distinguished Work Initiated in a Seminar

  • First Place: $500

Winners are also invited to a lunch with the contest chair, the seminar instructor, and Critical Writing administration.

2018-2019 Deadline: Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 11:59 PM.


The Samuel P. and Ida S. Mandell Prize for Distinguished Research Article in a Penn Undergraduate Publication

Research manuscripts publsihed in Penn undergraduate journals are automatically reviewed each year. Articles demonstrating particular felicity with knowledge domains taught in the Critical Writing Program are selected for the prize.

  • Winner: $750

The Henry LaBarre Jayne Prize for the Penn Paragraph

The Henry LaBarre Jayne Freshman Writing Prize is awarded annually to the best paragraph written in response to the year’s selected Ben Franklin aphorism. Contestants must be Penn freshmen who have completed their writing requirement or who are currently enrolled in a Critical Writing seminar.

Further information forthcoming in 2020.