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, 2019.
  • 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 celebration with the contest chair, the seminar instructor, and Critical Writing administration.

The 2019-2021 deadline passed on Monday, February 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM. Check back in Spring 2022 for details on the 2020-2022 entry period!


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

Research manuscripts published 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.

  • First Place: $750
  • Second Place: $500