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Screenwriting Competitions for College Students and Graduates (updated for 2015)

Updated on January 23, 2015
Source
Screenwriting competitions for students and graduates
Screenwriting competitions for students and graduates | Source

Find the best scholarships and fellowships for aspiring screenwriters!

The screenwriting competitions that I am about to reveal are some of the best to sell a first screenplay and/or to launch a screenwriting career. Why? Because each competition offers either a scholarship or a fellowship backed up by a leading college or university. The benefits of applying to a college- or university-sponsored screenwriting competition are priceless, and oftentimes better than applying to many competitions sponsored directly by a film production company or a Hollywood agent. Besides a cash award, the college or university helps the student develop and sell a first full-length screenplay and/or land a well-paying job in the entertainment industry after graduation. This type of support, backed up by the credibility of the college or university, is simply priceless for an aspiring apprentice.

Perhaps the biggest "window of opportunity" to break into screenwriting is when you are a student enrolled in a college or university that offers an associate's or bachelor's degree in writing or broadcast media. The connections and relationships that you create with faculty, fellows, mentors, students and industry experts provide you with a solid foundation on which to launch a successful screenwriting career. Writers—who either 1) never pursued a college degree in this field or 2) became "writers" later in life—have the most difficult time in selling a first screenplay or breaking into the entertainment industry. As many of us writers know, breaking into this industry is cutthroat and highly competitive.

I created this special Hub to help students and graduates identify the best screenwriting competitions that offer a scholarship or fellowship to improve their chances of success in this profession. I have ensured that each competition: 1) offers cash prizes (FYI: cash prizes are insignificant when compared to the industry connections and publicity that the college generates for you); 2) is backed up financially by a leading university or college; 3) offers some kind of on-going mentoring by an industry trade professional; and 4) helps you create and sell a screenplay or script.

As you read each one of my reviews, you will quickly realize a few of the benefits that you can reap. I cannot list all the benefits because each competition offers something unique and different. Nearly ALL of these competitions have NO entry fees because faculty understand that most students have very tight budgets.

If you find my Hub useful, please "Like it" and share it with your friends and colleagues. Also, please BOOKMARK this webpage because I update it frequently with new competitions.

Thank you for allowing me to assist you,
Brian Scott
http://creativegenius.hubpages.com/

Visit my new Hub, How to Format a New Screenplay or Spec Script to learn how to prepare your script before submission.

This webpage is copyrighted. All content on this webpage is protected by United States copyright laws and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast elsewhere without written permission from me.
This webpage is copyrighted. All content on this webpage is protected by United States copyright laws and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast elsewhere without written permission from me.

Screenwriting Competitions (Sortable Table)

(click column header to sort results)
Competition  
Prize  
Deadline  
Entry Fee  
Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting
$35,000
05/01/2015
$35.00
UCLA Extension Television Writing Competitions
$1,000
04/01/2014
$45.00
UCLA Extension Feature Film Competition
$1,000
04/01/2014
$50.00
The Written Image Screenwriting Prize
$2,000
12/30/2014
$35.00
Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award
$15,000
06/04/2014
$0.00
Abraham Polonsky Award In Screenwriting
$1,000
02.18.2015
$0.00
Abraham Polonsky Graduate Award In Critical Writing
$1,000
02.18.2015
$0.00
The Carol & Elton Holman Screenwriting Competition
$500
04/03/2014
$0.00
Vera Hinckley Mayhew Short Screenwriting Contest
$1,500
02.06.2015
$0.00
Madison Screenwriting Scholarship Competition
$1,250
03.17.2015
$0.00
RIFF Screenplay Competition
Prizes
07.15.2015
$40.00
The Sloan Grant Screenwriting Program
$15,000
01.05.2015
$0.00
The Paul N. and Elinor T. Lazarus Scholarship
$4,000
05/04/2014
$0.00
Midwest Sitcom Writing Competition
$1,000
08/15/2014
$59.00
Search for America's Newest Scriptwriter Contest
$2,500
10/11/2014
$0.00
Agnes Nixon and Kiki McCabe Prize for Screenwriting
$1,000
04/03/2014
$0.00
The Jack Oakie Scholarship
$1,000
11/19/2014
$0.00
Fleder/Rosenberg Short Screenplay Contest
$1,250
12/04/2014
$0.00
Longhorn Showcase Script Competition
$500
04/27/2014
$0.00
David Levy Graduate Screenwriting Scholarship
$750
02.18.2015
$0.00
Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting
$10,000
10/05/2014
$17.00
Disney-ABC Television Writing Program
$50,000
03/01/2014
$0.00
The Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists
$30,000
02.27.2015
$0.00
McKnight Artist Fellowships for Screenwriters
$25,000
03/09/2014
$0.00
(I will keep adding screenwriting competitions for 2014.)
sponsored by Brigham Young University
sponsored by Brigham Young University | Source

Vera Hinckley Mayhew Short Screenwriting Contest - $1,500 Prize

Brigham Young University sponsors the Vera Hinckley Mayhew Short Screenwriting Contest for BYU undergraduates enrolled full-time (a minimum of 12 hrs) and to BYU graduate students registered for a minimum of 6 hrs. This screenwriting competition awards a cash prize $1,500 to one or two winners who write the best screenplay. You can submit a script between 7 and 15 pages only. The story of the script must be true to life, and character-driven. Wayne E. Mayhew of Berkeley, CA, founded this competition to recognize the talents of budding screenwriters in remembrance of his wife, Vera Hinckley Mayhew, a past BYU student.

Deadline: February 6, 2015.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by the University of Chicago
sponsored by the University of Chicago | Source

The Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists - $30,000 Prize

The University of Chicago sponsors the Claire Rosen & Samuel Edes Foundation Prize for Emerging Artists, which grants a 1-year, $30,000 prize to a recent graduate of the University. Also, two finalists are endowed with a cash prize of $1,500 each.

This very ambitious award acknowledges the visionary talents of creatives who started their professions at the University of Chicago. This Prize is intended to advance and strengthen the career of an emerging artist. Screenwriters or playwrights need to submit a script or excerpt, 10 pages or less, accompanied with a visual sample, if required.

Deadline: February 27, 2015. Entry fee: none.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by California State University
sponsored by California State University | Source

Abraham Polonsky Award In Screenwriting - Two $1,000 Prizes

California State University sponsors two screenwriting competitions for enrolled students:1) Abraham Polonsky Award In Screenwriting; and 2) Abraham Polonsky Graduate Award In Critical Writing.

Both Awards recognize the achievements of Abraham Polonsky (Dec. 1910 - Oct. 1999), an American movie director, Academy-Award-nominated film writer, author, and storyteller who was expelled by the Hollywood film studios in the 1950s, in the midpoint of the McCarthy years. Student screenwriters must hand in a feature film screenplay with a preference to topics of social awareness to honor Abraham Polonsky's unique vision and artistic work.

Two university judges will review all submitted screenplays and decide the winning screenplay. The faculty presents the Award at the senior reading, which is celebrated during the final week of the spring quarter.

The Abraham Polonsky Award In Screenwriting offers two cash prizes of 1,000. Although the cash prize is small in comparison to other competitions, the award-winners do receive mentorship, publicity, and assistance in establishing connections in the entertainment industry.

Deadline: February 18, 2015.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]


The Abraham Polonsky Graduate Award In Critical Writing offers a cash prize of $1,000. Students must hand in a critical composition on a film subject, 10 pages or more in length. The composition will be evaluated on both the strength of the material and the clearness and the perception of the argument.

Deadline: February 18, 2015.

[ Enter writing competition ]

sponsored by California State University Northridge
sponsored by California State University Northridge | Source

David Levy Graduate Screenwriting Scholarship - $750 Award

California State University of Northridge sponsors the David Levy Graduate Screenwriting Scholarship to support a first year graduate student in the CTVA Masters of Screenwriting program. The winning student is awarded a cash prize of $750 and has the opportunity to receive the scholarship annually, up to three times. To be eligible, you must submit a feature size screenplay. The submissions are evaluated by a panel of experts, including the director of the CTVA graduate screenwriting program and a spokesperson of Mr. Levy.

Deadline: February 18, 2015.

[ Enter screenplay competition ]

sponsored by James Madison University
sponsored by James Madison University | Source

Madison Screenwriting Scholarship Competition - $1,250 Prize

James Madison University sponsors the annual Madison Screenwriting Scholarship Competition for undergrad students taking courses in the School of Media Arts & Design, English or Theater. Students must submit 3 hard copies of a short screenplay, no longer than 20 pages in correct movie script layout. All screenplays should be original material, no adaptations. The prizewinner receives $1,250 for his/her Fall semester. Second prize is $750.

Deadline: March 17, 2015. Entry fee: none.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

Source

RIFF Screenplay Competition - $10,000 In Prizes - NO Entry Fee

Rhode Island International Film Festival has issued an open call for submissions to receive full-length screenplays and short/teleplays for its annual RIFF Screenplay Competition. Prizes are valued at over $10,000 and include screenwriting software, publicity and placement of winning scripts to industry professionals, and free tickets and travel to attend the festival where the winner will receive a trophy.

Full-length screenplays are open to any genre. Scripts should be under 131 pages. Teleplays/short scripts are also open to any genre, under 41 pages. Judges will critique submissions based on creativity, uniqueness, imaginativeness, freshness, and language.

RIIFF teams up with leading film studios, TV networks, and private film development companies in both trade and creative ventures. Its Competition helps to discover new writing talent and support screenwriters as they progress in their careers.

Deadlines: July 15, 2015

[ Enter screenplay competition ]

sponsored by University of Southern California
sponsored by University of Southern California | Source

The Sloan Grant Screenwriting Program - $15,000 Prize - NO Entry Fee

The University of Southern California is one of six leading universities that sponsor the Sloan Grant Screenwriting Program offered to Undergrad and Grad Students of any Cinematic Arts department. The aim of this Grant is to guide today's modern screenwriters and movie-makers into producing more lifelike and expressive sagas about science and technology and to test prevailing stereotypes about scientists and technologists through visual arts and motion pictures. Screenplay stories can be entirely fiction or founded on a real events or people. Themes of sci-fi and medical are discouraged. To be eligible, you must submit either an original feature-length film manuscript, a TV movie script, or a TV pilot screenplay. This screenwriting competition awards a commissioning grant of $25,000 (total) to a screenwriter and a fellowship of $15,000 to another screenwriter.

Deadline: January 5, 2015.

[ Apply to screenwriting competition ]

Source

The First Annual Upper Midwest Sitcom Writing Competition - $1,000 Cash Prize - Entry Fee: $59

The First Annual Upper Midwest Sitcom Writing Competition is seeking original submissions of television pilots from students (18 years and older) who reside in any of these U.S. states: Iowa, Minnesota, N. and S. Dakota, and Wisconsin. Each of three finalists will be awarded a cash prize of $1,000, as well as a thorough reading of their scripts by entertainment professionals.

To enter, you will need to submit a screenplay with a comedy theme, running 22 minutes of viewing time. Screeenplays must not be based on existing or former TV shows. Entry fee is $59.

Deadline: is October 15, 2014.

[ Apply to sitcom writing contest ]

sponsored by The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation
sponsored by The Writers Guild of America, East Foundation | Source

Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting - $10,000 Prize

The Writers Guild of America (East Foundation) sponsors the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship to support a student who intends to seek a professional career in screenwriting after fulfilling his or her undergrad core curriculum. The winning student receives a $10,000 stipend to create an original screenplay; additionally, a celebrated screenwriter guides the winning student throughout the Fellowship. A chosen panel of participating colleges and universities reviews, critiques and evaluates all submissions and chooses the winner. Entry fee: $17.

Deadline: October 11, 2014

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment
sponsored by ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment | Source

Search for America's Newest Scriptwriter Contest - $2,500 Prize

The ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment (AFE) sponsors the Search for America's Newest Scriptwriter Contest which offers a special category for college student screenwriters. To be considered for the College Student Writer category, you must be a full-time student at any college/university program when you submit your completed screenplay. AFE has brought over 20 well-known and prize-winning family shows to primetime TV. Judges want top-quality, appropriate TV episodes about the modern-day American family. Comedy scripts must be between 25 and 35 pages long; drama scripts must be between 50 and 65 pages long. You can submit an original 30 minute comedy or a 60 minute drama TV script. First place winner in the "30-Min Comedy" category receives a cash prize of $5,000 and the finalist of the "1-HR Drama" category also receive $5,000.

Deadline: March 21, 2014. Entry fee: none

[ Enter screenwriting contest ]

sponsored by College of the Canyons
sponsored by College of the Canyons | Source

The Jack Oakie Scholarship - $1,000 Prize

The College of the Canyons sponsors The Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable Foundation Trust to assist students studying the Fine and Performing Arts. The Trust awards $10,000 per year, distributed among talented students in the amount of $500 - $1,000 each.

Student screenwriters can enter the "Comedy Script or Screenwriting" award. The main requirement is for students to watch a Jack Oakie or Victoria Horne Oakie movie and review the movie from the viewpoint of a screenwriter or a film director. Jack Oakie's career covered many decades and included theater, motion picture, broadcast, and television.

Deadline: November 25, 2014. Entry fee: none

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Boston University College of Communication
sponsored by Boston University College of Communication | Source

Fleder/Rosenberg Short Screenplay Contest - $1,250 Prize

Boston University sponsors the Fleder-Rosenberg Short Screenplay Contest for screenwriting students enrolled in Boston University's College of Communication. This contest offers a cash prize of $1,250 for the best screenplay and receive a fully financed trip to Los Angeles. The winners are selected by a board of renowned film pundits. Second-place receives $750 and a third finalist receives $500.

Deadline: December 4, 2014. Entry fee: none.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Disney-ABC Television Group
sponsored by Disney-ABC Television Group | Source

Disney-ABC Television Writing Program - $50,000.00 Salary

If you ever dreamed of becoming a contributing writer for Disney's TV shows and movies, here is a unique opportunity for budding screenwriters. The Disney-ABC Writing Program (in Los Angeles, California) is acknowledged as one of the film industry's most desirable career-changing writing opportunities.

Writers become staff employees of Disney-ABC Television Group, and pays each writer a weekly wage of $960 ($50,000.00 yearly) as well as any related benefits. The program focuses on exposing and promoting writers to principal directors, influential producers and literary/film agents. All of these benefits are crucial for developing and advancing a successful screenwriting career. Writers also participate in working next to an executive director to develop and produce spec scripts for a series currently on air.

Applicants must submit an application (available at the website) and a spec script of a show or a cable network series currently being produced. The entry period launches in the Spring 2014.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Columbia College Chicago Film & Video Department
sponsored by Columbia College Chicago Film & Video Department | Source

The Written Image Screenwriting Prize - $2,000 Prize

Columbia College (Chicago) sponsors the Written Image Screenwriting Prize each year to develop and recognize new and aspiring screenwriters. This competition is primarily for the graduates of Columbia College who studied Film as well as for present students are majoring in Film & Video. Columbia College's Film & Video Department established this competition to help aspiring screenwriting students have the best chances to succeed in a screenwriting profession.

First place winner receives a cash prize of $2,000, and a second place winner receives a cash prize of $1,000. Winners also receive professional support from industry experts both inside and outside of the College.

To be eligible, you must be a current student and/or a graduate of the Dept. of Film & Video. Past students must have majored in Film & Video. Judging is a three step process. Screenwriting experts and scholars from a variety of colleges read and evaluate all submissions. A prominent Hollywood movie producer selects the final winner.

Deadline: December of each year. Entry fee: $25-$35.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

image courtesy of UCLAextension.edu
image courtesy of UCLAextension.edu | Source

UCLA Extension Television Writing Competitions - $1,000 Prize

The $1,000 cash prize offered to the winner is nothing compared to the invaluable industry publicity that the winner receives. The UCLA Extension Television Writing Competition offers two categories for screenplays: 1) Pre-written 60-minute dramas or 30 minute comedy specs, and 2) TV pilots.

This screenwriting competition awards $1,000 to a writer in each category. A professional agent, producer, and/or creative executive will also read the winning writer's script. Right before the final judging, the writer will receive a one-on-one script consultation (a $ 500 value) with a qualified tv writer.

UCLA also names the winners in a prominent ad in the Hollywood Reporter, and sends their names and screenplay loglines to over 1,000 show business executives. To be eligible, you must have completed two TV writing courses in the Writers' Program 24 months before the deadline.

Deadline: April 1, 2014. Entry fee: $50.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

UCLA Extension Feature Film Competition - $1,000 Prize

This distinctive screenwriting competition awards three exceptional students of UCLA's Writers' Program with industry publicity, one-on-one coaching, and prize money of $1,000 for their feature-length movie script. Second place winner receives a cash prize of $500, and a third place winner receives a cash prize of $250. Each winner also receives a script reading by a professional agent, film producer, or film executive; and a face-to-face script consultation with a seasoned screenwriter before final judging. Winners are publicized in an ad in The Hollywood Reporter (the entertainment industry trade publication), and the competition committee submits the winners' names and script loglines to over 1,000+ show business heads.

To be eligible, you need to have finished three screenwriting courses within thirty-six months before the deadline. Your teacher must sign the submission form to validate your completion in the course. Entry fee: $50.

Deadline: April 1, 2014.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Wichita State University
sponsored by Wichita State University | Source

The Carol & Elton Holman Screenwriting Competition - $500 Prize

Wichita State University sponsors the The Carol & Elton Holman Screenwriting Competition for students enrolled in the Film Studies Certificate Program at WSU. The winner is awarded a cash prize of $500 for the best screenplay. The screenplay can run any length (either a short or a feature screenplay) and must be formatted according to industry standards. This competition is in memory of Carol Holman and her husband Elton. Carol Holman served as the founding director of WSU's Media Resources Center for over 20 years. Following their deaths, their estate formed a fund to recognize the talents of screenwriters. To be eligible, the applicant must be a WSU student, undergraduate or graduate..

Deadline: April 3, 2014. Entry fee: None.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Emory University
sponsored by Emory University | Source

Agnes Nixon and Kiki McCabe Prize for Screenwriting - $1,000 Prize

Emory University sponsors the Agnes Nixon and Kiki McCabe Prize for Screenwriting to recognize an undergrad student who demonstrates outstanding talent in screenwriting. Students can submit one screenplay (no page limit) for the competition each year. The Prize was contributed by Cathy McCabe to commemorate her late mother, Kiki McCabe, and her aunt, Agnes Nixon, both who won Emmy Awards as screenwriters for daytime TV. The winning student receives a cash prize of $1,000 and highly-publicized recognition at Emory University. The competition is judged by an experienced writer outside Emory College.

Deadline: April 3, 2014. Entry fee: none.

[ Apply to screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by Minnesota Center for Media Arts
sponsored by Minnesota Center for Media Arts | Source

McKnight Artist Fellowships for Screenwriters - $25,000 Prize

Minnesota Center for Media Arts sponsors the McKnight Fellowships For Media Artists to recognize the professional and creative achievements of mid-career Minnesota screenwriters (as confirmed by one finished feature-length screenplay). Entertainment professionals from outside Minnesota choose the winner. Qualified candidates include independent producers, directors, film writers, and media developers. Applicants are required to submit two finished screenplays of any length. The finalist receives a fellowship of $25,000.

Deadline: April 7, 2014. NO ENTRY FEE.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by University of Texas at Austin
sponsored by University of Texas at Austin | Source

Longhorn Showcase Script Competition - $500 Prize

The University of Texas at Austin sponsors the Longhorn Showcase Script Competition for current MFA Screenwriters and RTF (Radio-Television-Film) undergrad students. The winning student receives a $500 dollar stipend and will attend pitch sessions with entertainment trade professionals in Los Angeles. This competition only accepts feature-length screenplays. Short screenplays and TV scripts are not allowed.

Deadline: May 3, 2014. NO ENTRY FEE.

[ Enter screenplay competition ]

sponsored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
sponsored by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences | Source

Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting - $35,000 Prize

The Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting is one of the most prestigious global screenwriting competitions developed to acknowledge and promote gifted aspiring screenplay writers. The Fellowship awards up to five $35,000 cash prizes each year. You can enter this competition if you have earned less than $5,000 from writing any kind of fictional material for film or TV.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also invites 10 finalists to participate in its celebratory week of awards, seminars and networking events in November. Winners of the Fellowship must complete at least one full feature movie screenplay. If you are a budding writer or a published writer but who has no connections in the movie industry, the Nicholl Fellowships is one way to get your script read and analyzed by top literary agents and film producers. Winning this Fellowship guarantees a start in a successful screenwriting career.

Deadline: May 1st, 2015. Entry fee: $40-$75.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by University of California Santa Barbara
sponsored by University of California Santa Barbara | Source

The Paul N. and Elinor T. Lazarus Scholarship - $4,000 Prize

The University of California Santa Barbara sponsors The Paul N. and Elinor T. Lazarus Scholarship each year to help student screenwriters pursue a successful career in film or television writing after college. The cash prize of $4,000 is applied to the student's 4th quarter semester. The Award funds most of the winning student's senior year costs. During the academic period the winning student is supposed to work under the guidance of a faculty advisor and to create, write and rework one original screenplay.

Deadline: May 4, 2014. Entry fee: none.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

sponsored by UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television
sponsored by UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television | Source

Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award - $15,000 Prize

The Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award is a highly acclaimed screenwriting competition for students (undergrad or former graduate) enlisted at any University of California as well as recent past graduates. Prizewinners enjoy prodigious attention from film executives, literary/film agents, and movie producers, because the endowment of the competition is hugely acknowledged throughout the entertainment industry.

The awards were begun by renowned movie developer, Samuel Goldwyn, Sr. to motivate and recognize young screenplay, stage, playwright, film, and TV writers. Some of the more famous winners include Francis Ford Coppola, one of Hollywood's most creative and prominent film directors.

Previous winners of this screenwriting competition have produced over 300 films, TV series, and adapted TV dramas. Many winners also became best-selling authors who, together, have released more than 65 novels and books.

The Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award offers a first prize of is $15,000, a second prize of $7,500, third place prize of $4,000, and also awards two honorable mentions with a cash prize of $2,000 and $1,000. This competition is sponsored by sponsored by UCLA, School of Theater, Film and Television.

Deadline: June 4th, 2014. NO ENTRY FEE.

[ Enter screenwriting competition ]

© 2012 Brian Scott

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    • Amaryllis profile image

      Lesley Charalambides 4 years ago from New Hampshire

      I had no idea there were so many competitions in this area. Thanks a lot for an interesting and useful hub.

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