Essay Contest Rules

Contest applicants must be enrolled as full-time students (at least 12 credits for undergrad and 6 credits for graduate students) at Brigham Young University in either semester of the 2023-2024 school year.

1. This contest provides a total award this year of $1,850 to the winners and any outside judges. This prize is distributed according the discretion of the judge. Depending on the quality of the essays, the judges may divide the money among as many winners as they choose, even giving the entire amount to the first place essay. Or, if the judges feel that the submitted essays are not good enough, they may withhold some or all of the awards.

2. The Mayhew Committee may announce a subject for the contest in any given year. In such instances, all essays must deal with that subject. No subject has been specified for the 2023-2024 competition, however. Students may choose their own topics, restricted only by standards of propriety and good taste. Personal essays are welcomed in this category.

3. The contest jury will judge the essays on the basis of organization, development, the freshness of language, originality, perception, and general literary merit. The essays should appeal to the intelligent lay reader.

4. Although writers may do research and background reading for their essays, the jury will reject research papers. Occasional footnotes are acceptable, but writers should try to make their credits an integral part of their papers. Writers should also avoid frequent long quotations.

5. Essays must be no longer than 8,000 words. Manuscripts are to be typed in a 12-point font, double spaced, with 1-inch margins. The number of words in the essay should appear in the upper right hand corner of the first page.

6. All entries are to be submitted between January 8th and March 2nd, 2024 before 11:59 p.m., and the winning essays will be announced at an awards ceremony later in the semester. Entries should be uploaded to the Mayhew website. No hard copies will be accepted in the College of Humanities office.

7. The Mayhew Committee will appoint a jury of essayists and critics (selected from the BYU faculty and elsewhere) to judge the essays.

8. Each student submitting an entry will upload a PDF file of their entry and fill out the appropriate information giving name, address, and telephone number and certifying (a) that he or she is eligible by proper enrollment at BYU to enter the contest, and (b) that the entry submitted is the student’s own creative work. The student’s real name will appear only to the Mayhew contest organizers. Please do not put your name on the actual PDF entry itself, we ask instead that you put your student ID number in its place. 


Important note: In addition to the specific rules above for the Essay Contest, see the “General Regulations” giving information on all Mayhew Student Creative Contests. Both the general regulations and the specific rules for each contest should be followed by every student who enters one or more of the contests.

All submissions require a cover sheet (title and student ID number) and must be submitted online in PDF format after filling out the online form (see below and Log-In to access). Online submissions will open on January 8th, 2024.

Contest Contact Information

Professor Pat Madden
Essay Contest Chairman
4142 JFSB, Telephone 801-422-6439

WHEN LOGGING IN: Please note that you will be redirected to a WordPress dashboard. Once you are redirected, simply return to the respective Mayhew Contest page you were on and you should be logged in. If you have any issues logging in you can call 801-422-2775 or email