Submit a High School Essay You Wrote This Year for the David McCullough Essay Prize

David McCullough at Trinity School in Manhattan, October 15, 2019The David McCullough Essay Prizes recognize outstanding high school student research essays with cash prizes of up to $10,000.

Students in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in our National Academy of American History and Civics and our Student Advisory Council and awardees of the Richard Gilder History Prize for 2022–2023 are eligible and encouraged to participate by submitting an original essay, written independently or for a 2022–2023 class, that has been revised, expanded, and adapted to conform with the McCullough Prize specifications.

All participants will receive a certificate of participation suitable for framing. Prize winners will receive cash awards as follows:

  • 1st Prize: $10,000 (plus a $500 prize awarded to the school)
  • 2nd Prize: $5,000 (plus a $500 prize awarded to the school)
  • Nine 3rd Prizes: $1,000 each

To be considered for the David McCullough Essay Prizes, students, or their teachers or parents, can submit their entry by 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, June 30, 2023. The entries will be reviewed by a panel of Gilder Lehrman master teachers who will choose the pool of finalists, from which a jury of eminent historians will choose the winners. Essays will be evaluated for their historical rigor, the clarity and correctness of their style, their use of evidence, and their qualities of empathy and imagination. Winners will be notified and announced no later than Friday, September 15, 2023.

This contest is named for David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and life member of the Gilder Lehrman Institute Board of Trustees, and honors his career telling America’s stories and examining its histories.

Learn more and submit your essay here!