The Dunbar Prize for Writing

When the Dunbar Student Life Prize was originally conceived in the 1920s, it was described as “an annual contest between, and confined to, undergraduates of [Williams] College, based on entries consisting of articles, essays, or editorials … [about] student life in its social, political, educational, or religious aspects.”

Today, the Dunbar Prize for Writing stays true to the original intention of the prize; it is an award designed to encourage the efforts of promising student writers who have produced significant written work about college life in its social, political, educational, and/or religious aspects. Candidates for the prize must be currently enrolled Williams students; first-year students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors are eligible.

Dunbar Magazine 2024 is here!

Keep an eye out for the first edition of the Dunbar Magazine, featuring award winning writing from Varya Kluev, Analua Alencar Moreira, David Wignall, Hannah Bae, Kitt Urdang, Miles Kodama, Myla Dengler, Shizah Kashif, Haley Zimmerman, Esther Eboh, Isabel Williams, and Mico Mendoza.


Dunbar 2025 Submission Criteria:

  • Entries must be on a topic of student life that focuses on any local, national, or global issue affecting college students.
  • Submissions can fall under any genre of writing; the selection committee seeks writing that is exemplary of its specific genre.
  • Entires must be original written work and should not exceed 15 pages.
    • Prose writers may submit one piece (an essay, article, academic paper, short story or other piece of prose); excerpts of longer works are welcome.
    • Poets may submit up to three poems as long as submissions are within the 15-page limit.
    • If the work is previously published, please provide an accurate citation.
  • Selection is blind; entries should not include the student’s name.

The submission deadline is at the end of Winter Study, and winners are announced early in the spring semester. Winning entries are published in a campus-wide print magazine before the end of the academic year.

There are typically two to three awards granted in each category: First Place, Second Place, Third Place, and Honorable Mention. Cash prizes range between $250 and $2,000.

All winning entries will be published in a campus-wide print magazine before the end of the academic year, and all winners will be invited to a launch party and reading when the magazine comes out.

Each winner is expected to send a note of acknowledgment to Bonnie Dunbar, great-granddaughter of James Robert Dunbar and Harriet Walton Dunbar, for whom the award is named.

The 2025 Dunbar Prize will open in the fall of 2024, with submissions due at the end of winter study, 2025.