Liberal Arts Essay Competition

This annual competition is open to all undergraduates and requires submission of an essay through the WiSH system on a different topic each year related to the liberal arts. There is a $1,000 prize to the winning entry and $500 prize to a runner-up.

Eligible applicants must be enrolled undergraduates from any school or college who are currently enrolled and have a minimum cumulative 2.5 grade point average.

Final selection of winning essays will be determined by University General Education Committee. Recipients will be notified in Spring 2020. Please contact with questions.

Please review this year’s

2020 Liberal Arts Essay Competition Guidelines

Contact the Writing Center to review a draft of your essay


$500 - $1,000
College of Letters and Science
Supplemental Questions
  1. Please review this year's

    2020 Liberal Arts Essay Competition Instructions

    . I have read the instructions and understand that my essay must be submitted by upload as a pdf document type by March 9, 2020, at Midnight - Central Time.
  2. A workshop is being offered by the Writing Center on preparing essays for this competition in February. In January go to this site for more details.
  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison requirements encourage students to complete a program of study that is both broad and deep. Through the General Education and Breadth requirements, students learn to think in different ways and about a wide range of topics, while in their majors, students explore specific disciplines in depth. The General Education Committee sponsors this essay contest because its members are interested in how these two dimensions of a Liberal Arts education help prepare students for life after college. I have read the content above.
  4. Essay Prompt: Imagine that the year is 2030. You are now ten years older. Looking back, how did your undergraduate experience at UW-Madison help prepare you for the challenges and opportunities you face right now? In your essay, please reference specific courses to illustrate how your breadth of study complemented your focus in a major (or majors) and how this broad education has helped prepare you for the life you are living in 2030.
  5. Please upload your most up-to-date UW-Madison unofficial transcript here. For instructions on how to do this, go to:

    Request unofficial transcript