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 2021. Please contact with questions.

Please review this year’s

2020-2021 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

    2021 Liberal Arts Essay Competition Guidelines

    . I have read the guidelines and understand that my essay must be submitted by upload as a pdf document type by March 12, 2021, at Midnight - Central Time.
  2. Please upload your most up-to-date UW-Madison unofficial transcript here. For instructions on how to do this, go to:

    Request unofficial transcript

  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison requirements encourage students to complete a program of study that is both broad and deep. The General Education Committee sponsors this essay contest because its members are interested in how these requirements help prepare students to lead informed, engaged, and purposeful lives. To that end, please reflect on the question below. (LAE)
  4. Essay Prompt: From the unequal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different communities, to the ongoing struggle for racial justice, recent events have brought issues of equality and racism to the fore. Using specific examples from at least two courses you have taken at UW-Madison, describe how the breadth of your liberal arts education helps you understand at least one of these issues and prepares you to be an agent for positive change.(LAE)