Here is my massive, definitive list of creative writing contests for student writers, organized by deadline. I left magazines and publications off this post since many of those accept submissions year-round. Contests open to international students are marked +international.
Unspecified or rolling deadlines:
Amazing Kids! ages 7-18 +international
Nasa Careers Poetry Contest ages 8-17
PBS Kids Go! Writer’s Contest grades K – 3rd
Write the World ages 13-18 +international
Columbia College Young Authors Writing Competition high School students
Submission Deadline: TBA for 2017
The Young Authors writing competition is a national competition for high school writers of fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry.
Hong Kong Young Writers Award grades 1-12 (HK, Macau, China) Since its inception in 2010, the competition has been a resounding success, with more than 980+ innovative entries coming in from 200+ participating schools across Hong Kong, Macau and China in 2016.
International Thespian Festival high schoolers +international Thespian Playworks nurtures original student-written plays from the page to the stage. The program staff will choose up to four works to be developed in June at the International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska. Professional directors and dramaturgs will help the chosen finalists to workshop and present their plays with student actors. Writers must be active members of the International Thespian Society enrolled in high school during the current school year. All finalists must be available to attend the up-coming International Thespian Festival. Plays must be the original work of a single Thespian writer. Collaborative works or ad-aptations won’t be considered, nor will plays that include music, lyrics, or dialogue writ-ten by anyone other than the submitting writer. Musicals should be submitted to Thes-pian Musicalworks. Plays can be about any subject but should have a running time of thirty minutes or less (approximately thirty typed pages). Writers may submit more than one play for consideration.
Time for Kids poetry contest. ages 8-13. Deadline January 30. You must be a subscriber to get info.
The Gaithersburg Book Festival grades 9-12 (Washington DC area) a short story contest for students in living in the Washington metropolitan area. Short stories must be no longer than 1,000 words and must begin with one of three lines provided on the contest website.
Kids World Fun Story Contest ages 7-16 +international
Nasa's Scientist for a Day Essay Contest grades 5-12 +international
Neuroscience Kids Poetry Contest grades K-12 +international
The Adroit Prizes high school and college students +international
Submission Deadline: TBA for 2017
Accepts Online Submissions
All secondary and undergraduate students are eligible, including those undergraduate students who have graduated a semester early (i.e., in December 2015). Submissions should include up to eight poems, and up to three works of fiction or nonfiction.
Princeton University Ten-Minute Play Contest for High School Students grade 11 +internationa
Scholastic’s Kids are Authors grades K–8
Details: This unique writing contests asks kids to collaborate in groups of three or more and the entries must be between 21 – 29 pages, illustrations included. (Text + illustration = 1 page.) The deadline is March 15, 2016 and is the last time for this contest. See all the rules and info here.
TIME for Kids 13 & younger is a non-fiction weekly news magazine for classrooms, a child-oriented version of its parent, TIME Magazine. Many of the articles are written by TFK’s Kid Reporters, a job for which the magazine opens a talent search each year in March--the TFK Kid Reporter Contest. Entrants must be 13 years old or younger and write a compelling news story about a school or community event and interview subjects. More »
Young Writers Explore Learning (UK ONLY) 14 and under (UK only)
Details: A UK based contest judged by author Lauren Child with specific prompts.
Washington Post KidsPost Annual Poetry Contest ages 5-14 +international occurs every April in honor of National Poetry Month.
Betty Award ages 8 – 12 +international
Details: Check the website for deadlines for their spring and fall writing contests. Cash prizes. $15 fee.
FenCon grades 3 – 5, grades 6 – 8, grades 9 – 12 +international
Details: We’re looking for a science fiction or fantasy story on any topic. The only limits are your imagination and the short list of rules. No entry fee. There are small cash awards for the winners in each category. The submissions will be evaluated by a panel of teachers (retired and current). Due June 15, 2016.
Rattle Young Poets Anthology ages under 18 +international Poetry anthology
Foyle Young Poets ages 11-17 +international (UK contest)
Submission Deadline: July 31
Each year 100 winners (85 Commendations and 15 Overall Winners) are selected by a team of high profile judges, and will receive their awards at an annual prize-giving event on National Poetry Day. OverallWinners will have their poems published in the annual Foyle Anthology. Additionally, winners attend a week-long intensive residential Arvon course where they develop their creative writing skills alongside fellow poets or benefit from long distance mentoring.
Mrs. P’s Be a Famous Writer grades K-4th
Details: Submissions open from September to mid-November each year with a yearly prompt.
The Nation Student Writing Contest high school and college
Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students grade 11 +international
Submission Deadline: 2017 submissions will open late autumn.
Princeton University Poetry contest for High School Students recognizes outstanding work by student writers. The jury consisted of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty.
YoungArts 15–18 or in grades 10–12
Submission Deadline: October 15th, 2016
Accepts Online Submissions
Cost: $25 per submission
The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages from across the United States. Winners receive valuable support, including financial awards of up to $10,000, professional development and educational experiences working with renowned mentor. It is the nation's only path to becoming a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers grades 10-11 +international
Submission Window: November 1-November 30, 2016, TBA for 2017
Accepts Online Submissions
The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem and the poems of the two runners-up will be published in The Kenyon Review, one of the country’s most widely read literary magazines.
Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder all ages +international
The Intergenerational Sense of Wonder/Sense of the Wild Contest sponsored by Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance (RCLA) is a great way for you (as a child or as an adult, in an intergenerational team) to express an appreciation for nature, with a chance of winning for your team. Contest rules are the same as those used in 2015. Deadline for entries is November 1, 2016. Winners will be announced by December 1, 2016. We encourage teachers to use this contest as a class project. Contact RCLA for suggestions.
Letters About Literature grades 4-12. Sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the annual Letters About Literature is an interesting competition in that it combines both reading and writing. Students must write an essay (in the form of a letter) describing how a certain book or author has had a profound effect on their outlook on life. Students are grouped by age into three different levels, all of which are judged at both a state and national level. Entries are judged on the merits of composition (grammar, organization and language skills); content (how well the theme has been addressed); and voice. National winners receive a monetary or gift card prize as well as sizeable “LAL Reading Promotion” grant in their name for the local school district. More »
River of Words Poetry & Art Contest ages 5-19 +international A free international art and poetry contest, held annually since 1995 in conjunction with the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards grades 7-12. This prestigious contest was begun in 1923 and its winners include such notable people as Sylvia Plath, Robert Redford, Joyce Carol Oates and Truman Capote. Writers in grades 7 through 12 may submit work in one or more of the following categories: Dramatic Script, Flash Fiction, Humor, Journalism, Personal Essay, Persuasive Writing, Poetry, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Short Story and Novel Writing. Entries are judged both regionally and nationally--the highest level regional work is submitted for national consideration. National level winners are published in anthologies and Scholastic publications. More »
Writing Times ages 5 – 12 +international (UK contest)
This online literary magazine holds writing and drawing competitions throughout the year about a specific theme.