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Graduate and Undergraduate Hopwood Contest

Awards are offered in the following genres: Novel, drama, screenplay, nonfiction (any form of nonfiction prose, including creative nonfiction), short fiction and poetry.

Rules of Eligibility

The awards are classified as Graduate Awards or Undergraduate Awards in the nonfiction (any form of nonfiction prose, including creative nonfiction), short fiction, and poetry divisions. The noveldrama, and screenplay divisions are combined categories in which undergraduates and graduate students compete together.

Page limits:

  • Novel — 100 page minimum
  • Drama — approximately 50–60 pages (one act), 80–100 pages (full length).  Two one-act plays may be submitted, but only one full-length play.
  • Screenplay — 90–110 pages
  • Undergraduate Nonfiction — 15-40 pages
  • Undergraduate Short Fiction — 15–40 pages
  • Undergraduate Poetry  — 10–40 pages
  • Graduate Nonfiction  —15-50 pages
  • Graduate Short Fiction — 15–50 pages
  • Graduate Poetry —10–50 pages

Pages should be numbered consecutively. The limits are for the TOTAL number of pages in a manuscript. For example, submitting a 6 page story together with a 9 page story would satisfy the short fiction minimum page limit.

The contest is open to all University of Michigan students, whether candidates for a degree or not, who are regularly enrolled in the University. Undergraduates must carry at least six hours of regular University work each term. Graduate students must also be regularly enrolled in the University and must carry at least 3 credits each term.

To be eligible, a student must have been enrolled in one course in writing for 2–3 credits within the past two years or be taking a writing course in the current term. Courses may be taken in the departments of EnglishCommunicationTheatre and DramaScreen Arts and Cultures, or in the Residential College (a list of qualifying courses is listed below). 

This rule requiring a writing course is unwaivable; a literature course does not qualify a student.

No graduate student may enter the Hopwood Contest for more than a total of four times or re-enter an area in which he or she has previously won an award, though he or she may compete in other areas.

Students who have been enrolled in the fall term but will not be enrolled in the following term (e.g., December graduates) may compete, provided they have fulfilled the above requirements. Such students must submit their manuscripts not later than December 20, 2020 by noon. This rule only applies to a few students. Students studying abroad may submit by noon on January 27, 2021.

No manuscript or part of a manuscript that has received an award in any contest administered by the Hopwood Program may be entered in any subsequent contest. This rule does not apply to contestants in the Cowden, Kasdan, and Miller Scholarship competitions.

The same material may not be submitted in different categories (for example, nonfiction and fiction or short fiction and novel).

Students may submit manuscripts with changes up until the 12 noon  deadline.

No manuscript or part of a manuscript that has been published in a medium other than a college magazine or college newspaper may be entered in any contest. However, work that has been accepted for publication but that has not appeared in print by the time of the contest deadline may be entered.

Only original work may be entered in the contest. Collaborations, translations, and adaptations are not acceptable. Only the written portion of mixed-media manuscripts may be submitted.

Except in the case of novels, only completed works (as opposed to works-in-progress) may be submitted.

The committee reserves the right to retain for its files one copy of each winning manuscript.

Each contestant winning an award will be required to sign the following statement: "In case of the publication of the manuscript submitted by me in the Hopwood Contest, and forming the basis for the award I have received, I agree to indicate in a footnote or otherwise that this manuscript was granted a prize in the Avery Hopwood and Jule Hopwood Contest for [year of award] at The University of Michigan."

Note: If you participate in need-based aid programs, be aware that your award is considered a "resource" and could impact your award package.

Qualifying Courses

This eligibility does not apply to graduate students. Certain writing courses not listed below may also be used as qualifying courses. Check with the Hopwood Assistant Director before the day of the deadline to determine course eligibility.

In the Department of English Language and Literature:

  • 124, Academic Writing and Literature
  • 125, Writing and Academic Inquiry
  • 223, Creative Writing
  • 225, Academic Argumentation
  • 226, Directed Writing
  • 227, Introductory Playwriting
  • 229, Professional Writing
  • 323, Creative Writing: Fiction
  • 324, Creative Writing: Poetry
  • 325, Art of the Essay
  • 327, Intermediate Playwriting
  • 328, Writing and Environment; NELP (New England Literature Program)
  • 340, Studies in Poetry
  • 398, Junior Seminar in English Studies
  • 423, Advanced Fiction Writing
  • 424, Advanced Poetry Writing
  • 425, Advanced Essay Writing
  • 426, Directed Writing
  • 427, Advanced Playwriting
  • 428, Senior Creative Writing Tutorial
  • 429, Writing of Poetry
  • 509, Language and Literature
  • 540, Word-work: Reading, Writing, and Teaching Creative Nonfiction.
  • 569, Creative Nonfiction
  • 571, 572, 574, 575, 671, 674, and 675, Writing Workshops for Graduate Students
  • 577, Independent Study in Writing
  • 578, 579, Creative Writing for Graduate Students

In other Departments/Programs:

  • In the Residential College — The following Residential College courses may be used for qualification: 100, 220, 221, 222, 242, 300, 320, 321, 322, 325, 326, 410, 425, 426
    • Note: The Residential College offers a number of courses in composition which students may use to qualify for the Hopwood Contests. Most of these are open to non-Residential College students. See the Residential College Creative Writing bulletin for details.
  • Honors Theses — Honors theses courses in all departments qualify for the Hopwood Contest.
  • Other — The following other courses qualify for the Hopwood Contest:
    • Sweetland Center for Writing (Writing) courses carrying at least 2 credits
    • Classical Civilization: 101
    • Lloyd Hall Scholars Program: 125, 130, 165, 228, and 230
    • Great Books: 191 (Note: Great Books 192 does not qualify)
    • Public Policy: 495
    • Screenwriting: 308, 310, 311, 410, 411, 423, 427, and 499

Entries should be double-spaced in 10, 11, or 12 point font on one side of the paper only, with a left-hand margin of 1½ inches (we bind the winning manuscripts). Poems, plays, and screenplays need not be double-spaced throughout.  A contestant must use a pen name--entirely different from his or her real name.  This name should only appear on the title page, nowhere else in the manuscript.  Submissions should be in PDF format. Please make sure the pen name you select in your registration matches the one on your PDF.  The same pen name must be used for all categories.

The PDF must have a title page on which shall appear: 

  • The title
  • The pen name
  • The contest and division entered (e.g., Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry).


Regular Deadline: 12 noon, January 27, 2021.  Please be advised that the deadline is enforced to the minute.

Special Deadline:  December 20, 2020 by noon (only for contestants who will not be enrolled Winter Term, e.g. December Graduates).  Students studying abroad may use the January 27, 2021 deadline.


Announcement of Awards

The announcement of the 2018-2019 awards will be made before the Hopwood Lecture on Thursday, April 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Rackham Auditorium. The Hopwood Lecture will follow the announcement of the awards. 

The committee reserves the right to keep on file one copy of each winning manuscript. The committee will not be held responsible for the safety of any manuscript presented in the contest.