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Hopwood Undergraduate 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

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. 

To be eligible to enter a contest with "Hopwood" in the title, undergraduates 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). Course numbers may differ for Flint and Dearborn students; please email to ask if a course qualifies.

The rule requiring a writing course is unwaivable for undergraduates; a literature course does not qualify a student.

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). There is one exception: Submissions to the Hopwood Award Theodore Roethke Prize may be included as part of the manuscript making up a submission to the Hopwood Graduate or Undergraduate Poetry Contest. 

Students may submit manuscripts with changes up until 11:59 p.m. on the deadline date.

Contest submissions should be unpublished and should not be under consideration for publication OR accepted for publication at the time of the contest deadline.

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 abide by the following: "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. Changes in University of Michigan protocol have put more students at risk for impact to their financial aid package. All applicants should be aware of any possible issues and are encouraged to reach out to the financial aid office at

Qualifying Courses

Certain writing courses not listed below may also be used as qualifying courses. Check with the Hopwood Program Manager at least one week before contest deadline to determine course eligibility.

Ann Arbor campus:

In the Department of English Language and Literature:

  • 124, Academic Writing and Literature
  • 125, Writing and Academic Inquiry
  • 126, Community-Engaged Writing
  • 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

Email with inquiries about courses not listed here at least one week ahead of the contest deadline.

Dearborn Campus:

In the Department of English (ENGL):

223, 310, 322, 323, 327, 328, 331, 467, 468


COMP: 106, 220, 270, 280, 2015

JASS: 248, 305, 309, 310, 312, 315, 330, 331, 404, 405, 406, 467, 3015

Email with inquiries about courses not listed here at least one week ahead of the contest deadline.

Flint Campus:

In the Department of English (ENG):

109, 110, 111, 252, 295, 296, 297, 298, 309, 338, 354, 392, 393, 397, 398, 399


THE: 390

COM: 225, 338

Email with inquiries about courses not listed here at least one week ahead of the contest deadline.


Entries should be double-spaced in 10, 11, or 12 point font, with a left-hand margin of 1 inch and at least a margin of 1 inch on all other sides. Poems, plays, and screenplays need not be double-spaced throughout. A contestant must use a pen name - entirely different from their 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 that includes the title, pen name, and contest and division of the contest (e.g., Hopwood Undergraduate Poetry). The formatting below is offered as a suggestion; alternate formats are acceptable and will not disqualify submissions.

  • Title: center 1/3 of a page down from the top margin. 
  • Pen name: center under title; separate by at least 3 spaces. 
  • Contest and division entered: center under pen name; separate by at least 6 spaces.