Carnegie Mellon University

Writing Awards

Through the generosity of alumni and friends of the department, the English Department is pleased to host several writing awards for Carnegie Mellon University students:

The Adamson Awards

An annual highlight of the English Department is the Adamson Student Writing Awards. These awards are presented for student excellence in fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and non-fiction, and are open to undergratuate and graduate students throughout the Carnegie Mellon University community. Winners are selected by off-campus writers and are presented in a formal event featuring a distinguished visiting writer. The Adamson Awards are presented in honor of Pauline B. Adamson at the bequest of her husband, the late Clarence H. Adamson, as a testimonial to their marriage and her interest in the English Language and American Literature. Learn more about the Adamson Awards here.

The Charles C. Dawe Memorial Award

The Charles C. Dawe Memorial Award, established in 1998 by the generous grandparent of a Professional Writing almuna, encourages creativity and innovation in publishing. The Dawe provides a $2,000 grant for a student or group of students (one of whom must be a junior majoring in Creative Writing, English, Professional Writing, or Technical Writing) to write, edit, design, and self-publish a prototype of an innovative publication during the student's senior year.  Winners are announced  at the Adamson Awards ceremony.  Learn more about the Dawe award and download the application here.

The Excellence in First-Year Writing Awards

The Excellence in First-Year Writing Awards have recently been established to recognize exceptional academic writing produced by Carnegie Mellon freshmen. The students’ written work emerges from the expertise they’ve developed for an entire semester within a particular section of either 76100 or 76101. Winning essays are announced annually and published in an online-journal format. Learn more about the First-Year Writing Awards.

The Hilary Masters Award for the Personal Essay

The Hilary Masters Award for the personal essay was made possible by the alumnus Vijay Palaparty.  The award reflects Hilary’s love of essay, for in the words of his hero, Montaigne: "Human understanding is marvelously enlightened by daily conversation with men, for we are, otherwise, compressed and heaped up in ourselves, and have our sight limited to the length of our own noses."

The Martin Luther King Awards

Jim Daniels, Director of the Creative Writing Program, established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards in 1999. The program builds on Daniels' commitment to writing about race (he edited Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race). In 2001, the event expanded to include a separate category for Carnegie Mellon students, working on the premise that the voices of college students, and their varying experiences, could and should interact with the young voices from the Pittsburgh community. Learn more about the Martin Luther King Awards here.

The Nagin Award

The Edythe and Leon Nagin Fund was established by Dr. Daniel Nagin, the Heinz Professor of Public Policy, in honor of his parents, Leon Nagin (CIT 1937) and Edythe Nagin (MM 1941). Each year a $250 prize will be awarded for best creative writing undergraduate honors thesis, and announced at the Adamson Awards ceremony.