Kelly-Douglas Fund
The Kelly Essay Prize for Excellence in Humanistic Scholarship

Applications are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Honoring outstanding achievement in non-fiction writing

To acknowledge outstanding achievement by undergraduate students intellectually committed to fields of study that fall under the purview of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at MIT, the Kelly-Douglas Fund awards two prizes of up to $800 each to the best essays in any field of study within SHASS.

Beginning this year the Kelly-Douglas Fund has restructured the terms of the annual Kelly Essay Prize to admit a wider range of student essay submissions than in years past. For this year’s competition, all forms of non-fiction prose are eligible for consideration. In addition to submitting research essays written for SHASS subjects in any of the fields above, students may submit works of 12-20 pages in these genres: personal essays, memoir, cultural commentary, creative non-fiction, travel writing, field reports, and science journalism.

Faculty Role

The Kelly Essay Prize is distinctive in being the only SHASS writing award open to all students engaged in HASS-related studies, with no further restriction on topic and content. Faculty are encouraged to identify high-quality undergraduate essays written for courses they offer, and help students develop them for submission to the essay competition.


Applications are due by 5:00 pm on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 

Application Process


Top Image: Detail, The Eight-legged Essay (Ba Gu Wen)
The eight-legged essay was a style of essay writing that had to be mastered to pass the imperial examinations during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is named so because it was divided into eight sections.