10 Journalism Competitions for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female intern looking at the camera while she is in front of her laptop

10 Journalism Competitions for High School Students

High school students with a passion for journalism can find participating in competitions incredibly rewarding. These competitions not only provide a platform to showcase journalistic talents but also foster skills such as critical thinking, research, and storytelling.

In this blog, we will explore 10 significant journalism competitions that high school students can participate in to enhance their skills, build their portfolios, and gain recognition.

1. David S. Barr Journalism Award

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: No entry cost.
  • Competition Dates: Unspecified
  • Application Deadline:  The David S. Barr Awards deadline is usually 31-Jan.
  • Eligibility: Open to high school seniors and college students in the United States who have shown journalistic achievement with a focus on social justice issues.

The David S. Barr Journalism Award is an esteemed annual recognition for high school seniors and college students who have excelled in journalism with a particular emphasis on social justice. This award encourages young journalists to explore and report on critical issues affecting society, aiming to bring about positive change through their work. The award recognizes not just journalistic talent but also the commitment to addressing and highlighting social justice issues, a crucial aspect of contemporary journalism.

Young man using a laptop in a table.

The David S. Barr Journalism Award is notable in the world of journalism competitions for high school students for its focus on social justice, a vital and increasingly relevant field in journalism. Winning this award can be a significant accolade for aspiring journalists, underscoring their dedication to impactful reporting.

2. Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Awards

  • Location: Online (Columbia University)
  • Cost: Free for the Gold Circle Awards; Crown Awards included in Regular or Associate Membership fees
  • Competition Dates: Guidelines for the 2024 CSPA Awards have not been announced.
  • Application Deadline: Guidelines for the 2024 CSPA Awards have not been announced.
  • Eligibility: Open to student publications that are members of the CSPA. The programs encompass a broad range of categories and are available to schools and colleges in the U.S. and internationally.

The CSPA Awards, consisting of the Crown Awards and the Gold Circle Awards, recognize and celebrate excellence in student journalism. The Crown Awards assess overall excellence in print or digital student publications, while the Gold Circle Awards focus on individual achievements across various journalistic categories. These awards provide a platform for aspiring journalists to showcase their talents in news, magazines, digital media, and yearbooks.

A stack of folded newspapers



The CSPA Awards Programs are significant in the landscape of journalism competitions for high school students, offering both publication-wide and individual recognition. These awards highlight the students’ ability to produce professional-level journalism and their dedication to journalistic excellence. Success in these competitions can greatly enhance a student’s college application and future career prospects, demonstrating their commitment to high standards in journalism.

3. National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Competitions

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Entry fees vary by competition.
  • Competition Dates: For Spring 2024, the estimated date of opening for submissions is February 2024.
  • Application Deadline: Deadlines vary by contest; for example, the deadline for the 2023-2024 Individual Awards is June 1, 2024, at 5 p.m. CT.
  • Eligibility: Open to student publications from schools and colleges internationally. Eligibility requirements may vary, and membership in the applicable division is required.

The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) offers a range of competitions and awards, including the prestigious Pacemaker Award, which recognizes exceptional student media. These competitions provide a platform for student journalists to showcase their skills in various aspects of journalism, from writing and editing to design and multimedia.

Side view of a woman using her laptop.

NSPA competitions are notable in the field of journalism competitions for high school students for their comprehensive coverage of student media. Winning an NSPA award, particularly the Pacemaker Award, is a mark of excellence in student journalism, reflecting high standards of reporting, writing, and design. Participation in these competitions offers valuable experience, enhances college applications, and can be a significant boost in students’ journalism careers. The diverse range of categories ensures that various aspects of student journalism are recognized and celebrated. This broad scope of awards allows students with different journalistic interests and talents to gain recognition and feedback, fostering a generation of skilled and versatile young journalists.

4. Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo, and Multimedia Contest

  • Location: Open to high school students internationally, organized by the International Honor Society for High School Journalists.
  • Cost: Each entry is $7.
  • Competition Dates: Submission is currently open, with winners expected to be announced by the end of March.
  • Application Deadline: February 2, 2024.
  • Eligibility: Open to high school students in various categories, including writing, photo, and multimedia, under the aegis of the International Honor Society for High School Journalists.

The Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo, and Multimedia Contest offers a unique platform for high school students to exhibit their skills in journalism and digital media. Organized by the International Honor Society for High School Journalists, this all-digital contest covers a wide range of categories, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate their talents in writing, photography, and multimedia production.

Close up of a hand writing in a table.

This contest distinguishes itself among journalism competitions for high school students with its international scope and exclusively digital format. The wide array of categories allows students from various journalistic disciplines to showcase their skills and creativity. Participation in this contest not only bolsters a student’s portfolio but also provides them with international exposure and recognition. The contest’s focus on digital media reflects the evolving landscape of journalism and multimedia, making it a pertinent and forward-thinking competition for aspiring journalists and digital creators.

5. The Emerson Prize

  • Location: Online (Organized by The Concord Review)
  • Cost: Entry fee ranging from $70 to $150, based on the subscription type chosen.
  • Competition Dates: Rolling admissions
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions; specific issues deadlines are February 1 (Summer), May 1 (Fall), August 1 (Winter), and November 1 (Spring)
  • Eligibility: Open to high school students who have authored a history essay prior to completing secondary school. Essays must be in English, sole-authored by the student, at least 4,000 words in length, and submitted in Chicago style with notes and a bibliography.

The Emerson Prize, presented by The Concord Review, is a prestigious award recognizing excellence in historical research and writing by high school students. This prize honors students who have demonstrated exceptional skill and diligence in researching and writing history papers, offering an opportunity for young historians to gain recognition for their scholarly work.

View of a woman writing in a table.

The Emerson Prize is distinctive in journalism competitions for high school students due to its focus on rigorous historical research and writing. This award not only acknowledges academic excellence but also encourages students to delve deep into historical topics, fostering a love for history and research. Winning the Emerson Prize can significantly enhance a student’s college application, demonstrating their ability to conduct extensive research and articulate complex historical narratives effectively.

6. National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: A $25 fee applies if entries are past the Early Bird Deadline.
  • Competition Dates: The 2024 contest is currently open for entries.
  • Application Deadline: Early Bird Deadline: January 17, 2024 (noon in your time zone)
    Book Final Deadline: January 31, 2024 (noon in your time zone) – Mandatory for book entries.
    Final Deadline: February 7, 2024 (noon in your time zone) – Last chance for all entries.
  • Eligibility: Open to anyone, including college and high school students acting in a professional capacity. There are no age or gender restrictions, making it accessible to a diverse range of participants.

The National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest is a comprehensive, two-tiered competition that welcomes participants from various backgrounds and skill levels. The contest begins at the state level and culminates in a national competition. It includes a wide range of categories, catering to various aspects of communications, including journalism, writing, broadcasting, and digital media.

an unidentified hand starting to write something

This contest is unique among journalism competitions for high school students for its inclusivity and broad scope. It provides a platform for young journalists and communicators to compete alongside professionals, offering invaluable exposure and experience. The diversity of categories allows participants to showcase their talents in multiple areas of communication. Success in this contest can significantly boost a student’s college application and career prospects, demonstrating their skills and commitment to communications. Moreover, the two-tiered structure of the competition—state and national levels—offers a progressive challenge and broader recognition.

7. Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

  • Location: A national program in the United States, including U.S. territories and military bases.
  • Cost: $10 per individual entry and $30 per portfolio, with fee waivers available.
  • Competition Dates: Opens for entries in September, with regional deadlines typically between December and January.
  • Application Deadline: Varies by region, usually between December and January.
  • Eligibility: Open to students in grades 7-12 across the U.S., U.S. territories, and military bases. The competition welcomes submissions in a wide array of categories, including, but not limited to, digital art, photography, sculpture, and various forms of writing.

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is a prestigious and long-standing program that has been nurturing the creative talents of young artists and writers since 1923. This program is known for its broad range of categories, allowing students to express themselves in numerous artistic and literary forms. It provides a significant platform for young creatives to showcase their skills and gain national recognition.

The Scholastic Awards is notable for its extensive history and impact in fostering young talent. Participation in this contest can be a pivotal moment in a student’s artistic journey, as it not only offers opportunities for recognition but also scholarships of up to $12,500. This can be a substantial aid in pursuing further education in the arts. Additionally, the awards’ diverse categories encourage students to explore and refine their skills in various mediums, making it a comprehensive platform for artistic expression.

8. NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Free
  • Competition Dates: The 2024 contest is currently accepting entries.
  • Application Deadline: February 15, 2024.
  • Eligibility: Open to 10th and 11th-grade students in the United States. The program is designed to stimulate and recognize students’ writing talents, emphasizing the importance of writing skills.

The NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing, also known as the NCTE Student Writing Awards, is a distinguished program that encourages high school sophomores and juniors to engage in creative writing. This program offers students a platform to exhibit their writing skills and gain national recognition for their work. The contest includes various genres and styles of writing, allowing students to showcase their versatility and creativity in writing.

View of a student writing in a table.

The NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing is notable in journalism competitions for high school students for its focus on nurturing and acknowledging writing talent. Participation in this contest demonstrates a student’s dedication to refining their writing skills and can be a significant advantage in college admissions, as it highlights both talent and commitment to the craft of writing. The contest’s national scale offers students the chance to earn recognition among a wide pool of talented peers, fostering a sense of accomplishment and encouraging further development in writing.

9. Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Competition Dates: The 2024 application process is currently open.
  • Application Deadline: February 14, 2024.
  • Eligibility: Open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are 18 or younger as of the application deadline.

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program is renowned for recognizing and rewarding gifted and high-achieving students who have completed significant projects or research. This prestigious program offers substantial scholarships to students who have made notable contributions in their respective fields. It encourages and supports the exceptional talents of young individuals in various academic and creative disciplines.

Female student writing something

The Davidson Fellows Scholarship Program is unique in its broad scope of eligible categories and its substantial financial awards. This program not only provides significant financial support for further education but also recognizes and honors the remarkable achievements of young scholars. Being a Davidson Fellow can greatly enhance college applications, showcasing the student’s exceptional talents and dedication to their field of study.

10. American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) Yearbook and Newspaper Contest

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: $75 for yearbooks or magazines, with an early review fee of $14 and an $11 fee for the return of yearbooks. The cost for entering newspapers is also $75.
  • Competition Dates: Submission for 2024 Yearbooks and Magazines is open in the Summer and Fall of 2024.
  • Application Deadline: School Yearbooks and Magazines Review/Contest: Suggested Deadline – October 15th. School Newspapers Review/Contest: Suggested Deadline – February 15th.
  • Eligibility: Open to high school students and journalism programs across the United States. The contest provides an opportunity for journalism teachers and advisors to collaborate and share best practices.

The ASPA Yearbook and Newspaper Contest is a prestigious annual competition that honors excellence in high school journalism. This contest offers students and journalism programs a platform to showcase their yearbooks, magazines, and newspapers. The contest focuses on evaluating and rewarding the hard work and creativity that go into student journalism, including layout design, content quality, and overall presentation.

This contest stands out in journalism competitions for high school students for its comprehensive evaluation of both yearbooks and newspapers. The contest not only recognizes the aesthetic aspects of these publications but also their content and journalistic integrity. Winning or participating in this contest can significantly enhance a school’s journalism program and provide recognition on a national level. For students, this contest is an opportunity to apply real-world journalism skills and gain invaluable experience in the field. 

Group of students taking an exam on their desks.

In wrapping up, if you’re a high school student keen on journalism, participating in these competitions is a smart move. They offer you a practical arena to refine your skills, from critical thinking to storytelling. Every competition brings its own set of challenges and rewards, pushing you to excel in different aspects of journalism. Remember, your involvement in these contests does more than just polish your abilities; it positions you well for future academic and professional pursuits in journalism. Engaging in these events not only enhances your resume but also connects you with a network of like-minded peers and professionals, expanding your horizons in the ever-dynamic field of journalism.


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