MFA Prizes

We offer prizes in all three genres. These are awarded each year and are judged by prestigious writers. Find application information and deadlines below.

Bennington MFA Fiction Prize

Deadline: April 2, 2018

The Third Annual Prize

  • 2015 winner: Justa Lanie Garrett; judge: Randall Kenan
  • 2016 winner: Amber Caron; judge: Jamie Quatro 
  • 2017 winner: Alexander Benaim; judge: Katie Simpson Smith

This prize is being funded by a group of Bennington Writing Seminars MFA Fiction alumnae/i, who wish to remain anonymous and to whom we give enormous thanks.

Submission details
  • All Bennington Writing Seminars (BWS) fiction students graduating in January or June 2018/19, including those who switched genres to fiction in their third term, are eligible.
  • Students may submit one unpublished piece or excerpt (no more than 8 pages total).
  • The winner will be announced during June residency and will receive a $1,000 prize.
  • The benefactors of the prize will choose the judge this year and in years to come, taking care to represent a wide variety of aesthetics. BWS teachers are not eligible to judge.
  • Submissions should include two copies of the manuscript and a coversheet with your name, graduation date, and contact information. Please do not put any identifying information on the prose itself.
  • Deadline: April 2, 2018
  • Send submissions to: The Bennington Writing Seminars MFA Fiction Prize, c/o Bennington MFA Writing Seminars, One College Drive, Bennington, Vermont 05201.

Sven Birkerts Nonfiction Prize

Deadline: April 2, 2018

The Third Annual Prize

  • 2015 winner: Katie Powers; judge: Mark Slouka
  • 2016 winner: Jean Hey; judge: Richard C. Hoffman
  • 2017 winner: Susan Sheu; judge: Phillip Lopate

This prize is endowed by Bennington Nonfiction alumnae Lee Hancock (Jan ’14) and Charlie Lewis (Jan ’14), to whom we give immense thanks.

Submission details
  • All Bennington Writing Seminars (BWS) nonfiction students graduating in January or June 2018, including those who switched genres to nonfiction in their third term, are eligible.
  • Students may submit one unpublished piece or excerpt (no more than 8 pages total).
  • The winner will be announced during June residency and will receive a $1,000 prize.
  • Sven Birkerts will choose the judge this year and in years to come, taking care to represent a wide variety of aesthetics. BWS teachers are not eligible to judge.
  • Submissions should include two copies of the manuscript and a coversheet with your name, graduation date, and contact information. Please do not put any identifying information on the prose itself.
  • Deadline: April 2, 2018
  • Send submissions to: The Sven Birkerts Nonfiction Prize, c/o Bennington MFA Writing Seminars, One College Drive, Bennington, Vermont 05201.

The Liam Rector Poetry Prize

Deadline: April 1, 2017

The Sixth Annual Prize

This prize is endowed by the poet and our poetry core faculty member, Ed Ochester, to whom we give huge thanks.

  • 2012 winner: Dana Russo; judge: Donald Hall
  • 2013 winner: Barrett Warner; judge: Jane Hirshfield
  • 2014 winner: Rabb Asad; judge: David Lehman
  • 2015 winner: Alysse Kathleen; judge: Amy Gerstler 
  • 2016 winner: Chloe Stricklin; judge: Denise Duhamel 
  • 2017 winner: Lauren Wilson; judge: Afaa Weaver
Submission details
  • All Bennington Writing Seminars (BWS) poetry students graduating in January or June 2018, including those who switched genres to poetry in their third term, are eligible.
  • Students may submit one to two unpublished poems (no more than four pages total).
  • The winner will be announced during June residency and will receive a $1000 prize.
  • Ed Ochester will choose the judge this year and in years to come, taking care to represent a wide variety of aesthetics. BWS teachers are not eligible to judge.
  • Submissions should include two copies of the manuscript and a coversheet with your name, graduation date, and contact information. Please do not put any identifying information on the poems themselves.
  • Deadline: April 2, 2018
  • Send submissions to: The Liam Rector Poetry Prize, c/o Bennington Writing Seminars, One College Drive, Bennington, Vermont 05201.