Application Instructions

The 2023 competition will open April 1 and will close April 30.

Dedman Distinguished Scholars Essay Competition application

The essay itself is limited to 4,000 characters, which is about 750-800 words. Judges will review essays and score them based on a number of factors including:

  • Adherence to the prompt
  • Originality and creativity
  • Grammar and mechanics
  • Organization and presentation
  • Ability to inspire and evoke emotion

Please keep all 5 judging criteria in mind when writing and submitting your essay.


This year’s essay prompt is centered around the DDSP virtue of Integrity.

“Can you imagine a time when someone’s lack of integrity led to more success? What can this teach us about the value of integrity?”

The purpose of the prompt is to have students think critically about the issue of integrity rather than simply accept it as a virtue at face value.  It’s easy to write an essay about why integrity is important, but it’s much harder to write one about why integrity is important even when people sometimes succeed without it. 


Winning essays will receive a certificate from the program along with one of the following cash award prizes:

  • First place
  • Second Place
  • Third Place
  • Honorable mention #1
  • Honorable mention #2



  • Only sophomores and juniors currently enrolled in a public or private high school in Texas are eligible to apply
  • Essays must be the original work of student entrants
  • Winning students must submit documentation from their high schools showing their enrollment status
  • Each student is allowed only one entry in the competition per year
  • Essay forms must be fully completed using the link above for submission to be valid for the competition
  • Winners must agree to submit and allow brief biographical information to be posted on the Dedman Distinguished Scholars Essay Competition website and in other materials
  • Winners will be required to create a UT EID and submit a payment address with the University.
    • Winners do not have to attend UT Austin in order to receive their funds. The cash awards can be used for any school.

Beginning in 2022, the DDSP will also host two Writing Workshops to help students prepare for the competition. Students entering the competition are strongly encouraged to attend these writing workshops. Students can also review the Writing Resources page to find information about how to craft an effective essay. The resources listed on that page are commonly provided to students at UT Austin to help them write effectively at the college level. Winning essays are expected to be written at that level as well, so all entrants should review and make use of the information provided when crafting their essays.

For questions about the competition, please contact us at

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