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Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Participate in the 2023 contest for your chance to win up to $10,000!

The Atlas Shrugged essay contest is open to all high school, college, and graduate students worldwide. If you are unsure about your eligibility status or have other questions about this year’s contest, please email us at essays@aynrand.org.

We hope to see your essay among next year’s entries!

Interested in participating in the 2023 Atlas Shrugged essay contest?

Fill out the contact form below, and we’ll email you with more information about the contest—including instructions on how to enter.

Learn

Improve your ability to write and think effectively. This contest will require you to reflect on philosophic themes, form your own opinion, and argue a thesis with evidence and clarity.

Compete

Test yourself against talented students from around the world and the high grading standards of our faculty. On average, only the top 5–10% of essays are awarded prizes each year.

Earn Cash

Win cash prizes among five placement categories. This is an excellent way to earn money for college and higher education, and we place no restrictions on how the money is spent by recipients.

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's masterwork

With adoring fans, fiery critics and very few in between, why does Atlas Shrugged evoke such impassioned responses? Because it grapples with the fundamental problems of human existence — and presents radically new answers.

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s last novel, is a dramatization of her unique vision of existence and of man’s highest potential. Twelve years in the writing, it is her masterwork.

Is the pursuit of profit a noble enterprise or the root of all evil? Is sexual passion an exalted spiritual virtue or a dirty, animalistic vice? Is reason an absolute or is faith an alternative source of truth? Is self-esteem possible or are we consigned to a life of self-doubt and guilt? In what kind of society can an individual prosper, and in what kind of society is he doomed to the opposite fate?

Rand’s worldview emerges in the compelling plot turns of a mystery story, centered on the question “Who is John Galt?”

Win Cash Prizes

1st Place
$10,000

1 Winner

2nd Place
$2,500

3 Winners

3rd Place
$500

5 Winners

Finalist
$100

25 Winners

Semifinalist
$50

50 Winners

Decide What to Write

We are still working to finalize the essay topics for the 2023 contest. To ensure you’re notified when the new topics are released, simply click the link below. We expect to make the topics available by mid- to late-November so you can start planning your essay for the contest.

Dates to Remember

Entry Deadline

To Be Determined

Grading Phase 1

November, 2023

Grading Phase 2

December, 2023

Winners Announced

February, 2023

Final Grading

January, 2024

Learn from Past Winners

Mariah Williams

2021

Graduate student
Regis University
Denver, Colorado
United States

Watch last year’s winner announcement ceremony, in which our faculty celebrated and discussed the top essays!

Nathaniel
Shippee

2020

College Student
University of Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
United States

Sam
Weaver

2019

Graduate student
St. John’s College
Annapolis, Maryland
United States

Patrick
Mayles

2018

College Student
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Bogata, Colombia

Christina
Jeong

2017

College Student
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana
United States

Improve Your Writing Skills

Other than endorsing perfect punctuation and grammar in English, the Ayn Rand Institute offers no advice or feedback for essays submitted to its contests. However, we do recommend the following resources as ways to improve your essay content.

The Atlas Project

An online, chapter-by-chapter discussion of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, exploring the novel’s intricate plot and abstract themes through online discussion and live interactive video. This course was originally recorded in 2018.

Writing: A Mini-Course

Learning to write, Dr. Peikoff explains, requires not only an understanding of the proper principles, but also the ability to apply those principles to one’s actual writing. These lectures feature exercises on six different aspects of good writing.

Sign Up for Contest Updates!

Be among the first to hear when we announce the updated prize details, essay topics, and application process for next year’s contest.