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Charles Moran Best Text Contest

This award honors Charles Moran, the founding director of the Writing Program, serving in that capacity from 1982 to 1990.  He created the program around may of the principles that guide it still today. He was particularly dedicated to students’ writing being the primary text of a writing course and ensuring that students have an audience beyond just the teacher. To that end, he firmly believed in publishing and celebrating outstanding student work, as we do with the Student Writing Anthology and these Best Text Awards in his name. All students enrolled in University of Massachusetts Amherst Basic, College, and Junior Year Writing courses, fall or spring semester, are eligible to submit an essay to that year’s Charles Moran Best Text Contest. Winners are announced at our annual Celebration of Writing Ceremony.  Prizes for both Basic and College Writing are as follows:

  • First Place Essay: $200;
  • Second Place Essay: $150;
  • Third Place Essay: $75; and
  • Best Non-Traditional Essay (Multimedia/Visual Text): $200.

Prizes for Junior Year Writing are as follows:

  • Best Short Text (up to 5 pages): $200;
  • Best Long Text (6 pages and above): $200; and
  • Best Multimedia/Non-traditional Format: $200.

Essays must have been written for an assignment in Basic Writing, College Writing, or a Junior Year Writing course.  A panel of judges looks for excellent writing that reflects the goals of the course the student is enrolled in. All submissions from Spring 2021 will be due by the end of May 2021; submissions from Fall 2020 will be due by the end of December 2020. Winners will be announced in early Spring 2021. Please note that all Best Text submissions for College Writing will now be considered for publication in The Student Writing Anthology (SWA) used in College Writing courses.

To submit: Please email a clean, revised copy of your essay in a word file to along with a cover sheet that includes the following information:

  • Title of submission
  • Your full name
  • Contact Information (email, phone & local mailing address)
  • Course title/section number
  • Instructor’s name
  • Semester course taken
  • Description of assignment for this particular piece.

For non-traditional submissions either email the piece or provide the link to the piece with a cover sheet to Submission of the cover page and your essay indicates permission for use for judging purposes. If your submission is selected for publication, you will be contacted for specific individual permission via the contact information provided.

If you have any questions as to how to submit your piece, please contact Heidi Terault at or Peggy Woods at