Humanities/Social Science Scholarships

John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Essay Contest

In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy recounted the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to do what was right for the nation. These leaders demonstrated political courage by taking a stand for the public good in spite of pressure by interest groups, their political party, or even their constituents. The Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to write an original and creative essay that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage.

who should apply?high school students who can write
eligible grade levelsfreshmen – seniors
awardwinner: $10,000 + paid trip to Boston for student and parents
2nd place: $3,000
5 finalists: $1,000
8 semifinalists: $100 10 honorable mentions
opensSept. 1, 2021
deadlineJanuary 14, 2022
decisions releasedwinners + finalists: by April 30, 2021
all participants notified by end of May
selectivity1 winner
1 2nd place
5 finalists
8 semifinalists
10 honorable mentions

application requirements

  • essay must be between 700-1000 words, not including citations and bibliography
  • essays must be original
  • John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy are not eligible as essay subjects
  • essay must describe an act of political courage performed by a US elected official who served during or after 1917
  • past recipients of the Profiles in Courage award are not eligible as essay subjects unless the essay describes an incident that is not what the recipient was awarded for
  • essays must have a minimum of 5 sources

application process

  • essay adressing the prompt “Describe and analyze an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1917.”


  • final winner will have an expenses-paid trip to Boston, MA in order to receive their award

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