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AEL Collegiate Essay Contest: Home

2020 Essay Prompt

The 2020 AEL Collegiate Essay Prompt will be posted shortly. Thank you for your patience. 

Be sure to support your argument using original research you have done using primary and secondary sources. Your essay should be between 1,500-2,000 words, including any footnotes or bibliographic citations


The Americanism Educational Leaders and Pepperdine University Libraries are pleased to announce its annual collegiate essay contest.

The mission of AEL is in its strong belief in "American exceptionalism", i.e., that our country is exceptional in the history of the world. All of our programs are meant to encourage students to learn about, understand, and appreciate some aspect of the American experience.

This essay contest is an opportunity for undergraduate students to express their equally strong belief in American exceptionalism.

The 2019 essay contest closed on June 30, 2019. The judges are currently evaluating the contest entries, and we anticipate announcing the winners in December 2019. 

The 2020 essay contest prompt will be posted shortly; the contest deadline will be June 30, 2020. 

Eligibility and Requirements

The eligibility requirements are as follows: 

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must be a current undergraduate college or university student in an accredited four-year U.S. college or university. Incoming first-year students and college students who graduated the year of the competition (i.e., January-June 2019 for the 2019 essay competition) are eligible to apply. 

Submission Guidelines

Essay Guidelines

  • Essay should be between 1,500-2,000 words, including any footnotes or bibliographic citations.
  • If any external sources are referenced in the essay, they should be cited in the bibliography using correct MLA or Chicago style citations. 

Submission Instructions

  • Submit completed submission packet (essay and entry form) as an email with attachments to by the deadline of June 30th, 2020, 11:59 PM PST. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. The entry form is available at
  • The essay should be attached as a Microsoft Word Document with the filename “LastName_FirstName AEL essay” (For example, if your name is Jane Smith, the file name will be “Smith_Jane AEL essay.docx”).
  • This entry form should be filled out electronically or scanned as a PDF and saved with the filename “LastName_FirstName AEL entry" (For example, if your name is Jane Smith, the file name will be “Smith_Jane AEL entry.pdf”).


AEL Collegiate Essay Competition

Entry Form

The 2019 AEL Collegiate Essay contest has closed. The 2020 AEL Collegiate Essay application form will be available shortly. Thank you for your patience. 

Prize Categories

First Prize: $2,500

Second Prize: $1,500

Third Prize: $1,000


Deadline for submission:
June 30th, 2020 at 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time. 
See Submission Guidelines for full instructions. 


For any questions, please begin by checking the FAQ page and contact with any additional questions not addressed there.