Creative Writing Award

In the spirit of J.D. Salinger, we are looking for creative writers of outstanding originality and potential.

The Ursinus College Creative Writing Award is a $33,000 per year award for creative writers of outstanding originality and potential. The award winner will have the honor of living in the dorm room once occupied by J.D. Salinger, who attended Ursinus. In the spirit of Holden Caulfield and Catcher in the Rye, we are looking for an unusual perspective, for quirky brilliance, for a voice, not necessarily the kind that can be measured by conventional standards. Mr. Salinger never graduated, but we like to think that if his genius had been recognized with an award like this, he might have.

How to apply

The common application must be submitted through our Early Action application plan. Application deadline: Early Action 1 (Nov 1)/Early Action 2 (Jan 1) or Early Decision (Feb 1) program to be considered. 

Complete the short Creative Writing Award application form and submit no more than 10 (double spaced) pages of creative writing by January 1. We accept creative work in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, or some combination of genres. Submit your portfolio via US Mail or by sending as a PDF attachment to The winner of this award will be notified in late March.

What are the criteria for selection?

The major factor is a portfolio of no more than 10 (double spaced) pages of creative work in fiction, poetry, or some combination of genres. While grades and class rank are less important, we will still be looking for marks of academic achievement. Candidates should be comfortably able to achieve admission to Ursinus—that is, they should minimally rank around the top 25% in their class, or own at least a “B” average. Standardized test scores are not required for most Ursinus applicants.

What are the terms of the scholarship?

The annual winner of the Creative Writing Award will receive:

  1. a $33,000 scholarship, renewable all four years;
  2. the opportunity to occupy during her or his first academic year the residence room where J. D. Salinger lived; and
  3. leadership standing in the Ursinus writing community. 

The winner will be expected to join the previous award winners in reading subsequent creative portfolios, and will help the Office of Admission in selecting the next winner. Award winners are also expected to be prominent members of Ursinus’ Literary Society, the Lantern, and creative writing community.

Cara Maria M. Cambardella, writer and admission counselor, leads the Creative Writing Award selection process. A nonfiction essayist, Cara completed her master’s degree in 2010 with a creative thesis on international travel, the mother figure, and identity. She is thrilled to be the first point of contact for budding writers interested in the Creative Writing Award. Her email address is

The maximum non-need award that a student can receive is limited to $33,000; therefore, the Creative Writing Award will replace any lesser scholarships which previously might have been offered to the award winner. Please note, award winners who demonstrate need beyond the value of the Creative Writing Award may be eligible for additional Ursinus grant funds as well as applicable state and federal financial aid.