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Contest Guidelines

The annual Nick Adams Short Story Contest was established in 1973 with funds from an anonymous donor to encourage fiction writing at ACM colleges. The author of the winning story is awarded a cash prize of $1,000.


Any student currently enrolled with good academic standing at an ACM member institution is eligible to enter the Nick Adams Contest. All entries must be submitted to the English department on the student’s home campus. You do not need to be an English major or enrolled in an English course to enter.

There is a 10,000 word limit for each story. Stories need not have been written especially for the competition, but they cannot previously have been published off-campus or been selected as a finalist in this contest.

See the complete list of winning authors and stories.

Selection of finalists

Each ACM college English department can enter up to four stories from the college in the competition, which is coordinated by the ACM consortial office. A small committee of faculty drawn from ACM colleges selects the finalist stories.

Final judge

A prominent writer serves as the contest's final judge each year and selects the winning story from among the finalists. Nick Adams Contest final judges in past years have included such literary luminaries as Joyce Carol Oates, Maya Angelou, John Updike, Audrey Niffenegger, Stuart Dybek, Anne Tyler, Saul Bellow, and many more. See the complete list of final judges.