Pulitzer Prize Criteria

Pulitzer Prize criteria is designed in such a way that it allows men and women of character who seek to write honorably an opportunity to compete for one of writing's highest honors. Joseph Pulitzer, the prize's namesake and founder, said the purpose of the prizes were to bolster journalism, even though he respected many aspects of the arts. Pulitzer said, "I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism´┐Ż I desire to assist in attracting to this profession young men of character and ability." Despite the semantics of the quotation, the Pulitzer Prize is available to men and women, without discrimination against gender or race.

All those who seek the prizes in letters, drama, music or special awards categories must be American citizens. The one exception to this rule is the category of history book in letters; in this category, the author may be of any nationality as long as the subject of the book is American history. Journalists of all nationalities are allowed to compete for the prizes in the journalism categories if his or her work appears in a US newspaper or is available to a US audience at least once a week via a US newspaper Web site.

Posthumous Awards
Posthumous entries are welcome. The entrant does not have to be alive to accept the prize.

Judging Criteria
There are no specific Pulitzer Prize criteria for judging each of the entries. The definitions of the categories are used to narrow down the submissions for each category, but the final judging is left up to the juries.

Prize Categories
There are 21 possible prizes of $10,000 available to be awarded each year. The prizes are given out for the following categories:

  • Journalism: Public service exhibited by a newspaper
  • Journalism: Local reporting of breaking news
  • Journalism: Investigative reporting
  • Journalism: Explanatory reporting that demonstrates in-depth knowledge of a subject 
  • Journalism: Local reporting of significant news 
  • Journalism: Exceptional reporting of national affairs
  • Journalism: Reporting of international affairs 
  • Journalism: Feature writing 
  • Journalism: Commentary 
  • Journalism: Critical writing
  • Journalism: Editorial writing
  • Journalism: Cartoon
  • Journalism: Breaking news photography
  • Journalism: Feature photography
  • Letters: Fiction
  • Letters: Original Play
  • Letters: History book
  • Letters: Biography or autobiography
  • Letters: Collection of poetry
  • Letters: Nonfiction
  • Letters: Original musical composition

In addition to these 21 prizes, four fellowships of $7,500 each are awarded to four outstanding journalism graduates. One fellowship of the same amount is also awarded to one fine arts graduate.

How to Enter
To find out how to enter, follow this link to the official Pulitzer Prize Web site. From there, download the PDF outlining the definitions and application procedures for each category.

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