Explore Our 2024 Guide to Gap Year Programs!

    30 Competitions for High School Students – 2024

    Posted October 24, 2023, 1:31 pm by Johnathan Kindall
    A female teenager cheers after winning a competition for high school students
    Updated June 2024

    One of the best ways to make your high school resume stand out is to participate in and/or win a student competition. It's no secret that contests, competitions, and awards programs look great to college admissions officials.

    However, competitions for high school students can also generate other benefits, including scholarships, trophies, recognition, and even cash prizes. For this reason, it's important to consider entering a few student competitions while in high school.

    There are many competitions out there for high school students to explore, including contests in art, writing, design, business, STEM, and more. We've collected just a few of our favorites here—with all of those options, there's sure to be a student competition out there that matches your skills and interests.

    Pay attention to the criteria and eligibility requirements of each student competition listed below. Many of them have deadlines that either vary by region or are scattered throughout the calendar year. Most contests we've listed here happen annually, so we encourage you to bookmark this page and check back in on the contents that interest you as they release new dates and requirements.

    Start exploring the world of student competitions with the options below -- and best of luck!

    For more college admissions info, check out TeenLife's 2022 Guide to College Admissions. Featuring more than a dozen articles from college pros and admissions experts, this new TeenLife guide is the perfect resource for tackling college admissions head on. Download it for free today

    Arts Competitions for High School Students

    The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for the arts, including painting, drawing, theater, or other types of artistic expression. For more resources dedicated to exploring your career in the arts, check out the 2024 Guide to Your Future in Arts, released earlier this year by TeenLife.

    An abstract painting of yellow, blue and orange

    Congressional Art Competition

    This annual competition held each spring celebrates the artistic achievements of the nation’s high school students. Each Member of Congress may choose to host the program in their individual districts. Many offices ask a panel of local artists, such as artists-in-residence, art teachers, gallery owners, to act as judges. The winning artwork will hang in the Cannon Tunnel of the U.S. Capitol for one year.


    Cool Science Art Competition on Extreme Weather

    Cool Science's annual art competition is challenging students to express learning about science concepts through the visual arts. Check their site to see this year's "Challenge Questions." Winning artwork is displayed on public transit in Massachusetts, Kansas, and at Community Art Exhibition Celebrations. Winners receive a gift card and online resources. Submit your artwork by mail or electronically.


    Google Doodles

    Every year, Google opens its "Doodle" competition which gives students (K to 12) a chance to receive a $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 technology award for their school. There is a National winner as well as 55 state and territory winners, who all receive special prizes and recognition for their submissions.


    National Poetry Month Poster Contest for Students

    The Academy of American Poets, originator and organizer of National Poetry Month, invites students in grades 9 through 12 to enter artwork to be considered for the National Poetry Month poster. The winning student’s artwork will be printed on 100,000+ copies of the official National Poetry Month poster, which is distributed for free to classrooms, libraries, bookstores, community centers, families, and individuals nationwide.


    Reflections Arts Program: National PTA

    Each year, students are invited to create and submit original works of art in the areas of Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts in the National PTA Reflections Competition. Student winners from the local level have the opportunity to move up through their district, region, council and state PTA programs to the national level.


    Ocean Awareness Contest

    The annual Ocean Awareness Contest is a platform for young people to learn about environmental issues through art-making and creative communication, explore their relationship to a changing world, and become advocates for positive change. Students ages 11-18 from around the world are invited to participate. Make sure to check their site to see the theme for this year.


    Scholastic Art and Writing Awards

    The Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, whose mission is to identify students with exceptional artistic and literary talent and present their remarkable work to the world through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Students receive opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.


    YoungArts National Arts Competition

    YoungArts’ signature program is an application-based award for emerging artists ages 15–18 or in grades 10–12. Entries are selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists. YoungArts winners receive financial awards, creative and professional development experiences working with renowned mentors, and gain eligiblity for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

    STEM Competitions for High School Students

    The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for STEM. This can include science. mathematics, tech, robotics, math or more. For more resources dedicated to exploring your career in STEM, check out the 2024 Guide to Your Future in STEM, released earlier this year by TeenLife.

    A gloved hand of a scientist holds a beaker

    3M Young Scientist Challenge

    The 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the nation’s premier science competition for grades 5-8. This one-of-a-kind video competition has sparked a sense of wonder and discovery in hundreds of thousands of students and enhanced science, innovation and communication across the United States.


    International Space Settlement Design Competition

    This annual contest puts high school students in the shoes of aerospace industry engineers designing a city in space that will house over 10,000 people. Student engineers demonstrate creativity, technical competence, management skills, environmental knowledge, space, teamwork, and presentation techniques to conquer the problems inherent in siting and designing a Space Settlement (Space Colony).


    Microsoft Imagine Cup

    The Imagine Cup brings together student innovators using passion and purpose to tackle social issues with tech. The Imagine Cup is full of opportunities to gain new skills, access exclusive training, unlock mentorship opportunities, have the chance to win great prizes, and make a difference in the world. Follow the action as the 2023 finalists prepare to bring their projects to the global stage during Microsoft Build.


    Junior Science and Humanities Symposia Competitions 

    The National JSHS brings together high school students who qualify by submitting and presenting original scientific research papers in regional symposia held at universities nationwide. You can compete in the regional or national level. High school teachers, mentors, university faculty, ranking military guests and others also attend to encourage the future generation of scientists and engineers and celebrate student achievement in the sciences.


    Math League Competitions

    As the largest network of local and state math competitions at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in the United States and abroad, mathleague.org runs more than 400 contests globally and reaches over 30,000 students each year. The mathleague.org program includes a number of services focused on enhancing the quality and quantity of competitive mathematical opportunities available to students everywhere.


    MIT Think Scholars Program

    Rather than requiring students to have completed a research project before applying, THINK caters to students who have done extensive research on the background of a potential research project and are looking for additional guidance in the early stages of their project. The program is organized by a group of undergraduates at MIT.


    Regeneron Science Talent Search

    Started in 1942 as the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the Regeneron Science Talent Search (Regeneron STS) recognizes and empowers our nation’s most promising young scientists who are developing ideas that could solve society’s most urgent challenges.


    Space Settlement Contest

    This annual contest, co-sponsored by NASA Ames and the National Space Society, is for 6-12th graders from anywhere in the world. Individuals, small teams of two to six, and large teams of seven or more (often whole classrooms with teacher leadership) may enter their design for and description of a human colony in outer space.


    spUN Student Debates at ISDC

    The National Space Society’s SpacEdge Education will be hosting virtual student debate tournaments. These spUN (Space Policy and UNiversalization) Debates will be offered at the middle school/high school level. The spUN Debates offer people around the globe an opportunity to contemplate the policies that will make their mark in space settlement.

    Writing Competitions for High School Students

    The following competitions are intended for students with a passion for writing. Whether you love fiction, nonfiction, journalism or something else entirely, there's bound to be a competition for you!

    A hand holds a pencil writing on a desk with other notebooks

    Baen Fantasy Adventure Award

    Baen Books presents the annual Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. The award recognizes the best original adventure fantasy short story in the style of fantasy greats like Larry Correia, Mercedes Lackey, Elizabeth Moon, Andre Norton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and David Weber.


    Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Awards

    A panel of Crown Judges assembles each year at Columbia University to view all entrants to this competition, whether they are newspaper, magazines, yearbooks or online media. Judges are experienced former advisers to student media, professional journalists who understand student media or professionals such as photographers or online specialists with particular expertise needed for the judging exercise.


    The Emerson Prize

    The Emerson Prize is awarded annually to students published in The Concord Review during the previous academic year who have shown outstanding promise in history at the high school level. Since 1995, over 200 students have won an Emerson Prize, and we are pleased to announce the most recent international recipients of the award from Volume 31, who each received $1,000 for their work.


    Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest

    The Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest has been co-sponsored by NSS and Baen Books since 2007. Science fiction writers who create positive stories about man’s future in space are rewarded with professional publication, NSS membership, and an award presented each year at the ISDC. Winning entries aren’t pulp tales about galactic empires or alien abductions, but serious near future stories about the sacrifice, heroics, adventure and discovery with our expansion into the solar system.


    National Scholastic Press Association Awards

    The NSPA presents Individual Awards honoring the best individual work in scholastic journalism each year. There are 11 categories, plus a 12th category for junior high/middle school, with a number of subcategories in each. NSPA also gives scholastic journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker Award, each year. There is a category for each type of publication — Broadcast, Magazine, Online, Newspaper/Newsmagazine and Yearbook

    A teenage boy applies to a completion for high school students on his laptop

    This is just a small taste of the many different kinds of competitions for high school students out there. Be sure to take some time and think about what you're best at. There's sure to be a contest out there where you can put your skills on display.

    Sign up for Free Tips and Guides direct to Your Inbox
    jonathan kindall headshot

    Johnathan Kindall

    Johnathan Kindall is the Content Editor at TeenLife Media. He attended Boston University’s College of Communications, graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Journalism. Johnathan is dedicated to launching teens into life by providing a number of resources that help teens navigate the world of college, enrichment learning and more.