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The Creative Writing Program and the Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are pleased to announce the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship.

It offers full four-year financial support to one incoming student per year, including tuition, room and board, books, a new laptop, and a summer stipend.


The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship’s level of support is comparable to that of the University’s well-known Morehead Scholarships. Whereas the Morehead Scholarship places broad emphasis on a candidate’s exemplary leadership, community service, academic excellence, and physical vigor, the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship seeks to identify and reward students with exceptionally focused literary ability and promise.


Current Winner

Previous Winners

Application Information

The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship will accept applications for its 24th national search beginning September 1st, 2024.

Please note that our application process involves two separate steps and two different dates, and all applicants must take both steps and meet both deadlines, to wit: Thomas Wolfe Scholarship applicants must apply to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the University’s October 15th, 2024 EARLY admission deadline and must meet all academic requirements for EARLY admission; and 2) Scholarship applicants must also apply to The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship, with the deadline for submissions to the Scholarship being November 15th, 2024 (submissions must be electronically submitted by that date).  These are two distinct application processes and require different forms and separate online submissions.

The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship award will be based largely on written work submitted by candidates. Artistic merit is the chief criterion of selection. Students who write poetry, fiction, plays, creative nonfiction (personal essays, memoir, travel and nature essays, literary journalism, and lyric essays) are eligible. Multiple genre submissions are also encouraged. Submissions are limited to one application per student.

The application process requires the submission of a portfolio containing between forty (40) and fifty (50) pages of original creative writing composed in English. This work may be in any genre, and it may also be a combination of genres (for example: a short story, a short memoir, and three poems). In addition to completing the application, candidates must submit a five-hundred-word personal essay entitled “Why I Write.”

The age of entering students under The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship shall not exceed twenty-two (22) years. The scholarship is not available to undergraduate college students seeking to transfer to UNC-Chapel Hill from other institutions. All applicants should either be citizens of the United States and/or should be residing in the United States at the time of application.

The Board of Advisors of The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship may award the scholarship to a new recipient annually. However, the Board of Advisors may decide not to award the scholarship in any given year due to financial constraints, the quality of applicants, or other sufficient reason, in the Board’s sole discretion. The decision of the Board of Advisors will be final. The submission of an application will constitute assent to all conditions and stipulations expressed herein.

Preliminary screening will be completed in early February 2025, with final screening concluding in early March. Between three and five outstanding candidates will then be interviewed over ZOOM. A final selection of the next Thomas Wolfe Scholar will be made in early April 2025.

Application Materials:

  • We are introducing a new online application system this year, available at: Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Application
  • In preparation for filling out the application, you may wish to preview the questions in advance, which are available here: Application Questions for The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship 
  • In preparation for the Writing Sample, please gather the following materials onto a SINGLE WORD or PDF Document that is double-spaced, 12-point type, with every page numbered:
    1. A Personal Essay of no more than five hundred (500) words, in which you introduce yourself as a writer and reader, as someone who aspires toward the writing life, entitled “Why I Write.”
    2. A Table of Contents for the Writing Sample that consists of titles, genres, and page numbers.
    3. A Writing Sample that consists of anywhere from forty (40) to fifty (50) pages of original creative writing composed in English, and that is arranged in the order listed in the Table of Contents. This work can be in any genre (poetry, fiction, plays, and creative nonfiction such as memoir or literary journalism). You may send in several different works of various genres. If submitting an excerpt of a longer work, please include a brief synopsis of the project. Please note that all work must be double-spaced, in 12-point type, with every page numbered.
  • ADDITIONALLY: Please request three (3) letters of recommendation from people who are able to comment on aspects of your creativity and ambition, including ONE (1) from a teacher who is familiar with your writing and can verify the originality of your submission. Letters of recommendation:
    • Must be on letterhead and must be submitted separately from the application by each recommender
    • Please submit letters as PDF or WORD document only. We are unable to open SharePoint, OneDrive, or Google Doc files.
    • The letter must be submitted by 11:59 pm on November 15, 2024 using this link: Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Recommendation Form

** PLEASE NOTE:: YOUR SUBMISSION MUST BE COMPLETE at the time you electronically submit it. Requests for additions, updates, revisions will not be honored. Incomplete submissions will automatically disqualify the applicant. The entire application, including the Writing Sample and the 3 Letters of Recommendation, must be received by 11:59 pm on November 15, 2024 at Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Application and at Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Recommendation Form.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • If I am selected as the Thomas Wolfe Scholar, do I have to take creative writing classes at UNC?It is assumed by our Advisory Committee that only students who are deeply committed to the written word, the love of literature, the art of writing will apply for the Wolfe Scholarship. If students are applying for a scholarship that honors writing talent, it is also assumed that students will want to continue their study of writing at the college level. Students may choose to major in any discipline, but the Wolfe Scholar must agree to minor in Creative Writing.
  • What if I’ve started college elsewhere or taken classes after high school graduation that would count as college credit? To qualify as a candidate for the Wolfe Scholarship, you must plan to enter UNC-CH as a first year student. College credits accumulated elsewhere, if transferable, should not exceed six hours, exclusive of AP and IB credits. You will be required to take a minimum of 12 hours each semester and complete your degree in four years. Students must be no older than 22 years of age and either a citizen or resident of the United States.
  • I’m confused about the number of pages to send. If I am sending poems, for example, and one poem takes up half a page, should I begin the next poem on that same page, or should I write one poem per page? One poem per page is fine. If you are a prose writer and a story or essay ends half-way down a page, you may begin your next story or essay on a new page.
  • Is the Thomas Wolfe Scholarship judged separately from a regular UNC application? Yes. The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Program is altogether separate from UNC’s Office of Admissions. Our committee works with Admissions and often shares application information when it is in a candidate’s best interest. Candidates for the Wolfe Scholarship should plan to submit applications to the Office of Admissions by their October 15th deadline. DO NOT send Admission materials along with your Wolfe application! Admissions packets should be sent under separate cover to the UNC Admissions Office.  Applications/submissions for the Scholarship itself should be sent to The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship by our November 15th deadline.
  • When will I be notified about the status of my application? This year’s deadline for materials is November 15. Your application will be read by several preliminary readers. You will receive notice in mid-to-late February indicating whether or not you have advanced as a semi-finalist. From the semi-finalist list, the Advisory Committee will select approximately 3-5 finalists who will be notified in early March of their status and invited to a Zoom interview. The new Wolfe Scholar will be named by mid-April.
  • Am I at a disadvantage if I’ve never published anything or won a writing contest? No. Many high school students who are excellent writers have never published their work. Your application will be evaluated on the basis of your giving evidence of genuine artistry.
  • Should I send SAT scores and high school transcripts in my application? No. Although we expect Wolfe Scholars to make good grades, our primary interest is in evaluating your writing skills.
  • In my writing submission, are any subjects taboo? There are no restrictions whatsoever placed on content. Censorship of manuscripts is prohibited by the Advisory Board.
  • I have used profanity in some of my writing. When I apply, should I include or omit works that have “language”? Applicants should not feel inhibited by the fact that what they deem superior work contains profanity. We can tell when an author, in being true to his or her characters, is letting them speak in their own voices, however profane and/or unsettling those voices may be from time to time, and when, on the other hand, an author is using profanity merely for sensational effect, in a simplistic attempt to engage the reader with shock value, rather than real wit and literary style.

For more information:

Please reach out to Gaby Calvocoressi and Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Co-Directors of The Thomas Wolfe Scholarship Program, at