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International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence Essay Contest $ Travel Fellowship 2020

The International Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence 2020 Essay Contest is open. This is an essay contest in three stages open to all current full-time registered students in an undergraduate Architecture Degree program, undergraduates majoring in Architecture or Diploma students in accredited schools of Architecture worldwide.

The Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Design Excellence endowment was established in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design to promote the investigation of architecture as a social art. Each year the PRIZE Committee selects a topic important to the understanding of the interaction of people and the built world that becomes the focus of the Essay Competition.

How It Works

Typically, students enrolled in any accredited undergraduate architecture program or diploma in architecture program throughout the world are invited to submit a 500-word essay proposal in English responding to the Question.  This year, architecture students must team up with undergraduates from allied arts and social sciences programs and submit proposals in teams of two.

From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25-28 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected student teams become Semifinalists. These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners.

At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for a BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship. Details for the Fellowship will be announced in the Spring 2020.

Table of Content

About Berkeley Prize

The international Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence (BERKELEY PRIZE) was founded and continues to be led by Raymond Lifchez, Professor of Architecture and City & Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design (CED), through the result of a generous gift to the CED's Department of Architecture by the late Judith Lee Stronach. Now celebrating twenty years of its existence, the BERKELEY PRIZE has had more than 2100 undergraduate architecture students participate from 69 countries and has presented 131 awards to 126 stude... read more


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Berkeley Prize Undergraduate Scholarship


Aim and Benefits of Berkeley Prize Undergraduate Scholarship

There is a total prize of 35,000USD, minimum 9,000USD first prize.  The remaining purse is to be allocated at the discretion of the Jury.


Requirements for Berkeley Prize Undergraduate Scholarship Qualification

  1. All proposals must be submitted by a two-member team.
  2. Essays must be submitted in English.
  3. Both finalists will be required to provide proof of current registration in the form of copies of actual school transcripts. You are still eligible to compete if both of you were an undergraduate student on September 15, 2019, but one or both of you graduate before the awards are scheduled to be given.

One member of the team must be a current full-time registered student in an undergraduate architecture degree program or an undergraduate majoring in architecture in an accredited school of architecture worldwide. Diploma in Architecture students who have not yet completed their Diploma are also eligible. The other member of the team must be a current full-time registered student in a non-architecture undergraduate degree program and majoring in that program in an accredited school worldwide.  This could include urban studies, the social sciences, engineering, etc. Both students names must appear on their proposal and essay and if awarded a prize, the prize is to be equally shared.

Photograph Requirement

  1. You are asked to include digital photographs of your two selected buildings with your essay.
  2. The photographs should be at a minimum 500 pixels wide, and in .jpg format.
  3. No more than two photographs will be accepted. The photographs must have been taken by one member of the team.
  4. Photographs sourced on the internet will disqualify your entire submittal.

You are encouraged to include people in your photographs to indicate the building in use. The Readers are instructed NOT to add or detract points from their evaluation because of the quality of the photograph itself. To the contrary, one of the primary purposes of the essay format is to test your skill in describing a place or building in words, rather then pictures or drawings.  Use the photographs to continually review how good a job you have done in describing your selected building(s) in words. The Readers will do the same.


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Interview date, Process and Venue for Berkeley Prize Undergraduate Scholarship

Judging Criteria

Judging for the essay competition is on a numeric system. The members of the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee are asked to evaluate each essay in terms of the following criteria:

  1. Does the Proposal address the Question?
  2. How creative, or creatively developed, is the Proposal?
  3. Would the Proposal be clear to a broad audience?
  4. How does the Proposal rank in terms of writing style?
  5. How socially significant is the Proposal?
  6. What is the potential for developing this Proposal into a strong essay?

From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25-28 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The selected student teams become Semifinalists. These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners.

At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for a BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowship. Details for the Fellowship will be announced in the Spring 2020. Past Travel Fellowship Competition requirements, winning submissions, and follow-up reports by the winners are available to read here on the website.

Each criterion is given a score of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest). The top approximately 25 scoring Proposals become Semifinalists.


Application Deadline

November 1, 2019


How to Apply

Interested and qualified? Go to Berkeley Prize on www.berkeleyprize.org to apply
  1. Meet the Requirements listed above.
  2. Write a 500-word proposal for an essay on this year’s Essay Question, as posted.
  3. Provide one photograph each of your chosen projects.
  4. Submit the essay and photographs online.

Additional Help and Information: Are you in need of assistance? Please email [email protected].

For more details, please visit the scholarship website here


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