Please read these guidelines carefully and follow them closely. Entries that do not meet our guidelines risk disqualification. Thanks!

The editors of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry invite students currently enrolled in graduate studies to submit work for our 2022 Graduate Student Essay Contest.  Submissions will be accepted from November 15 through March 1.

We seek work that conjures the experiences, observations, and insights of backcountry journeys. By “backcountry,” we mean away from roads, on journeys undertaken by foot, skis, snowshoes, kayak, canoe, horse, or any other non-motorized means of conveyance. We are open to a wide range of carefully-crafted work, both personal and political. By “personal,” we mean work that not only relates the experience of backcountry journeys, but also in some way reflects upon the journeys. By “political,” we mean essays that, while maintaining a backcountry perspective, address and confront the social economic, and environmental crises of our times. 

Send us your best single essay of up to 3,000 words that is backcountry infused and inspired, using the Graduate Student Essay portal on our Submittable website. But first, read on, to get the rest of the story.

Up to three essays will be chosen for publication in the June 2022 volume of Deep Wild Journal, and the authors will receive cash awards and five copies of the journal. Each essay will be read by at least two readers. Finalists will be judged by Deep Wild editors. 

Submissions must be made using your private email account from the college or university, or if you do not have such an account, inform us in the cover letter box on Submittable, The cover letter should also give your name, school affiliation, program of study, expected graduation date, and contact info (phone, email, permanent address).

Essays must be submitted anonymously. This means your name should not appear either in within the file or in the file name.

There is no fee to enter the contest.

  • Again, only one essay per student. Multiple submissions will be disqualified.
  • Once you submit an essay, you cannot recall or revise it, or substitute another in its place.  
  • Please do not exceed the 3,000 word limit. Also, shorter, fully realized essays stand just as good a chance of winning as longer ones.
  • Formatting: Essays should be typed, double-spaced, in 11- or 12-point font.
  • Finishing: Tightly written essays that are error-free and that have already benefited from feedback and revision will stand the best chance. However, be assured that a few typos or minor errors will not affect our decision. We will work with authors of winning entries to revise their work as needed for clarity and correctness.

We strongly encourage students to familiarize themselves with the kind of writing published in Deep Wild Journal by purchasing the current issue at the Educational Rate of $5 (see or by reading excerpts from previous issues on our blog (

Thanks, and good luck to all!