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CSPA Awards Programs

CSPA Columbia Campus Spring 2023. Photo: Kevin Dale

Recognizing Excellence

CSPA offers two major awards programs to honor excellence in student publications: the Crown Awards and the Gold Circle Awards. To participate in CSPA Awards Programs, publications must be CSPA members. 

CSPA offers two major awards programs to honor excellence in student publications: the Crown Awards and the Gold Circle Awards. To participate in CSPA Awards Programs, publications must be CSPA members. To learn more about membership, please see the CSPA Membership Overview page.

The association also awards the outstanding work of advisers and others who have made extraordinary contributions to scholastic journalism. To learn more, please visit the Honoring People page. 

Crown Awards
Crown Awards recognize overall excellence in either print or digital student publications, chosen by a panel of judges working as a team. Entries are compared against one another with similar age and experience levels such as high school yearbooks against other high school yearbooks, and so forth. Written results are not provided to individual publications. 

Crown categories divided into two major groups: News and Yearbooks. In the News and Yearbook categories, publications may enter under the following formats: Print; Digital; Hybrid; and Magazines. In the Yearbook category, publications may enter under the following formats: Print; Digital; and Hybrid and Print.

Gold Circle Awards
Gold Circle Awards recognize individual achievement by students from any CSPA member in four major categories: News; Magazine; Digital Media; and Yearbook. Of these major categories, each has multiple subcategories: 51 in News; 35 in Magazine; 50 in Digital Media; and 39 in Yearbook. Each CSPA member may submit as many as 30 individual entries as part of their membership. Additional entries may also be submitted for an additional fee. 

Certificates are awarded to First, Second, or Third Place, and up to three additional Certificates of Merit are given for Honorable Mention in each category. Gold Circle Award entries require separate submission: by August 15 for Print News and Magazine entries, or by October 16  for all Yearbook and Digital entries.

Medalist Critiques
Publications with a Regular Membership are entitled to receive a medalist critique, which offers a detailed written analysis of a print or digital publication, with recommendations for improvements. The results are returned with one of three ratings: Gold Medalist, Silver Medalist or Bronze Medalist.

How to Submit Publications for Judging
Physical and PDF entries are accepted for all publication types, except digital entries. Details on where and how to upload entry materials for judging will be sent via email after enrolling as a member. We ask that whenever possible, entries be submitted online.


News Category Entries
Print and hybrid members should submit one PDF of print edition newspapers produced in the contest period; Magazine entries should submit one PDF of magazine issues produced in the contest period. Digital-only or hybrid entries should provide URLs as part of their member profiles. 

Yearbook Category Entries
Please submit one PDF of the yearbook year being judged, or a physical copy. Yearbook PDFs should not include ads.

If entering online is not possible, please submit your physical entries as follows:

Regular Membership: Depending on the contest category, publications should send two sets of materials for each entry: Print, two sets; Magazine, two sets; and Yearbook, two copies. One set or copy will be sent to a critique judge; the second set or copy stays at CSPA for Crown judging in the fall.

Associate Membership: Submit one set or copy of publications.

Please note: College newspapers should include up to 10 issues from the year as part of their PDF entry.

Publication Types
Before submitting entries, please review how CSPA classifies publications.

Hybrid A print publication which also provides dynamic digital coverage (via a website, QR codes, and/or social media posts) between print editions. Can include expanded content for stories already covered in print. Could also include updates or completely new coverage via digital media. (Hybrid members receive a total of 60 Gold Circle entries.)

Digital Online content only (news reporting, and/or magazine-style content); no print component. Please note: If a print edition co-exists with the digital site, then it’s considered a hybrid publication.

Print Content provided in print only; no online component. Please note: If a digital edition co-exists with the print component, then it’s a hybrid publication.

Please note: Posting a PDF version of a publication designed for print DOES NOT qualify it as a hybrid publication.

How to Name Entries Submitted as PDFs

CSPA receives hundreds of submissions. To ensure your publication is easily located, please use the following naming conventions:

News (Print):

Magazines (Print):

Yearbooks (Print):

(Please note that you should replace the phrases, “PublicationName” and “SchoolName” shown above with YOUR publication name and YOUR school name.)

August 15, 2023
Regular and Associate Memberships for all News, Magazine, Digital, and spring delivery yearbooks; Basic Memberships for all News, Digital, and Magazines.

October 16, 2023
Regular, Associate, and Basic Memberships for all summer- and fall-delivery yearbooks.

Please Send Payment and Entry Materials to:
Columbia Scholastic Press Association
90 Morningside Drive, Suite B01
New York, NY 10027

How to Purchase Duplicate Crown Plaques

Please download the PDF duplication form and send via fax or mail to CSPA.

Silver Crown duplicate plaques are $35.

Gold Crown duplicate plaques are $45.

Please make checks payable to Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

Please contact CSPA at cspa [[at]] columbia [[dot]] edu (cspa[at]columbia[dot]edu) with any questions.

Download Form to Purchase Duplicate Crown Plaques