The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; U.S. students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in any of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories; and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas. Past winners and finalists are not eligible to participate. Employees of John Hancock Financial Services and members of their families are not eligible to participate.
- The contest deadline is January 17, 2020 at 11:59 PM (EST).
- Essays can be no more than 1,000 words but must be a minimum of 700 words. Citations and bibliography are not included in the word count.
- Essays must be the original work of the student.
- John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Edward M. Kennedy are not eligible subjects for essays.
- Essays must describe an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1917, the year John F. Kennedy was born. The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state, or national level. See Contest Topic and Information and Helpful Tips for Writing Your Essay for more information.
- Essays about past recipients of the Profile in Courage Award will be disqualified unless they describe an act of political courage other than the act for which the award was given.
- Essays about the senators in Profiles in Courage will be disqualified.
- Essays must have a minimum of five sources.