John Lennon Scholarships

for songwriters and composers

The John Lennon Scholarships are an annual competition open to student songwriters and composers of contemporary musical genres including alternative, pop, rock, indie, electronica, R&B, and experimental. Over the past twenty years, more than $400,000 in scholarships has been awarded to talented young musicians from colleges and universities throughout the United States, making this award one of the nation’s most esteemed accolades for emerging songwriters.

Established in 1997 by Yoko Ono in conjunction with the BMI Foundation, this scholarship program honors the memory of one of the preeminent songwriters of the 20th century. Lennon’s enormous creative legacy includes “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Strawberry Fields,” “Imagine,” “I Am the Walrus,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “Come Together,” and continues to inspire and uplift new generations of music lovers around the world.

Through the generosity of Ono and Gibson Musical Instruments, three scholarships totaling $20,000 are presented annually for the best original songs submitted to the competition. Applicants must be U.S. college students between the ages of 17 and 24. Works are judged by a prestigious panel of music publishers, songwriters, and executives that in past years has included Tony-winning theater composers Maury Yeston and Frank Wildhorn, prominent jazz specialist Suzan Jenkins, accomplished songwriters Teron Beal, Jeff Cohen, Benny Blanco, and Charles Fox, and Grammy-winning record producers Russ Titelman and the late Arif Mardin. Broadcast Music Inc.’s Assistant VP of Writer-Publisher Relations, Samantha Cox, oversees the competition. Cox has worked to build the careers of numerous major recordings artists, including Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and 3 Doors Down, and lends her rich, varied experience for supporting new talent to her role as the program’s Director.

Many of our John Lennon Scholarships winners have gone on to create successful careers in recorded music, theater, and concert performance. Prior winners include: Bora Yoon, composer/performer and TED fellow; Lynda DeFuria, singer/songwriter and Off-Broadway actress; Svoy, recording artist; and Andrew Horowitz, performer and composer/producer for Grammy-winning artist John Legend.


Eligibility requirements:

  1. Current student or alumnus/alumna at a U.S. college or university

  2. Between the ages of 17 and 24 as of time of submission

  3. No rights to the submitted work may have been assigned to a major music publisher or to a major record label

  4. Is not a prior BMI Foundation John Lennon Scholarship winner (excluding Honorable Mentions)

Note: John Lennon Scholarship entrants who are also applying for the Nashville Songwriting Scholarship must submit different songs for each contest. Dual applicants may NOT submit the same original work to both competitions.

Applications for the John Lennon Scholarships have now closed. Enter your information below to join the waitlist*, and we will contact you with the dates and details of next year’s program upon opening the application cycle.

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