Senior Speech Contest

We are happy to announce the guidelines and details of the 2024 Commencement Senior Speech Contest. The Senior Speech Contest is open to all undergraduate students who will be graduating during the 2024 Commencement ceremony. If you would like to participate in the Senior Speech Contest, you must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • The deadline for submitting draft speeches is 5pm, Friday, March 22, 2024. Speeches must be emailed to Josue Michel at There are no exceptions. Speeches not submitted by the deadline will not be considered.
  • Speeches must be between 800 and 1,000 words in length.
  • Speeches must be relevant and appropriate for Commencement.
  • Contestants must be a candidate for an undergraduate degree in May of the 2023-2024 academic year.
  • Finalists must present their speeches, before a panel of judges, in The Great Hall, on  March 26, 2024.
  • The contest winner must present their speech at the 2024 Commencement ceremony.
  • The speech delivered at Commencement must be the same speech that was delivered during the Senior Speech Contest, both in content and presentation. The contest winner will have an opportunity to work with the Center for Writing to refine and edit their speech, but in the spirit of fairness and respect for other contestants, the final speech must not substantially deviate from the speech delivered before the jury of judges.

If you have any questions about the Senior Speech Contest, please contact Josue Michel at or 212-353-4130. Thank you for your interest in this important commencement tradition. Best of luck to all contestants!

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.