Most of the 600-plus students from the 130 colleges and universities who enter the College Photographer of the Year competition hope to win a prize and to have their photographs recognized. But CPOY's greatest value is educational: it encourages photographers to sort through and evaluate their own work and assemble the best of it to show, both to peers and to the working professionals who donate their time to judge the contest.
Winning a contest does not make a photographer, but it can be a bellwether of talent. College Photographers of the Year have gone on to become outstanding professional photographers and leaders in the field of photojournalism - the list of alumni is long and prestigious.
The College Photographer of the Year Competition was founded by Cliff and Vi Edom in 1945. The University of Missouri administers the contest with support from its co-sponsor, Nikon Inc., whose generosity allows CPOY to offer free entry to college students worldwide.
The National Press Photographers Foundation (NPPF) administers the Colonel William J. Lookadoo and the Milton Freier Memorial Awards in conjunction with CPOY. In 2005, National Geographic Magazine returned as a contributing sponsor and offers an internship to the Gold winner in the Portfolio category. The College Photographer of the Year, Runner-up College Photographer of the Year and winners in the Sports Portfolio, Documentary, Standalone Individual Multimedia Story and Small Team or Individual Multimedia Project categories are awarded equipment and additional educational opportunities provided by Nikon Inc., MediaStorm and the Summit and Missouri Photo Workshops.