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Become a Contestant



To compete in the Miss Illinois Scholarship Competition, a contestant must first win a local preliminary pageant. Some locals are open and some have specific geographic eligibility requirements, based on where you live, attend school full-time, or work full-time.

Step 1: Find a Local Pageant in Your Area

To find a local pageant in your area, visit our Local Pageants page.

Step 2: Determine Your Eligibility

Contestants must be between the ages of 17 and 25. Contestants must not turn 26 before December 31st of the state competition year. For example, if you are competing for the title of Miss Illinois 2020, you must not turn 26 before December 31, 2020. You must also be a resident of Illinois, full time student at a college or university in Illinois, or employed full time in the state of Illinois.

For a detailed list of eligibility requirements, click here.


Open Competitions (MISO Local Preliminary): You must be a resident, full-time employee, or full-time student at a college or university in Illinois.

Closed Competitions (MISO Local Preliminary): You must be a resident of the specified area, full-time employee in the specified area, or full-time student in a college or university located in the specified area.

College Pageants: You must be a student at the listed college or university, and meet that pageant’s specific eligibility criteria.

Festival and Fair Titleholders: If you are currently holding a festival or fair title that does NOT qualify for a national pageant in a different system, you are eligible to compete in the Miss Illinois Scholarship Competition. Email for more information!


  • Private Interview: Each contestant participates in an individual 10-minute press conference-style interview with our panel of judges. There are typically 5-7 judges on a panel. Contestants are questioned on their background, educational and career goals, opinions on current events and social issues, and their interests, hobbies and extracurricular activities as presented on the fact sheet they complete.
    • Allows insight into the candidate’s ability to fulfill the responsibilities outlined in the job description and provides the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the candidate’s qualities and attributes to fulfill the position.  Allows insight into the commitment to advance and execute her social impact initiative and have a year of service, not celebrity, as well as insight into the commitment to continue her education. Also allows insight into the ability to express and distinguish her beliefs and have a true knowledge of the world around her, in addition to getting a sense of accomplishments above and beyond the resume.
  • Talent: Contestants perform a 90 second routine of their own choosing. Some possible talents include all types of singing, dancing, gymnastics, instrumental music, dramatic or comedy monologues, baton twirling and ventriloquism.
    • Allows insight into the candidate’s preparatory and performance skills.  Looks at selection of talent presentation as well as the performance and interpretive ability and technical skill level including execution, technique synchronization and control.  Allows insight into stage presence, on-stage personality and give the judges a look at the totality of the elements; Costume, Props, Music, Voice, Use of the Body and Choreography, as well as how enjoyable and relatable the performance is to the audience.
  • Evening Wear/Social Impact: Each contestant appears on stage in an outfit of her own choosing, representative of what she would wear to a formal, black tie social event. Pantsuits, cocktail dresses and evening gowns are all appropriate for this phase of the competition.  Once she has finished presenting her evening wear, she will present a short statement (approximately 8-10 seconds) related to her social impact initiative of choice.
    • Allows a look into a how the candidate exhibits her own personal style, attitude, personality, grace, presence and confidence while making her own statement about her mission for the job.  Looks into composure, confidence, the attention she captures on the stage, her command of the stage, presence and how she appears in the spotlight.  Allows ability to judge first impression reaction and a look at posture and carriage while providing a chance to hear a candidate’s presentation of her social impact initiative for social media in a different setting.
  • On-Stage Interview: Each contestant will be asked an on-stage question by the judges and will give a brief response (30 seconds or less).
    • The On-Stage Interview phase of competition advances the same criteria as the personal interview by bringing it on stage in an interactive and substantive highly energetic way to showcase each candidates’ intelligence, personality, charisma and aptitude for the job. This allows the audience to truly get to know the candidate and the ability to see how these discussions take place in a public forum showcasing the greater ability to communicate, stage presence, commanding presence and relatability. Allows ability to judge first impression reaction and determine if the candidate cannot simply answer the question asked but build on a conversation from the personal interview. Allows the ability to see interactivity and discussion and determines if the candidate can serve as a role model and is reflective of her generation.


Examples can be found here.

The road to Miss America begins in a town near you. To find your local pageant in Illinois, visit the Local Pageants page.