It is widely regarded that winning a Nobel Prize (or even being nominated) is one of the most exalted experiences available to anyone working professionally in one of the respective disciplines included in the awards. A Nobel prize laureate receives the following when selected:

  • A gold medal.
  • A diploma.
  • A monetary prize that exceeded $(US) 1 million in 2020.

In accordance with the final wishes of Alfred Nobel, each year, since 1901, a formalized Nobel prize nomination process releases the names of the laureates (more commonly known as the recipients) for the Nobel prize in five categories –

About seven decades later, a sixth Nobel prize was added in the field of economics, although, technically, the economics prize is a Nobel Memorial Prize.

The Nobel prize selection process includes laureates who have contributed the most significant benefit overall to humankind in any one of the above disciplines.

The Nomination Process for Nobel Prize Winners

Every year, about a year before the awards winners are announced, the Nobel Foundation’s committee issues Nobel Prize nomination forms to prominent members in each of the relevant fields included in the awards. These nominations are provided with the ultimate goal to have as many countries and schools in the nomination process as possible over the long run.

From the nomination forms, the Nobel Committee nominates approximately 300 possible Nobel laureates, although the many names of the nominees are not publicly disclosed until many years later. In fact,  nomination records remain sealed for a minimum of one-half century after the award has been chosen, in accordance with the foundation’s principles and guidelines.

Next, the Nobel Committee prepares a narrative reflecting the input from the relevant experts across the world. This report, which includes a listing of preliminary nominees, is sent to the four prize-awarding institutions, who chooses Nobel Prize winners.

How to Win a Nobel Prize

The members of each of the prize-awarding institutions meet to vote on the potential nominees for each respective Nobel Prize field. By a majority vote, the prize-awarding institution members elect the Nobel laureate winner, a decision that is announced right after the vote is counted. It is also important to note that the final vote and decision from this prize-awarding institution cannot be appealed.

The prize-award selecting institutions tasked with the responsibility of deciding the Nobel Prize winners include –

The Nobel Prize follows strict guidelines and procedures, which include the following –

  • All Nobel Prizes (except the Peace Prize) can only be conferred to individuals and not institutions.
  • Each Nobel Prize can be shared with up to three individuals and be based on two distinct works.
  • Nobel Prizes cannot be awarded posthumously, although the estates of some individuals (who died shortly before winning) were eligible to receive the benefits of the Nobel Prize award.

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony

Yearly, on the anniversary date of the death of Nobel Prize’s creator – Alfred Nobel – December 10th, each of the Nobel Prizes (except for the Peace Prize) is awarded to each of the Nobel Prize laureates in a formal ceremony. Laureates receive their awards from the King of Sweden. It is noted that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to its laureate in the presence of the King of Norway.

According to the Nobel Foundation’s guidelines, each Nobel prize laureate is mandated to provide a public lecture regarding the work that brought forth the Nobel Prize. These lectures are generally given in the days that lead up to the Nobel Prize Award ceremonies each December.

Each of the ceremonies (in Sweden and Norway) includes opulent banquets to honor the laureates, guests, and members of the royal families.

The Take-Away

Every Nobel laureate confronts many setbacks on their way to earning this most prestigious of awards – the Nobel Prize.

However, despite its exalted status, the Nobel Prize itself – that is, the selection processes have been steeped in controversy, with members being accused of following political agendas or proactively omitting Nobel Prize candidates who were most deserving of the award.

For example, Mahatma Gandhi, the pinnacle icon that represented non-violence during the 20th century, while nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times, – never won the Nobel Peace Prize.


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