Student Academy Awards, conducted by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), have, today, assumed the shape of a national competition. Over 500 colleges and university film students from all over the United States contend for the awards, and cash grants, on an annual basis. For the awards, films are being judged in four different categories: Animation, Documentary, Narrative and Alternative. Every year, Student Academy Awards honor an outstanding student filmmaker from outside the United States as well.

Looking into the history and origin of Student Academy Awards, we see that on September 26, 1972, at a meeting of the Short Subjects Branch Executive Committee of the Academy, Herbert Klynn came up with a proposal. He proposed the creation of a separate category of awards, for the acknowledgment of student films. Following this, the Academy’s Board of Governors formed an ad hoc committee, to define the Student Film Awards. The committee firmly believed that the Academy, through the introduction of this concept, would further promote the causes of advancement in the art and science of motion pictures.

This ad hoc committee offered its recommendations to the Short Films Branch Executive Committee on July 9, 1973. On September 4, a draft of rules for the first national competition was offered to the Academy's Board of Governors and it received approval the same day. On December 20, 1973, the first Student Film Award was held at Academy Award® Theater, on Melrose Avenue. The ceremony was hosted by Academy member Jack Lemmon. Each of the winners received a share in $5,000 prize money, given by National Association of Theater Owners, and an engraved trophy (designed by Academy member Saul Bass).