A screengrab from pornhub.com promoting the scholarship contest.

One of the world’s most-viewed pornography Web sites is offering a new $25,000 college scholarship for a student who will be judged partially on a homemade video submission answering a single question: “How do you strive to make others happy?”

Pornhub.com, which touts 78.9 billion online video views each year, recently began accepting submissions for the scholarship as part of the site’s expanded philanthropic efforts.

“We work hard to help make millions of people feel happy every single day,” according to the scholarship Web site. “In turn, we would like to help support the recipient of the first annual Pornhub Cares Scholarship to realize their goal of doing the same.”

The scholarship offer from a prominent porn site immediately drew fire from feminism activist groups, which said they have concerns that the campaign is a thinly veiled ploy to exploit young women who are struggling to pay the rising costs of higher education.

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, described the scholarship as a “an amazing and deceptive marketing tactic,” aimed at a vulnerable demographic: cash-strapped college students.

“A lot of younger people don’t realize the consequences and harm of pornography,” Hawkins said. “These videos follow them the rest of their lives and affect their jobs and relationships in the future to have this out there. … It’s really unfortunate we’re forcing our kids to sell their bodies to get an education.”

A woman known professionally as Belle Knox, a pornography performer and Duke University student, made headlines around the world after another student at her school outed her. Knox, whose real name is Miriam Weeks, later took part in a documentary describing her path to pornography in part to help pay her crushing college tuition debt.

Corey Price, vice president of Pornhub, acknowledged that the scholarship could be considered controversial, as pornography’s rampant spread across the Internet has long drawn debate about its role in society and how people view women. Price said that “if you’re against pornography and an anti-pornography crusader, this is probably not the scholarship for you.”

He also noted that “you don’t have to film a porn to be a winner.” He said that the Web site hopes that entrants will share Pornhub’s “sex positive belief system” and at the very least have a “neutral stance” on pornography in general.

The contest, which closes Oct. 31, is taking submissions from currently enrolled college or graduate school students who are 18 or older, “whether you are studying medicine, botany, paranormal psychology, or anything in between,” according to the Web site.

To apply for the contest, entrants must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher in college and submit official transcripts. They will be judged by Pornhub staffers based on an essay with the prompt: “How do you strive to make others happy?” A video of two to five minutes also is required as part of the application package, and the movies will be posted publicly.

Price said that the scholarship will be awarded to the most-deserving candidate who shows examples of their leadership and community involvement.

“We’re always looking at different ways we can give back and we thought helping someone to go to college would be a great way,” Price said in an interview Wednesday. “Part of our inspiration is that we’ve seen a lot of people have a hard time getting money to go to college. … We want to make it easier for one person who shares the same mission of spreading happiness.”

Price said that the videos will help judges get a better sense of the applicants and their creativity. Price said that nudity in the videos will not be a disqualifying factor but that an applicant who submits a sex video “will not be seriously considered.”

Price said that Pornhub allows users to submit their own self-made pornographic videos to be posted on their site and receives thousands of such movies daily. He said the site offers prizes in “amateur pornography” contests and, like YouTube, offers a percentage of advertisement revenue for users who draw high traffic.

But Price noted that the college scholarship offer is a more serious contest that is separate from the pornographic site, noting that it is the first aspect of a new philanthropic effort called “Pornhub Cares.” Previous Pornhub campaigns have included a tree-planting contest, a testicular cancer awareness effort and a charity drive for breast cancer research.

“Showing how you spread happiness in a sex video is not what we’re aiming for,” Price said. “This is not about you making a homemade porn and winning a scholarship.”

Even with the scholarship offer, Irene Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer, executive director of Women Against Violence Against Women, said that doesn’t change the fact that women are being targeted by the multi-billion dollar porn industry. The Pornhub Web site receives 60 million visits daily, and, according to internal data, the most commonly searched term is “teen.”

“The porn industry must be held accountable for violence and exploitation of women,” Tsepnopoulos-Elhaimer said. “This is an opportunity for post-secondary institutions and their leaders to refuse to be complicit.”