The prize is given to a musician whose lifetime contributions to popular music exemplify the standards associated with composers George and Ira Gershwin.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington says it's hard to think of another performer who has had "a more indelible and transformative effect on popular song and music of several different genres than Paul McCartney."
McCartney says he is a great admirer of the Gershwins' songs and he's "highly honored."
He will receive his prize during an all-star tribute in the spring.
Previous winners of the prize are Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder.