Imagine having The Writing University visit you in the comfort of your home each day for three weeks this summer. Learning from world-class faculty and graduates of the famed Iowa Writers Workshop, from the first UNESCO City of Literature in the US. Envision spending your time participating in workshops, lectures, and events that excite and stretch you as a writer. Picture investing three full weeks in your passion, learning with other high school students from all over the world who are as consumed with writing as you. This dream is reality at the Summer Writing Online, an immersive 3–week online residency presented by the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center. It’s not just an online class; it’s an online experience!

About the Program

Program Dates:

SWR takes place July 10–28, 2023.

Application Timeline:

  • Applications are reviewed in the order we receive them and seats are limited. Apply now to secure your spot!

Program Events:

The closing ceremony will take place on Friday, July 28rd and will feature our digital anthology.

The Summer Writing Residency is a unique opportunity to work with world-class faculty at The Writing University. The art of creative writing will be taught through a combination of seminar discussions and critiques of class members' work. The creative writing produced by the students will be in response to the literature and techniques discussed in class. You will start your day with class time and structural approaches to writing. Next, you will have an opportunity to take electives in Screenwriting and Poetry. To round out your day, we will have Author Talks, Industry Experts, events, and more. All students will have time to workshop, critique, and give feedback utilizing the critical response process (either in the morning for our Eastern/Midwestern students, or in the afternoon for our West/West coast students).

The University of Iowa’s Undergraduate Creative Writing Program is partnering with the Belin-Blank Center to provide an exciting program designed for talented high school writers from across the country. Instructors include University of Iowa faculty, graduates, and graduate students from the English Department, the Writers Workshop, and special visiting authors.

Nina Morrison

Nina Morrison is a playwright, director and teaching artist. She is the Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Playwriting 2019-2020 at the University of Iowa. Select recent credits: Nina’s play Féminaal was presented in Minneapolis by The Grumble Theater; her play Ibsanity was presented in the mainstage season at Fordham University, NYC; she directed Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men at Riverside Theatre. She was a finalist for New Dramatists in 2018 and 2019, and a 2019 finalist for the Jerome. Nina is currently based in Iowa City. Before Iowa, she was based in New York City for 17 years where her work as a playwright and director was presented at Dixon Place, HERE Arts Center, The HOT! Festival, the Little Theatre series, the NYC International Fringe Festival, Upright Citizens Brigade, The Peoples’ Improv Theater, and the Yardmeter series among others. Nina was a Dixon Place Artist-in-Residence, and she was an LMCC WORKSPACE Writer-in-Residence, a residency program of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She holds an MFA in Directing and an MFA in Playwriting both from the University of Iowa.

Andrew David King

Andrew David King is a Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer and Visiting Assistant Professor in the University of Iowa's English Department. His work spans across genres, but focuses on the intersections of poetry, the essay, and visual art. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow, and a Graduate Certificate from the University of Iowa Center for the Book. His writing has appeared with ZYZZYVA, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, and other publications, and was included in the University of Virginia Press’s Best New Poets 2018 anthology. He is currently a Research Assistant at the Walt Whitman Archive and the author of the chapbook Fire Sonnets (Clepsydra Press, 2018).

Being surrounded by professional writers like our teachers, and such skilled classmates, has inspired me to write and read more, and be so much more excited about my own writing.

SWR Student

How to Apply

While the application process is straightforward, planning ahead is essential. Here's all the information you'll need in order to submit your application.

Application Process

Students in grades 9–11 (current academic year) may apply. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the program is full.

Here’s what you'll need to submit in your application:

  • Enter your demographic information
  • E-mail addresses from a teacher who knows your abilities as a writer and another mentor that can speak to your character (this must not be a family member or friend). Each reference will be sent an electronic recommendation form which must be completed and submitted to the Belin-Blank Center.
  • Two essays:
    • Essay 1: Tell us about your work. What inspires you? (500 words max)
    • Essay 2: Recognizing that we will receive many high-level writing applicants, what makes you uniquely and exceptionally qualified to participate in this program? On a personal, intrinsic level, what do you hope to gain from this summer residency? (500 words max)
  • Two samples of your work (pdf)
  • Have you participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards? 


Completed applications will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of faculty and staff from The University of Iowa. The selection committee will evaluate applications based on the following criteria:

  • Samples of your work
  • Content of essays
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Participation in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

While priority will be given to students who have participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, we invite all interested artists to apply. 

Ready to Apply?

After You're Accepted

You can look forward to a fun and enriching summer! Here you can find answers to all the pressing questions you may have while making your plans to join us.

Cost & Financial Aid

Online Cost

The program fee is $2,200. This also covers two semester hours of undergraduate credit from the University of Iowa.

On-Campus Cost

The total program fee for SWR is $4,050. The fee covers your room, board, materials, admission to all regularly scheduled activities, and 2 semester hours of undergraduate credit from the University of Iowa.

The program fee does not include transportation to and from the University of Iowa or incidental expenses, such as souvenirs and snacks. You and your family are responsible for these expenses.

Payment Options

There are three options for payment of program fees:

  1. Pay the entire amount on a credit card.
  2. Pay in four equal monthly installments using a credit card.
  3. Set up an individualized payment plan.  Payment plans are available by contacting the Belin-Blank Center at 800-336-6463 (+1-319-335-6148 internationally).

Financial Aid

You may be awarded financial aid for up to half the cost of the program. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come-first-served basis, while funds are available. Eligibility is typically determined by qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch. After your information is reviewed, a decision will be made, and you will receive an email regarding the amount of your award. Awards will be applied directly to your program fees. Additional scholarships may be available.

Daily Schedule

Online Class Schedule

You will attend classes 11 a.m.–6 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.  Classes are taught synchronously (live with in-person instructors; no recordings) to make the experience as engaging as possible. Our hope is to make SWR accessible to both Eastern (12 p.m.–7 p.m.) and Western (9 a.m.–4 p.m.) time zones.

The typical schedule for each day looks like:

  • 11:0012:30 Structural Approaches to Writing
  • 12:30 p.m.–2 p.m. Read, Write, Consult
  • 2 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Break
  • 2:30 p.m.–4 p.m. Elective (rotating between Screenwriting and Poetry)
  • 4:00—4:30 Break
  • 4:30 p.m.–6 p.m. Workshop, Critique and Feedback
  • 6:30—8:00 Author Talks* / Literary Tours**

*Past Author Talks have been given by poet Robyn Schiff, fiction writers Xochitl Gonzalez and Bennett Sims, graphic novelist Rachel Williams, memoirist Chuy Renteria, creative nonfiction author Inara Verzemnieks, and more!

**Literary Landmarks include visits to the internationally renowned Writers Workshop, UNESCO City of Literature, the Literary Walkway, the Center for the Book, and more!

On-Campus Schedule

The typical schedule for each day looks like:

  • 7:30 a.m.–8:30 a.m. Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m. Structural Approaches to Writing
  • 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m. Read, Write, Consult
  • 12 p.m.–1:00 p.m. Lunch
  • 1 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Workshop, Critique and Feedback
  • 2:30–4 p.m. Elective (rotate between Screenwriting and Poetry)
  • 4 p.m.–5 p.m. Leisure Time
  • 5 p.m.–6 p.m. Dinner
  • 6 p.m.–10 p.m. Author Talks* / Literary Tours** / Evening activities
  • 11 p.m. Lights out

*Past Author Talks have been given by poet Robyn Schiff, fiction writers Xochitl Gonzalez and Bennett Sims, graphic novelist Rachel Williams, memoirist Chuy Renteria, creative nonfiction author Inara Verzemnieks, and more!

**Literary Landmarks include visits to the internationally renowned Writers Workshop, UNESCO City of Literature, the Literary Walkway, the Center for the Book, and more!

Evening and weekend activities include special seminars, off-campus field trips, and cultural and recreational activities. We carefully select activities to complement the program. For this reason, all activities, including the weekend activities are required.


You will be supervised at all regularly scheduled events and activities. Supervision at the residence halls will be provided by a Belin-Blank Program Coordinator and residence hall staff specially selected and trained to work with and supervise students. There is approximately one resident advisor for every ten students. You are expected to live within the policies of the residence halls, the university, and the program.

Living on Campus

You will be housed in a residence hall located near the Blank Honors Center on the University of Iowa campus. Most program activities will take place within brief walking distance of the residence hall. Male and female students will be assigned to separate floors and all students will share a room with at least one other student.

In addition to academic programming, you will be able to participate in a variety of scheduled recreational activities selected by the staff, especially on the weekends. You will also have access to the University of Iowa libraries, studio facilities, and creative spaces.

Family Visits

We ask that your family inform staff of their plans so that arrangements can be made to facilitate any family visits. Because the program is dedicated to the development of a cohesive community, you may not have non-family visitors during the program.

Check-in / Check-out

Check-in for the program will be held from 1 p.m.–3 p.m. on the first day of the program. The check-in process will begin at the residence hall front desk. If you are unable to check in during these times, please contact the Belin-Blank Center. A brief student orientation will begin at 4 p.m.

Check-out for the program will be held after the closing on the last day of the program. You should pack all of your belongings prior to the closing session.

Cancellation Policy

If you must cancel, please call the Belin-Blank Center at 800-336-6463 as soon as possible to decline the acceptance so that a student on the waiting list may attend. Your non-refundable down payment equal to 25% of the total fee will be retained for all cancellations. Cancellations after June 1st may not be refunded.


You may request a roommate once you have been accepted to the program and are asked to fill out enrollment forms. If you do not have a specific request for a roommate, you will be matched with another student from the program. Students who identify as transgender, have medical conditions, or other unique circumstances may request a single room.

Arrival / Departure

If you need to arrive a day early or depart a day late, you will have an opportunity to make these arrangements once you have been accepted to the program and are asked to fill out enrollment forms. If you will be arriving by air, your destination is the Eastern Iowa Airport (CID). You may arrange transportation through the airport shuttle service. It is approximately a 30 minute ride to campus.

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