Imagine spending your summer in a UNESCO City of Literature - one of only two in the United States - learning from world-class faculty on one of the premier arts campuses in the country, home to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop. Envision spending your time participating in classes, workshops, evening tours, lectures, and events that excite and stretch you as a writer. Picture investing three full weeks in your passion, living and learning with other high school students from all over the world who are as consumed with writing as you, and finishing off the summer by showcasing your work to your peers, teachers, and the public. This dream is reality at the Summer Writing Residency (SWR), an immersive 3–week residency at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center.

About the Program

SWR Online takes place July 5–24, 2020.

Application Timeline:

  • February 1, 2020: Information and application forms available online to students. 
  • Applications will continue to be accepted until all classes are filled.
  • April 1, 2020: Students receive notification of acceptance status.
  • April 9, 2020: Accepted students secure their seat in the program and submit the first payment
  • July 7, 2020: Payment due in full

Program Events:

  • The closing ceremony will take place on Friday, July 24rd and will feature our digital anthology.

The Summer Writing Residency (SWR) is a unique opportunity to work with world-class faculty in 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. From there, you will have time for reading, writing, and consultation with your instructor. After lunch, you will workshop, critique, give feedback utilizing the critical response process. Finally, you will have an opportunity to take electives in Screenwriting and Poetry to round out your day.

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

Andrew King

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. Preference will be given to application materials submitted online by March 1.

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

  • A non-refundable application fee of $50 (applied toward program fees if you are accepted)
  • Enter your demographic information
  • E-mail addresses from an art 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? (750 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? (750 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:

  • Content of essays and supporting materials
  • Letters of recommendation, both content area and character
  • 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 writers to apply.  You may only attend SWR only once.

Ready to Apply?

Apply NowImage link to SWR application

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


The total program fee for SAR is $4,050 if you are from the U.S. and $4,600 if you are an international student. 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.

If you are an international student, the additional program fee covers insurance, two additional days of room and board, pick-up and drop-off at Eastern Iowa Airport (CID), and filing documents to secure your visa.

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.

International students are not eligible for scholarships or financial aid for SWR.  International students must also pay in full and are not eligible for installments or payment plans.

Daily Schedule

You will attend classes from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The typical schedule for each day looks like:

  • 7:30—8:30 Breakfast
  • 9:00—10:30 Structural Approaches to Writing
  • 10:30—noon Read, Write, Consult
  • noon—1:00 Lunch
  • 1:00—2:30 Workshop, Critique and Feedback
  • 2:30—4:00 Elective (rotating between Screenwriting, Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction)
  • 4:00—5:30 Free time
  • 5:30—6:30 Dinner
  • 6:30—10:30 Author Talks* / Literary Tours** / Evening activities
  • 11:00 Lights out

*Past Author Talks have been given by poet Robyn Schiff, fiction writer Larry Baker, poet and illustrator Lauren Haldeman, 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 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm on the first day of the program if you are from the United States and the day before the program officially begins if you live outside of the United States. 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 4:00 pm.

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 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. You will also have an opportunity to request the Belin-Blank Center to provide your transportation to campus and back to the airport when you fly into the Eastern Iowa Airport (CID).

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