Summer Institute Creative Writing

July 10–July 28, 2023

Three weeks
Three college credits 
Monday–Friday,  9 a.m.–4 p.m. & evening workshop hours

Work with award-winning, published authors and editors to sharpen your writing skills and develop your voice. Through college-level discussion, prompts, creative analysis and critiques, observational exercises around Philly, and workshops, you’ll broaden your experience and talent as a writer in a dynamic environment. You’ll explore several genres, including fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. 

Over the course of three weeks, you’ll take four classes: three writing courses and one elective.


Writing prompts and observational exercises in the city of Philadelphia spark discussion and critique.  Cross-disciplinary electives and collaborations allow you to explore an area of strength or branch out into something new, which will equip you to be able to tell your distinct story. 

Instructors and guest writers share advice for unlocking new modes of creative language and voice, and mentors provide critical feedback during evening workshopping conferences. You’ll also participate in weekly workshops and roundtable discussions with members of Philadelphia’s literary scene.

At the end of this program, students will

  • complete for presentation a polished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry.

  • learn skills in critical thinking and revision practice through peer review and workshopping.

  • build skills in writing autobiographically and/or writing from lived experience.

  • gain facility with character development, plot and short story devices such as imagery, symbolism, perspective, voice and tone.

  • hone skills in poetry, considering structure, rhyme, image, as well as performative aspects.

  • explore methods and practices of being a writer in the world, including sharing work via submissions to literary magazines and community events; residencies, writing institutes and fellowships; and interacting with contemporary text.


Core Classes

You'll hone your craft in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and other forms, and study with a different dynamic faculty member each week. The program focus changes weekly and allows room for you to follow your inspiration, wherever it may take you.

Contemporary Short Fiction

 While looking towards contemporary writers as inspiration, you’ll write your own short stories while learning how to develop characters and voice, and how to transform your plot to enduring prose. What are the themes and concerns of modern-day writing? You’ll experiment to find which short story devices best tell your story. 

Creative Nonfiction

Learn how to frame real life experiences into a story worth sharing. As Audre Lorde wrote, “The need for sharing deep feeling is a human need.” We’ll read some inspirational and classic texts that will guide us in our own short nonfiction pieces.


Take a few steps beyond the superficiality of poetry. What lingers beyond trends? What literary movements have led to the poetic thinking of today? Examine and dissect contemporary work while developing critical vocabulary and expressing yourself in powerful new ways.


You’ll have the opportunity to participate in an elective course on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Applicants will rank their preferred electives and enroll in one of the following options. 

Character Design Illustration

Working with a professional in the field, you’ll research and use your imagination to develop and design original characters that tell their stories. You'll use a variety of traditional and digital media to create thumbnail sketches that evolve into highly rendered character designs suitable for various applications including games, animation, comics, graphic novels and illustration.

Risograph Printing

A Risograph printer echoes the vibrant “ink on paper” look of offset printing and is accessible to artists working in both analog and digital media, including illustrators, designers, printmakers and mixed-media artists. In this class, you’ll learn about the Risograph and create your own zines, posters and limited edition prints.


Hone your photographic skills to create exhibition quality images and prints. Learn professional digital photography and develop your abilities in composition, lighting techniques, color and tonality to take dynamic images.


Learn to create a one of a kind wearable piece of jewelry through various metalworking techniques including soldering fabrication, cold connections and polishing. You'll walk away with one or more pieces of finished jewelry.


Learn a wide range of 3-D techniques and processes, including modeling, carving and installation, among others. Work in numerous media in various shops across the university.

Digital Effects for Film & Animation

Create effects for live action and animated films using Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere. Shoot and light sequences in front of a green screen for a range of settings, and create standard effects such as muzzle slashes, lightsabers and explosions.

A Week in the Life

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View a sample schedule.


  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m.  Poetry

  • 1–4 p.m. Elective

  • 4–6 p.m. Open Studio


  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Contemporary short story

  • 1–4 p.m. Contemporary short story

  • 4–6 p.m.  Workshopping


  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m.  Poetry

  • 1–4 p.m. Elective

  • 4–6 p.m. Workshopping 


  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Contemporary short story

  • 1–4 p.m. Contemporary short story

  • 4–6 p.m. Open Studio


  • 9 a.m.–12 p.m. Writing Portfolio

  • 1–4 p.m  Writing Portfolio


  • Optional off-campus field trips

Note: Students break for lunch between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. every day. Some evening activities are part of the program’s curriculum. Commuters should plan accordingly.

Summer 2023 Faculty

Headshot of MeeRee Orlandini
MeeRee Orlandini

BFA '19

Creative Writing (BFA)

How to Apply

 Our Summer Institute 2023 program is full and no longer accepting applications. 

  • Complete the Summer Institute application.

  • Submit an essay or writing sample. Students applying for a scholarship must submit a portfolio.

    • Essay

      • Include an essay of 300 words maximum, that explains why you want to attend the program and what you hope to gain from the experience.

    • Writing Sample

      • Upload at least one writing sample (fiction, poetry or creative nonfiction) completed within the last year. 

      • All samples should not exceed three pages in length and can be an excerpt from a longer work.

  • Pay the $15 application fee.

Tuition & Fees  

Tuition: $3,400
Program fee: $150  
Housing and meals: $1,425

Commuter total: $3,550
Residential total: $4,975


Students are expected to bring supplies with them or purchase them once they arrive on campus. Supply lists will be shared one month before the program starts with cost estimates.

Spending & Miscellaneous Expenses

Students spend an average of $80–$100 per week on additional items including laundry, snacks, personal spending and non-required supplies.


Scholarships for the Summer Institute are awarded to students in high academic standing with significant creative potential and financial need. Scholarship awards are competitive. Students are able to apply for either a merit- or need-based scholarship. 

Learn about Summer Institute scholarships.


The Summer Institute Creative Writing program was a reminder that I was and remain on the path where I feel most myself.
— Isabel Rose Catalan ’25 (Creative Writing), ’20 (Summer Institute)


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