Young writers learn the value of craft and sound writing techniques from experienced, published authors.

Developed by professional writers, the Creative Writing program is intensive and highly challenging to ensure talent development and productivity. During their two years in the Creative Writing program, students will create short stories, poems, personal essays, and movie scripts.

The program attracts the finest young writers in South Carolina by offering a creative, supportive atmosphere and a course of study supervised by practicing, published writers. 

Creative Nonfiction  |  Fiction  |  Poetry  |  Screenwriting

Creative Writing students spend their time in small, collaborative sessions where they are constantly reading, writing, editing, and critiquing works under the guidance of practicing writers/mentors. Several times during the school year, students have the opportunity to meet with nationally-known, visiting writers.

Creative writers give two public readings a year and submit their work to a variety of state, regional and national  competitions for additional critique, publication, and awards.

Student Achievements

  • 12 students have received $10,000 Portfolio Awards in the national Scholastic Writing Competition.
  • 9 writers have been named U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, an annual honor bestowed on only 20 high school seniors nationally.
  • In the past decade, 32 Governor’s School writers were recognized as YoungArts National Finalists.
  • In 2017, a Governor’s School writer received the prestigious Thomas Wolfe Scholarship from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
  • Guest artists in the Creative Writing department have included an Oscar winner, a Tony winner, a National Book Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

When To Apply By Grade

Creative Writing students apply for the Residential High School program in the 10th grade to attend in the 11th and 12th grades.  Learn more about the application and audition process below.

    Creative writing student writing in courtyard
    Creative Writing students in class discussion
    Creative Writing student reading book
    Creative writing student giving public reading


    Apply Now!

    Here’s what you’ll need to complete the online application.

    ID Photo

    Submit passport-style photo of yourself from the shoulders up. This will be used as your student ID photo if you are accepted.

    Teacher Recommendations

    To request recommendations and other necessary forms, you will provide the names and email addresses of the arts teacher(s), academic teacher, school counselor/registrar and other individual for homeschool/virtual school recommendation (if applicable) on the application. 

    Writing Experience

    List any writing classes/training/experience you may have had in the past two years. Not having any of these experiences will not hurt your chances. 

    Personal Essay 

    Finished essays will be uploaded to the application.

    Write a 500-word personal essay on this topic: Describe a single, specific incident or event that has profoundly affected you as a writer. (If you attended the Governor's School summer programs for Creative Writing, you may NOT use this experience as the subject of your essay.)

    This essay is an opportunity to give the Creative Writing faculty a sense of who you are as an individual. Use 12-point font, double-space, and include your name in the top right corner of the page. 500 words, maximum.

    Upload the essay in Word or PDF format. Do not upload using the PAGES app.


    The portfolio must contain one of the following:

    • Poetry (5 poems / 1 per page)  OR
    • Short Story (one story, no longer than five pages)

    Mandatory Portfolio Format

    • Name (upper right-hand corner)
    • Page numbers (lower right-hand corner)
    • Poetry - typed and single-spaced with Times New Roman, 12-point font
    • Fiction - typed and double-spaced with Times New Roman, 12-point font

    Upload the portfolio in Word or PDF format. Do not upload using the PAGES app.

    Parent/Guardian Contact Information

    General contact information for the individuals who have legal custody.

    The Admissions Office will notify you if information is missing from your application. Incomplete applications cannot be processed.

    Pre-Screening Process

    Not all applicants for the Creative Writing Residential High School program will receive an audition. During pre-screening, applications that are complete by January 6, 2021 will be reviewed by the Creative Writing department. This pre-screening review process includes all application materials, portfolio submissions, grades and recommendations.

    At the end of pre-screening (around January 29), you will receive an email letting you know if you have been selected to continue with the audition process. Your audition date will be confirmed after you are selected to participate. 

    Reading List, Audition & Tips

    Suggested Reading List

    The Creative Writing program is as focused on reading as it is on writing, and the following link provides a list of suggested reading. Not sure where to start? Pick an author at random and start reading. Or, research a few authors to see who sparks your interest and start reading.

    Suggested Reading List 

    When you find authors you like, research to see what all they have written. Do they only write fiction or do they also write poetry or non-fiction? Read some of everything so you learn what you like and don't like. Also, find out who your favorite authors like to read and read works by those authors. 

    The Audition

    Not all Residential Creative Writing applicants are selected for an audition. Faculty will evaluate applications and portfolios by mid-January to determine who will be invited for a personal interview. If you are selected to audition, you will participate in a writing workshop and personal interview.

    Interview Tips

    How to Handle the Interview for Creative Writing
    (and not have a stroke)

    1. Don't panic. This interview is simply a way we get to know you on a personal level. We'll ask you complicated, soul-searching questions, like: What are your hobbies? Do you have brothers and sisters? What kind of music do you listen to? Yeah, tough stuff, right?
    2. Be yourself. Be honest. We want to know who you are, not which role you can play for ten minutes.
    3. Speaking of ten minutes - that's usually about the length of the interview. No marathons, just a few minutes of chit chat.
    4. Don't panic.
    5. Read some contemporary works ahead of time. One question we'll ask you, guaranteed: What do you like to read? If your answer is "Anything with vampires and the collected J.K. Rowling," we will probably roll our eyes at you. If you mention some contemporary poets or short fiction writers, you'll score big points. If you need a list of contemporary poets and fiction writers, take a look at the Suggested Reading List we've compiled. Read some of the authors. Tell us what you think about them. P.S. Know the names of the authors you have read.
    6. We want to accept students who are passionate about learning how to write. If you seem apathetic, or if you say things like, "My mom made me apply" or "I'm just looking for a way to get of the house," we probably won't meet again.
    7. It's important not to panic.
    8. Another question we'll ask is: How often do you write? Tip: The correct answer is not, "When I'm really sad or bummed out." Be familiar with your own work. We'll probably ask about your fiction or poetry.
    9. Don't ask us for critiques. Unfortunately, we don't have time to comment on everyone's work.
    10. Please ask questions about the program. Your curiosity about what we do translates into palpable passion (see #6 above).
    11. And don't panic.

    Important Dates

    Application Deadlines 

    • November 30, 2020 - Deadline for application fee waiver.

    • January 6, 2021 - Final application deadline. 

    Teacher recommendations must also be submitted by the above deadlines in order for your application to be considered complete.

    Audition Dates

    • Saturday, January 30, 2021 - Upstate
    • Saturday, February 6, 2021 - Lowcountry
    • Saturday, February 20, 2021 - Midlands

    Admission Decision Notification

    Applicants will be notified of decisions via email by early April. Decisions will not be given over the phone.


    Application Fee: $50 for all applications submitted after November 30. For those in need of financial assistance, the Application Fee Waiver on the Submission Confirmation page of the application can be submitted instead of this fee.

    Tuition: Free 

    Residence Hall Fee: $150, non-refundable residence hall fee

    Meal Plan: $3,575 annual food services fee paid directly to Aramark Food Services. Payment plans are available.

    Financial aid is available for residents of South Carolina with validated financial need.

    Fees and Financial Aid