The process of auditioning for the Creative Writing department begins by completing two application forms — one for Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, and one for the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). To begin this process, link to the school’s main website,, and look for the Admissions tab. Within that menu you can find both instructions and downloadable application forms.

In addition to the two application forms, Creative Writing applicants must prepare and submit a portfolio.



There are 2 application deadlines that correspond to 2 audition dates. Students submitting their application materials for the 1st Round Audition will have an opportunity (if necessary) to apply to the 2nd round Audition.

Materials are due:

  • WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2016, by 3 PM
    to be considered for an interview on SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2017 (1st round)
  • WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2016, by 3 PM
    to be considered for an interview on SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 2017 (2nd round)


Portfolio Requirements:

  • Title page with your name; your grade and school name; your email address and phone number
  • Identify which program you are applying for (Literary Arts or Spoken Arts), and indicate if you are open to being considered for the other program if not accepted into your first choice.
  • One Personal Statement: an essay (1-2 pages) in which you describe why you want to be in Creative Writing, specifically the program you are applying for (Literary or Spoken Arts). This is an opportunity for you to tell us what makes your voice unique, and to give us insight into you as a writer: the poets, authors, and books that you love, why you write, when or how you write, if you’ve taken creative writing classes before (not a requirement!), if you’ve been to any of our CW shows or readings, etc. If you are applying for Spoken Arts, this is also an opportunity to let us know if you have any experience in poetry slams or other spoken-word performances or programs.
  • One academic essay (something you turned in for an English class)
The following components depending on your program of choice:
For Literary Arts
  • Five to ten poems
  • Two complete short stories
  • One personal narrative (a creative/non-academic essay that tells a specific, true story from your life)
  • Choose one of the following:
    • One 5-10 page one-act play or script for TV or film OR
    • An additional short story or personal narrative
For Spoken Arts
  • Five to ten poems
  • One character/persona monologue (write from someone else’s point of view)
  • One personal narrative (a creative/non-academic essay that tells a specific, true story from your life)
  • Recent (within one year) voice or video recording of you performing one of your pieces (not necessarily a piece included in your portfolio; submit this via DVD, audio CD, or a link to a youtube clip with password if necessary; this can be completely low-tech, as simple as a friend filming you with your smartphone)

Portfolio Recommendations

  • Do NOT submit a portfolio unless you have thoroughly read through our website. For samples of the kind of work we do, we strongly recommend that you read our student literary journal, umläut. The Literary Reviews, Playwriting, and Poetry sections of our site provide some examples of student work.
  • We also suggest that you attend our reading performances, which are listed on this website’s Event Calendar as well as the SOTA website.
  • The Creative Writing Director does not provide feedback on individual portfolios.
  • We strongly recommend taking free creative writing workshops offered at 826 Valencia ( or elsewhere.


  • After the portfolios are reviewed, students will receive notice that they have been invited to attend the audition if they are being considered for inclusion in the CW program.
  • On Audition Day, students will be asked to complete two onsite creative writing assignments, and to participate with current CW students in an informal activity.
  • Students will be asked to discuss themselves and their work in a personal interview with the Creative Writing Director and a writer-in-residence.

FREE portfolio help at 826 Valencia



“Keep in mind, when auditioning for Creative Writing, that you are subjecting yourself to a hard-working community that believes in support, determination, imagination and constructive critique from everyone, peers and teachers alike…. When I did my portfolio, I wrote the pieces, and then did a series of drafts for each one.  I had someone else read my pieces and help me make edits…. For the interview, remember to talk about how you got interested in writing….. Be enthusiastic about the program and be yourself!”  — Sasha Schmitz ’09

“I was really nervous about my audition, but I realized that the most important thing was being myself! Don’t be nervous, everyone is very welcoming!”   — Josie Weidner ’15

“Re-writing is next to godliness.  Re-writing needs to become ingrained in all good writers, so it would be wise for prospective creative writers to polish their portfolio no matter how beautiful it already appears.”  — Eli Wolfe ’09

3 thoughts on “Applying

    • Avi says:

      No, that would be harsh! Once you get into the department, you do not have to audition each year. If you’ve never written a play, don’t stress! Read a bunch of plays– especially contemporary plays– and you’ll be able to get a sense. Also keep an ear out for how people actually talk (try listening to the way parents talk in comparison to your friends). There are also great collections of ten minute plays, and ten minute play festivals have become quite popular. Check nearby theaters to see if any are near you 🙂 It may seem daunting at first, but plays can be EXTREMELY FUN to write!

  1. Olivia Alegria says:

    Nope! You only have to audition to be admitted to the department.
    As for the play: my advice is to think of it as a story. Plays tell stories, even though they rely on a different combination of devices than short stories do to communicate the fiction. I guess you can imagine a play as a very dialogue-heavy story, wherein any unstageable phenomena or backstory must be introduced within the dialogue. I know it can be scary, but my main advice is not to get too caught up in the format to begin with.
    Here are some things I’ve found helpful (for playwriting and just in general):
    (though not all of the information in those two is applicable to one-act plays)

    Good luck!!!

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