About Us

Switchback is an online publication of the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco. We have recently changed our publication schedule from producing two issues a year to releasing new material throughout all twelve months.

General Guidelines

  1. We only consider previously unpublished works. No exceptions. Thank you.
  2. We do not accept submissions via email or postal service. You can submit your work to us through Submittable. If you run into any technical difficulties in uploading your submission, please contact us at
  3. We do accept simultaneous submissions. However, we ask that you notify us as soon as possible if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  4. If you’re submitting prose, please limit your submission to one story or essay at a time. Stories and essays should be no more than 4,500 words, but we prefer pieces closer to 3,500 words. We won't consider any prose pieces over 4,500 words.
  5. If you’re submitting poetry, please submit to us no more than three poems. The best things come in threes: Olympic medals, wishes, Cerberus heads.
  6. Before submitting, please read some of our back issues to familiarize yourself with the content we choose to publish. It's all readily available on our website completely free.


The theme is your exile. We’re looking for well-crafted poems, short stories, and essays that explore all aspects of the word exile. Tell us about your roots and the things that have uprooted you. We want to know about the cities that haunt you and the spaces that unshackle you from the past. Show us your longing, your freedom, your place in the world.

The winner will receive $500 and publication in our online journal.


All entries must be submitted by Tuesday, April 30th at 11:59 PM PST. General submissions to Switchback will remain open after that date.


$5 per submission.

In order to be eligible for the contest, writers must both submit their work on Submittable AND follow the link below to pay the required $5 entry fee. Both MUST be done in order to be considered for the prize.


Multiple submissions are allowed, but each submission requires its own entry fee. All entries will also be considered for publication in our online journal. General submissions to Switchback are free, but those submissions will not be considered for the contest’s prize.


The winner will be contacted directly one week prior to public announcement on our website.


The contest is open to unpublished poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Entries must not have appeared previously in print or online. All submissions must be fewer than 3,000 words. Entrants must be U.S. residents. As the contest will be judged by the Switchback editorial staff, writers affiliated with Switchback editors and their family members, are ineligible. Current University of San Francisco faculty, staff, and students are also ineligible. Prize money may be subject to tax withholding.