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The 10 Best Screenwriting Schools in the US

The country’s best screenwriting schools are as diverse as the stories their students tell.

Screenwriters are the creative men and women who craft the stories that get turned into TV series, movies, and digital media. 

While some colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in screenwriting, the nation’s current top screenwriting programs all offer a Master of Fine Arts in the field. 

Students don’t have to study in entertainment hubs like New York or Los Angeles, either. Many of the best screenwriting programs are spread throughout the U.S., but no matter where they go, students often have opportunities to spend time in major industry areas to network and/or intern at some point in their studies. 

As the world shifts to more remote learning opportunities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, some schools also offer low-residency programs in which most of the program takes place online.

Both undergraduate and graduate students complete a wide range of scripts and other portfolio pieces, allowing them to enter the competitive entertainment industry with loads of experience and writing samples to help them land work.

Here are 10 of the best screenwriting schools in the US.

Stephens College (Columbia, MO)

Stephens College

Stephens College students spend part of the studies where the magic happens: Hollywood.

The college offers a Master’s of Fine Arts in TV & Screenwriting , a two-year program that mixes online courses with four 10-day workshops at the Jim Henson Studios in Hollywood. 

Stephens also is making a concerted effort to give female writers more opportunities to work in mainstream Hollywood, and its students hone their crafts under the guidance of “some of the best working writers in the industry.” Faculty and mentors include successful entertainment professionals who have earned Oscars, Emmys, and other awards.

Additionally, Stephens connects its students to showrunners, agents, and other executives to help them understand the process of selling their writing. Alumni have gone on to work for such shows as “13 Reasons Why” and “Seal Team.”

Prospective students must include a writing sample with their application. This can be for a screenplay, television pilot, web series, or stage play.

Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)

Pepperdine University

Located in the heart of Southern California, Pepperdine is able to bring in Hollywood professionals to teach and nurture its screenwriting students.

Pepperdine’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Screen and Television is a two-year program that includes courses looking at film history and storytelling, which teach students how to write for sitcoms, dramas, documentaries, and more. Students have the chance to participate in writing workshops with Hollywood professionals to help them further develop their skills.

MFA candidates must complete an industry internship as well as a thesis, which can be screenplays, television pilots, teleplays, or a combination of works.

To apply, students must include three essays as well as a sample of a television script or feature screenplay that is at least 25 pages. Nonfiction and pieces of journalism will not be accepted.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC)


The University of North Carolina has both undergraduate and graduate screenwriting programs.

In the bachelor’s program , students spend two years learning fundamentals of the entertainment industry, such as screenwriting and directing, and gain hands-on experience in workshops. If faculty members approve their portfolio, the students officially enter the screenwriting program in their junior year. The final two years of study involve honing more specific screenwriting skills, developing career strategies, and drafting scripts and screenplays for potential real-world production.

UNC’s Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting program lasts two years and has class schedules geared to accommodate working professionals. Students meet weekly with their mentor to develop a professional writing portfolio and are encouraged to collaborate with other campus programs on projects.

Students can hear from guest artists through special programs like workshops and screenings, but they also can participate in a university trip to Los Angeles, where they will go behind-the-scenes and meet with people working in the entertainment business.

Boston University (Boston, MA)

Boston University

Graduates of Boston University’s Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting program come away with at least seven professional writing projects that help them show their range.

At the end of the two-year program, students’ portfolios must include at least two feature-length screenplays, two short scripts, a spec of an existing sitcom, a spec of an existing hour-long television show, and a pilot of an original television series.

The program also immerses students in the center of the entertainment industry during their fourth and final semester. After spending the earlier part of the program in Boston, students head to Los Angeles, where they intern in the industry, network with fellow BU alumni, and polish a script they started earlier in their studies. 

All the while, students learn from industry veterans and can even gain some teaching experience themselves through graduate assistantships.

Emerson College (Boston, MA)

Emerson College

Students pursuing the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Film and Television at Emerson take 100% of their classes online.

The university only requires the students to visit campus for a six-day residency at the start of each semester. Students alternate between Emerson’s Boston and Los Angeles campuses for the residencies, where they can attend screenings, seminars, pitch sessions, and more to give them a feel for the entertainment industry.

The two online classes students take per semester are asynchronous, although there will be occasional synchronous workshops, and they focus on subjects such as film and television genres and television series writing. Students graduate with a portfolio that includes a wide array of writing samples, including screenplays and television scripts.

Emerson does not require applicants to submit GRE scores, but they do need to submit a sample of either screenwriting, dramatic writing, or a combination of those.

Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts (Orange, CA)

Chapman University

Writers can pursue their passion through two undergraduate programs and two master’s programs at Chapman University.

The Southern California university has bachelor’s degrees in screenwriting as well as television writing and production . Students in the screenwriting program come away with at least two feature-length scripts and have opportunities to work with other film majors and meet with experienced entertainment industry professionals.

Meanwhile, in the television writing and production program, students learn how to tell engaging stories for television and then how to work in the television studio, how they operate, and their history.

At the graduate level, students can pursue Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting or television writing and production , both of which take two years to complete. Students build portfolios while learning more advanced concepts, like about the business side of the industry or how to develop a TV series.

New York Film Academy (New York, NY)

The New York Film Academy has screenwriting programs for practically every level of study, putting students of all kinds to work in one of the entertainment industry’s capital cities.

The academy offers online screenwriting courses (a 15-week class, a four-week class for beginners focusing on television pilots, and a four-week class concentrating on story and structure). There also is a Final Draft Certificate Program for script coordinators held on weekends.

Moving up from there, students can get a more in-depth experience through one-, eight-, and 12-week screenwriting workshops. The academy designed these intensive and fast-paced programs for people with little or no screenwriting experience. 

In the one-year, hands-on Conservatory Screenwriting Program, meanwhile, students complete two feature-length screenplays, a television “spec” script, and several treatments. 

Then come the degree programs, with associate, bachelor, and master degrees in fine arts that focus on screenwriting available at the academy’s Los Angeles campus. 

Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University

This Ivy League university combines its screenwriting program with directing, positioning its students for a variety of careers after their graduation.

Columbia’s Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting/directing gives students a well-rounded look at the entertainment industry, from courses in the history and practice of filmmaking to lessons about the technical aspects of writing and directing careers. 

The university aims to prepare its MFA students for careers in television, film, and digital media through two years of classes and hands-on work that often ends up winning students awards. Students complete a variety of script and film projects before finishing their studies with a thesis and research.

UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television (Los Angeles, CA)

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

UCLA’s esteemed school gives graduate students a chance to focus on and refine their screenwriting skills through its Master of Fine Arts .

The screenwriting program has produced a bevy of illustrious, successful alumni, including Francis Ford Coppola and Alexander Payne. Its faculty also have years of experience in the entertainment industry and are able to pass on their knowledge to the next generation.

Students focus their studies on a feature film or television writing (although they can take workshops in both fields) and complete the program in two years with a thesis portfolio.

Prospective students will, however, need to show UCLA they have what it takes to get into the program first. Their application must include a creative portfolio that includes either all or part of a feature-length screenplay, a drama series pilot, or two comedy/dramedy scripts. 

University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts (Los Angeles, CA)

University of Southern California

USC’s cinema program has produced numerous industry leaders through the years, and aspiring writers can find a home in its John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television.

The division offers both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts that focus on screenwriting as well as a screenwriting minor for undergraduates.

The bachelor’s program is highly selective, however, admitting just 30 students each fall. Those who make it in enjoy small class sizes and workshop-style courses. Students also hear from guest speakers and can get hands-on industry experience with high-level internships.

USC students who want to understand the basics of screenwriting and produce some scripts themselves can take the minor in screenwriting . They must complete 16 units (aka credits) to earn the minor.

At the graduate level , students also engage in internships and mentorships available thanks to USC’s “close links to the Los Angeles film industry’s top screenwriters, directors, production companies and studios,” according to the university. The two-year program admits just 32 students each fall.

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Best Screenwriting Programs — Top Schools To Consider Featured

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A spiring screenwriters often ask “what are the best screenwriting programs?” And although that question certainly holds merit, its answer is completely subjective. The truth is that there are no “best screenwriting schools;” for one person it may be YouTube, for another it may be an Ivy League institution. Still, we’re going to break down the pros of some of the most renowned screenwriting schools so that you can see whether or not they’re worth pursuing!

Screenplay Writing Colleges

University of southern california.

Best Screenwriting Programs  •  USC Professor of Writing David Balkan Explains the Program

Notable Alumni: Chris Terrio, Shonda Rhimes, David Goyer, Bryan Fuller, etc. 

The University of Southern California Wells Division offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, a Master of Fine Arts degree, and Minors in Comedy and Screenwriting.

The University of Southern California Cinematic Arts department is one of the most renowned film programs in the world. As such, it should come as no surprise that its John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television is as competitive as it is.

College Gazette reports that USC admits just 3% of film-school applicants each year.

Best Screenwriting Schools in the World

Prospective USC applicants should research the cost of tuition rigorously – the 2021-22 cost of attendance was estimated at $60,275 (excluding housing, meal plans, and other associated fees).

University of California Los Angeles

Screenplay Writing Colleges  •  UCLA Professor Richard Walter Explains the Screenwriting Program

  • Notable Alumni: David Koepp, Eric Roth, Paul Schrader, David S. Ward, etc.
  • The University of California School of Theater, Film and Television offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting.

The University of California School of Theater, Film and Television isn’t just venerated for its state of the art equipment and distinguished professors, it's venerated for its low-cost of admission as well. For California residents, the 2021-22 UCLA undergraduate tuition was listed at 13,249; graduate tuition was slightly higher at $17,756.

That low-tuition cost comes at a price though – the Daily Bruin reported in 2019 that the School of Theater, Film and Television had a 4% acceptance rate!

Top 10 Screenwriting Schools

Prospective UCLA applicants should develop an extensive portfolio prior to applying to the program. 

Best Colleges for Screenwriting

Chapman university dodge college.

Best Screenwriting Programs  •  Tour Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Notable Alumni: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Ben York Jones, etc.

The Chapman University Dodge College of Film and Media Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree.

The Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University is a major player in the film-school game due to its impressive facilities and industry connections. Students in the B.F.A program are required to write at least two feature-length screenplays.

Chapman University is another expensive private film school – but it's slightly less competitive than USC.

Best Screenwriting Programs

Columbia university.

Best MFA Screenwriting Programs  •  Columbia University MFA Film Program Overview

  • Notable Alumni: Kathryn Bigelow, Simon Kinberg, Christina Lazaridi, James Mangold, etc.
  • Columbia University offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in Screenwriting/Directing.

Columbia University is one of the only Ivy League schools in the U.S. to offer a dedicated screenwriting program. Well, not quite dedicated – in fact, Columbia’s M.F.A. program is unique in that it is dual-disciplinary; that is, focused on screenwriting and directing. 

Script Writing Graduate Programs

The Columbia University School of the Arts has produced numerous prominent writers/directors.

Good Schools for Screenwriting

The american film institute.

Best Screenwriting Schools in the World  •  AFI Conservatory Screenwriting Fellows Give Advice and Discuss the Program

  • Notable Alumni: Susannah Grant, Frank Spotnitz, Jacqueline Hoyt, etc.
  • The American Film Institute offers a Master of Fine Arts degree program in Screenwriting.

The American Film Institute, more commonly known as AFI, is an especially-esteemed conservatory for students and faculty. That said, it’s small… like really small. In 2019, Data USA reported that the Institute had just 334 students! Tuition also isn’t cheap; in fact, it starts at $59,951.

AFI has a great reputation as a screenwriting school – but things aren’t all rosy. Let it be known that I was once scheduled to interview there, only to be notified the interviewer left before I showed up!

Best Universities for Scriptwriting

Boston university.

Script Writing Graduate Programs  •  Screenwriting Program at Boston University

  • Notable Alumni: Corinne N. Brinkerhoff, Scott Rosenberg, Allan Folsom, etc.
  • The Boston University College of Communication offers a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Screenwriting.

Boston University is one of the most prestigious non-Ivy league higher education institutions on the East coast. Many people wonder if Boston is a good place for aspiring screenwriters to study – and that perspective is certainly well-warranted; it’s a long way away from Hollywood.

But the truth is that Boston is a hot-bed for academics; and close enough to shooting locations in Atlanta and New York that in-person meetings are never too far away.

Like all other private institutions on this list, Boston University tuition is expensive – starting at $58,560 for the College of Communication.

List of Screenwriting MFA Programs

Emerson college.

Best MFA Screenwriting Programs  •  Screenwriting Student at Emerson Explains the Business Side of the Industry

  • Notable Alumni (writers not just in the Screenwriting program): Bill Burr, Kate Boutilier, George Watsky, etc.
  • Emerson College offers a Master of Fine Arts degree program in Writing for Film and Television.

Emerson College has produced some huge names in the entertainment industry, including Jay Leno, Henry Winkler, and Denis Leary – but did you know their M.F.A. degree program in Writing for Film and Television is one of the most unique in the country?

Emerson’s screenwriting is 100% online coursework with a 1-week residency at the start of each semester. That structure may not make sense for every aspiring screenwriter – but it’s probably perfect for some.

Emerson College has campuses in both Boston and Los Angeles.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Best Colleges for Screenwriting  •  UNCSA M.F.A. Screenwriting Program

  • Notable Alumni: Travis Beacham, Brett Haley, Jeff Nichols, etc.
  • The University of North Carolina School of Arts offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree program in Screenwriting.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts was the first public arts conservatory in the U.S. Over its near sixty-year history, UNCSA has produced big names in five fields: dance, drama, design & production, film, and music.

UNCSA tuition for in-state undergraduate students starts at $6,497, and $9,196 for in-state graduate students. 

UNCSA is one of the few schools on this list to offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees in screenwriting.

New York University

Best Universities for Scriptwriting  •  NYU Screenwriting Professor Marilyn Horowitz Breaks Down Screenplay Structure

  • Notable Alumni (writers not just in the Screenwriting program): Donald Glover, Kenneth Lonergan, John Fusco, etc.
  • The New York University Tisch School offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program and a Master of Fine Arts degree program in Dramatic Writing, as well as a certificate program in television and screenwriting.

The New York University Tisch School takes a bit of a different approach to screenwriting as compared to other screenwriting schools. Emphasis isn’t placed so much on the feature-length form but rather the dramatic reasoning behind effective storytelling.

Students in the B.F.A. and M.F.A. programs can expect to study prose, plays, and scripts.

The NYU Tisch School is a world-renowned art school; once again, tuition isn’t cheap, ranging from $28,202 (undergraduate) to $31,598 (graduate), via the NYU tuition calculator. But be warned, other outlets report the tuition is much higher.

Loyola Marymount University

Best Screenwriting Schools  •  Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television

  • Notable Alumni: Brian Helgeland, Francis Lawrence, Glen Morgan, Winifred Hervy, etc.
  • Loyola Marymount University offers a Bachelor of Arts degree program in Screenwriting and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for the Screen, as well as a minor in Screenwriting.

Loyola Marymount University has become a major player in the “screenwriting schools game” for its experienced faculty and its prime location just south of Playa Vista in Los Angeles, California.

LMU offers undergraduate, graduate, and minor degrees in screenwriting, making it an enticing institution for a variety of applicants.

In the fall of 2020, U.S. News reported that LMU accepted 50% of applicants; far higher of a percentage than most other schools on this list.

Best Screenwriting Classes Online

If you’re not quite ready to apply to a degree program, then perhaps you should consider taking screenwriting classes online. In our next article, we break down the best online screenwriting classes, with both free and paid options. By the end, you’ll know where to go for immediate access to screenwriting education.

Up Next: Great Online Screenwriting Classes →

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11 Best Schools for Screenwriting in America [For 2023]

Best Screenwriting Schools in America

Congratulations, you have decided to pursue a career in screenwriting! But like many industries, screenwriting is a competitive one. It can be beneficial to have a formal education in the craft to stand out from the crowd.

So, we have collated the top eleven best schools for screenwriting in America to help you separate the wealth of programs and opportunities available to you. You do not necessarily need to be located in Los Angeles anymore to secure a great screenwriting degree and experience. In fact, you may be able to stay right where you are and study from the comfort of your own home!

Most of the colleges that made this list offer Master of Fine Arts degrees, so you may need to study a Bachelor of Fine Arts first in a relevant subject such as Creative Writing or Film before making the leap. However, do keep an eye on our list; as you will see, more programs are appearing for undergraduates.

If you are still weighing up whether a film degree is right for you, check out our previous post: Is a Film Degree Really Worth It? (For Working in Film)

If you’re an aspiring screenwriter looking to take your craft to the next level, you need the right tools and resources to succeed. Look no further than Celtx, the ultimate screenwriting tool for bringing your creative vision to life.

top mfa screenwriting programs

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Okay, now It is time to spotlight some of the best screenwriting degree programs out there:

1. University of Southern California

Based in LA, the University of Southern California is a popular choice amongst aspiring screenwriters, its screenwriting program is one of the most renowned in the world.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Programs Offered

USC offers students both a Bachelors’s and Masters’s degree, both named Writing for Screen and Television. The BFA is a total study time of four years whilst the MFA is two years.

Both programs are extremely competitive with only around 3% of applications being successful.

Some big names in the screenwriting world have graced the halls of USC, including Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice), Chris Terrio (Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Justice League, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice), David Goyer (The Dark Knight, Terminator: Dark Fate, The Sandman) and Bryan Fuller (Star Trek: Discovery, Heroes, American Gods).

Modules Offered

Included but not limited to:

  • Cinematic Communication
  • Story: Character, Conflict and Catharsis
  • Writing the Screenplay
  • Advanced Screenwriting: The Relationship Screenplay
  • Senior Thesis
  • Foundations of Comedy
  • Writing the Original Dramatic Series Pilot

Check out their site here .

2. University of California, LA

Another Los Angeles-based university; UCLA is again a common choice for budding screenwriters. With this popularity comes a low acceptance rate of 4% for their MFA in Screenwriting.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Some recognizable names include David Koepp (The Mummy, Angels & Demons, War of the Worlds), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Dune, The Insider), Paul Schrader (American Gigolo, Dark, The Walker) and David S. Ward (Sleepless in Seattle, The Sting, Flyboys).

Include but not limited to:

  • Introduction to Film and Television Writing
  • Viewing and Reading Media
  • Cinema and Media Studies
  • Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
  • Adaptation for Screen
  • Advanced Screenwriting Workshop (Rewrite)

Television Track

  • One-Hour Drama Pilot Workshops
  • Half-Hour Comedy Pilot Workshops

Find out more here.

3. Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Chapman University

Situated in California, Dodge College offers a four-year BFA in Writing for Film and Television and a two-year MFA in Screenwriting. Dodge College prepares its students to “create characters and worlds that resonate with audiences, craft stories alongside other writers and use their skills and connections to break into the film and television industries.”

Dodge College’s MFA prides itself on preparing its students for the “business of the business” and the practicalities of working as a screenwriter in the film and television industries. Usually, this is where many writers struggle, so this may be an excellent option if you are keen to learn more about the business-side of screenwriting.

top mfa screenwriting programs

The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things, Hidden, Vessel) and Ben York Jones (Like Crazy, Ashes in the Snow, Newness) all attended Dodge College.

  • Writing for Film and TV
  • Introduction to Visual Storytelling
  • Short Film Analysis
  • History of Film to 1960
  • Pitching and Coverage
  • Writing from Research
  • Industry Insiders
  • Writing for Video Games
  • Agents and Managers
  • Writing for Evolving Platforms
  • Screenwriting Intensive
  • Film Script Analysis
  • Production Workshop
  • Feature Screenwriting
  • Research for Screenwriters
  • Independent Internship
  • Thesis in Screenwriting

Discover Chapman here .

4. Columbia University

Columbia offers a two-year dual MFA in Screenwriting & Directing which gives students an insight into how the two disciplines work together. So, if you are looking to be a writer/director, this could just be the program for you!

top mfa screenwriting programs

Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Detroit), Simon Kinburg (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Sherlock Holmes), Christina Lazaridi (Nobody’s Watching, Roza of Smyrna, Coming Up Roses) and James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line, Girl, Interrupted) all attended Columbia.

  • Elements of Dramatic Narrative
  • Screenwriting I & II
  • Role of the Producer
  • Screenwriting III & IV, Fundamentals of Editing
  • Script Revision
  • Business of Television
  • Story Structure
  • Intro to Cinematography
  • Advanced Feature Writing
  •  Advanced Pilot Writing
  • Advanced Screenplay Revision

You may notice that Columbia also covers modules on the film industry, covering the roles of Directors and Producers alongside Screenwriters. This can provide valuable context on how the screenwriter works within the industry and the collaborative nature of the film industry.

Keen to find out more about Columbia University’s program? Click here !

5. American Film Institute

Offers a two-year MFA in Screenwriting which sets students up to develop their writing skills as well as attend workshops to meet and collaborate with other writers.

top mfa screenwriting programs

American Film Institute has nurtured some extraordinary talent including Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, Charlotte’s Web, In Her Shoes), Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle, Devils) and Jacqueline Hoyt (CSI, The Good Wife, The Defenders).

  • Introduction to Cycle Production
  • Narrative Workshop & Analysis
  • Writing the Adaptation
  • Writing the TV Pilot
  • Directing for Screenwriters
  • Running the Show: Writing for TV Week-to-Week
  • History of Dramatic Writing

If you are a lucky member of an AFI cohort, you will work towards a degree portfolio of three feature scripts, two TV spec scripts and one original pilot.

Is the American Film Institute where you will be studying? Find out by clicking this link .

6. Boston University

Situated in Massachusetts, Boston University’s two-year MFA in Screenwriting gives students a writer’s room experience, collaborating and learning from their peers. Across the two-year degree, students work towards a seven-script portfolio which consists of two feature-length screenplays, two shorts, a spec hour-long TV script, a spec half-hour TV comedy, and an original TV pilot complete with a series bible.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Boston has seen some successful writers pass through its MFA. Corinne N. Brinkerhoff (American Gothic, Jane the Virgin, Elementary), Scott Rosenberg (Venom, October Road, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle/The Next Level) and Allan Folsom (Desperate Intruder, Hart to Hart, Untamed Frontier) are just a few!

  • Writing Television Situation Comedy Scripts
  • Script to Film
  • Writing Episodic Drama for Television
  • Genre for Screenwriters
  • Script Analysis
  • Screen Adaptation

With its unique structure, the Boston Screenwriting MFA bases its last semester in LA where students focus on the Rewrite and Career trajectories. What an opportunity to see and experience the heart of America’s film industry!

Does this sound like your kind of degree program? Discover more here .

7. Emerson College

Emerson College has the most unique residency split of any degree program on our list. Their two-year MFA in Screenwriting combines online coursework with a one-week residency for students at the start of each semester.

During their time on the MFA, students work towards a portfolio which includes short scripts, feature scripts, a television spec, an original television script, and a pilot or feature script alongside critical essays so students can reflect deeply on their work.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Jay Leno (The Tonight Show, Family Comedy Hour, Jay Leno and the American Dream), Henry Winkler (MacGyver, So Weird, Dead Man’s Gun) and Denis Leary (Sex & Drugs and Rock & Roll, Sirens, Rescue Me) were all educated at Emerson College.

  • Writing for Short-Form Media
  • Film Genres
  • The Writer’s Room
  • Writing Series Television
  • Writers in Development
  • Feature Film Writing
  • Television Genres


  • Storytelling & Writing Short Script
  • Series Television Writing.
  • Long-Form Writing
  • The Business of Screenwriting.

Click this link to find out more about this distinctive degree program.

8. University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina is one of the only universities on our list that offers both a BFA and an MFA in Screenwriting. Students in the four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts work towards a completed script of choice, followed by a polished outline for another. Onto two-year Master of Fine Arts, students will complete the degree program with a portfolio of three to four finished scripts.

The BFA is a very different animal from other programs available across America; across years one and two, students work on the fundamentals of writing, producing, and directing and put together a portfolio. After the first two years, this portfolio is reviewed by the university to determine each student’s place on the screenwriting program. It could be decided that your skill set is better suited to another discipline.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Many talented writers have been through the University of North Carolina’s doors including Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim, Carnival Row, Electric Dreams), Brett Haley (All Together Now, And Then I Go, The Hero) and Jeff Nichols (Long Way Back Home, Loving, Midnight Special)

  • Fundamentals of writing, directing, producing (after which a portfolio review of your work will be required to determine your place on the screenwriting program, or another discipline deemed best suited to your skill set)

After the portfolio review, you will move on to:

  • Working with classic genres to hone screenwriting skills and exploring styles and formats.
  • Adaptation to the Screen
  • Career strategies
  • Action plans

The final year of the BFA program is a very practical one, designed to prepare students in navigating the film industry.

  • Fundamentals of Cinematic Storytelling
  • Cinema Studies
  • Advanced Cinematic Storytelling
  • Portfolio Development
  • Electives from across the film school

Is the University of North Carolina your first choice? Find out here .

9. New York University

Situated in Manhattan, soak up the bright lights and culture of the Big Apple with New York University’s degree programs. Just like our previous selection, the university offers either a four-year BFA or a two-year MFA in Dramatic Writing.

top mfa screenwriting programs

New York University has been a popular choice for screenwriters over the years. Donald Glover (Atlanta, Guava Island, Funny as Hell), Kenneth Lonergan (Gangs of New York, Manchester by the Sea, Howards End) John Fusco (The Wind and the Reckoning, The Highwayman, Marco Polo) all certainly have had successful careers since graduating!

  • Forms of Drama
  • Expository Writing
  • Playwriting I
  • Screenwriting I
  • Film Survey
  • Episodic Writing
  • Shakespeare for Writers
  • Fundamentals of Filmmaking
  • Advanced Writing Workshop
  • Professional Colloquium
  • Introductory Writing classes in playwriting, screenwriting, and episodic writing as well as text analysis, production, and training classes.
  • Advanced writing classes toward a master’s thesis.

You will notice that New York University’s programs include all areas of dramatic writing, so if you are still figuring out which discipline you want to go down, whether it be playwriting, radio, or screenwriting (or all of them!), this could be a good choice for you!

Fill your boots with more information here .

10. Loyola Marymount University

It is your lucky day! Loyola Marymount University is another institution offering both a BFA and MFA. The four-year BFA in Screenwriting and three-year MFA in Writing for the Screen is certainly sound choices for any budding screenwriter.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Alumni such as Brian Helgeland (Legend, 42, Robin Hood), Francis Lawrence (Gotham, Slumberland, The Hunger Games Franchise), Glen Morgan (The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Final Destination 1 and 2) and Winifred Hervey (Half & Half, In the House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) all secured their writing education from Loyola Marymount.

  • Storytelling for the Screen
  • Beginning Screenwriting
  • Write Movie, Change World
  • Feature Screenplay
  • Writing the Comedy TV Series Spec
  • Developing & Writing Short Film
  • The TV Writers Room
  • Production Fundamentals for Screenwriters
  • Elements of Feature Screenwriting
  • Advanced Motion Picture Script Analysis
  • Writing the Feature Screenplay
  • Writing the Drama TV Spec Series
  • Rewriting the Feature Screenplay
  • Advanced Feature Screenwriting, The Business of Entertainment
  • Rewriting the Advanced Screenplay
  • Thesis Screenplay Project
  • Feature Film and Television Portfolio Workshop

You may notice that just like some of the other selections in our list of degree programs, Loyola Marymount emphasizes getting to know the workings of the film industry in its modules. Additionally, the university focuses on the rewriting of scripts and their students honing their skills to the best they can be.

Discover more about the undergraduate program at Loyola Marymount here . If it is the graduate program you’re looking for, click here .

11. Pepperdine University

Another Los Angeles-based university, Pepperdine is the final entry on our list, but is by no means our last choice!

Their two-year MFA in Screen and Television Writing allows students to create a Thesis Portfolio (two full-length screenplays or two TV pilots and two 30-minute teleplays or any combination of three works). Students also have the opportunity for an industry internship. Hands-on experience is the perfect addition to traditional classroom education and helps you get to grips with the film business and how screenwriters fit into it.

top mfa screenwriting programs

DJ Caruso (xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Redeeming Love, Standing Up), Blaine Chiapetta (A Big Fat Family Christmas, Most Likely to Murder, Deadly Assistant) and Chad Creasey (NCIS, Castle, Mistresses) all graduated from Pepperdine.

  • Writing for Screen and Television
  • The Storyteller as Cultural Leader
  • Topics in Writing for the Market
  • Writing Comedy
  • Writing Film Genres
  • Writing Adaptation

Take a look at Pepperdine’s program here .

How Do I Decide Which Program and University is Right for Me?

So, there we have it!

Eleven fantastic universities with even more programs on offer for aspiring screenwriters and filmmakers.

But the burning question is definitely “how do I choose which one is right for me?”. You will need to do your own research into which faculty and program are going to be right for you and your individual goals within the industries.

You may wish to focus solely on the fundamentals and theory of screenwriting, honing the craft. Ultimately you want to be the best writer possible. All of the degree programs we have discussed are going to help you do that, no matter their content.

Or, you are seriously considering screenwriting as a career and so need to have an awareness of the film and television industry as a business. Selling screenplays and collaborating with a larger cohort of filmmakers can be daunting, but an introduction to these matters in a less pressured, academic space can prove extremely useful when you are beginning to forge your career.

Screenwriting degrees can also open the doors for internship opportunities that you may not have access to otherwise. Of course, you can find and apply to internships outside of degree programs. We have done some of the research for you. Check out our Top 5 Screenwriting Internships for Aspiring Writers !

top mfa screenwriting programs

Another consideration is where you want to be located whilst completing your degree. Are you keen to work from where you are or are you happy to relocate if you are not local to your university of choice?

If you are not looking to relocate, Emerson College’s low-residency degree program may be the right one for you. Be aware that all of the work is completed online with only a little face-to-face contact with your tutors and peers. If you crave and work well in a collaborative environment, this may not work for you.

Weigh up your priorities in order and make your decision based on practicalities as well as your goals. Take a tour of your top choices: can you see yourself living and working here? Get a vibe for your surroundings; if your gut is saying “no way!” then it is probably right.

We hesitate to mention money, but finances are a huge factor in students making a decision on the university. None of the options available are cheap and it is a huge investment for anyone to make. Check out the funding resources open to you and carefully consider the costs involved with each of your top choice universities.

If you do decide that university is not the path you want to go down, never fear! There are several other options available to you including screenwriting books, online resources and shorter courses that can teach you the fundamentals.

There are hundreds of successful filmmakers out there who did not go to film schools, such as Christopher Nolan, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson, and look at the fantastic careers they have had! So, your screenwriting journey is in no way over before you have started.

The beauty of the film industry is that there are many paths and possibilities on offer, and a degree program is just one of them. Keen to get a head start? Make sure to keep up to date with our Celtx blog site where we regularly post writing tips and industry know-how.

Good luck with your university applications! Go forth and write!

Natasha Ferguson

Natasha is a UK-based freelance screenwriter and script editor with a love for sci-fi. In 2022 she recently placed in the Screenwriters' Network Short Film Screenplay Competition and the Golden Short Film Festivals. When not at her desk, you'll find her at the theater, or walking around the English countryside (even in the notorious British weather)

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The Best 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs in 2023

April 7, 2023

mfa creative writing programs

Whether you studied at a top creative writing university , or are a high school dropout who will one day become a bestselling author , you may be considering an MFA in Creative Writing. But is a writing MFA genuinely worth the time and potential costs? How do you know which program will best nurture your writing? This article walks you through the considerations for an MFA program, as well as the best Creative Writing MFA programs in the United States.

First of all, what is an MFA?

A Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a graduate degree that usually takes from two to three years to complete. Applications require a sample portfolio for entry, usually of 10-20 pages of your best writing.

What actually goes on in a creative writing MFA beyond inspiring award-winning books and internet memes ? You enroll in workshops where you get feedback on your creative writing from your peers and a faculty member. You enroll in seminars where you get a foundation of theory and techniques. Then you finish the degree with a thesis project.

Reasons to Get an MFA in Creative Writing

You don’t need an MFA to be a writer. Just look at Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison or bestselling novelist Emily St. John Mandel.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of reasons you might still want to get a creative writing MFA. The first is, unfortunately, prestige. An MFA from a top program can help you stand out in a notoriously competitive industry to be published.

The second reason: time. Many MFA programs give you protected writing time, deadlines, and maybe even a (dainty) salary.

Third, an MFA in Creative Writing is a terminal degree. This means that this degree allows you to teach writing at the university level, especially after you publish a book.

But above all, the biggest reason to pursue an MFA is the community it brings you. You get to meet other writers, and share feedback, advice, and moral support, in relationships that can last for decades.

Types of Creative Writing MFA Programs

Here are the different types of programs to consider, depending on your needs:

Fully-Funded Full-Time Programs

These programs offer full-tuition scholarships and sweeten the deal by actually paying you to attend them.

  • Pros: You’re paid to write (and teach).
  • Cons: Uprooting your entire life to move somewhere possibly very cold.

Full-Time MFA Programs

These programs include attending in-person classes and paying tuition (though many offer need-based and merit scholarships).

  • Pros: Lots of top-notch programs non-funded programs have more assets to attract world-class faculty and guests.
  • Cons: It’s an investment that might not pay itself back.

Low-Residency MFA Programs

Low-residency programs usually meet biannually for short sessions. They also offer one-on-one support throughout the year. These MFAs are more independent, preparing you for what the writing life is actually like.

  • Pros: No major life changes required. Cons: Less time dedicated to writing and less time to build relationships.

Online MFA Programs

Held 100% online. These programs have high acceptance rates and no residency requirement. That means zero travel or moving expenses.

  • Pros: No major life changes required.
  • Cons: These MFAs have less name-recognition

The Top 15 Creative Writing MFA Programs Ranked by Category

The following programs are selected for their balance of high funding, impressive return on investment, stellar faculty, major journal publications , and impressive alums.

Fully Funded MFA Programs

1) johns hopkins university, mfa in fiction/poetry (baltimore, md).

This is a two-year program, with $33,000 teaching fellowships per year. This MFA offers the most generous funding package. Not to mention, it offers that sweet, sweet health insurance, mind-boggling faculty, and a guaranteed lecture position after graduation (nice). No nonfiction MFA (boo).

  • Incoming class size: 8 students
  • Admissions rate: 11.1%
  • Alumni: Chimamanda Adiche, Jeffrey Blitz, Wes Craven, Louise Erdrich, Porochista Khakpour, Phillis Levin, ZZ Packer, Tom Sleigh, Elizabeth Spires, Rosanna Warren

2) University of Texas, James Michener Center (Austin, TX)

A fully-funded 3-year program with a generous stipend of $29,500. The program offers fiction, poetry, playwriting and screenwriting. The Michener Center is also unique because you study a primary genre and a secondary genre, and also get $3,000 for the summer.

  • Incoming class size : 12 students
  • Acceptance rate: a bone-chilling less-than-1% in fiction; 2-3% in other genres
  •   Alumni: Fiona McFarlane, Brian McGreevy, Karan Mahajan, Alix Ohlin, Kevin Powers, Lara Prescott, Roger Reeves, Maria Reva, Domenica Ruta, Sam Sax, Joseph Skibell, Dominic Smith

3) University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)

The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is a 2-year program on a residency model for fiction and poetry. This means there are low requirements, and lots of time to write groundbreaking novels or play pool at the local bar. Most students are funded, with fellowships worth up to $21,000. The Translation MFA, co-founded by Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, is also two years, but with more intensive coursework. The Nonfiction Writing Program is a prestigious three-year MFA program and is also intensive.

  • Incoming class size: 25 each for poetry and fiction; 10-12 for nonfiction and translation.
  • Acceptance rate: 3.7%
  • Fantastic Alumni: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Sandra Cisneros, Joy Harjo, Garth Greenwell, Kiley Reid, Brandon Taylor, Eula Biss, Yiyun Li, Jennifer Croft

4) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)

Anne Carson famously lives in Ann Arbor, as do the MFA students U-Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. This is a big university town, which is less damaging to your social life. Plus, there’s lots to do when you have a $23,000 stipend, summer funding, and health care.

This is a 2-3-year program, with an impressive reputation. They also have a demonstrated commitment to “ push back against the darkness of intolerance and injustice ” and have outreach programs in the community.

  • Incoming class size: 18
  • Acceptance rate: 4% (which maybe seems high after less-than-1%)
  • Alumni: Brit Bennett, Vievee Francis, Airea D. Matthews, Celeste Ng, Chigozie Obioma, Jia Tolentino, Jesmyn Ward

5) Brown University (Providence, RI)

Brown offers an edgy, well-funded program in a place that doesn’t dip into arctic temperatures. Students are all fully-funded for 2-3 years with $29,926 in 2021-22. Students also get summer funding and—you guessed it—that sweet, sweet health insurance.

In the Brown Literary Arts MFA, students take only one workshop and one elective per semester. It’s also the only program in the country to feature a Digital/Cross Disciplinary Track.

  • Incoming class size: 12-13
  • Acceptance rate: “highly selective”
  • Alumni: Edwidge Danticat, Jaimy Gordon, Gayl Jones, Ben Lerner, Joanna Scott, Kevin Young, Ottessa Moshfegh

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs (Continued) 

6) university of arizona (tucson, az).

This 3-year program has many attractive qualities. It’s in “ the lushest desert in the world ”, and was recently ranked #4 in creative writing programs, and #2 in Nonfiction. You can take classes in multiple genres, and in fact, are encouraged to do so. Plus, Arizona dry heat is good for arthritis.

This notoriously supportive program pays $20,000 a year, and offers the potential to volunteer at multiple literary organizations. You can also do supported research at the US-Mexico Border.

  • Incoming class size: 9
  • Acceptance rate: 4.85% (a refreshingly specific number after Brown’s evasiveness)
  • Alumni: Francisco Cantú, Jos Charles, Tony Hoagland, Nancy Mairs, Richard Russo, Richard Siken, Aisha Sabatini Sloan, David Foster Wallace

7) Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ):

Arizona State is also a three-year funded program in arthritis-friendly dry heat. It offers small class sizes, individual mentorships, and one of the most impressive faculty rosters in the game. Everyone gets a $19,000 stipend, with other opportunities for financial support.

  • Incoming class size: 8-10
  • Acceptance rate: 3% (sigh)
  • Alumni: Tayari Jones, Venita Blackburn, Dorothy Chan, Adrienne Celt, Dana Diehl, Matthew Gavin Frank, Caitlin Horrocks, Allegra Hyde, Hugh Martin, Bonnie Nadzam


8) new york university (new york, ny).

This two-year program is in New York City, meaning it comes with close access to literary opportunities and hot dogs. NYU is private, and has one of the most accomplished faculty lists anywhere. Students have large cohorts (more potential friends!) and have a penchant for winning top literary prizes.

  • Incoming class size: 40-60
  • Acceptance rate: 6%
  • Alumni: Nick Flynn, Nell Freudenberger, Aracelis Girmay, Mitchell S. Jackson, Tyehimba Jess, John Keene, Raven Leilani, Robin Coste Lewis, Ada Limón, Ocean Vuong

9) Columbia University (New York, NY)

Another 2-3 year private MFA program with drool-worthy permanent and visiting faculty. Columbia offers courses in fiction, poetry, translation, and nonfiction. Beyond the Ivy League education, Columbia offers close access to agents, and its students have a high record of bestsellers.

  • Incoming class size: 110
  • Acceptance rate: 21%
  • Alumni: Alexandra Kleeman, Rachel Kushner, Claudia Rankine, Rick Moody, Sigrid Nunez, Tracy K. Smith, Emma Cline, Adam Wilson, Marie Howe, Mary Jo Bang

10) Sarah Lawrence (Bronxville, NY)

Sarah Lawrence offers speculative fiction beyond the average fiction, poetry, and nonfiction course offerings. With intimate class sizes, this program is unique because it offers biweekly one-on-one conferences with its stunning faculty. It also has a notoriously supportive atmosphere.

  • Incoming class size: 30-40
  • Acceptance rate: N/A
  • Alumni: Cynthia Cruz, Melissa Febos, T Kira Madden, Alex Dimitrov, Moncho Alvarado


11 bennington college (bennington, vt).

This two-year program boasts truly stellar faculty, and meets twice a year for ten days in January and June. It’s like a biannual vacation in beautiful Vermont, plus mentorship by a famous writer, and then you get a degree. The tuition is $23,468 per year, with scholarships available.

  • Acceptance rate: 53%
  • Incoming class: 40
  • Alumni: Larissa Pham, Andrew Reiner, Lisa Johnson Mitchell, and others

12)  Institute for American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM)

This two-year program emphasizes Native American and First Nations writing. With truly amazing faculty and visiting writers, they offer a wide range of genres offered, in screenwriting, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction.

Students attend two eight-day residencies each year, in January and July, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At $12,000 a year, it boasts being “ one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country .”

  • Incoming class size : 22
  • Acceptance rate: 100%
  • Alumni: Tommy Orange, Dara Yen Elerath, Kathryn Wilder

13) Vermont College of Fine Arts

One of few MFAs where you can study the art of the picture book, middle grade and young adult literature, graphic literature, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry for young people. Students meet twice a year for nine days, in January and July, in Vermont. You can also do many travel residencies in exciting (and warm) places like Cozumel.

VCFA boasts amazing faculty and visiting writers, with individualized study options and plenty of one-on-one time. Tuition is $48,604.

  • Incoming class size: 18-25
  • Acceptance rate: 63%
  • Alumnx: Lauren Markham, Mary-Kim Arnold, Cassie Beasley, Kate Beasley, Julie Berry, Bridget Birdsall, Gwenda Bond, Pablo Cartaya


14) university of texas at el paso (el paso, tx).

The world’s first bilingual and online MFA program in the world. UTEP is considered the best online MFA program, and features award-winning faculty from across the globe. Intensive workshops allow submitting in Spanish and English, and genres include poetry and fiction. This three-year program costs $14,766 a year, with rolling admissions.

  • Alumni: Watch alumni testimonies here

15) Bay Path University (Long Meadow, MA)

This 2-year online program is dedicated entirely to nonfiction. A supportive, diverse community, Bay Path offers small class sizes, close mentorship, and a potential field trip in Ireland.

There are many tracks, including publishing, Narrative Medicine, and teaching. Core courses include memoir, narrative journalism, and the personal essay. The price is $785/credit, for 39 credits, with scholarships available.

  • Incoming class size: 20
  • Acceptance rate: an encouraging 78%
  • Alumni: Read alumni testimonies here

Prepare for your MFA in advance:

  • Best English Programs
  • Best Creative Writing Schools
  • Writing Summer Programs

Best MFA Creative Writing Programs – References:

  • https://www.pw.org/mfa
  • The Creative Writing MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students , by Tom Kealey (A&C Black 2005)
  • Graduate School Admissions

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Julia Conrad

With a Bachelor of Arts in English and Italian from Wesleyan University as well as MFAs in both Nonfiction Writing and Literary Translation from the University of Iowa, Julia is an experienced writer, editor, educator, and a former Fulbright Fellow. Julia’s work has been featured in  The Millions ,  Asymptote , and  The Massachusetts Review , among other publications. To read more of her work, visit  www.juliaconrad.net

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The 10 Best Academic Screenwriting Programs in the US

top mfa screenwriting programs

A degree in screenwriting can prepare you for the realities of the business and give you valuable contacts-- both with your peers and with industry insiders. Many professional screenwriters got a degree in screenwriting.  And many did not.  If you choose to take formal classes in screenwriting, then you should pick one of these schools.  Which school is right for you?

top mfa screenwriting programs

University of Southern California (USC) – Writing for Screen and TV Video

USC has one of the best film programs out there, with alumni that include George Lucas, Judd Apatow, and Ron Howard, among many others . It offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for screenwriters, though it is very selective, as only 26 undergraduates and 32 graduates are accepted per year. The undergraduate program covers the writing of dramatic scenes and story structure. Graduate students learn to write short scripts, treatments, and feature-length screenplays. Courses also include video production and technology, acting and the direction of actors, directing, film economics, film theory, and film history.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) – Professional Program in Screenwriting

UCLA, the other major film school, offers a highly prestigious MFA screenwriting program in their School of Film Television and Theater. It accepts so few applicants that UCLA also offers a screenwriting Professional Studies Program. This program eliminates critical studies seminars and electives, allowing students to focus exclusively on two feature screenplays while still giving them the flexibility to have a day job. The program also attracts prestigious guest speakers, such as Nancy Oliver ( Lars and the Real Girl ), Paul Haggis ( Crash ), Dan Futterman ( Capote ), and many more.

Loyola Marymount College – MFA in Screenwriting

Loyola Marymount offers a screenwriting program in its School of Film & Television. Students complete a portfolio of two feature screenplays and a teleplay. Thesis projects take a minimum of one year to complete, usually spanning the final year of graduate work. Applicants are required to provide a writing sample.

New York Film Academy – MFA in Screenwriting

The New York Film Academy aims to immerse students in acting, pitching, and film studies as they relate to screenwriting. Students also write, direct, and edit a digital short film or scene from a script. The second year has students create a feature-length script or television series. The NYFA also has online courses in screenwriting.

Chapman College – MFA in Screenwriting

Chapman College offers a two-year MFA for aspiring screenwriters of all skill levels. The Graduate Screenwriting program accepts students from a variety of backgrounds, even those with no prior experience. The first year of the MFA gives students the fundamentals of screenwriting, directing, cinematography, editing, production, and design, regardless of their intended specialization.

New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts – Certificate in Dramatic Writing: Screenwriting

NYU's Tisch School offers a workshop in screenwriting that is designed for new writers. It emphasizes character, motivation, and conflict. The first third of the course focuses on developing five in-depth story ideas, one of which will serve as the basis for a feature screenplay. The program also emphasizes reading and analysis.

Emerson College – Screenwriting Certificate Program

Emerson College in Boston offers a screenwriting program in its School of Visual Media and Arts. The program allows students to learn screenwriting through a series of non-credit workshops designed to build both writing skills and a sense of form and structure. Students who complete the two required workshops and one elective from the screenwriting series can earn the Screenwriting Certificate.

Boston University School of Communications – MFA in Screenwriting

Students can expect to complete three or four feature-length screenplays and several short screenplays while gaining a strong understanding of the film and television industry, including what it takes to sell their work. The degree requires 64 credit hours of classes in both film and television. Screenwriting students are eligible to compete in the annual "Fleder-Rosenberg" short screenplay contest, which offers cash prizes and a funded trip to Los Angeles for the grand prize winners. Finalists scripts are also eligible for two production grants and an optional 5th semester that is based in Los Angeles.

American Film Institute – Screenwriting Fellowship

Students initially write short screenplays, one of which will be the basis for a first-year production. They collaborate with Producing and Directing Fellows to produce their work. They also write a feature-length screenplay. In the second year, students may develop for television in addition to writing films. They also have the opportunity to collaborate with their peers from other disciplines, either by writing scripts for second-year thesis projects or by helping Directing and Producing Fellows develop thesis portfolio material.

University of Texas – MFA in Screenwriting

Only seven students are admitted each year. In the first semester, students learn characterization, story structure, dialogue, and conflict. In the three subsequent semesters, students complete three original feature screenplays. Students are also encouraged to study adaptation and rewriting. During the summer between their first and second year, students are strongly urged to participate in the College of Communication’s Semester in Los Angeles for more industry-related experience and exposure. Students are also required to intern.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Have any more screenwriting programs to recommend? Leave a comment here or on Twitter !

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  • Academic Screenwriting Programs & Film School Degrees

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The Best Academic Screenwriting Programs & Film School Degrees in the USA

Learn script writing through a master of fine arts, is a film school program right for me, what does a master of fine arts in screenwriting entail, on your marks..., first, the top six..., university of southern california (usc), degrees offered:.

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Undergraduate Minor in Screenwriting

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Degree & courses offered:.

  • Professional Program in Screenwriting (also online)
  • Summer Workshop in Screenwriting

New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts

Course offered:.

  • Certificate in Dramatic Writing: Screenwriting

Columbia University School of the Arts

Degree offered:.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting & Directing

American Film Institute

Boston university college of communication.

  • Undergraduate Degree in Film & Television

The Final Six...

Loyola marymount university, chapman university of film and media arts, degrees & courses offered:.

  • Summer Courses

University of Texas

University of miami school of communications, florida state university.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Stage & Screenwriting

New York Film Academy

  • Associate of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • One year program (also online)
  • Screenwriting & Filmmaking Courses

top mfa screenwriting programs

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top mfa screenwriting programs

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Student team seated at a table working on a script.

MFA in Screenwriting

4 Semesters 60 Credits

Our small, select program offers the necessary time and focus to hone your skills for both film and television. Ready to join our Writer's Room?

Academic Bulletin

  • 02/01/2024 Priority Deadline
  • 05/01/2024 Rolling Admission Deadline
  • Degree Requirements
  • Request Info

Program Notes

  • No GRE Required.
  • Merit scholarships available,  with no additional application required.

The Boston University Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting offers the best of both worlds: a learning environment on the east coast and a working-world experience on the west coast.

Over four semesters in two cities, students build the skills, experience and community to launch a career into the television and film industry as a scriptwriter. They start with three semesters in Boston and become part of a close-knit community who want to grow together. COM keeps things intimate and nurturing by design, so students collaborate and learn from peers as well as faculty.

Then, students spend their fourth semester in Los Angeles, learning through an industry internship and gaining valuable experience from established writers and guest presenters while networking with our Los Angeles-based alumni. All students take a rewrite class to revise and polish a script started in Boston. More information about the Los Angeles semester (cost, curriculum, and housing) can be found on the Study Abroad website.

Students will write a minimum of seven scripts for:

  • Two feature-length screenplays
  • Two short screenplays
  • An existing hour-long TV drama
  • An existing half-hour TV comedy
  • An original TV pilot and series bible

Courses cover writing for television (including Writing the Pilot, Writing the Sitcom, and Writing the Episodic Drama, among them) as well as for film (Writing the Short Film, Script into Film, three feature screenwriting workshops).

Learn Alongside Professionals 

Students are mentored and taught by industry-savvy faculty — veteran creatives who earned their stripes writing for both film and television. COM’s screenwriting faculty share their own experiences in the craft as well as their insights into building a professional network.

Felipe Torres Medina outside The Late Show with Stephen Colbert studio.

Laugh Therapy

Late-night talk show hosts appear to reel off their monologues and perform sketches with such ease, it’s easy to forget…

Since the MFA in Screenwriting is known as a “terminal degree,” students may gain teaching experience while also earning a paycheck through a graduate assistant position. After teaching their own section of our undergraduate screenwriting course, our MFA students have gone on to adjunct and full-time teaching positions.

Reel Resources

Opportunities for experience abound. Students attend Cinemathèque, a series of screenings and conversations with industry professionals. They have full access to BU’s Kasker film and video resource center with 16mm prints and rarities at the Mugar Memorial Library on campus. They enjoy complimentary screenings, too, at the nearby Harvard Film Archive, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Brattle Theatre.

Purpose Driven

It may be COM’s shared values that matter most. We believe that communication requires diversity, critical thinking, and creative expression. We believe that communication must be grounded in truth, authenticity, effectiveness, and purpose. We believe that communication builds understanding among people and across society.

Meet the Screenwriting Faculty

scott thompson

Scott J. Thompson

Director, screenwriting program; assistant professor.

debbie danielpour

Debbie Danielpour

Assistant professor, film and television.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Bill Braudis

Assistant professor, film & tv.

top mfa screenwriting programs

Barry Brodsky

Lecturer, screenwriting.

portrait of Hayes Jackson

Hayes Jackson

Assistant professor, department of film and television.


Marc Weinberg

Lecturer, department of film and television.

Portrait of Janice Pieroni

Janice Pieroni

Jeff Kahn Portrait

Justin Shatraw

top mfa screenwriting programs

Christopher Santos

top mfa screenwriting programs

Adam Lapidus

Film & tv news, “yes, chef” bu alum receives emmy nod for his work on the bear.

Sam Lisenco portrait.

Workplace Comedy Inspired by, Admittedly, BU Workplace

top mfa screenwriting programs

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top mfa screenwriting programs

Film & Television

Screenwriting MFA

top mfa screenwriting programs

The Screenwriting program challenges students to write well-structured stories inhabited by vivid, compelling characters. The program explores the elements of character, dialogue, scene, setting, texture, style and tone.

The two-year Master of Fine Arts degree program allows students to focus on either feature film or television writing, with opportunities to explore workshops in both areas. Throughout their studies, students are guided by faculty members actively involved in the film, television, and new media sectors, benefiting from their extensive professional experience. We challenge our students to succeed through risking failure, to engage with other art forms in order to better understand the art of screenwriting, to cultivate a curiosity in global art, to develop critical thinking skills to aid in the analysis of their scripts, and to provide an ethical foundation in building a career path.

Admission to the Screenwriting program does not guarantee specific workshop placements each quarter. All workshops and classes require program consent for enrollment.

Established in 1965, the UCLA TFT Screenwriting program has provided a strong foundation for hundreds of alumni, including Ana Lily Amirpour ( A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night ), Dustin Lance Black ( Milk ), Steven Canals ( Pose ), Francis Ford Coppola ( The Godfather ), Laeta Kalogridis ( Shutter Island , Altered Carbon ) David Koepp ( Spider Man ), Josefina Lopez ( Real Women Have Curves ), Alexander Payne ( Nebraska ), David S. Ward ( The Sting ), Eric Roth ( Forrest Gump ) and Caroline Williams ( Miss/Guided ).

World-Class Faculty

Phyllis Nagy

Phyllis Nagy

George Huang

George Huang


Students build their thesis portfolio by concentrating either on feature film or television writing, though students are encouraged to, and often do take, workshops in both concentrations. The program is designed so that students may fulfill their thesis requirements within their tracks in five quarters, leaving the student space within which to pursue screenwriting workshops outside of their tracks if they wish to do so.

The Screenwriting program has the following time-to-degree requirement: A minimum of six quarters; maximum of seven quarters. The minimum total units required to graduate is 72 units (18 courses). Maintenance of a B average GPA.

430: Introduction to Film & Television Writing  is required for all MFA screenwriting students and must be taken in the Fall Quarter of the student’s first year. Students must take a minimum of  two  graduate-level Cinema and Media Studies courses.

Students must also take FT 210 Viewing and Reading Media in the Fall Quarter of their first year, which fulfils the first of two graduate-level Cinema and Media Studies (CMS) courses requirements.

Please see list below for approved course numbers and titles, and please note that not all courses are offered every quarter. Students should consult the Registrar’s schedule for available courses and class times. For courses in the 298 series, students should consult the graduate advisor first to check whether a course fulfills the CMS requirement.

  • 203: Film and Other Arts
  • 204: Visual Analysis
  • 206A: European Film History
  • 206B: Selected Topics In American Film History
  • 206C: American Film History
  • 207: Experimental Film
  • 209A: Documentary Film
  • 208B: Classical Film Theory
  • 208C: Contemporary Film Theory
  • 209B: Fictional Film
  • 209D: Animated Film
  • 217: Selected Topics in Television History
  • 217A: American Television History
  • 218: Culture, Media and Society
  • 219: Film and Society
  • 220: Television and Society
  • 221: Film Authors
  • 222: Film Genres
  • 223: Visual Perception
  • 224: Computer Applications for Film Study
  • 225: Videogame Theory
  • 246: Electronic Culture
  • 270: Film Criticism
  • 271: Television Criticism
  • 276: Non-Western Film
  • 277: Narrative Studies
  • 298AB: Special Studies (topics vary and must be selected in consultation with the graduate counselor)

Students must take a minimum of  one  graduate-level FTVDM course outside of screenwriting. These may include classes offered by the Producers Program, Production Program or Animation Program.

Students fulfilling their thesis requirements in the feature film track must take:

  • One  434: Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
  • One  437: Adaptation for Screen
  • One  434B/438: Advanced Screenwriting Workshop — Rewrite
  • EITHER an  additional 434 or an additional 437

Students fulfilling their thesis requirements in the TV track must take:

  • Two  284B: One-Hour Drama Pilot Workshops AND
  • One  283B: Half-Hour Comedy Pilot Workshop OR
  • Two  283B: Half-Hour Comedy Pilot Workshops AND
  • One  284B: One-Hour Drama Pilot Workshop


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Top 10 MFA Screenwriting Degrees in California

  • Author Sarah Wyland
  • Publish date Aug 21, 2020
  • Article read time 10 min read
  • Tags afi screenwriting california film california screenwriting chapman screenwriting csuf screenwriting csun screenwriting lmu screenwriting ucla screenwriting usc screenwriting

shutterstock_1230330940 (1).jpg

USC School of Cinematic Arts

  • 4.00 star(s)
  • Reviews: 12
  • Questions: 15
  • Category: California
  • 2 years, Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Screen & Television
  • Tuition: $47,520/year

AFI Conservatory

AFI Conservatory

  • Questions: 4
  • 2 years, Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Tuition: $63,575 first year, $65,800 second year

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT)

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT)

  • 5.00 star(s)
  • Questions: 2
  • Tuition: $17,486 for California residents, $32,598 for non-California residents
  • 3 years, Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Tuition: $31,776/year

Chapman University - Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Chapman University - Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

  • 4.25 star(s)
  • 2 Years, Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Tuition: $23,464/semester
  • Tuition: $36,263

Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) - Department of Cinema and Television Arts

Cal State Fullerton (CSUF) - Department of Cinema and Television Arts

  • Tuition: $15, 457/year

Stephens College

Stephens College

  • 2 years, Master of Fina Arts in Screenwriting
  • Tuition: $20,390/year
  • 2 years, Masters of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  • Tuition: $8,500/year
  • Tuition: $15,701/semester

shutterstock_1230330940 (1).jpg

Sarah is a first-year MFA student in LMU's Writing and Producing for Television program. When she's not developing pilots, she's drinking coffee or whiskey, playing with her dog, cheering on the Tennessee Vols, or doing all the above at the beach.

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The 10 Best MFA Creative Writing Programs [2024]


Many people have a talent for stories, but not everyone will become a successful author. In many cases, people simply need to hone their skills – and the best MFA creative writing programs are the key.

If you have an undergrad degree and are looking for the next step in your academic adventure, you’re in luck: We’ve scoured MFA creative writing rankings to find you the best programs.

Table of Contents

The 10 Best MFA Creative Writing Programs

1. johns hopkins university – krieger school of arts & sciences.

Johns Hopkins University

Master of Fine Arts in Fiction/ Poetry

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins is a world-renowned private research university. Their Master of Fine Arts in Fiction/Poetry is one of the best MFA creative writing programs anywhere. Students take courses and receive writing practice (in fiction or poetry) at the highest level. This MFA program also offers the opportunity to learn with an internationally renowned faculty.

  • Duration:  2 years
  • Financial aid:  Full tuition, teaching fellowship (for all students set at $33,000/year)
  • Acceptance rate: 11.1%
  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Founded: 1876

2. University of Michigan –  Helen Zell Writers’ Program

University of Michigan

Master of Fine Arts

The University of Michigan is a public research university – and the oldest in the state. Its Master of Fine Arts program is one of the best MFA creative writing programs in the country, exposing students to various approaches to the craft. While studying under award-winning poets and writers, students may specialize in either poetry or fiction.

  • Duration: 2 years
  • No. of hours: 36
  • Financial aid: Full funding
  • Acceptance rate:  26.1%
  • Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Founded: 1817

3. University of Texas at Austin – New Writers Project

University of Texas at Austin

Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing

The University of Texas at Austin is a well-known public research university with around 50,000 students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. It offers one of the best MFA programs for creative writing, aiming to enhance and develop its students’ artistic and intellectual abilities.

  • Duration:  3 years
  • Financial aid:  Full funding
  • Acceptance rate:  32%
  • Location:  Austin, Texas
  • Founded:  1883

4. University of Nebraska – Kearney

UNK logo

Master of Arts

The University of Nebraska strives to provide quality, affordable education, including its online MA English program. Students can focus on four areas, including Creative Writing (which provides experiential learning in either poetry or prose).

  • Credit hours: 36
  • Tuition : $315 per credit hour
  • Financial aid :  Grants, Work-study, Student loans, Scholarships, Parent loans
  • Acceptance rate: 88%
  • Location: Online
  • Founded: 1905

5. Bay Path University (Massachusetts)

Bay Path University

MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing

Bay Path University is a private university with various programs at undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate levels (including women-only undergraduate programs). This creative non-fiction writing program is one of the first fully online programs in the country. No matter their location, students are able to develop their creative writing skills and knowledge – in a range of literary genres.

  • Credits:  39
  • Tuition: $775 per credit
  • Financial aid :  Federal Stafford loan, Student loans
  • Acceptance rate: 78%
  • Founded:  1897

6. Brown University (Rhode Island)

Brown logo

MFA in Literary Arts

Brown is a world-famous Ivy League university based in Providence, Rhode Island. Its two-year residency MFA in Literary Arts is designed for students looking to maximize their intellectual and creative exploration. The highly competitive program offers extensive financial support. In fact, over the past 20 years, all incoming MFA students were awarded full funding for their first year of study (and many for the second year).

  • Tuition:  $57,591  (but full funding available)
  • Financial aid :  Fellowship, teaching assistantships, and stipends.
  • Acceptance rate: 9%
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Founded:  1764

7. University of Iowa (Iowa)


MFA in Creative Writing

The University of Iowa is a public university located in Iowa City. As one of the most celebrated public schools in the Midwest, students learn under established professors and promising writers during their two-year residency program.

  • Credits:  60
  • Tuition: $12,065 for in-state students, and $31,012 out-of-state
  • Financial aid :  Scholarships, teaching assistantships, federal aid, and student loans.
  • Acceptance rate: 84%
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

8. Cornell University (New York State)

Cornell University

Cornell is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York. This highly competitive program accepts only eight students annually, and just two from each concentration. Not only do students enjoy a generous financial aid package, but they also have the opportunity to work closely with members of the school’s celebrated faculty.

  • Tuition:  $29,500
  • Financial aid :  All accepted students receive a fellowship covering full tuition, stipend, and insurance.
  • Acceptance rate: 14%
  • Location: Ithaca, New York
  • Founded:  1865

9. Columbia University ( NYC )

Columbia University logo

MFA in Fiction Writing

Founded in 1754, Columbia University is the oldest tertiary education institution in New York – and one of the oldest in the country. The school offers a Writing MFA in nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and literary translation. The fiction concentration promotes artistic and aesthetic diversity, with a diverse teaching staff and adjunct faculty from a wide range of diverse experience.

  • Credits:  60 points
  • Tuition:  $34,576
  • Financial aid :  Scholarships, fellowships, federal aid, work-study, and veterans’ grants.
  • Acceptance rate: 11%
  • Location: NYC, New York
  • Founded:  1754

10. New York University (NYC)

NYU logo

New York University (NYU) is known for delivering high-quality, innovative education in various fields. Located in the heart of NYC, the institution’s MFA in Creative Writing boasts celebrated faculty from poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction backgrounds. This dynamic program fosters creativity and excellence through literary outreach programs, public reading series, a literary journal, and special seminars from visiting writers

  • Credits:  32
  • Tuition:  $53,229
  • Financial aid :  Fellowships, scholarships, and federal aid.
  • Location: NYC
  • Founded:  1886

Common Courses for MFAs in Creative Writing 

As part of your master’s in creative writing program, you’ll usually need to complete a number of compulsory courses, along with certain electives. Common courses you’ll need to take include:

  • Literary theory
  • History of storytelling
  • Genre conventions
  • Market trends
  • Marketing manuscripts to publishers
  • Thesis or dissertation

Typical Requirements for Applying to an MFA Creative Writing Program

Besides the application form and fee, most MFA in creative writing programs have standard requirements. While the following are the most typical requirements, always check with the specific program first:

Make sure your resume  includes all relevant information to showcase your interests, skills, and talent in writing.

2. Writing Sample(s)

MFA creative writing program selection committees look for applicants who are serious about writing. Therefore, they typically ask for at least one 10-20 page writing sample. The best samples showcase talent in your preferred area of writing (e.g., fiction, non-fiction). MFA poetry programs have varied sample requirements.

3. Transcripts

You’ll need to show your undergraduate degree (and possibly high school) transcript.

4. Statement of Purpose

A statement of purpose is usually 1-2 pages and shows your passion for writing and potential to succeed in the program.

5. Recommendation Letters

Most programs require letters of recommendation from academic or professional contacts who know you well.

Related reading: How to Ask a Professor for a Grad School Recommendation

6. GRE Scores

Some MFA programs require GRE scores (though this is not the case for all universities). If you happen to need some assistance while studying for your GRE or GMAT, be sure to check out Magoosh for easy test prep!

What Can Creative Writers Do After Graduation?

As a creative writer with an MFA, you’ll have a variety of career options where your skills are highly valued. Below are a few of the common jobs an MFA creative writing graduate can do, along with the average annual salary for each.

Creative Director ( $90,389 )

A creative director leads a team of creative writers, designers, or artists in various fields, such as media, advertising, or entertainment.

Editor ( $63,350)

An editor helps correct writing errors and improve the style and flow in media, broadcasting, films, advertising, marketing , and entertainment.

Academic Librarian ( $61,190)

An academic librarian manages educational information resources in an academic environment (such as a university).

Copywriter ( $53,800 )

Copywriters typically work to present an idea to a particular audience and capture their attention using as few words as possible.

Technical Writers ($78,060)

Technical writers are tasked with instruction manuals, guides, journal articles, and other documents. These convey complex details and technical information to a wider audience.

Writer ( $69,510 )

A writer usually provides written content for businesses through articles, marketing content, blogs, or product descriptions. They may also write fiction or non-fiction books.

Social Media Manager ( $52,856 )

A social media manager is responsible for creating and scheduling content on social media, and may also track analytics and develop social media strategies.

Journalist ($ 48,370 )

Journalists may work for newspapers, magazines, or online publications, researching and writing stories, as well as conducting interviews and investigations.

Public Relations Officer ( $62,800)

A public relations officer works to promote and improve the public image of a company, government agency, or organization. This is done through work such as: preparing media releases, online content, and dealing with the media.

Lexicographer ( $72,620 )

Lexicographers are the professionals who create dictionaries. They study words’ etymologies and meanings, compiling them into a dictionary.

Can You Get a Creative Writing Degree Online?

Yes, a number of institutions offer online master’s degrees , such as Bay Path University and the University of Nebraska. Online courses offer a high degree of flexibility, allowing you to study from anywhere – and often on your own schedule. Many students can earn their degrees while continuing with their current job or raising a family.

However, students won’t receive the full benefits of a residency program, such as building close connections with peers and working with the faculty in person. Some on-campus programs also offer full funding to cover tuition and education expenses.

Pros and Cons of an MFA in Creative Writing

Like anything, studying an MFA in Creative Writing and pursuing a related career can have its benefits as well as drawbacks.

  • It’ll motivate you to write.

Many people are talented but struggle sitting down to write. An MFA program will give you the motivation to meet your deadlines.

  • You’ll have a community.

Writing can be a solitary pursuit. It can be hard to connect with others who are just as passionate about writing. An MFA program provides students with a community of like-minded people.

  • Graduates have teaching prospects.

An MFA is one option that can help you find a teaching job at the university level. Unlike some majors that require a Ph.D. to enter academia, many post-secondary instructors hold an MFA.

  • Not always the most marketable job skills

Although an MFA in Creative Writing will provide several useful skills in the job market, these are not as marketable as some other forms of writing. For example, copywriting arguably has a wider range of job prospects.

  • It could limit your creativity.

There is a risk that your writing could become too technical or formulaic, due to the theories learned during your MFA. It’s important to know the theory, but you don’t want to let it limit your creativity.

How Long Does It Take to Get an MFA Degree in Creative Writing?

A master’s in creative writing typically takes between 2-3 years to complete. Unlike other master’s degrees’ accelerated options, creative writing program requirements require a greater number of workshops and dissertations.

Alternatives to Creative Writing Majors

There are plenty of similar majors that can set you on the path to a career in the creative writing field. Consider alternatives like an MA in English , literature, humanities, media studies, and library sciences.

Related Reading: Master’s in Fine Arts: The Ultimate Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

What can i do with an mfa in creative writing .

An MFA graduate could teach creative writing at a secondary or college level. They may pursue a career in advertising, publishing, media, or the entertainment industry. They could also become an author by publishing fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

Are MFA Creative Writing Programs Worth It?

Having an MFA opens doors to a range of well-paid careers (more on that above). If you’re skilled in writing – and want to make a decent living with it – an MFA program might be an excellent choice.

How Do I Choose an MFA in Creative Writing?

First, consider whether an on-campus or online MFA program is best for you (depending on your lifestyle and commitments). Another key consideration is a university with renowned authors on their teaching staff who will give you the highest levels of training in creative writing. Also, consider your preferred focus area (e.g., fiction, poetry, nonfiction) .

What Are MFA Writing Programs?

An MFA in writing or creative writing is an advanced program that teaches students the art and practice of writing. During these programs, students hone their writing skills and equip themselves to publish their own work – or pursue a career in media, teaching, or advertising.

Can You Teach with an MFA? 

Yes! Teaching is one of the many career options an MFA provides . An MFA in creative writing can qualify you to be a teacher in creative writing (in schools or the higher education sector).

Is It Hard to Be Admitted to MFA Creative Writing Programs?

MFA creative writing programs are relatively competitive. Therefore, not all applicants will get into the program of their choice. However, if you are talented and ambitious that becomes more likely. Having said that, the most prestigious universities with the best MFA creative writing programs accept a small percentage of the applicants.

What Is the Best Creative Writing Program in the World? 

A number of creative writing programs are known for their famous faculty and excellent courses, like the Master of Fine Arts in Fiction/ Poetry from Johns Hopkins and the MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University . Outside the US, the most celebrated English program is likely the University of Cambridge’s MSt in Creative Writing.

How Hard Is It to Get an MFA in Creative Writing?

An MFA is an intensive, highly-involved degree that requires a certain amount of dedication. Anyone with a passion for creative writing should find it rewarding and satisfying.

Should I Get an MA or MFA in Creative Writing?

Whether you choose an MA or MFA in creative writing depends on your own interests and career ambitions. An MFA in creative writing is ideal for anyone passionate about pursuing a career in fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction. An MA is a broader degree that equips students for a wider range of career choices (though it will qualify them for many of the same roles as an MFA).

Can I Get Published Without an MFA?

Absolutely. However, studying for an MFA will equip you with a range of skills and knowledge that are extremely helpful in getting your work published, from honing your craft to submitting your manuscript to working with publishers.

What Are the Highest-Paying Jobs with a Master’s in Creative Writing?

An MFA in creative writing can help you land a range of jobs in the creative and literary fields. The highest-paying jobs for graduates with a master’s in creative writing include creative directors ($90,000) and technical writers ($78,000).

Key Takeaways

An MFA in creative writing program will hone your talents and develop the skills you need to become a successful writer. The best MFA creative writing programs will give you incredible knowledge of the field while developing your practical skills in fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

The acceptance rate for the best MFA writing programs is fairly low, so it’s crucial to understand the requirements well and prepare thoroughly. To help you with your application, check out our guide to applying to grad school .

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Lisa Marlin

Lisa Marlin

Lisa is a full-time writer specializing in career advice, further education, and personal development. She works from all over the world, and when not writing you'll find her hiking, practicing yoga, or enjoying a glass of Malbec.

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  • Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication
  • Department of Cinema and Television Arts
  • Graduate Studies

Hone your storytelling skills and form career-defining connections in the entertainment capital of the world.

Why Get a Master's in Screenwriting?

With the growth of streaming services, screenwriters with diverse voices are in demand. With the training and resources that come with an M.F.A., you will be well-positioned to tell your unique story.

An M.F.A. in screenwriting means you will have dedicated time to hone your craft. You will receive feedback from professors who have worked in show business. Finally, you will learn firsthand the ins and outs of the entertainment industry.

Why Study Screenwriting at CSUN?

Taught by seasoned screenwriters.

Our faculty are professional screenwriters who have a passion for sharing their craft. They have long-standing relationships in Hollywood so we have many guest speakers present in our classrooms. They include Robert Towne ("Chinatown"), Paul Thomas Anderson ("There Will Be Blood") and Anne Beatts ("Saturday Night Live").

Career-Focused Curriculum

Our curriculum is practical and focused. We teach you what you need to know to be a successful screenwriter without any fluff. Many of our students have jobs, so classes meet on weeknights so you can balance your school and work life.

Location, Location, Location

Our location means that we are a short drive from film and television studios and offices. Our proximity means we have a strong internship program for students.

Excellent Value

We’re affordable. Our screenwriting program costs a fraction of other comparable programs. At CSUN, you will get the best value for a world-class educational experience.

What You'll Learn

You'll learn how to take a story idea from your imagination and realize it in an edited script that's ready for production. In your classes, you'll analyze scripts and practice writing scenes for films and television. In your final semester, you will create a feature-length script as your thesis screenplay.

You will write screenplays and work samples with critiques from your cohort and our renowned faculty members. You will also practice pitching your work to agents and studios. Finally, you'll learn from presentations by professional guest speakers in film and TV.

By the time you graduate, you will have ready-to-pitch scripts and the ability to write new stories that will impact the industry and world.

Careers & Outcomes

The Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting is the strongest way to launch a professional career in film or TV. Our alumni find work writing for television shows or become professional writers, pitching their scripts to networks and studios.

  • Screenwriter
  • Writer for a TV series
  • Media/film critic
  • Talent agent
  • Video game story writer

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Visit the CSUN Cinematheque.

Watch movies come to life at our state-of-the-art 130-seat movie theatre right on campus. The CSUN Cinematheque hosts innovative film screenings year-round. Join us for our next event.

Admission Information

To be considered for admission to CSUN as a master’s student, you will need to:

  • Meet university requirements .
  • Meet department requirements for the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting .
  • Apply to both the university and the specific graduate program of interest.

Learn more about applying for a master's program at CSUN

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  • English (M.A.)
  • Mass Communication (M.A.)
  • Communication Studies (M.A.)

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Online MFA in Creative Writing Master of Fine Arts

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Earn an MFA in Creative Writing Online

  • $637/credit (48 credits total)
  • Transfer up to 12 graduate credits
  • 100% online – no residency required
  • Four fiction genres to choose from
  • Career-focused certificate included
  • No application fee or GRE/GMAT scores required

Online MFA in Creative Writing Program Overview

Share your story with the world and let the power of storytelling take your career to new heights with an online Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing . As one of the only programs available that encourages a focus on genre fiction, our online MFA lets you hone your craft in an area specific to your strengths and interests. You'll also learn about the business side of creative writing, preparing you to market your work in the real world.

While most MFA programs require a residency, Southern New Hampshire University's online MFA in Creative Writing can be completed entirely online, with no travel necessary.

“Traditional MFA programs, whether full-time or low residency, are out of reach for many writers,” said Paul Witcover , associate dean of creative writing. “The SNHU online MFA was designed to make the MFA experience accessible to all fiction writers, opening the door to diverse voices excluded for too long from the literary conversation. Our program is dedicated to giving writers the tools to succeed on the page and beyond it.”

Graduates leave the program with a completed and revised novel in one of our four offered genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance and Speculative. With the included certificates in either online teaching of writing or professional writing , you'll have the skills to support your writing career, no matter where it takes you.

.st0{fill:#21386D;} What You'll Learn

  • The business and technical sides of professional writing
  • How to navigate the publishing ecosystem, identify agents and editors, and market your work to appeal to decision-makers
  • Using social media to gain a following and build your brand
  • How to teach writing in a classroom setting

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } How You'll Learn

At SNHU, you'll get support from day 1 to graduation and beyond. And with no set class times, 24/7 access to the online classroom and helpful learning resources along the way, you'll have everything you need to reach your goals.

The Value of an Online MFA

Emily Jones ’20 embraced a transformational experience through the online MFA in Creative Writing program, which supported her in taking her writing career to the next level. “I can now say, without even a hint of imposter syndrome, that I am a writer,” said Jones. “And that is because of Southern New Hampshire University.”

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors made a median annual salary of $69,510 in 2021, while editors made $63,350. 1

Paul Witcover with the text Paul Witcover

“Our mission is to give students a degree and associated practical skills they can use to forge successful pathways in academia, business, or by blazing their own career trail,” said Paul Witcover , associate dean of creative writing.

Earning one of the included certificates in online teaching of writing or professional writing will also be an invaluable addition to your resume for part-time, full-time and freelance jobs in a variety of fields, including:

  • Higher education. Instruct writing courses in higher education settings. In 2021, postsecondary teachers made a median annual wage of $79,640, and you can expect to see a 12% growth in available positions through 2031, according to the BLS. 1
  • Advertising. Use your storytelling skills in a way that influences consumer action. As a copywriter, you could find yourself doing any number of writing projects from crafting emails and ads to writing entire commercials.
  • Marketing. If you're more comfortable with long-form prose, many businesses have invested in content writers who create quality content such as blog posts, ebooks and podcasts to attract and retain customers.
  • Entertainment. Good at building suspense or setting up punchlines? From movies and plays to comedy and podcasts, being a good storyteller and writer is important to finding success in the entertainment industry.
  • History. Every person's life has a plot, but it takes writers like you to tell their stories in a compelling way. Help readers relive the experiences of historic figures and pop culture icons as a biographer.

Higher Education

Instruct writing courses in higher education at a college or university, either in-person or online.


Influence consumer action through copywriting, from print ads to digital advertising and broadcast commercials.

Create written content such as blog posts, ebooks and podcasts to attract and retain customers.


From movies and plays to comedy and podcasts, writers often find success in the entertainment industry.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts favorable job growth in postsecondary education. And while statistics are not available for all job settings mentioned above, the BLS reports the following:

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } Job Growth

The BLS predicts an 8% growth in available postsecondary teaching positions through 2032. 1

.cls-1 { fill: #21386d; } Potential Salary

Writers and authors made a median annual salary of $73,150 in 2022, while editors made $73,080 and postsecondary teachers made $80,840. 1

Understanding the Numbers When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

Start Your Journey Toward an Online MFA in Creative Writing

If you're looking to earn your Master of Fine Arts online, you've found the right program. Even though there are no residency requirements, you'll still interact frequently with other students and faculty members in asynchronous discussions, critique workshops and within our online writer’s community, where students come together to share industry news, extend writing tips and develop critique partnerships.

Jamilla Geter with the text Jamilla Geter

"I liked MFA-514 (Advanced Studies in Genre Literature) best," said student Jamilla Geter . "It was a great look into the different genres. It really helped me narrow down what genre I wanted to write in."

Felicia Warden with the text Felicia Warden

"Though it was not writing exactly, its connection to it – especially in our digital world – was made clear almost immediately," she said. "Writing is not just providing content of value to your readers, but also creating avenues of access so those readers can find your content. This course helped me to understand that and to learn how I can create those avenues."

Besides allowing you to focus on your own creative interests, part of our 48-credit online MFA curriculum requires you to choose from 2 certificate offerings designed to round out your education and better prepare you for a multitude of writing-related careers.

The first choice is a Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching of Writing , which is tailored to those who see themselves teaching in an online classroom setting as a supplement to their writing careers. Students practice approaches to editing and coaching, learning how to establish a virtual instructor presence and cultivate methods for supporting and engaging students within online writing communities.

Learn more about the online teaching of writing graduate certificate .

Students can also choose the Graduate Certificate in Professional Writing , which highlights the technical and business opportunities available to writers. Students will develop a range of skills, such as copywriting, social media, marketing principles and/or content generation, learning many of the freelancing skills integral to today’s project-driven economy.

Learn more about the professional writing graduate certificate .

All of our courses are taught by accomplished authors and industry professionals who know both the craft and business of creative writing. They will work closely with you to develop both your creative and professional skill set.

"All instructors within my program were extremely knowledgeable and helpful," Warden said. "I learned a lot about the different career paths my instructors chose. ... The course instruction, along with their anecdotal experiences, helped in offering knowledge in different areas of our field.

MFA Program Thesis

The thesis for the Online MFA in Creative Writing is required to be a novel of at least 50,000 words in one of the four genres the program offers: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, and Speculative.

Every Southern New Hampshire University online MFA student who graduates from the program will do so with a revised novel manuscript in their chosen genre, which is completed in a three-course thesis series. Throughout your tenure in the program, you can either work on a singular idea that you will develop during the three thesis courses, or you can begin a new project for your thesis. You can also combine elements of the four genres offered in the program for your thesis. For example, your thesis might be a YA Speculative Fiction novel.

Kathleen Harris with the text Kathleen Harris

"My three thesis classes for the MFA degree were the most helpful," said Kathleen Harris '21 . "I was actually writing a book as my thesis, so it was both enjoyable and advantageous for the degree. And it was the end of a very long milestone of accomplishments."

Minimum Hardware Requirements Component Type   PC (Windows OS)   Apple (Mac OS)   Operating System  Currently supported operating system from Microsoft.   Currently supported operating system from Apple.  Memory (RAM)  8GB or higher  8GB or higher  Hard Drive  100GB or higher  100GB or higher  Antivirus Software  Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.  Required for campus students. Strongly recommended for online students.  SNHU Purchase Programs  Visit Dell   Visit Apple   Internet/ Bandwidth  5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency  5 Mbps Download, 1 Mbps Upload and less than 100 ms Latency  Notes:   Laptop or desktop?   Whichever you choose depends on your personal preference and work style, though laptops tend to offer more flexibility.  Note:   Chromebooks (Chrome OS) and iPads (iOS) do not meet the minimum requirements for coursework at SNHU. These offer limited functionality and do not work with some course technologies. They are not acceptable as the only device you use for coursework. While these devices are convenient and may be used for some course functions, they cannot be your primary device. SNHU does, however, have an affordable laptop option that it recommends: Dell Latitude 3301 with Windows 10.  Office 365 Pro Plus  is available free of charge to all SNHU students and faculty. The Office suite will remain free while you are a student at SNHU. Upon graduation you may convert to a paid subscription if you wish. Terms subject to change at Microsoft's discretion. Review system requirements for  Microsoft 365 plans  for business, education and government.  Antivirus software:  Check with your ISP as they may offer antivirus software free of charge to subscribers.  if (typeof accordionGroup === "undefined") { window.accordionGroup = new accordion(); } accordionGroup.init(document.getElementById('f756dce5bd874c61855f6f6e92d88470')); University Accreditation

New England Commission of Higher Education

Tuition & Fees

Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer a 25% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.

Tuition rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually. *Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.

Additional Costs: Course Materials ($ varies by course). Foundational courses may be required based on your undergraduate course history, which may result in additional cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Student Spotlight: Hassan Seales, AA in Liberal Arts Grad

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5 Major Misconceptions About the Romance Genre

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SNHU Spotlight: Analiece Clark, BA in Communication Grad

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Online Screenwriting MFA Programs Low-res MFA

Emerson College MFA in Writing for Film and Television | Boston and Los Angeles

Emerson’s program offers a rich, bicoastal experience to students who may not want to choose either coast permanently. The result is a more diverse group of students, with more unique stories to tell, says Jim Lane, the graduate program director for Writing for Film and Television.

“It really is cool to see the different perspectives that the students bring to the table,” he says.

This two-year course features four six-day, on-campus residencies, alternating between Emerson’s Boston home campus and Emerson Los Angeles. The first semester starts in Boston and focuses on Story and Shorts; the second is in Los Angeles and covers Pilots and Series Television/Cable/Streaming; the third goes back to Boston to cover Features and Cable Movies; and the fourth and final semester goes back to L.A. for a study of The Entertainment Industry, and how to navigate it.

“We have a good representation of students of color. We have a good representation of gender,” he says. “We have students who graduated right out of college, and students who are coming back after 25 years. The variety of interests and creative projects is really quite wide.”

He adds: “We have a student right now who lives in Wichita, Kansas. We have students living in West Texas. I’ve gotten students in Northern Florida, San Francisco, Los Angeles.”

The program also features peer group workshops and guest lectures, staged readings, and pitches.

Emerson’s rotating Semel Chair in Screenwriting is a successful screenwriter who conducts master classes, meets students, and leads screenings and discussions. Recent ones were Krista Vernoff, head writer and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy , Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, and Cheo Hodari Coker, showrunner of Luke Cage .

Emerson low-res low-residency screenwriting MFA

Students in a class discussion during a feature writing workshop with Emerson faculty member Weiko Lin. Photo by Derek Palmer for Emerson College.

Even as a graduate of Harvard, with advanced degrees from UCLA, Lane says low-residency programs can provide advantages that brick-and-mortar schools can’t. For example, smaller online classes mean every student’s voice is heard.

“In an online format, you can’t hide. You have to respond,” he notes.

You can learn more here.

COST : $52,000

LENGTH: Two years

Keep reading for another of our Top 5 low-residency screenwriting MFA programs.

Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing: Writing for Stage and Screen | Cambridge, Massachusetts

Students focus on one of six genres, including Writing for Stage and Screen, but develop a well-rounded writing background by exploring the other five areas of study as well. (They are Fiction, Graphic Novels & Comics, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Writing for Young People.) It’s easy to see how knowledge of one genre fortifies your work in another: For example, a graphic novel is “like a storyboard in many respects,” notes faculty member Jami Brandli, a playwright who also writes screenplay and develops television shows.

Students gain exposure through Lesley’s close affiliation with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. And Lesley’s location in bustling, beautiful Cambridge — it’s a stone’s throw from Harvard — means low-residency MFA students can enjoy staged readings of their work with professionals. They also come out of the program with a minimum of four full-length scripts.

“We are one of the most rigorous programs in terms of creating content,” says Brandli.

COST : $42,875

Click ahead for more of our five top low-residency MFA programs in screenwriting.

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33 Best Medical schools in Moscow, Russia

Updated: July 18, 2023

  • Art & Design
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Mathematics

Below is a list of best universities in Moscow ranked based on their research performance in Medicine. A graph of 2.66M citations received by 371K academic papers made by 33 universities in Moscow was used to calculate publications' ratings, which then were adjusted for release dates and added to final scores.

We don't distinguish between undergraduate and graduate programs nor do we adjust for current majors offered. You can find information about granted degrees on a university page but always double-check with the university website.

1. Moscow State University

For Medicine

Moscow State University logo

2. Moscow Medical Academy

Moscow Medical Academy logo

3. Russian National Research Medical University

Russian National Research Medical University logo

4. RUDN University

RUDN University logo

5. National Research University Higher School of Economics

National Research University Higher School of Economics logo

6. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology logo

7. National Research Nuclear University MEPI

National Research Nuclear University MEPI logo

8. Bauman Moscow State Technical University

Bauman Moscow State Technical University logo

9. Moscow State Pedagogical University

Moscow State Pedagogical University logo

10. N.R.U. Moscow Power Engineering Institute

N.R.U. Moscow Power Engineering Institute logo

11. Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia

Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology of Russia logo

12. Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration logo

13. National University of Science and Technology "MISIS"

National University of Science and Technology "MISIS" logo

14. Moscow Aviation Institute

Moscow Aviation Institute logo

15. Plekhanov Russian University of Economics

Plekhanov Russian University of Economics logo

16. Finance Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation

Finance Academy under the Government of the Russian Federation logo

17. Moscow State Institute of International Relations

Moscow State Institute of International Relations logo

18. National Research University of Electronic Technology

National Research University of Electronic Technology logo

19. Russian State Social University

Russian State Social University logo

20. Russian State Agricultural University

Russian State Agricultural University logo

21. New Economic School

New Economic School logo

22. Moscow State University of Railway Engineering

Moscow State University of Railway Engineering logo

23. Russian State University for the Humanities

Russian State University for the Humanities logo

24. Russian State University of Oil and Gas

25. moscow technical university - mirea.

Moscow Technical University - MIREA logo

26. State University of Management

State University of Management logo

27. Moscow Polytech

Moscow Polytech logo

28. Moscow State Technological University "Stankin"

Moscow State Technological University "Stankin" logo

29. Moscow State Linguistic University

Moscow State Linguistic University logo

30. Moscow State Mining University

Moscow State Mining University logo

31. Moscow International University

Moscow International University logo

32. Russian State Geological Prospecting University

33. pushkin state russian language institute.

Pushkin State Russian Language Institute logo

Universities for Medicine near Moscow

Medicine subfields in moscow.

Study Abroad Aide

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The Best Study Abroad Site

Moscow City Teachers’ Training University: Tuition, Admissions, Rankings

Moscow City Teachers’ Training University is a public university in Moscow, Russia. The Ministry of Education established it in 1995 as a pedagogical university, with only 1300 students in its first year. The university currently has over 18,000 students and offers degree programs in the humanities, natural sciences, sports technology, law, business, and language studies.

Moscow City Teachers’ Training University Overview

Institution Location

Moscow City Teachers’ Training University World Rankings

Here are the world rankings of Moscow City Teachers’ Training University from reputable ranking sources:

Ready to take your education to the next level? Discover the top universities in Russia by clicking here .

Tuition Fees at Moscow City Teachers’ Training University

Moscow City Teachers’ Training University tuition fees for both bachelor's and master's students are discussed in this section.

Bachelor's Tuition Fees

Master's tuition fees.

Although this range provide a good estimate of tuition costs at Moscow City Teachers’ Training University, the actual fees depend on your chosen program. Thus, for more exact figures, you may refer to Moscow City Teachers’ Training University tuition fee pages.

Ready to save in tuition and study in Russia? Click here to read our guides to tuition fees and cheapest universities in Russia and start planning your dream education today.

Admissions At Moscow City Teachers’ Training University

If you wish to study at Moscow City Teachers’ Training University, you’ll need to know the admission process, requirements, and other relevant information. Those may vary based on the program you’re applying to Moscow City Teachers’ Training University.

Moreover, the process and requirements for Moscow City Teachers’ Training University international admission may differ from domestic admission. Thus, if you’re an international student, check what additional requirements you need to submit and how you can validate your academic credentials.

To help you find all the admission-related information, we’ve compiled the bachelor's and master's admission pages of Moscow City Teachers’ Training University. Select which one applies to you and take note of the process and requirements.

From choosing your university to applying for your student visa, we know that studying abroad is not easy. However, we are here to support you every step of the way! Don't forget to explore our comprehensive guide as you prepare for your educational journey in Russia.

Degree Programs offered at Moscow City Teachers’ Training University

There are several Moscow City Teachers’ Training University majors or degree programs for bachelor’s and master’s level that you can pursue. Here are some of them:

If you want to know what other academic programs Moscow City Teachers’ Training University offers, please visit the bachelor’s and master’s course pages. These pages will give you detailed information of the programs they offer.

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  1. The 10 Best Screenwriting Schools in the US

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  8. About

    Craft. Business. Vision. Community. The MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage. Our program combines the best of an MFA in Screenwriting and an MFA in Playwriting. Questions? Call 847-467-1157 or email [email protected]. Your progress will be saved, return to complete it any time. APPLY TODAY

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  10. Screenwriting (MFA)

    Established in 1965, the UCLA TFT Screenwriting program has provided a strong foundation for hundreds of alumni, including Ana Lily Amirpour ( A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night ), Dustin Lance Black ( Milk ), Steven Canals ( Pose ), Francis Ford Coppola ( The Godfather ), Laeta Kalogridis ( Shutter Island, Altered Carbon) David Koepp ( Spider Man...

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    5 Top Online Screenwriting MFA Programs, Presented by Western Colorado University By Tim Molloy May 4, 2020 Go back to school. The world is bizarre, jobs are disappearing, and you've always wanted to be a screenwriter, anyway. A screenwriting MFA may be the way to go.

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    Masters programs in screenwriting typically take two years to complete, while playwriting programs can require up to three years of study, depending on the school. A master's thesis in the form of a play or screenplay is generally a requisite for graduation. Most grad programs require at least one full-length play or screenplay per each year ...

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  15. Screenwriting, M.F.A.

    With the training and resources that come with an M.F.A., you will be well-positioned to tell your unique story. An M.F.A. in screenwriting means you will have dedicated time to hone your craft. You will receive feedback from professors who have worked in show business. Finally, you will learn firsthand the ins and outs of the entertainment ...

  16. MFA Screenwriting Degree

    Regent is ranked among top national universities by U.S. News & World Report, 2023. Presented from a Christian worldview, the in-demand screenwriting degree is supported by award-winning faculty in Virginia Beach. Enhance your professional credentials with an MFA degree, gained online or on campus.

  17. Online MFA in Creative Writing Program

    Earn an MFA in Creative Writing Online. $637/credit (48 credits total) Transfer up to 12 graduate credits. 100% online - no residency required. Four fiction genres to choose from. Career-focused certificate included. No application fee or GRE/GMAT scores required.

  18. What's your take on MFA programs? : r/Screenwriting

    Aggressive_Chicken63. • 2 yr. ago. IMO, if you're going to enroll in an MFA program, you should have written at least three screenplays and three novels, each in a different category; you should have identified problems/weaknesses you have and know why you have them. Then I think you can benefit greatly from the program.

  19. Screenwriting MFA Programs: 5 Top Low-Residency Options

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