MFA in Screenwriting

Screenwriting MFA students in the Department of Film & Television will master cinematic storytelling by developing their own short scripts, feature-length screenplays, screenplay adaptations, teleplays for existing television episodes, and pilot scripts for their own television series concepts. Students also develop the analytical skills to breakdown the strengths and weaknesses of existing work as well as the works in progress of their peers.

Learning Objectives & Evaluation

A. Performance objectives (requirements): Screenwriting MFA students in the Department of Film & Television are expected to:

  1. Successfully complete several drafts of properly formatted screenplays and teleplays based upon feedback from peers and instructors.
  2. Participate in writing workshops, providing analysis on existing work as well as the works in progress of their peers that demonstrates critical skills in the field.
  3. Successfully complete all required classes outlined in the Screenwriting MFA curriculum guide.

B. Content objectives: Screenwriting MFA students in the Department of Film & Television are expected to:

  1. Demonstrate a command of the essential elements of writing for the screen, including story, characterization, dramatic structure, cinematic language, anddialogue in the pursuit of the creation of feature films, television episodes, pilots and emerging media.
  2. Illustrate a command in writing proper script coverage (script analysis) while developing analytic insights into the work of their peers.
  3. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the principals of screenplay adaptation, conventions of film genres and act structure for both film and television.
  4. Demonstrate proper formatting for both film and television.
  5. Successfully create and develop concepts for potential film and television projects. These include a minimum of:
  • Two feature-length screenplays
  • Two short scripts
  • An episode of an existing dramatic television series
  • An episode of an existing sitcom television series
  • A teleplay for a pilot episode of their own television series concept
  • Coverage on current screenplays in various stages of development

Evaluation

Students’ completed short scripts will be given the opportunity to be produced by their peers in our television and film production programs (at the undergraduate and graduate level). In the past few years, several of our Graduate Screenwriting students have worked with our department’s Graduate Production students to produce short films that have screened and placed in film festivals, both nationally and internationally.

Our department also provides students with the resources to enter their work into film festivals and writing competitions around the world. Our students have consistently placed and won in these highly competitive events. Participation in internships (locally and in our Los Angeles programs) have revealed a consistent understanding of proper story analysis for film and television. The contacts made through our optional BU in LA “fifth semester”, coupled with the portfolio of written work in classes, has provided our students with an opportunity to jump start their careers in writing and development.

Graduate Screenwriting (MFA)

MFA candidates have a fourfold requirement: to understand and practice the art of screenwriting; to learn the fundamentals of dramatic production; to understand different models of filmmaking and film history; and to comprehend the role of the storyteller and that of mythology in the dramatic tradition.

Screenwriting Curriculum

A total of 64 credits is required to receive the degree.

First Semester

  • COM FT 702 Script into Film
  • COM FT 552 Writing the Short Film
  • COM FT 711 Screenwriting I
  • COM FT 707 Production I

Second Semester

  • COM FT 512 Writing Episodic Drama
  • COM FT 704 Genre for Screenwriting
  • COM FT 713 Screenwriting II
  • Elective – choose a Film or Television Studies course (500 level or above)

Third Semester

  • COM FT 724 Screenwriting III
  • COM FT 730 Screen Adaptation I
  • COM FT 522 Writing Situation Comedy
  • Elective (500 level or above)

Fourth Semester

  • COM FT 729 Script Analysis
  • COM FT 731 Screenwriting IV
  • COM FT 514 Writing the Television Pilot
  • Elective (500 level or above)