Graduates of the M.F.A. program in Screenwriting at the UNCSA School of Filmmaking begin their careers with the confidence that only comes from completing an intensive, portfolio-focused program.
Balancing artistic instincts with the demands of a rapidly changing marketplace can be challenging, but it becomes second nature for our students as they conceive, develop and write projects through industry-style exercises aimed at crafting a comprehensive creative experience. Over two years, you will take a challenging progression of courses in feature and episodic screenwriting. Small class size and one-on-one mentoring allow us to personalize the program to suit individual voices, backgrounds and learning styles.
Designed to fit the schedules of working professionals who can make a substantial time commitment to a master's program, most students can work while earning their degrees. Core classes are scheduled over three days, and students spend an average of 25 hours per week on coursework, including class time and out-of-class assignments, exercises and events. You will leave with confidence earned by mastering the skills, language and experience necessary to succeed in the entertainment industry.
In the first year of the program, screenwriters and creative producers take core classes together. Here, you forge the relationships that you carry forward into the specialized second year and the industry. The collaborative environment encourages screenwriters and producers to work together to refine stories and projects. The experience culminates in a screenwriting portfolio of three to four finished scripts, ready for industry leaders.
As part of your curriculum, you meet weekly with your faculty mentor to develop projects and discuss your transition into the industry. Screenings series, workshops and seminars with prominent guest artists provide invaluable opportunities to discuss the film and television industries and their ever-changing landscape, with ample opportunity to ask questions and share your ideas.
M.F.A. students also have opportunities to collaborate with other departments and schools on campus through coursework or enrichment activities. Collaborations may include directing actors, creating storyboards, crewing on undergraduate films and teaching with Artistcorps.
Master of Fine Arts
In your first year of the screenwriting program, you will take a variety of core courses to improve your skills as a screenwriter and develop your understanding of the feature and episodic businesses. In Fundamentals of Cinematic Storytelling, you learn to write professional-caliber scenes and study the story development process from initial concept to treatment. Other core courses illuminate the producer’s side of filmmaking, teaching skills in pitching and professional-level feedback. Cinema studies courses focus on international cinema and episodic television. Each week, you meet one-on-one with a screenwriting mentor to begin developing your portfolio of episodic and feature scripts.
In the second year of the program, Advanced Cinematic Storytelling takes you deeper into professional writing techniques through targeted exercises and the study of exemplary screenplays. You will have the option to take electives across the film school, from working with actors to participating in a writer’s room, along with studying film noir or other cinematic traditions. Your transition to the screenwriting profession is the focus of a Career Strategies course. You'll meet weekly with your mentor to complete a feature or episodic thesis script and ensure that you graduate with a portfolio targeted to the area of the industry you want to pursue.
You cap your education with the opportunity to participate in UNCSA’s Los Angeles trip, where faculty take you behind the scenes to meet with leaders in the industry.
Graduates of UNCSA's Screenwriting Program hold titles such as screenwriter, producer and writer's assistant on major motion pictures, television series and animated films at companies like Pixar Animation, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation, while others are writing and producing their own independent features. Some of their more well-known recent credits include “This is Us,” “Your Highness,” “Pacific Rim,” “Land Ho,” “I’ll See you In My Dreams,” “Mud,” “Loving,” “Clash of the Titans” and “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”