Graduates of the UNCSA M.F.A. Screenwriting program will begin their careers with the confidence that only comes from completing an intensive, portfolio-focused program.
Over two years, you will take a challenging progression of courses in feature and episodic screenwriting. You will also study creative producing and film analysis. Two “career strategies” courses will guide you through the concrete steps of launching your career. You will cap your education with the opportunity to participate in UNCSA’s Los Angeles trip, where faculty will take you behind the scenes to meet with leaders in the industry.
Our program is designed to fit the schedules of working professionals who are ready to make a substantial time commitment to a master's program. With careful planning, most of our students are able to work part-time while earning their degrees. Our core classes are scheduled on two days a week, starting at 3 p.m. Students spend an average of 25 hours per week on coursework, including class time and out-of-class work.
Throughout the first year, screenwriters and creative producers will take core classes together. Here you will forge creative relationships that you will carry forward both into the more specialized second year, and into the industry.
During both years, the core curriculum will be supplemented by workshops and seminars with prominent guest artists. M.F.A. students also have opportunities to collaborate with other departments on campus, including directing, animation and film music composition.
In your first year of the graduate 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. You will learn to write professional-caliber scenes and study the story development process from initial concept to treatment in Fundamentals of Cinematic Storytelling. Other core courses will illuminate the producer’s side of filmmaking. You will take cinema studies courses in international cinema and episodic television. Each week, you will meet one-on-one with a screenwriting mentor to begin developing your portfolio of episodic and/or feature scripts.
In year two, 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 writers room, to studying film noir. Your transition to the screenwriting profession will be the focus of a two-semester Career Strategies course. You will meet weekly with your mentor to complete a feature or episodic thesis script and to ensure that you graduate with a portfolio that is specifically targeted to the area of the industry you want to pursue.
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 “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.”
The School of Filmmaking at UNCSA has been recognized by leading publications of the arts and entertainment industry. Variety ranked the school in its list of top 50 entertainment programs worldwide, and Backstage ranked UNCSA in the top eight film programs for aspiring cinematographers.
Discover how the School of Filmmaking's graduate programs prepare students to become skilled storytellers and strong collaborators in the industry.
This year's RiverRun International Film Festival includes 14 films with connections to UNCSA, including the documentary "Extraordinary People," written, produced and directed by Laura Hart McKinny, a professor of screenwriting, and her son, John.