Master of Fine Arts in TV + Screenwriting
Stephens is an institution on a mission: to increase the impact of women and other underrepresented voices in television and film.
You have stories to tell. We’re here to make it happen. Learn from some of the best working writers in the industry. Four 10-day workshops in Hollywood + online courses = your two-year MFA.
Our program — with its bold, daring mission — has drawn the attention and the support of some of the most successful and well-known writers in Hollywood. Our faculty and mentors include some of the best working writers in the profession, and our curriculum includes an in-depth look at the business side of TV and screenwriting.
- Our community of professors and professional working writers are available to help you develop your vision, your voice and your career. And they’ll do it on your schedule, on your time and between all the other demands of your busy life.
- Learning the craft of writing is essential, but so is learning the business of selling what you write. We will provide you with access to prominent showrunners, writers from the film world, development executives, agents and managers.
- Our graduates have a remarkable record of success, having written on shows such as "Ramy," "13 Reasons Why," "Seal Team" and Lena Dunham’s "Generations" on HBOMax. See more alumni accomplishments >
Featured Panel Discussions
Transitioning to TV Writing from Previous Careers
During every workshop intensive, Executive Director Dr. Rosanne Welch moderates a panel of female screenwriters discussing various topics. Our 2021 Writers Guild Foundation panel featured TV writers who transitioned to television from previous careers. Panelists included: an alumna of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting, Rashaan Dozier-Escalante (Staff Writer, "SEAL Team"; former career: Senior Physical Security Analyst for federal agencies, U.S. Army Reserve veteran), Calaya Stallworth (a former college English professor who's a writer on "Fear the Walking Dead"), Zoanne Clack (an M.D. who's an executive producer on "Grey's Anatomy"), and Akilah Green (a former lawyer-lobbyist who's a writer on HBO's "A Black Lady Sketch Show" and Showtime's "Black Monday").
More than a Period: Writing Girls Coming of Age Stories for TV
Dr. Rosanne Welch moderated this Writers Guild Foundation panel of female television writers discussing creating real teens for today's audiences. Panelists include Rheeqrheeq Chainey ("The Baby Sitters Club"), Sonia Kharkar ("On My Block," "Never Have I Ever"), Ilana Peña (Creator, "Diary of a Future President") and Christina Nieves ("Generation"), an alumna of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting.
Faculty + Mentors
- Our faculty and mentors include Writers Guild Award and Oscar and Emmy winners, showrunners, writer-producers from hit one-hour dramas and half-hour shows, and working writers with extensive teaching backgrounds.
- Between residencies, you’ll work online with at least four different mentors.
The Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting is the first low-residency program of its kind in the country and is the first to focus on the mission of bringing more female writers into mainstream Hollywood, and studying film with a female gaze.
Being a low-residency program means the MFA candidate is responsible for traveling to Hollywood for 10 days at the beginning of each semester (in the first weeks of August and January) for a workshop experience worth 3 credit units. We hold the workshops at the historic Jim Henson Studios. Their other courses are taken online across the rest of the semester under the mentorship of instructors chosen because they are all working writers and members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
Each semester, MFA candidates take 3 courses. In their first year they have one mentor for a television script and one mentor for a screenplay. The television mentors change each semester because in fall students write a spec script and in spring a pilot; the screenplay mentor is onboard for the whole year, as the fall semester is all about developing an outline and writing Act One of the screenplay, and then the spring semester is completing and revising the script.
In year two, there's a second screenplay written (with a different mentor) and a Thesis project, which can be anything from a web series to a limited series pilot and bible to a group of short films to a written academic thesis. By the time the MFA candidate graduates, they will have experienced, at minimum, four different mentors. Throughout the two years, they take a History of Screenwriting class. That's the most like an online classroom experience, with selected readings and viewing films each week, and then posting online responses to the material. At the end of each semester, MFA candidates turn in a profile of a screenwriter -- we compiled 22 profiles into the book WHEN WOMEN WROTE HOLLYWOOD, published by McFarlane Press in 2017.
When Women Wrote Hollywood: an award-winning book by the MFA Class of 2017
The inaugural class of the Stephens MFA in TV and Screenwriting collaborated on a collection of essays about the lives of female screenwriters from the Golden Age of Hollywood. These writers helped create unforgettable stories and characters beloved by generations of audiences, but their names have been left out of most film histories. Chapters trace the careers of such writers as Anita Loos, Adela Rogers St. Johns and Lillian Hellman, and explore themes of their writing in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ben-Hur and It’s a Wonderful Life. Along with bringing more female voices and women-focused stories into mainstream films and television, the Stephens MFA students’ mission is to bring more recognition to the women who came before them. Edited by MFA program director Dr. Rosanne Welch and published in 2018, the book was named runner-up for the Susan Koppelman Award honoring the best anthology, multi-authored, or edited book in feminist studies by the Popular Culture Association.
Read a review by the Columbia Daily Tribune: "Righting History: Book by Stephens students elevates women screenwriters."