Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

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Cohort meeting on the historic Chaplin stage at the Jim Henson Studios

Master of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting 

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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. "We urge – and assist – students to apply to internships like the Television Academy Internship and writing programs like NBC Writers on the Verge, ABC-Disney Fellowship and the CBS Writers Mentoring Program," says program founder and Writer-in-Residence Ken LaZebnik. See what our alumni have accomplished.


"My Stephens MFA made me a better artist-scholar. Its mission for radical inclusivity inspired my stories and shaped my teaching. I am more deeply committed to telling untold stories than ever. I received several job offers and promotion upon graduation. The emphasis on cutting-edge learning techniques has also shaped my teaching. This program took me to the next level in my career and I'm not done yet." 

Laura Kirk '17 

Rosanne presenting at SRN resized


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. 

Our students come to Los Angeles twice a year for 10-day workshops at the beautiful Jim Henson Studio. Between workshops, students work one-on-one online with at least four different mentors over two years.

2020-2021 WORKSHOPS 

First-year students:

  • July 31-Aug. 9, 2020
  • Jan. 1-10, 2021

Second-year students:

  • Aug. 7-16, 2020
  • Jan. 8-17, 2021

During our two workshops for second-year students, we invite panels of managers, agents, directors and producers for students to pitch to. Every workshop, students get the opportunity to connect with people who can advance their careers.

In our industry, there are no set pathways to success. But among the many ways to move forward, we help our students in every way possible.



  • Our faculty are some of the best working writers in the profession: Writers Guild Award and Oscar and Emmy winners, showrunners, writer-producers from hit one-hour dramas and half-hour shows, as well as working writers with extensive teaching backgrounds.

  • Between residencies, you’ll work online with at least four different mentors.

MFA faculty and mentors >



  • In your first year, you will write a full-length screenplay, a one-hour spec drama, and an original one-hour pilot, and take a history of screenwriting course.

  • In your second year, you'll write a second screenplay with a new mentor and complete a thesis project. The thesis project allows students to choose their own adventure. Students have written original comedy pilots, limited series, web series and short films.

  • Throughout the two years, you’ll take Dr. Rosanne Welch’s History of Screenwriting courses. Students do selected readings and view films each week, and post online responses to the material. At the end of each semester, students submit a profile of a screenwriter. 22 profiles written by MFA students were compiled it into the book When Women Wrote Hollywood, published by McFarlane Press in 2017.

Full MFA curriculum >


"Beyond acclimating me to the business of film writing and improving my scriptwriting in general, the program has helped me know how to network, jump on opportunities, and search out others in film." 

Kelley Zinge '17

Stephens class of 2019 graduates at commencement resized


We can't wait to hear YOUR story. We began accepting applications for Fall 2020 on Oct. 1, 2019. Here’s what you need to get started:


"Signing up for that MFA was one of the best decisions of my life. So many amazing friends and memories. And a whole new career!" 

Jackie Perez '17

Apply Now  Request Info

Program Publications

MFA workshop

Students brainstorm during an MFA workshop.


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."

How I Wrote That: a podcast presented by the MFA in TV and Screenwriting

Hosted by program associate director Khanisha Foster, How I Wrote That features interviews with the top women in writing. "They invite us into their homes and studios so we may ask how they got there," Foster says. "We discuss how they write, what they write, and the advice they would give to those listening." Stephens is dedicated to increasing the number of women working in television and film. How I Wrote That cultivates the relationship between those who have already made it and those who are dreaming up.

Listen to the podcast.


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