MFA in TV and Screenwriting: In-Depth
One little program with so much impact: that's the Stephens Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting. And why we have so much to say. Start with the basics. Learn about some of our students' accomplishments. Then explore the MFA experience through the voices and stories of those involved.
How does it work? Why is this right for me? Your questions answered:
How does the low-residency Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program work?
- Our program is run from a satellite campus in Los Angeles, where twice a year students spend ten days in classes and workshop at the beautiful Jim Henson Studio.
- Our faculty includes some of the best working writers in the profession: Writers Guild Award and Oscar and Emmy winners, show runners, 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.
- In their first year, students write a full-length screenplay, a one-hour spec drama, and an original one-hour pilot; and take a history of screenwriting course. In their second year, students 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.
- Students graduate in two years with a Master of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting.
What makes the Stephens' MFA program different from all other programs?
- Our community of professors and professional working writers are available to help you develop your vision, your voice and your career as a screenwriter. And they’ll do it on your schedule, on your time and in-between all of the other demands of your crazy-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 show-runners, writers from the film world, development executives, agents and managers.
- Notable writers and show runners speak regularly at workshops, including Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin of “Z: The Beginning of Everything,” an Amazon series based on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald; Dara Resnick of “I Love Dick” and writer and produce on “Castle;” Glenn Mazzara of “The Walking Dead” and creator of “Damien;” and Linnie Green of “Nip/Tuck,” “Masters of Sex” and “Boss.”
Our students and graduates have already accomplished great things...and we're just getting started.
- MFA alum Sarah Phillips won the Nashville Screenplay Competition with her screenplay for the short film “Smile.”
- MFA student Pamela Winfrey is a finalist in Roadmap’s Wise Words Writing Contest for her TV pilot “Women Will Have Their Dogs.”
- MFA alums Chelsea Andes and Mikayla Daniels whose scripts “Daughter of Mab” and “Wingman Lost,” respectively, both made it to the semifinals of The Athena List, an annual slate of between 3-5 screenplays with female leaders or strong female protagonists that have yet to be made into films. Andes’ script is also a quarterfinalist in the Slamdance Screenplay Competition.
- MFA alum Sydney Haven reached the second round of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition with her comedy “Drawing Dead.”
- MFA student Adam William Parker reached the second round in the Austin Film Festival Script Competition with his TV pilot “Sun’s Out Guns Out.”
- MFA student Cara Greene Epstein reached the second round of the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition with her drama “Activated.”
- MFA alums Lauren Smith and Sarah Whorton made it to the Scriptapalooza quarterfinals with their screenplays “Sunny’s Funnys” and “Pomme De Tere,” respectively.
- MFA Alum Kelley Zinge had her children's story “Lullaby for Ella Vi” produced and recorded as an audiobook with words and music in collaboration with UCLA Extension. It will be made available to children in residence at Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country.
There's only so much we can tell you here. Our students, supporters and faculty tell the story best. Explore their voices and experiences.
Media and Social Media Stories
"When Women Wrote Hollywood"
The inaugural class of the Stephens MFA in TV and Screenwriting collaborated on this collection of essays on 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 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 female-focused stories into mainstream films and television, the Stephens MFA students mission is to bring more recognition to the women who came before them.
Read more here.
Partnership with Citizen Jane Film Festival
The Citizen Jane Film Festival at Stephens College is another way Stephens College is ensuring women's voices are heard. The festival, which celebrated its 10th year in 2017, champions independent films by independent women.
In October 2017, the MFA partnered with the Citizen Jane Film Festival to honor Linda Woolverton with the first Frances Award, honoring Lifetime Screenwriting achievement. Woolverton is the highest grossing female screenwriter in history, having written “Lion King,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Malificent,” “Alice in Wonderland” and many more films during an over 25 year career at Disney. She is credited with single-handedly transforming the Disney heroine.
MFA Application Process and Requirements
Tuition, Fees and Cost of Attendance
Email: [email protected]
Call: (800) 876-7207
Required Consumer Information
Dept. of Consumer Affairs - Required report
School Performance Fact Sheet