M.F.A. in Screenwriting


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M.F.A. in Screenwriting


UT’s nationally ranked MFA Screenwriting program is surrounded by a city in love with storytelling — Austin, TX, home to great film festivals, some of today’s hottest feature filmmakers, and many of today’s top TV show runners. It’s where you can write the next Hollywood blockbuster, original television pilot, or small indie gem.

Program Highlights

  • Excellent education. The UT RTF program is ranked as a top 10 U.S. film school by The Hollywood Reporter.
  • Low tuition and feesWe offer small class sizes at a small price, leaving our students with enough spare change to enjoy Austin's breakfast-taco-and-coffeeshop culture that writers and filmmakers can’t get enough of.
  • Broad curriculum. Our writing courses cover both television and features, preparing students for the life of the working screenwriter. And because of the depth of the UT Radio-Television-Film department, we are able to offer MFA students opportunities to take classes in film and TV history, as well as media production, including the ground-breaking UT 3D program.
  • Innovative opportunities. Our curriculum includes the TV “Writers Room” workshop in which students are staffed in a working TV writer’s room with a veteran Hollywood showrunner.  The class works in collaboration with producers and executives from companies such as Sundance Productions and Pilar/Segan/Shepherd Productions. The projects created in this class are shopped to all the major networks giving students an immediate foot in the door.
  • Access to working filmmakers. MFA screenwriting students work alongside our award-winning MFA production students, such as Annie Silverstein, who took first place at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival Cinéfondation competition, and Brian Schwarz, who won the 2013 Student Academy Award.
  • Real world experience. We facilitate internships in L.A.—for such companies as Miramax, UTA, Mad Men, WM/Endeavor and Scott Free Productions—as well as in Austin—at places such as the Austin Film Festival, Detour Films and with screenwriter/television producer Rob Thomas. Resident Austin filmmakers Richard Linklater, Terrence Malick, Robert Rodriguez, and many others offer our students internships, bridging the worlds of Hollywood and independent filmmaking.

Program Achievements

We’re winning major awards. Our screenwriting students have won the 2010 and 2014 Academy Nicholls Fellowship and have also placed highly in other prestigious screenwriting competitions, including the Austin Film Festival.

Our faculty are not only topflight instructors, but are also working screenwriters, having sold and optioned screenplays to HBO, Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, Walt Disney Studios, Dimension Entertainment, MGM, National Geographic, Paramount Pictures, Sony Entertainment, The Disney Channel, Lionsgate, Happy Madison Productions, Gary Sanchez, and many other studios and networks.

Our former students and faculty have written for television programs such as iZombie, Hemlock Grove, Greek, Archer, Generation Kill, Chasing Life, Haven, Being Human, Everwood, Brothers & Sisters, Jericho, and Livin’ Loud.

Program Details

The Master in Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program in Screenwriting is a two-year (including one summer) 45-hour program designed for creative individuals with a strong commitment to storytelling for the screen. The program provides a foundation of narrative skills that enables writers to succeed in both film and television, in either the Hollywood or independent arenas. Only seven students are admitted each year, a number that optimizes the workshop environment and makes it possible to provide maximum guidance.

Upon entering the program, students are introduced to the principles of writing for the screen, focusing on characterization, story development and narrative structure. Students leave the program with three original feature-length screenplays that have undergone significant revision. Students also do extensive work in television, writing specs of existing TV shows as well as original pilots. In addition to their core writing workshops, students enroll in required courses in Film History, Production for Writers, and Adaptation. During their final semester, M.F.A. candidates work one-on-one with a senior faculty member on their thesis project, leaving the program with polished work suitable for submission to agents, producers, studios and other financing entities. Degree requirements include a written report describing and analyzing the creative development of the thesis script.

In addition to writing courses, students are encouraged to use their electives to broaden their critical knowledge and filmmaking experience via the department's film studies and production offerings. The department strongly encourages collaboration between its student screenwriters and filmmakers, which has resulted in award-winning films screening at major festivals worldwide. An internship in the film industry is required as part of the program of work, and past students have interned both in Los Angeles (at such companies as Miramax and Pixar /Disney), and locally at the Austin Film Festival and with Austin-based filmmakers Richard Linklater and Terrence Malick.