M.F.A. in Screenwriting
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.