Screenwriting Classes and Schools: How to Choose

Screenwriting classes teach students how to write scripts or screenplays for film and television. Lessons seek to develop creative writing ability while emphasizing script structure. Students may earn a certificate or pursue a bachelor's or master's degree in film studies, visual journalism or screenwriting.

How to Select a Screenwriting School

Screenwriting degrees are offered at the certificate, bachelor, and master degree levels. Students may enroll in programs through the film departments of various 4-year colleges and universities. Screenwriting classes and programs often have limited class size due to the nature of the hands-on instruction.

Consider the following when looking for a screenwriting school :

  • Students may want to consider the education and achievements of faculty. Instructors with experience in the field may offer more relevant and industry-specific instruction.
  • Students may want to consider an area of concentration such as writing for television, theater, or film. When selecting a program, make sure the program offers training and courses in the selected concentration.
  • Consider the opportunities for networking. Some schools may offer complementary analysis of scripts and assignments by industry professionals. Programs might also include internship opportunities that can be helpful in making contacts.
  • Students who are currently working full time might want to look for an online program or a program with flexible scheduling.

Screenwriting Program Overviews

Screenwriting Certificate Programs

Screenwriting certificate programs may provide an overview of the profession or focus on a concentrated specialty within the industry. Graduates may have the option of applying credit toward a degree program. A few examples of courses found in a certificate program include:

  • Fundamentals of screenwriting
  • Scene, character and structural writing
  • History and genre of film
  • Business and promotion

Bachelor's Degree in Screenwriting

Bachelor's degree programs in screenwriting develop a student's creative writing ability and may offer a focus on writing for film, stage or television. A degree can typically be achieved in four years, which includes completion of general education requirements. Screenwriting courses may be included within English, journalism or film studies majors and often emphasize:

  • Creating and rewriting scripts
  • Episodic, feature and comedic writing
  • Writing for film and television
  • Medium conversion
  • Components of a script

Master's Degree in Screenwriting

A 2-year master's degree program in screenwriting is designed for those with a bachelor's degree in another creative arts field. Courses may focus on the craft of screenwriting, including the areas of storytelling, style, tone and character. Topics may include:

  • Screenwriting for commercials
  • Feature film direction
  • Television and film theory
  • Digital animation and computer-generated imagery

10 Schools with Degrees in Screenwriting

College/UniversityInstitution Type
University of Southern California4-year, Private
New York University4-year, Private
American Film Institute4-year, Private
University of California-Los Angeles4-year, Public
Columbia University4-year, Private
Chapman University4-year, Private
Loyola Marymount University4-year, Private
Emerson College4-year, Private
University of Texas at Austin4-year, Public
Boston University4-year, Private

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