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

Certificate, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs are offered in screenwriting. Students may enroll in programs at the film departments of various 4-year colleges and universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Selecting a program
  • Networking opportunities
  • Program flexibility

Selecting a Program

Screenwriting classes and programs often limit class size due to the nature of the hands-on instruction. Students may want to consider the education and achievements of the screenwriting faculty, because teachers with experience in the field may offer more relevant and industry-specific instruction.

Applicants with specific career aspirations may wish to enroll in a program that offers concentrated training that aligns with their goals, such as writing for television, theater or film. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree may choose to begin undergraduate studies at a reputable school with accomplished graduates.

Networking Opportunities

Scripts and assignments are typically shared with peers for suggestions and critique, though students may find schools that offer complementary analysis by working industry professionals. Programs may also include internship opportunities, which can be helpful in establishing professional contacts for postgraduate employment.

Program Flexibility

Working professionals may also wish to look for programs with evening or weekend courses that provide flexible scheduling. Online programs are also available in screenwriting.

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

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