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.

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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.

10 Schools with Degrees in Screenwriting

Below is a list of the top 10 schools that offer programs in screenwriting at various degree levels:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $50,277; Graduate: $39,384
New York University New York, NY 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $47,750; Graduate: $38,592
American Film Institute Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Master's $44,082
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public Certificate and Master's In-state: $11,220; Out-of-state: $26,322
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private Master's $42,280
Chapman University Orange, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $47,260; Graduate: $25,331
Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Private Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $42,795; Graduate: $17,471
Emerson College Boston, MA 4-year, Private Certificate, Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $41,052; Graduate: $28,728
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Master's In-state: $10,934; Out-of-state: $20,762
Boston University Boston, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $48,436; Graduate: $47,422

Source:*National Center for Education Statistics

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School Selection Criteria

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 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.

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 on creating and rewriting scripts and writing for film and/or television.

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.

There are many options for individuals interested in pursuing a degree in screenwriting, so it is important to consider career goals when looking at schools and choosing a degree level.

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