Screenwriting

36 of the World’s Best Screenwriting Academic Programs

world's best screenwriting programs

If you wish to be a filmmaker you have to understand how screenplays are written and most importantly what they are written. If you have a flair for writing and wish to write screenplays, then you have numerous options in front of you to learn from. Screenwriting does not require a degree. 

Many great screenwriters never went to any film school or university to learn it. They wrote screenplays in their spare time working 8 hour shifts or as interns. With online learning websites like Udemy, Coursera, Masterclass offering courses on script writing it has become easy to understand the craft. There are also some good screenwriting websites which do offer courses on this art. 

But there are some writers who took a degree in writing and worked their way into the industry. Some Schools, Universities and Institutions in the US, UK, Europe offer screenwriting degrees & programs which may help you land a job in a studio in LA or NY. So, which are the best ones? I have done the research and listed the best academic programs in screenwriting according to countries and regions. They also include writing for TV, Theater Games.

You can navigate to the country by clicking on the name.

  1. United States (US)
  2. United Kingdom (UK)
  3. Europe
  4. Australia & New Zealand (NZ)
  5. Canada
  6. Asia

United States (US)

1. University of California, Los Angeles 

Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: This program is one of the most practical programs in the US. A lot of focus is on storytelling by also understanding other forms in filmmaking. This course  lays a strong foundation so that students will be able to write all types of screenplays for feature films and television.

Advantages: Each student gets the necessary personal attention required to learn writing good screenplays. Students can build connections in the industry as they’ll be staying in LA itself. Former students include Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island, Altered Carbon) David Koepp (Spider Man). You can find more details here.

2. New York Film Academy, New York

BFA & MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: BFA – 3 Years, MFA – 2 Years

Details: Both these courses are intense and they are designed to teach every little detail in writing scripts. After completing the first semester students have to write a short film script of 3-5 mins. After completing the program, students will not only be able to write screenplays but also try to sell them.

Advantages: The programs will teach students the reality of the industry by pitching their screenplays to help realize their dreams. Hollywood biggies like Steven Spielberg, Derek Kolstad and many other successful people in the industry often deliver guest lectures. Connections with other students learning acting, directing can help students get started after the degree. You can find more details here.

Also Read : Screenwriter’s Salary: Do Screenwriters Really Earn Millions?

3. University of Southern California, Los Angeles

BFA & MFA in Writing for Screen & Television

Duration: BFA – 4 Years, MFA – 2 Years

Details: Both these courses have extensive practical training under the supervision of experienced writers. They have workshop style classes. 30 students are selected for the BFA degree and 32 students for MFA. Students also learn a bit of cinematography and direction. 

Advantages: Along with occasional guest speakers, they have very close links to top directors, producers, agents and studios. As one of the best courses in the US,  after taking a degree from USC, I would say students have the brightest chance of landing a job in a studio as a writer. You can find more details here.

4. American Film Institute, Los Angeles

MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: AFI is the most prestigious private film school in America. Their screenwriting program is highly intense. Students create 3 full length features, 2 TV Spec scripts, 1 Original Pilot. Lectures and seminars from guests like Scott Silver (Joker) who answer questions on writing and filmmaking helps to understand the craft better.

Advantages: With AFI’s vast archives of films, students have lots of opportunities to analyze films in all genres. Past alumni include Scott Frank (Minority Report), Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich), John Shiban (Breaking Bad), Jim Reynolds (The Big Bang Theory). You can find more details here.

Also Read : 16 Best Screenwriting Contests to Submit Your Screenplay in 2020

5. New York University’s Tisch School Of The Arts

Graduate in Dramatic Writing (Theater, Film & Episodic Series)

Duration: 2 Years

Details: All the three mediums consisting of writing for feature films, theater, Film and episodic series are taught in this program. The first year focuses on writing 2 full length works out of the three. In the second year, students will work towards completing a full length script in any of the three mediums. An option for an internship for credit is included in the second year but not necessary. 

Advantages: The students get to learn other crafts such as production, directing and cinematography. This helps in the writing process as a whole. Notable Alumni include Joel Cohen (Fargo, No Country For Old Men), Charlie Kaufman ( Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). You can find more details here.

6. Boston University, Massachusetts

MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The program has the first 3 semesters in Boston and the last one in Los Angeles. The writing classes are small designed to help the students self analyze their work. The teaching also focuses on developing the students’ thought process for writing a story. Students will need to write a minimum of 7 scripts: two feature length films, two short scripts, an episode of an existing hour-long television show, an episode of an existing sitcom, and an original TV pilot script.

Advantages: Students can gain teaching experience while also earning a paycheck through an assistant position. This can lead them to being more confident in approaching industry professionals and agents. Story meetings with producers and writing coverage for projects. Another plus point is, students can learn screenwriting without any distractions in Boston and then move on to LA for fine tuning their skills. You can find more details here.

Also Read : Top 10 Free & Paid Screenwriting Software Tools(2020)

7. Loyola Marymount College – School of Film & Television, Los Angeles

MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: This program teaches students to write feature length screenplays and other writing methods with a focus on developing the students’ own point of view and imagination.  

Advantages: Being in LA, students can build up connections. The program also teaches to pitch screenplays to agents, producers. You can find more details here.

8. University of Texas

MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Year

Details: This program is in the list of the most affordable programs with less number of students in a class. It includes writing for television and feature films. At the end, students leave with three feature length screenplays ready for distribution to agents. 

Advantages: The program has a TV Writers’ Room where students collaborate to write an entire season for a show which is then sent to studios. Internships in Miramax and Austin Film Festival are encouraged. You can find more details here.

9. Columbia University School of Arts

MFA in Screenwriting / Directing

Duration: 3 Years

Details: This is an intense course consisting of directing and writing screenplays. As they go hand in hand students are able to understand both crafts and can direct a whole feature film by the end of the course. 

Advantages: Writing and directing a variety of genres are included in this course. The course is designed to learn storytelling at their own pace through workshops and practice. You can find more details here.

Also Read : 18 Best Books & eBooks on The Art of Screenwriting

10. California State University, Northridge

MFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The students are taught the foundations of screenwriting, structural concepts, character creation for television and films. The faculty has one on one attention for every student who is accepted.

Advantages: At a lower cost than other programs in the US and with acclaimed guest lecturers like Donald Petrie (Miss Congeniality, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days), Michael Hauge (Writing Screenplays That Sell, Selling Your Story in 60 Seconds) students are sure to learn writing movies just like the Hollywood wants them to. You can find more details here.

11. Emerson College, Los Angeles

MFA in Writing for Film and Television 

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The students are taught everything related to writing for films, television, short films. A focus on critical feedback for scripts written by them, the students finally have to complete a feature film screenplay, a pilot episode and either of the two. 

Advantages: Students can collaborate with other students in the college. They can apply to studios and pitch to agents. Alex Tse (Watchmen, Superfly) is a screenwriting alumni. You can find more details here.

United Kingdom (UK)

12. The London Film School, England

MA Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: It is a program that teaches writing for feature films . 3-4 students are grouped together for writing a feature screenplay. There are a range of workshops supporting the development of the students’ skills and imagination.

Advantages: The LFS is a prestigious school and it’s connections with industry professionals can land you an internship in a studio after you graduate. You can find more details here.

Also Read : 18 Best Screenwriting & Filmmaking YouTube Channels

13. University of West London, England

MA Screen Production – Screenwriting & Documentary

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The program has a strong emphasis on practical writing through various workshops. The course includes learning to write for films, documentaries, pilots, screen criticism and analysis and also writing for Netflix in their 10 hour movie model.

Advantages: As one of the most practical courses teaching everything related to writing screenplays, this is the best program teaching update industry best practices and according to current trends. You can find more details here.

14. Met Film School, London – England 

MA Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The program teaches writing feature films, short films, pilots, TV mini series. At the end students will have to complete either a feature screenplay or TV pilot.

Advantages: Students can also learn to write for games. Each student will do a project for an external client. After graduating from this course, students have gone on to write for Netflix. You can find more details here.

15. National Film & Television School (NTFS), England

MA in Screenwriting

Duration: 2 Years

Details: This program is rigorous and practical teaching the art of writing for films, Television, animation and games. Recent graduates have won or been nominated for an Oscar, several BAFTAs and Royal Television Society Awards, a Nicholl Fellowship.

Advantages: NTFS has extremely good industry connections. All the students can attend Masterclasses( guest lectures from acclaimed writers and directors like David Fincher (Zodiac, The Social Network), Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty), M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village). You can find more details here.

16. Falmouth University, England

MA in Writing for Script & Screen

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The program teaches writing features, TV series and is updated with the trends in the industry. 

Advantages: This is one of the few courses in the UK with a 2 year degree. You can find more details here.

17. Leeds Beckett University, England

MA in Screenwriting: Feature Film & Continuing Series

Duration: 15 months

Details: As the degree suggests, the students can learn everything about writing for TV and films. Experienced tutors give very constructive feedback to each student and encourage them to collaborate with other students.

Advantages: You can present ideas pitches to industry professionals at events organized by the University. The University has links to many organizations and film festivals in the UK. You can find more details here.

Also Read : 15 Best Screenwriting Podcasts for Writers

18. University of South Wales, Wales

MA in Film – Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The program focuses on teaching the TV production landscape in Wales, UK and US along with the art of writing for films and TV. They also have workshops so students can collaborate and share their ideas.

Advantages: Main advantage is their four week in depth placement with a production company in the UK. You can find more details here.

19. Buckinghamshire New University, England

MA in Screenplay Writing

Duration

Details: The MA is based in the world famous Pinewood Studios. It includes writing films, TV series, web series and writing a pilot. The MA is entirely industry led.

Advantages: This is one of the few practical courses available in the UK on screenwriting The course is designed by highly acclaimed professionals in the industry who have worked on movies and TV series’ like Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Game of Thrones and more. You can find more details here.

20. University of Manchester, England

MA in Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The course is designed with an internship which will teach students to write for TV and feature films both. By the end of the course, you’ll have developed a feature film screenplay, a pilot TV episode, readers reports, adapted scenes, and two short films.

Advantages: The internship is with studios who have worked on many A-List projects in Los Angeles and the UK. You can find more details here.

21. Middlesex University, London – England

MA in Scriptwriting (Stage, Screen & Audio)

Duration: 1 Year

Details: This program is for students looking to make a career in writing plays and screenplays with no knowledge of it, and also for people with a little writing experience. Students will learn to write for theater, film, radio. There is a 15,000-word final submission to assess the students writing potential at the end of the program.

Advantages: Intense and extremely practical for making a career in writing. Even good for aspiring authors. You can find more details here.

Also Read : Screenwriting Basics: The Format to Write a Screenplay

Europe

22. Lodz Film School, Poland 

BA & MA in Screenwriting

Duration: BA – 3 Years, MA – 2 Years

Details: The BA course teaches right from the basics of screenwriting including structure, narration, dialogues etc. The MA degree requires a little experience as a screenwriter or writer. 

Advantages: Both these courses are intense and students can get internships with studios in Europe as Lodz Film School has a lot of connections from its previous alumni of writers and filmmakers. You can find more details here.

23. La Femis, Paris – France 

Screenwriting Workshop

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The Workshop is only for French-fluent participants. It teaches students to develop and write screenplays for feature films. The components of screenwriting like structure, dramatic composition character building are taught by experts in the field with years of experience. 

Advantages: As the workshop takes in only french speaking students who will work on french screenplays, they get exposure to french cinema and can build industry contacts easily. You can find more details here.

Also Read : How to Write a Phone Conversation in a Screenplay

24. The International Film & Television School, Paris – France

BA & MA in Filmmaking with an option in Screenwriting

Duration: BA – 3 Years, MA – 2 Years

Details: The courses teach students to pitch and write screenplays for feature films. Along with writing, students need to learn production, direction and cinematography.

Advantages: Collaboration and learning other crafts in filmmaking help students to gain experience and enhance their storytelling skills. You can find more details here.

25. DFFB (German Film & Television Academy), Berlin – Germany

Graduate Certificate in Scriptwriting

Duration: 2 Year

Details: The program takes upto 10 students per year. The teachers are experienced working professionals drawn from all over the world. By graduation, each student will have a portfolio of work including pitch documents, treatments and finished screenplays. 

Advantages: Students’ projects are realized by some broadcast networks in Germany or Europe. Past collaborations have been with the rbb, the Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, arte and Funk. You can find more details here.

Also Read : Screenwriting: How to Write a Montage in a Screenplay

26. International Filmschule Koln, Germany

MA in Serial Storytelling

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The course intake is 16 students. The course is equally balanced in theory and practice. It teaches students the art of writing screenplays, story structure for TV, films and games.

Advantages: Students can learn to write for German audiences or International audiences in English. Meet and work with highly acclaimed international wri­ters, producers, showrunners and executives such as Lisa Albert (Mad Men), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones). You can find more details here.

27. Norwegian Film School 

BA in Screenwriting

Duration: 3 Years

Details: The Norwegian Film School screenwriting BFA trains writers both to be original creators of content as well as collaborators for directors and producers. The programme consists of discipline-specific workshops, writing assignments, case studies and the like as well as a number of production exercises in collaboration with the other disciplines.

Advantages: Students can learn directing and production by collaborating with other students and pave a way for their future in Norway’s film community. You can find more details here.

Also Read : Writing Screenplays using Google Docs and Word

28. South Gate School of Creative Writing, Denmark

Duration: 4 Years

Details: With focus on everything related to writing scripts for feature films, TV series, game narratives and plays, this is the most detailed course in Europe for novel writers as well as for aspiring scriptwriters. However, it is not accredited to the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

Advantages: As this School is dedicated to teaching how to write and nothing else, students learn this art from professionals throughout their 4 year period here. You can find more details here.

Australia & New Zealand (NZ)

29. University of Melbourne, Australia

Master of Screenwriting

Duration: 18 months

Details: The program focuses on teaching Television writing and feature films. The program compels students to complete a first draft of a screenplay or a TV pilot. 

Advantages: Along with storytelling workshops, students can also attend lectures, classes and screenings dedicated to the craft of screenwriting and undertake intensive modules. You can find more details here.

Also Read : How to Correct Writing Mistakes in a Novel or a Blog

30. Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand 

Master of Creative Writing with specialization in Scriptwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: This program is for writers who are serious about a career in film, TV, web-series, and theater. The intake for the year is a maximum of 10 students. At the end, students will be ready with a second draft to pitch to production companies.

Advantages: Even if an aspiring candidate doesn’t have an undergraduate degree, the candidate can apply for this course provided he or she has the required portfolio in writing. You can find more details here.

31. Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

MA in Scriptwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The program teaches students the art of writing novels and writing for films. There are numerous workshops arranged from time to time and guest lectures from leading writers in New Zealand. Scriptwriting students will also do around 40 hours of industry placement at a relevant organisation.

Advantages: The placements can help students to build solid industry connections in the New Zealand and Australian film community You can find more details here.

Canada

32. Toronto Film School, Canada

Writing for Film & TV Diploma

Duration: 18 months

Details: The program teaches students how to pitch, write, produce and edit for all formats of film and television. They also get the unique opportunity to bring their original scripts to life.

Advantages: Students will be working film and Television writers, story editors from the industry. Instructors teach real world industry practices and also share invaluable industry connections and insider networking opportunities.You can find more details here.

33. York University, Toronto – Canada

BFA in Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The students are taught scriptwriting for films, television, games while developing their imagination through various workshops and collaborations with other writers.

Advantages: Students can gain on-set experience and learn how to pitch their work. Expert faculty, industry-leading facilities, and a diverse community make this Program quite unique. You can find more details here.

34. Algonquin College, Ottawa – Canada

Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting

Duration: 1 Year

Details: Students are the art of writing for film, television, theater, animation and gaming. The teaching staff is experienced with good connections to the Canadian film community.

Advantages: Students get the opportunity to travel to Toronto for three days to pitch their film or TV series ideas at major broadcasting and production companies. They also meet agents, distributors and accomplished screenwriters, and attend industry events during their stay. You can find more details here.

35. Vancouver Film School, Canada

Diploma in Writing for Film Television & Games

Duration: 1 Year

Details: The program is designed to develop fundamental skills in visual storytelling, structure, character, format, and genre. Electives include writing for comics, video games, and writing for commercials.

Advantages: At the end of it, the program also teaches students some marketing skills to sell their feature screenplay or TV pilot. You can find more details here.

Asia

36. Film & Television Institute of India, Pune – India

PG Diploma Course in Screenwriting (Film,TV & Web Series)

Duration: 2 Years

Details: The course teaches the students to write short films, TV Bible, feature film, Feature Film Step Outline (Fiction), one Feature Treatment (Adaptation / Biopic / Reality based fiction). 

Advantages: At a fraction of the cost of learning filmmaking and writing scripts, in schools in the western world, this course is equally good with immense industry exposure. You can find more details here.

Conclusion

Many of you may not afford going to an institution to learn writing screenplays. Whether you decide to go to a film school, take a summer course or learn it online, there can be no substitute to reading scripts. That is where you learn the minor details of writing scenes and compelling stories. 

Before  you decide to apply, do a bit of research about the particular course. Talk to the admissions office or faculty. Talk to former students about their experience. It would be best to shortlist 2 institutions if you are in the US or UK.

Have a successful career ahead!

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