Screenwriting (BFA)

The Screenwriting Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at University of the Arts, previously referred to Writing for Film and Television, prepares you to work in feature films, traditional TV, streaming and the web. With our hands-on, progressive course of study, you’ll explore the art of writing for the screen and hone the skills you’ll need for a career in film or television. You’ll discover your voice and build a professional portfolio of writing samples to help you launch your screenwriting career. Our faculty are award-winning, working professionals who have written for Hollywood, independent film and the web. 

UArts alumni work across the entertainment industry, from writing for shows on premium cable channels to working as creative executives for Hollywood studios. Graduates have been awarded prestigious fellowships from HBO and NBC Universal and have won Emmy Awards, People’s Choice Awards and a Grand Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival.

A Unique East Coast Program

 

UArts offers one of the only BFA degrees in Screenwriting on the East Coast. The program features a number of opportunities to explore the entertainment center of Los Angeles as a student, an intern or both.

Anchored on the vibrant Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia, our campus is located in the cultural district of Center City. Students can experience the city’s robust arts community, while studying in one of the most inspiring urban centers in the U.S. This type of environment is great for screenwriters.

Building a Screenwriting Portfolio
 

By choosing our well-rounded and collaborative experience in screenwriting, you will graduate with an impressive creative portfolio that includes a feature-length screenplay, an original TV pilot, a spec script from an existing episodic-TV series, short films and more.

Screenwriters are leading the charge in the today's Hollywood, forging new and inventive shows and that have ushered in this ‘golden age of television.' Streaming platforms are producing more and more scripted programs than ever. Fresh ideas and original concepts are what get noticed, and our mission is to develop each writer’s unique voice and instill a professional craft that will enable them to sustain a career.
— Susan Skoog, Program Director Screenwriting (BFA)

About the Curriculum

To make a great film, you need three things: the script, the script and the script.”– Alfred Hitchcock

UArts offers an immersive, conservatory-style curriculum focused on screenwriting workshops and production practices. You’ll write feature-length, episodic, and short-film scripts. You’ll also have opportunities to collaborate with other film artists and produce your own work. With small writing classes and one-on-one attention from our faculty of award-winning filmmakers and screenwriters, you are encouraged to take creative risks to develop your own authentic voice.

You’ll explore visual-storytelling strategies, learn how to build dramatic momentum and experiment with myriad story structures. You’ll hone the craft of writing dynamic, credible dialogue and reach deep into the human psyche to develop characters who are complex and compelling, all the while holding firm to your artistic goals.

Embedded in all our courses are practical skills like pitching, outlining, writing treatments, and understanding the profession and history of film and television. To that end, workshop classes are complemented by a rigorous array of courses in film and TV history, analysis, theory and production, as well as a dynamic liberal arts curriculum. 

In addition to preparing you to become a professional screenwriter, the program will train you to work in other intriguing areas of the entertainment industry, from story development to TV series production. Like all UArts students, Screenwriting majors can minor in 30 other disciplines, like Film, Animation, Game Art, Creative Writing, Music and Business

At UArts, you will create the kinds of memorable characters and gripping stories that attract the creative collaborators who can get films produced.

Screenwriting Minor
The minor in Screenwriting is a 15-credit course of study built around the core of our dynamic BFA program. You’ll take screenwriting workshops that provide the option to specialize in TV or feature films, and classes in film and TV analysis, adaptation, comedy, worldbuilding and other electives.

Sample Curriculum
Duration: 4 years full time
Credits: 120 credits
 
Major requirements: 63 credits, including 12 credits of major electives 
Discipline history: 12 credits 
Critical Studies: 30 credits 
Free electives: 15 credits

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First Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Character (3c) 
The Art of Cinema (3c)
The Art of Cinema Screening (0c)
Storytelling (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 15 Credits
Video Production (3c)
Writing for Film (3c)
Science course (your choice) (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free Elective (your choice) (3c)

Second Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Writing for TV I - The Spec Episode (3c)
History of Television I (3c)
TV Story Analysis (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Major Elective (your choice)* (3c) 
 
Spring Semester: 15 credits
Writing for TV II - Original Pilot (3c)
The Art of Editing (3c)
The History of TV II (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free Elective (your choice) (3c)

Third Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Writing the Feature Film I (3c)
History of Narrative Cinema I (3c)
Film Story Analysis (3c)
Major Elective (your choice)* (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
 
Spring Semester: 15 credits
Writing the Feature Film II (3c)
Screenplay Adaptation (3c)
History of Narrative Cinema II (3c)
Directing Actors for the Screen (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall Semester: 15 credits
Screenwriting Thesis I (3c)
Major Elective (your choice)* (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
 
Spring Semester: 15 credits
Screenwriting Thesis II (3c)
Internship (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Major Elective (your choice)* (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Explore the Full Curriculum

Student Spotlight

A blonde boy stands in front of a brick wall
Logan Milot

'23

Screenwriting (BFA)
Writer and co-president of Media Now
A girl in a red dress wears a tiara
Jenny Dunbebin

'24

Screenwriting (BFA)
Filipino screenwriter and filmmaker who from the DMV
A person stands against a tree
Alex McFadden

'24

Screenwriting (BFA)
A nonbinary writer raised in Birmingham, AL

Faculty Spotlight

UArts’ award-winning faculty are professionals who have worked for Hollywood studios, TV networks and cable outlets. Their work has been distributed theatrically and screened on TV, and at prominent festivals around the globe, including at Sundance, Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, SeriesFest, American Film Institute, Independent Filmmaker Project, Catalyst Content Festival, London Film Festival, Nantucket Film Festival, Los Angeles Comedy Film Festival and many others. Faculty have authored books, judged screenwriting contests, programmed and juried film festivals, and been nominated for and won numerous filmmaking and screenwriting awards. They are also active members of the Writers Guild of America, Film Fatales, UFVA, NYWIFT, and other professional guilds and organizations.

Susan Skoog headshot
Susan Skoog

Screenwriting (BFA)
Program Director, Written screenplays for Warner Bros, HBO and MTV Films
Steve Saylor
Steve Saylor

Screenwriting (BFA)
Writer, director and editor whose films have won awards in film festivals around the world
Greenberg_David_headshot
David Greenberg

Screenwriting (BFA)
Writer and director who's written or doctored over 40 screenplays for features, shorts and documentaries
Brad Guigar
Brad Guigar

Screenwriting (BFA)
Will Eisner Award nominee who's published over two dozen collections of comics and authored three books

Careers in Screenwriting

 

The entertainment industry changes and evolves frequently as new trends and technologies take hold. Creativity and skill are in great demand, and connecting and networking with professionals is critical. Throughout your coursework, you’ll build a professional portfolio of writing samples. We’ve also cultivated deep relationships with companies like Lionsgate and guilds like The Writers Guild of America to connect you with working professionals who can mentor, advise and guide you through your early career.  

We offer multiple opportunities to visit, intern and study in Los Angeles, so you can meet with and intern for industry professionals such as agents, development executives, filmmakers, screenwriters and showrunners. Students can spend a full semester in Los Angeles interning in and studying the entertainment industry, or travel to LA for a fast-paced, week-long deep dive in the industry.

Screenwriting majors are required to do at least one internship. Our students have interned in Philadelphia with Glass Productions, WHYY, National Lampoon and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office; in New York at Good Machine and Pullum Productions; and in Los Angeles at Abbott Entertainment, Montage Films, Picture Perfect Federation and Hivemind Productions, among many other places.

Common career paths for Screenwriting graduates include:

  • Screenwriter
  • Showrunner
  • TV Producer
  • Story Editor
  • Film and TV Director
  • TV Development Executive
  • Feature Film Development Executive
  • Creative Producer
  • Executive Producer
  • Studio Executive
  • Production Executive
  • Film and TV Publicity and Marketing Professional

Alumni

UArts Screenwriting alumni work across the entertainment industry, writing for shows on premium cable channels like Showtime and HBO and streaming platforms like Netflix. They work as creative executives at Hollywood studios, producers for major TV networks and more. Our graduates have been awarded prestigious fellowships from HBO and NBC Universal, and they have won Emmy Awards, People’s Choice Awards, and even a Grand Jury Prize at the SXSW Film Festival, among many other honors.

Gab Bottoni
Gab Bottoni

BFA '16

Screenwriting (BFA)
Award winning comedian and writer; member of Philadelphia Improv Theatre
Brandy Lane
Brandy Lane

BFA '15

Screenwriting (BFA)
Founder/CEO of branD Productions, LLC; writer, producer, director
Carlos Rios
Carlos Rios

BFA '14

Screenwriting (BFA)
Universal Pictures’ Emerging Writers Fellowship recipient; writer
Kevin Wright
Kevin Wright

BFA '12

Screenwriting (BFA)
Producer at Marvel Studios
Jenn Wexler The Ranger
Jenn Wexler

BFA '08

Screenwriting (BFA)
Producer, director, and writer; screened at SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival
UArts alum Derek Dressler in center of two colleagues dressed in tuxedos on Emmy Awards red carpet, holding Emmy statuettes
Derek Dressler

BFA '05

Screenwriting (BFA)
Emmy Award winner; writer of animated television and movies
Mike Kane
Mike Kane

BFA '02

Screenwriting (BFA)
Emmy winning producer and writer for Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, PBS, etc.
Matt Schatz
Matt Schatz

BFA '01

Screenwriting (BFA)
Award winning writer and composer
UArts Pre-College: Alumna Siobhan Vivian
Siobhan Vivian

BFA '01

Screenwriting (BFA)
New York Times best-selling author

Events

The Screenwriting program is housed in the School of Film, where writing students can take advantage of frequent screening events and seminars with visiting artists. Past guests have included David Simon (The Wire, Treme, The Deuce), Joe Gangemi (Amazon’s Red Oaks, Stonehearst Asylum, Blackway), Leslie Arfin (HBO’s Girls, Betty, Brooklyn Nine Nine) and Mark Fergus (Ironman, Children of Men, The Expanse).

Lightbox Film Center at University of the Arts is free for UArts students. Lightbox delivers enriching film programs with artist talks, live music and other multidisciplinary programs year-round in a dedicated venue known as a gathering place for cinephiles.

Our faculty leverage their professional relationships and contacts to connect students and alumni to film and content festivals, craft guilds, and supporting organizations. These include the Television Academy, the Academy Gold Program/Oscars.org, Lionsgate, SeriesFest, the Austin Film Festival, The Writers Guild Foundation, DigitalHollywood, IFP, and the SIP Screenwriting Competition–Greater Philadelphia Film Office, among others.

How to Apply

The following materials are required for your application.

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

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A completed application for admission
A nonrefundable $60 application fee

A nonrefundable $60 application fee

Official transcripts
  • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.
  • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international undergraduate students.
A personal statement
  • Your individual voice and personal insights play an equally important and valued role in an admissions review. Your personal statement allows you to share your story, express yourself and place a spotlight on your creative journey—past, present or future. It helps us get to know you and your dreams, ideas, challenges, opportunities and/or goals in a way your transcripts and other application materials can’t. 

  • Here are some questions to help you shape your personal statement. Interpret them as you wish. There are no right or wrong answers—there’s only your story.

    1. When and how did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

    2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?

    3. How do you want your creativity to affect the future?

  • There is no word count requirement, but we recommend you share your story in 250 to 500 words. Upload your personal statement with your application for admission or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.

Your portfolio
  • The portfolio should include at least two different writing samples. You can submit screenplays, plays, novels or short stories.
  • The total number of pages for both samples should not exceed 15 pages, double-spaced. (If your works are longer, submit the strongest portions.)
  • If you submit a film in addition to the writing samples, be sure to upload a statement detailing your creative role and duties. Films should not exceed 12 minutes.
International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency

Optional Material

You can also submit SAT scores, a résumé and/or letters of recommendation. None of these materials are required. Learn more about submitting optional materials.

Apply Now

Scholarships & Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.
 
Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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