MFA Screenwriting | Standard

The Master of Fine Arts is a highly selective two-year program designed to cultivate the writer's voice through a demanding curriculum focused on the craft of screenwriting that culminates in a comprehensive film and television portfolio of original work. Available electives in writing for video games, adaptation, web series, and sketch comedy allow students to diversify their portfolio in an area of interest. Additionally, writers are educated on the business side of the entertainment industry and are guided through the process of moving from student to professional writer.

All of the MFA Screenwriting courses are offered in the evenings to allow working professionals to be able to attend graduate school full-time while still maintaining their current careers. The curriculum is designed to be completed in twenty-one months, but it can also be done at a slower pace for those who are interested in participating part-time. MFA students have opportunities to defray the cost of earning their degrees, through employment within the school itself, Graduate Assistantships that offer course credit and a stipend.

Curriculum Requirements

No Introductory course may be substituted for any other course at any level.

Students who wish to complete this degree on a part-time basis should contact the program coordinator or advisor to create a customized three or four year course plan.

First Year

  • Fall Quarter
    • SCWR 400
    • SCWR 425
    • SCWR 440
  • Winter Quarter
    • SCWR 401
    • SCWR 404
    • SCWR 451
  • Spring Quarter
    • SCWR 402
    • SCWR 452
      OR SCWR 453
    • SCWR 500
      OR SCWR 550

Second Year

  • Fall Quarter
    • SCWR 403
      OR SCWR 454
    • SCWR 407
    • SCWR 501
      OR SCWR 551
  • Winter Quarter
    • SCWR 405
      OR SCWR 406
      OR SCWR 455
    • SCWR 442
    • SCWR 502
      OR SCWR 552

  • Spring Quarter
    • SCWR 441
    • FILM 499
      OR SCWR 490

*See information about Optional Los Angeles quarter below.

Optional Los Angeles Quarter

Students may apply to participate in the Los Angeles Quarter Program for the spring of their second year; they will spend twelve weeks in Hollywood doing industry internships, living with their fellow DePaul classmates, and having twice-weekly classes on an industry lot where they will have intimate question and answer sessions with industry professionals in all aspects of the film, TV, and videogame world. If selected to participate in the LA program, MFA Screenwriting students would take SCWR 441 and DC 499 in Los Angeles.

MFA Thesis

Students in the MFA in Screenwriting program must complete a MFA Thesis project which consists of either a feature length screenplay or an original television pilot plus a "show bible" and outlines for six future episodes. We expect the thesis projects to be at a level of quality that would warrant representation by literary agents and managers. Satisfactory completion of the MFA Thesis project is determined by the MFA Advisor Committee (see below).

Student's MFA Advisor Committee

In the spring quarter of their first year, all MFA candidates will be assigned two thesis committee members plus their thesis instructor; these three faculty members will be the MFA Advisor Committee. The MFA Advisor Committee will offer suggestions and feedback on the student's work and help guide the student during the thesis phase of the program. They will ultimately judge the final thesis project as pass or fail.

MFA Thesis Timeline: Year One

Students will enroll in SCWR 550 or SCWR 500, in which they will begin to develop their thesis project. This course will conclude with students pitching their stories to their individual MFA Advisor Committee for feedback.

MFA Thesis Timeline: Year Two

The first draft of the thesis project must be submitted to the Advisor Committee on the last day of final exams for the fall quarter. Writers will get notes from their committee at the start of the winter quarter. The final draft of the thesis script will be sent to the committee on the last day of final exams for the winter quarter. The committees will meet during the spring quarter to evaluate thesis projects. Thesis chairs will notify each student as to whether they received "distinction," a "pass," or a "rewrite" decision. If a student passes, they must then complete their coursework in order to graduate. If a student does not pass, the writer must resubmit his or her thesis by an assigned due date determined by the thesis instructor. The re-defense will take place no later than Friday of week 10 of the spring quarter. If the student passes, he or she can move on to graduation assuming all courses are complete. If the student has a second non-pass, he or she must enroll in SCWR 701 (a zero credit hour and zero cost class) to remain enrolled for the summer session after completion of the year two coursework. The rewritten script is due by the last day of final exams for Summer I. The defense will take place before the end of the Summer II session. If the student passes, he or she may apply for the next round of graduation. If the student does not pass, he or she may elect to speak with the advising office about applying his or her course credit hours to an M.S. in Cinema Production degree.

Degree Requirements

Students in this degree program must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of 68 graduate credit hours in the designated degree program.
  • Complete all graduate courses and requirements listed in the designated degree program.
  • Earn a grade of C- or better in all graduate courses of the designated degree program.
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Satisfactorily complete the MFA thesis as determined by the student's MFA Advisor Committee.
  • Students cannot count credit earned towards a previously awarded master's or MFA degree toward the completion of this MFA program.

For DePaul's policy on repeat graduate courses and a complete list of academic policies see the DePaul Graduate Handbook in the Course Catalog.