The Screenwriting program, a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television, encourages students to concentrate upon the challenge of writing a well-structured story inhabited by vivid, compelling characters. The elements of character, dialogue, scene, setting, texture, style and tone are explored through an intensive workshop process.
"The great misconception among new and untested writers is that screenwriting is easy," says screenwriter and Lecturer Emeritus Hal Ackerman, the former co-head of the UCLA TFT Screenwriting Program. "Trust me, it's harder than it looks. The beauty of a great artist, like a great athlete, is the ability to make something amazingly difficult and complex look easy."
Screenplay writing is a rigorous craft and, at its best, an art. In UCLA TFT's Screenwriting Program students learn all the key elements of creating scripts for feature film and television, including story structure, plot, scene development, characterization and dialogue. The goal is to prepare students to turn their stories into screenplays. A series of writing assignments guides them toward mastering the basics, which are used to conceptualize and begin work on their scripts.
Established in 1965, the UCLA TFT Screenwriting Program has provided a strong foundation for hundreds of alumni. Program graduates include Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather), Dean Hargrove (Columbo), David Koepp (Spider Man), Josefina Lopez (Real Women Have Curves), Michael Miner (RoboCop), Brian Nelson (Hard Candy), Alexander Payne (Nebraska, The Descendants), Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. (Norma Rae), Scott Rosenberg (High Fidelity), David S. Ward (The Sting), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Caroline Williams (Miss/Guided).
The Screenwriting Program has the following time-to-degree requirement: a minimum of six quarters; maximum of 7 quarters. The minimum total units required to graduate is 72 units (18 courses). Maintenance of a B average GPA.
A. Required Courses:
- C430 SCREENWRITING FUNDAMENTALS
- 431 INTRODUCTION TO FILM AND TELEVISION SCREENWRITING
- 434 ADVANCED SCREENWRITING
B. FTVDM Required Courses:
Students must take a minimum of TWO graduate-level Cinema & Media Studies courses.
Please see list below for approved course numbers and titles.
Please note that not all courses are offered every quarter. Students should consult the registrar's schedule for available courses and class times. For courses in the 298 series, students should consult the graduate advisor first to check whether a course fulfills the CMS requirement.
Plus choose one course below:
- 203 FILM AND OTHER ARTS
- 204 VISUAL ANALYSIS
- 206A EUROPEAN FILM HISTORY
- 206B SELECTED TOPICS IN AMERICAN FILM HISTORY
- 206C AMERICAN FILM HISTORY**
- 207 EXPERIMENTAL FILM
- 209A DOCUMENTARY FILM
- 208B CLASSICAL FILM THEORY **
- 208C CONTEMPORARY FILM THEORY
- 209B FICTIONAL FILM
- 209D ANIMATED FILM
- 217 SELECTED TOPICS IN TELEVISION HISTORY **
- 217A AMERICAN TELEVISION HISTORY**
- 218 CULTURE, MEDIA AND SOCIETY
- 219 FILM AND SOCIETY
- 220 TELEVISION AND SOCIETY
- 221 FILM AUTHORS
- 222 FILM GENRES
- 223 VISUAL PERCEPTION
- 224 COMPUTER APPLICATIONS FOR FILM STUDY
- 225 VIDEOGAME THEORY
- 246 ELECTRONIC CULTURE
- 270 FILM CRITICISM
- 271 TELEVISION CRITICISM
- 276 NON WESTERN FILM
- 277 NARRATIVE STUDIES
- 298AB SPECIAL STUDIES (select classes must see Graduate Counselor)
**These courses are sometimes taught as a core course for M.A. students and may not be available that particular quarter for MFA students.
** courses are sometimes taught as a core course for MA students and may not be available that particular quarter to MFA students.
C. MFA Course Requirement:
Students have to take a minimum of ONE graduate-level course from the Directing/Production, Animation, and/or Producers Program area. Please see attached list for approved course numbers and titles.
- 188B INTRODUCTION TO THE ART AND TECHNIQUE OF FILMMAKING (Fall)
- 188D FILM EDITING; OVERVIEW OF HISTORY, TECHNIQUE AND PRACTICE (Fall)
- 400 FILM IMAGE DESIGN LAB (check registrars schedule)
- 403A ADVANCED DOCUMENTARY WORKSHOP (check registrars schedule)
- 181A INTRODUCTION TO ANIMATION (Fall & Spring, prerequisite for other animation courses)
- 181B WRITING FOR ANIMATION (Fall Only, no prerequisite required)
- 181C ANIMATION WORKSHOP (Winter & Spring)
- 208 FILM STRUCTURE
- 247 CREATIVE PRODUCING
- 288AB FEATURE FILM DEVELOPMENT 1-2 (limited enrollment)
- 291ABC FEATURE FILM PRODUCTION, MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION
- 292ABC NETWORK TELEVISION & EMERGING PLATFORMS
- 294AB CONTRACTS & NEGOTIATIONS
- 294C INTERNATIONAL FINANCING & DISTRIBUTION
- 298AB CURRENT BUSINESS PRACTICES IN FILM & TELEVISION: STRATEGY; INDEPENDENT SPIRIT
- 295ABC IDENTIFYING YOR ASSETS: ADVANCED PRODUCING 1 & 2 (limited enrollment)
- 296AB TALENT REPRESENTATION (limited enrollment)
A minimum of four feature length screenplays must be completed while enrolled in FTV 434 before advancing to candidacy. This writing is accepted as a body of work for the Masters Thesis requirement and must be approved by the Candidate's Thesis Chair.
All MFA programs in Film, Television and Digital Media are full-time. The Department admits new students only once each year for the Fall Quarter.
We do not accept films, DVDs or CDs.
Applicants must submit all required application materials to be considered for admission.
Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2019
By the time of entrance, MFA applicants must:
- Have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Satisfy the University of California’s Graduate Admission Requirements.
- Complete equivalent to a 4-year U.S. bachelor’s degree.
Please complete all of the following steps:
Step 1: Online
- Complete the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
- MUST be paid and completed online by November 1, 2019.
- Indicate MFA, Film and Television, Screenwriting as the program.
- Upload the Statement of Purpose.
- Submit a 1-2 page document.
- Upload a CREATIVE PORTFOLIO
- Submit ONE of the following options in Script:
- A FEATURE-LENGTH SCREENPLAY (90-130 page max).
- First 60 pages of a FEATURE-LENGTH SCREENPLAY in progress.
- One DRAMA PILOT and corresponding series bible (10-90 page max).
- Two half-hour COMEDY/DRAMEDY scripts (each 40 page max).
- Submit OPTIONAL CREATIVE WORK (10 page max).
- Submit additional samples of prose (short fiction, novel in progress, etc).
- DO NOT submit adaptations, spec episode scripts or co-written materials, these will NOT be reviewed.
- Upload Unofficial copies of all Transcripts.
- Submit Three Letters of Recommendation
- Enter the Names and Emails of all recommenders into the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
Step 2: Mail
- Mail an Official copy of all Transcripts from each Undergraduate and Graduate institutions attended.
- Note: Community College transcripts are not necessary.
- Request that all Test Scores be sent directly to UCLA.
- Only test scores taken by December 31, 2019 will be accepted.
- The GRE UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409.
- Note: The GRE is not Required for MFA Applicants.
Please send all applicable materials to:
Graduate Film Admissions: Screenwriting
UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
103 East Melnitz Hall, Box 951622
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622
Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2019
For more information on requirements and applying to UCLA as an International Student, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/international-applicants/.
English Proficiency: Any international applicant whose first language is not English must certify proficiency in English when applying to UCLA, and, if admitted, upon arrival. Such applicants must submit scores received on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as part of their application. The UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409. Only test scores taken by December 31, 2019 will be accepted. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/english-requirements/. International applicants who have received a Bachelor’s degree from an American institution are not required to take the TOEFL.
Academic Records: Although the UCLA Graduate Division Application enables applicants to upload an unofficial copy of their academic records, all applicants are required to submit official records from each academic institution attended. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records/.
Undergraduate Degree Requirement: Applicants must complete equivalent to a 4 year US Bachelor’s Degree. International students who hold three-year ordinary pass degrees, or who hold professional diplomas in accounting, business, librarianship, social work, physical education, health education and so on, or four-year degrees, diplomas or higher certificates from technical, vocational or post-secondary specialized schools are NOT eligible for graduate admission. For Academic Requirements by Country or Educational System, visit: https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records.
Proof of Funding for Visa: U.S. immigration law requires that international applicants, if admitted, show documented evidence that sufficient funds to cover all tuition, fees, transportation, and living expenses are available for the first year of their studies at UCLA. This must be proven before a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS2019) for a visa can be issued. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/visa-procedures/ .
For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents interested in receiving financial aid in the 2020-2021 year, note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline for UCLA is March 2, 2020. Applicants must complete the FAFSA by this date if they want to be eligible for all awards, work-study, and scholarships that UCLA offers. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu
DREAM ActFor non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent residents who are approved to pay in-state tuition because they graduated from a high school in California; they will need to complete the California DREAM application by the March 2, 2020 deadline. The DREAM application can be accessed at https://dream.csac.ca.gov. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu
** Please do not contact the department to check on your application, as we cannot update you on your application status or materials.