Latest reviews

Alumni
1.00 star(s)
Campus
4.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Professors
3.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
Pros
  • Friendly staff
  • Nice campus
  • Great amenities
  • On-site script library
  • TA opportunities
Cons
  • Lack of networking opportunities
  • Lack of job opportunities
  • Strictly pedagogic in academic approach (as opposed to practical)
  • Repetitive coursework & lessons
I was accepted to the CSUN MFA program in 2018 and took part in in for a full year; however, I recently decided not to go back and complete the program's second year... for a number of reasons.

1) LACK OF NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES. This was my main peeve with the program. Networking opportunities were non-existent, unfortunately. I asked a few of the professors and the head of the program about this aspect of the MFA many times - as it is crucial to a career in screenwriting - and I was never given a solid answer. I happen to know a few people/execs in the industry as well, who asked me to reach out to CSUN on their behalf because they had internship/job opportunities that they wanted to share with the school. When I gave them the dept. head's contact info, two of them told me they reached out to him and never received a response whatsoever. I followed up with the dept. head and he simply said, "Oh, yes, I do remember seeing that name... Please have them email me again." But by that time, the opportunities were long gone. This is key because not only are you required to find an internship and take an internship course during your last semester of the MFA, but it's also a very important part of the job and working in Hollywood. I know the UCLA and USC have amazing opportunities in this regard; but, alas, I applied to each of those schools and couldn't get in.

2) STRICTLY PEDAGOGIC. The program is much more tailored to those who want to teach screenwriting at the college level than it does for those who actually want to be screenwriters. I say this not only because of my previous reason - lack of networking - but also because I spoke to one of the profs who's been there since the inception of the program who told me as much outright. Additionally, there was a lot of repetition in many of the lessons we learned.

3) VERY STRUCTURE-BASED COURSEWORK. I'm all for studying structure and form, but I also think that people entering a screenwriting Master's program should have a fairly good handle on that before joining. One of the professors who taught two of our courses over the first year taught his very-specific, step-by-step breakdown of how to break a story using his unique concept. It was very specific and odd, and we spent a LOT of time focusing on only his method, when there are dozens out there, many of which have proven to be great! I actually really liked this prof on a personal level, but I do not like that 2 of the 7 course I paid for dealt entirely with his methods and didn't allow for exploration of the many other forms.

4) LOOSE SYLLABI. Unfortunately, about 2 of the 7 courses that were taught didn't have syllabi at all, or really seem to have much of a purpose. In our teaching for screenwriting course, there were 14 of us. Basically, two of us came in each class and gave a lesson each week, and the prof provided very minimal feedback at the end of each lesson. It was like we weren't being taught anything at all. The lessons were all lead by other students in my peer group, and while some of them were great, I didn't expect to have to pay for and take valuable time (driving and attending) out of my nights to listen to other students speculate on what the best way to do _____ might be.

TAKE AWAY: If you don't know anything about screenwriting at all at this point in your life, OR if you're set on teaching screenwriting someday, this might be a good program for you. But if you're looking for industry connections and opportunities, save your money and look elsewhere (unless they revamp the program sometime in the next few years). The best part of the first year of the program, in my opinion, happened to be the two courses we took with adjunct professors who had real-life experience working in writers rooms. They were able to provide excellent feedback and guidance while we were working on our one-hour spec and half-hour original comedy pilots, and I feel that I can take those samples away and actually put them to use.

When I joined this program, I'd already studied screenwriting as an undergrad a bit, and worked some in the industry. I'd written a few episodes for an Emmy-nominated show and sold three concepts to a streaming network as well. I got a tip from a working writer that CSUN's film dept. had just gotten some kind of $8m influx via donations or something, but that wasn't evident in any part of the program, which was fine. That said, I was really hoping that the CSUN program would provide the networking opportunities and the chances to collaborate with other talented student directors, actors, producers, etc.--and it did not.
Reviewer
Current Student
Alumni
1.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
3.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Professors
1.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Pros
  • Cheaper than some other big name film school with a good scholarship
  • Good access to equipment
  • Town is cheap to live
Cons
  • Horrible, uneducated and inexperienced faculty
  • Poorly managed equipment
  • Way too many student not from a film background
  • Poorly designed course, duplicated from undergraduate
  • Very limited talent resource
  • Bad reputation
The school is a complete honeypot, department head Donald.W Moffett has limited film production experience and has not idea how to properly guide the department. Chaos course design. Mediocre student body, most graduate student don’t have any film background experience and knowledge.
Faculties are mainly leftover from the industry who hardly been on any professional productions. Stay away, don’t wast you money and dream.
Reviewer
Alumni
  • Wow
Reactions: nwyrkrj
Alumni
4.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
2.00 star(s)
Equipment
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.00 star(s)
Professors
4.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
Pros
  • Well respected in the industry (Film, Media, Journalism)
  • Nice renovations to campus
  • Great classes that challenges you to think critically
  • In the heart of Boston, so very urban campus if that's what you like
Cons
  • Very elitist student body
  • Not diverse in ethnicity or class
  • A bubble, everyone operates in an Emerson vacuum and is very arrogant (cliche arts school)
  • Lack of diverse professors, therefore if you're a student of color you will be less likely to have your work critiqued by someone who looks like you and has lived your experiences
  • Can't use film equipment unless in the film production. In tours they'll show you the equipment but unless you're directly enrolled you're not allowed to access it
  • Not a very strong alumni base (they're everywhere, but not willing to help as everyone sees each other as competition)
  • Everything is a competition. So all the clubs you need to try out, audition, submit a resume to join any group on campus which leads to popularity contest
Emerson opened a lot of doors for me, so I can't dismiss that fact. However, I don't think it was necessary for me to go to Emerson as opposed to another top university for communications (UVA, Boston U, NYU).
Reviewer
Alumni
  • Like
Reactions: Chris W
Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
5.00 star(s)
Pros
  • World class faculty and assignments
  • Awesome curriculum
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Very limited time to do everything they ask
Currently in my third year of my MFA at NYU Tisch Grad Film (writing/directing).

I cannot praise this program enough! It exceeded any expectation I had going in, and now I spend most my time trying to make the most of the time I have left until graduation.

NOTE: The tuition range mentioned in this thread is very off. The yearly tuition cost is around $60 K, and with the housing/living costs it's closer to $100 K per year. However, there are lots of scholarships available, both for merit and need.

Most of the faculty split their time between teaching and working in the industry, and some of them have become contacts for life. The curriculum is extremely well put together and I've learned more than I thought was possible within the two years I've been there.

That said -- it's an extremely tough program. People who have done either med school of the millitary say NYU Tisch is harder. Most people in my class agree that film school is some of the hardest things they've ever had to do.

Why? Because it's physically impossible to do all the work they ask with only 24 hours in the day, and every hour of the day forces you to neglect your primary needs -- such as rest, food and hygiene. In return, we get to do what we love ALL THE TIME! AND IT'S THE BEST THING!

The first year is especially hard because there are literally no weekends off; no spring break, no fall break and we have a project over the winter break. We make three films in the first year, on top of homework and 24 hours a week in class + the living in NYC is anything but convenient, so even small things take more time than in other cities.

However, it's the most fun place I can imagine being right now, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world. The class sizes are so small that you become a close-knit family right away.

The equipment and tech support is top notch.
The faculty offers daily revelations that will help you see filmmaking differently.
Every week is a week of growth.
The projects are surprisingly high level for filn school
Well-rounded classes on everything from the technical aspects to the emotional sides of filmmaking -- they cover it all.

I'd give the MFA program at Tisch 5/5 stars -- and more if I could.
Reviewer
Current Student
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  • Like
Reactions: nwyrkrj and Chris W
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nwyrkrj
What other schools did you consider and/or were accepted to?
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