Latest reviews

Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 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
  • The instructors are as awesome as the price
  • If you hold a full-time job, this MFA is totally do-able with core classes held in the late afternoon / evening. You can also attend part-time
  • All instructors and guest speakers are working pros, and tiny classes, you get copious f2f time.
  • Campus is a super easy commute in Manhattan (not Long Island) near Penn Station / Times Square
I just completed my first year and cannot recommend this program more highly-- my TV writing (and writing in general) has improved by leaps and bounds. I'm still grateful to be among the chosen to get in and be among classmates who are all highly talented, motivated and supportive of each other (even when our debates about the merits of shows get lively and geeky).

The spirit at SBU is energizing, rigorous and very-fast paced, just like the TV industry itself. Know that you will work very hard in this program, but that vigor produces results. Have an open mind to new approaches to writing and breaking stories. Even if you've written teleplays or screenplays before coming here (as I have), the knowledge and methods that are enforced here will elevate what you think you know about storytelling and story structure. Need proof? Though this program is brand new, classmates are already winning teleplay competitions-- we're talkin' grand prize, finalists and semi-finalists.

If you're unsure of what your "distinctive voice" is, you will discover it here with the number of scripts you write, read and critique. I'm already confident that I'll graduate with a strong portfolio of work.

There's a lot of care that goes into curating the required TV guest speaker series (and if you take any elective in the film program, sign up for the Master Class with Christine Vachon and Simone Perro!). Between their shows' shoots and productions, show-runners and working writers generously share their writers room experiences, best practices and advice.

This school is invested in your success. If you love to write and love TV stories, you will love this MFA program.
Reviewer
Current Student
Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Pros
  • Dedicated professors
  • High Standards
  • Great price point
  • Interesting electives
Currently a student wrapping up the 4th semester. My writing has come a LONG way. Every semester builds on itself and you aren't the writer you were a few months ago if you keep up which everyone does because it's very much catered to class dynamics while also making sure that rigorous standards are being met. It's a wonderful combination of both.

I've been blown away by the teachers - all of them work in the industry and brought their own magic sauces to classes. I have learned from each and everyone of them and forged personal connections organically. I went from wanting to begin writing a pilot to being on my third in a short two years. I owe this to the systemic structure of the program that supports your artistic visions and holds them to an industry standard.

A plus is that Directing/Filmmaking grad students are on the same floor as you and there are some crossover in the classes you can take with them. I've taken really interesting electives that have been adjacent to tv writing as it's film related but from a different vector of analysis which was refreshing. I met people outside of my tv writing classes and those different friendships have also elevated the entire MFA experience for me. Overall there is a vibe of inclusivity and supportive creativity. A+
Reviewer
Current Student
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
  • Outstanding Professors
  • Remarkable Education
Brilliant professors currently working in the industry on shows you watch/have watched teach the majority of the classes and because it’s a state school, as students we only pay state school tuition (Sub 15k/year!!!). I have friends that went to the Ivys that are jealous because not only is Stony Brook cheaper (and has some of the same professors), they also have an MFA completely dedicated to TV writing. If you want to be a TV writer there is no other choice. This is the best program and it happens to be the best price (by over 100k!!!). It’s also a new program so not many people know of it yet making it a great time to tap into it; within the industry it’s making noise.
The teachers love it because they don’t have to conform to the stale teaching methods and bureaucracy of the expensive schools; instead they get to teach students who are 100% dedicated to TV writing the most modern theories and techniques in practice today. Students love it because they learn how to write from people who are currently writing in the tv industry. It’s an incredibly exciting atmosphere for all, along with heartfelt support that all the writers have for each other, which can only come from a program this size and this focused.
Reviewer
Current Student
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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
  • Amazing faculty. Very affordable.
  • Red cameras and state of the art equipment.
  • Industry connected.
Now in its second year, this program has a deep focus on TV Writing. You write one spec, three pilots, work in a room with a showrunner, develop a mini series, work with actors, write and direct a webisode. Small classes and lots of one-on-one advisement.
Reviewer
Current Student
  • 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
3.00 star(s)
Pros
  • faculty faculty faculty
  • course flexibility
  • incredible TV alumni network
  • talented and motivated peers
  • industry internship accessibility
  • student diversity
Cons
  • not totally a con, but self care is important while in any intensive program
  • scholarship opportunities exist, but expect to have student loans
I completed USC's MFA screenwriting program in 2018. I'm beyond happy with the education and mentorship I received. Within two months of graduating, I landed my first industry job as a showrunner's assistant on a Netflix drama series. Most of my peers (a total of 32 in my year) are currently employed – a handful in development, a few with features or TV pilots optioned, multiple TV staff writers (yes: multiple, right out of the gate), and a good number of assistants in TV writers' rooms (for shows on Netflix, the CW, CBS, ABC, and more). This follows in the footsteps of the year above mine.

These friendships are what I value most from my time at USC – we're reading scripts and giving notes in writers' groups, we're meeting up frequently for drinks and events, and we're landing each other interviews, connections, and jobs. Working in LA is never easy, but goals feel so much more attainable when surrounded by talented people striving for the same thing. Having intelligent friends who are eager to vouch on your behalf is a further reassurance.

The classes themselves were challenging and rewarding. I pursued a TV thesis track, but I'd say my classmates were split nearly 50-50 between TV thesis and feature thesis. We were forced to write many pages very quickly, and doing so was a crash course on how to generate content and develop a routine. USC allows for some course flexibility – I took a few production classes and was accepted into a size-capped mock writers' room class. The class developed and wrote a four-episode web series, which was produced, filmed, and edited by a companion production department course. We were able to build a large set on one of USC's sound stages, too, so we obtained solid set experience.

Peers of mine took courses on gaming, podcasts, idea pitching, editing, film analysis, directing comedy, interactive media... choral music... so while many courses in the track are solidified for you (for good reason), there is ample room to still forge your own path through the program. The curriculum also includes a business class your second year (covers management, agencies, entertainment lawyers, contracts, IP, fellowship applications...). Frequent lectures by successful screenwriters and producers were also helpful, most of which were only available for MFA screenwriters to attend (i.e., plenty of face time to ask questions and pick brains). Professors also invited working writer-friends to visit classes throughout each semester (and, while at public events asking for contact info is a HUGE no-no, these individuals often wanted to pass along their email addresses to connect further).

While some drawbacks to the program can include cost (there are great scholarship opportunities, but many students ended up without significant aid... the up-side is that the program's only two years), I would choose this program again in a heartbeat. As with any program, your enjoyment of any given class is dependent on other students and on whether you vibe with a professor. Professor diversity is also important to me, so I was personally happy to have an LGBT-identifying professor my first semester. Strides have been taken in recent years to increase diversity among professors even further, I believe. My classmates were an incredibly diverse group, too, which was one of the program's highlights for me.

Final note: the amount of MFA alumni who are working in TV is actually insane. The TV program at USC is pretty innovative (spec courses, pilot courses, pilot re-write courses, structure courses), and everyone in my class who graduated in pursuit of a TV writing career felt very prepared. The program also gave us face-to-face access to successful alumni or other mentors through various end-of-program events (some of which aren't even publicized on USC's website).

I would say my fingers hurt after writing such a lengthy review, but THEY DON'T. Thanks, USC, for preparing me for this moment.
Reviewer
Alumni
Last edited:
Septopus7
Septopus7
This review is so good, it's making me seriously jealous I likely won't attend! Thanks for being so through with your post, though!
panda
panda
Thank you! Working in TV is grad school 2.0 for me. Just always keep up the pursuit.
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