Northwestern MFA Writing for the Screen and Stage Reviews & Admissions Statistics

4.00 star(s) 4 Stars (1 Reviews)
Our two-year MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage is founded upon these five principles, principles that have also guided Northwestern's highly
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Degrees Offered
  1. 2 Year MFA
  1. Screenwriting
Tuition Range

Film School details

Application Fee
GRE Required?
  1. No
Portfolio Required?
  1. Yes
Notification of Decision
"Starting Fall of 2022, all new MFA students in the MFA in Writing for the Screen+Stage program will receive full scholarships for both years, including full tuition and living stipend."

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  • Intimate program
  • Financial assistance - Grants & Scholarships
  • Diversity of writing mediums
  • Emphasis on the auteur
  • Chicago is at your disposal and Evanston is gorgeous
  • Affordable off-campus housing
  • Required Internship
  • Public transit is readily available to you!
  • Decent alumni connections
  • Encouragement to self-produce
  • Not as many connections to TV and Film in Chicago
  • Facilities probably pale in comparison to other schools
  • Not much access to others who are specialized in production
  • Not much direct career assistance
  • You have to figure out production yourself
It's so unfortunate that this program hasn't gotten as much attention compared to other MFA writing programs--which is why I felt so compelled to write this review.

Let's talk location. Chicago is a fantastic city and is completely underrated in the face of NYC and LA. Might I add that I lived here for four years of undergrad, and now live back in my hometown of LA (so a girl knows what she's talking about). It's incredibly affordable, since finding a neighborhood that suits your price point is so easy. Northwestern is along the subway line so your commute is just a hop and skip away. Chicago, in general, is incredibly accessible, so kiss your car and insurance goodbye, because she ain't necessary.

Northwestern's campus is beautiful and pristine and sits in cozy little Evanston. The campus sits lakefront so if you get landlocked, you'll find it a-okay. It's nice, the end.

So the program itself, is strong, considering it's about 10 years old. Considering that timeframe, there aren't a ton of notable alumni from this program, although, many are quoted to be working for theaters, TV, and film companies across the nation. However, the general alumni network is substantial especially in terms of comedy and playwriting. Something that makes me hesitate is the lack of TV and film presence in Chicago. As someone who wants to be a feature writer, it's concerning. However, there is a lot of weight in knowing how to write plays, tv, and film as a writer. A lot of the faculty themselves exercise their various writing abilities. A look at the core faculty shows that all are playwrights, but one also writes for TV and the other writes for/works on films. And this is just the core faculty. Because Northwestern, like NYU, utilizes a multi-medium approach; it gives you more power and breadth as the auteur. I think this is a serious consideration when making decisions about film schools: Do you want to be an exceptionally specialized writer in the Hollywood assembly line or do you want the freedom of being a multifaceted independent artist? Both have their pros and cons, so feel out what draws you as a writer.

They expect volition on your part when it comes to producing your own work which I find valuable. Everyone is required to take a production course, sure, that's standard for writers. However, they offer you a $5,000 grant to produce one of your pieces, but it's optional and not required to graduate. It's on YOU to get that together, too, because there aren't other MFA programs in film and/or production at Northwestern. Finding actors shouldn't be an issue though, but editors, producers, directors (if not yourself) requires a bit of networking on your end.

Speaking of money that Northwestern throws at you, they offer every accepted student some nice grants and scholarships. Having an intimate program with only 12 people allows you more opportunities to get funding! All students will receive a $6,000 scholarship their first year (spread over 3 quarters). Your second year, everyone is assigned as a TA for a quarter, receiving a full tuition subsidy for that quarter and a $5,000 spending stipend. I'm sure with a bit more digging, there are plenty more opportunities for scholarships, but these are the ones they quote as a surefire aspect of your acceptance. Everyone is also required to do an internship at some point, and they make sure of that with there being only 12 students. So, if you're sad that you're not in NYC or LA, that's your chance to experience more of the world while gaining experience in whatever area you choose!

I think that Northwestern's Writing for Screen and Stage MFA program has so much to offer! I hope that this helps any potential candidates in the future. I'd love to answer any questions anyone has about Chicago life and so forth.
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5 members found this helpful.
Thanks for posting this! I recently interviewed at Northwestern, and I also went to undergrad in Chicago, so this is good insight in case they accept me!

I am concerned about the lack of film opportunities compared to LA, and that their faculty consists mostly of playwrights, because I want to be a TV writer. I do like the flexibility of mastering different mediums but I wonder if this inhibits students' ability to specialize, like you said. Lots to think about!
I’m thinking about applying here.

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