I graduated from WSCU's MFA program in 2015 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think not enough people know about the program, so I wanted to share some information about it. I chose the school because it was low-residency so I could keep working without having to move for classes, and because the screenwriting professors all were industry professionals working in Los Angeles. I got a dual MFA in both Fiction Writing and Screenwriting, so it really mattered to me that the people teaching have experience publishing and selling work as I didn't want to be a teacher like a lot of MFA Writing Programs guide you into being.
The other portion of the program that I thought was great for me was that each track of the MFA program has a course on the business side of things and how to get into the industry. Your thesis advisor and professors work with you to come up with your own plan of contests you should enter and managers/agents you should consider based on your writing style. They really mentor you to try and help you find your own path into the industry based on your goals.
During the summers you have a two-week on-campus intensive where you workshop new writing, have seminars on the industry, and attend a writer's conference with the option to see guest speakers from each of the industries in the MFA Program (screenwriting, fiction, poetry, publishing). It was a nice perk to have the in-person segment so we could meet the people we'd been talking to all year and you pretty much talk writing and film non-stop which is always awesome. Plus, two weeks in the mountains in Colorado was like a vacation every year and you have a few free days to explore.
The only downside I really had in the program was more toward the fiction side of my studies. I had some issues with my fiction thesis advisor, but she's no longer a professor at the school and that doesn't apply to the screenwriting program at all. I'm still in touch with both of my screenwriting professors on a regular basis.
The downside I've heard other screenwriting students talk about was that there's an out of concentration course you have to take in either fiction or poetry, but the majority took the fiction course and found it helped them with the adaptation class later. Since I had a double major anyway, it didn't bother me.
I would definitely recommend anyone who is interested in a screenwriting degree but isn't quite ready to move to LA or NYC where some of the major schools are to consider WSCU's program. Being able to do it low-residency let me keep my job and my expenses lower during the years I was in school, which let me save up for classes and so I could follow through on my plan to move to Los Angeles after I graduated.
The main downside to the program is the same with any sort of writing program really -- it's expensive and there's never a guarantee you're going to find a job in the industry you're studying. However, I felt like the program was worth the cost because it taught not just the writing but the business, and sort of prepped you the best it could for getting in the industry in some way. The Writing Conference and 2-week summer session always gave you an opportunity to network and practice pitching, and overall I just felt like I at least knew how to approach becoming a professional screenwriting by the time I was done, it was just up to me to pursue it.
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Western State Colorado University (WSCU)
Western State Colorado University’s low-residency program offers an MA or MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting. Students
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