Western State Colorado University (WSCU)

Degrees Offered
4 Year B.A., 2 Year M.F.A., Summer Programs, 1 Year M.A.
Public Relations and Advertising, Writing for Screen & Television, Screenwriting, Film Studies
Tuition Range
$10k to $20k

Film School details

Application Deadline
Preferred June 1, but has rolling admissions year round.
Western State Colorado University’s low-residency program offers both the MA and MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting (they also offer tracks in Genre Fiction and Poetry and a Certificate in Publishing). Screenwriting students study both film and TV writing, as well as gain guidance from Hollywood professionals on how to enter into the business. The Graduate Program includes courses in genres, adaptation, feature film, creating an original television series, writing a spec script for an existing TV show, and a thesis course where students develop an original project under one-on-one guidance with a mentor.

The key point of WSCU's program is that all faculty in the graduate studies program are professionals living and working in Los Angeles who have extensive careers in the film industry. The degree program is designed as a two-year low-residency degree program that involves 3 summer sessions in-person at WSCU's campus in Gunnison, Colorado. The summer sessions are two-week intensives culminating in a writer's conference where guest speakers from all the graduate program's industries come to speak. Past speakers have included: J.D. Payne (Star Trek: Beyond, an untitled Star Trek sequel, Flash Gordon remake), Joel Thompson (House, Falling Skies, Battlestar Galactica), Charlie Craig (The 100, Pretty Little Liars, Eureka) and several other prominent Hollywood writers and filmmakers.

During the summer, they also offer an intensive two-week summer Screenwriting Bootcamp for those who want to do the work but don’t want to pursue a degree. During the Bootcamp, all students will have the opportunity to attend the Writing the Rockies conference and interact with our professors, graduate students, and guest speakers.
School URL
GRE Required?
Portfolio Required?
Minimum GPA
B- or above in at least four (4) undergraduate or graduate courses in literary and/or film studies
SAT Required?
Letters of Reference Required
Portfolio Requirements
1) Personal Statement (800-1000 words), and
2) Writing Sample (20-30 pages)
Internship Opportunities
Yes (possible)

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  • Professors are professionals in the film industry living/working in LA.
  • Professors give great feedback and lots of one-on-one attention.
  • It's low-residency so you can do classes from anywhere.
  • The 2-week summer session in the Colorado Mountains.
  • Covers all the main screenwriting types: Film, TV, Adaptation, Genres, Spec Scripts.
  • Workshops and table reads.
  • A little expensive.
  • Heavy Classload -- If you can't write two scripts at the same time, you may struggle.
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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Film School information

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600 N. Adams Street Taylor Hall Gunnison, CO 81231

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