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Best Well-Rounded Film MFA Program for Directing and Screenwriting?


Hi everyone! First off, I'm going to apologize in advance if the following questions seem foolish to ask or easy to answer on my own, but they are questions I have been really struggling with and would appreciate any insight!

I am currently working on applying for my film MFA, and I was wondering about the best programs for someone interested in Directing and Screenwriting? My career goals are both to direct generally and write/direct for television (possibly writing/directing for films as well). In light of that, I have been looking for MFA programs that are well-rounded. I have been prioritizing Directing programs as of now because I figure I can take Screenwriting courses as well, but in Screenwriting programs I can't really take Directing classes. To add more context I guess, my ideal career path is writing for a tv show after graduation, and then eventually running/directing a show for HBO (grandiose dreams I know). Examples of the types of things I would love to be involved in are tv-wise Euphoria, Game of Thrones, and the 100 and film wise things like Lord of the Rings, Inception, and 1917. I basically want to both create/tell stories in the forms of shows and films but also write/direct my creations as well (even if these are huge dreams). Currently the programs I'm looking at are as follows:

1. USC Film and Television Production
2. AFI Directing
3. Chapman Film Production, Emphasis in Directing
4. LMU Film and Television Production
5. NYU Film Production
6. Columbia Screenwriting/Directing

I am newly considering trying to complete the following Screenwriting applications as well.

1. USC Writing for Film and Television
2. AFI Screenwriting
3. A secondary considering for Chapman Screenwriting since only allowed one application
4. NYU Dramatic Writing
(LMU doesn't allow more than 1 application)

Basically my question is are these extra applications necessary? Can I get a well-rounded education from the first programs listed? Is my ideal career path viable with degrees from the first list? I want to make sure that I'm not ruining any chances of writing for/working on tv shows by getting a Directing degree (if I get accepted).

Thank you in advance for any help!

Patrick Clement

Active Member
Hey! That's quite a list! My 2cents? AFI is a conservatory model. If you are a directing concentrate you don't do a lot of writing from what I understand.
I went to Columbia and basically all of the screenwriting and directing students take the same classes in the first year and only during the second year do they split into Writers or directors. And that split only determines advisor and thesis requirements. All of the writer can direct a thesis and all of the directors can write and submit a script. None of the film MFAs do it this way. It's unique to Columbia.

They've made some recent changes but as far as I know, Columbia is the only place that allows both screenwriters and directors share courses. Maybe someone from another program can chime in.

If you want to work in TV, you should probably be in a program that focuses on TV writing.

Anyway, happy to answer any questions about Columbia.
Good luck!


Hi, I am a current MFA student at LMU in the Production program. It is a wonderful combo of directing/writing because production students write their own scripts for each film they make in school (three films total). You have the freedom to take additional screenwriting classes as electives as well. Highly recommend LMU!
Hello, I’m a current 1st year in the NYU Dramatic Writing program! As you can denote from the name, it’s a writing intensive program. You are a writer first and foremost coming into this program. However, the beautiful thing about it is that you are required to train in all mediums of screen and stage writing: playwrighting, screenwriting, and TV writing. Everyone comes in with a certain background and you all come out of it with a greater breadth of these shared mediums. There are electives that you take that can be outside of the department (it’s recommended to expand). So it’s still possible to take a couple of film production classes and expand your network. A lot of my cohorts have dreams that go beyond writing (me as well), so don’t knock writing programs off your list.

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