CSUN Screenwriting MFA

Cdemon

Active Member
So apparently they only accept 14 students a year? And I heard there was 78 applicants this year so that’s a 18% acceptance rate. Wow didn’t think it was that hard to get in
How do you know how many ppl applied?
 

alanray

Active Member
Wow all four of us that applied here all got in as apart of the 14 total. That's impressive guys!

How do you know how many ppl applied?
My friend that works there told me 78 applied!
 

Cdemon

Active Member
With a week to decide, I’m curious people’s thoughts?
I’m gonna try to get to your CSUN ASAP, but idk if I’ll make it before 26th.
 

alanray

Active Member
With a week to decide, I’m curious people’s thoughts?
I’m gonna try to get to your CSUN ASAP, but idk if I’ll make it before 26th.
I know one week is so soon... I thought they weren't supposed to notify us till April, seems like they got it done early this year. Yeah there's no way in hell I'll get to tour CSUN before the 26th lol. I'm not gonna flat out say no to CSUN just yet- I'm not going to reject them right now or anything. I'll think about it a bit more. But I am still leaning towards Chapman at the moment 😅
 

alanray

Active Member

Cdemon

Active Member
Honestly I don’t feel like I have enough info. So I’m gonna try and ask a lot of questions and go see the schools. I’m out of town this week, so that makes it harder but I can at least ask my questions. :) I wanna know things like internship opportunities for both places I got in, alumni network, career services after graduating, fellowships allowed while there or no, any chance to produce work with the undergrads at CSUN, all that good stuff. :)
 

alanray

Active Member
Honestly I don’t feel like I have enough info. So I’m gonna try and ask a lot of questions and go see the schools. I’m out of town this week, so that makes it harder but I can at least ask my questions. :) I wanna know things like internship opportunities for both places I got in, alumni network, career services after graduating, fellowships allowed while there or no, any chance to produce work with the undergrads at CSUN, all that good stuff. :)
Ahhhh that’s smart! :)
 

Cdemon

Active Member
Did any of you get the CSUN welcome packet? I’m curious to look through it if you wouldn’t mind sharing. 😬
 

alanray

Active Member
Did any of you get the CSUN welcome packet? I’m curious to look through it if you wouldn’t mind sharing. 😬
You mean the packet that comes in the acceptance email?
 

biacelani

Member
Did any of you get the CSUN welcome packet? I’m curious to look through it if you wouldn’t mind sharing. 😬
I just got a scholarship application form and my acceptance letter (which includes stuff like what classes you'll be taking in the first semester and some financial info). It's only 3 pages long so I'm assuming it's not the welcome packet.
 

Gigawatt

New Member
Late to the party, but excited to share that I'll be going to CSUN this fall as well! Excited to meet everyone else who accepted their offer.

I won't be able to make orientation but will see everyone on the first day of class!

And look forward to reporting back, on my experience. And will ask about internship opportunities. Something I'm also curious about.
 

hrhblakeknight

New Member
I have an odd question I’m hesitant to ask but haven’t found any info on. Do either of you, @micjagguar @Chris W , know anything about CSUN’s Screenwriting MFA- particularly if they have decent internship opportunities, how they teachers and workshops are and if you’ve ever heard anything “in the biz” positive or negative?
There’s a real gap where any of this info would be, at least from what I’ve found.

I’ve read the few threads on here about it and they don’t generally talk about CSUN much. They usually focus on whatever school CSUN is being compared to.
Hello! I see many of you have gotten in to this program by the time I'm posting this, so best of luck to you all. But I wanted to give my input because I was accepted to the CSUN MFA program in 2018 and took part in it for a full year; however, I recently decided not to go back and complete the program's second and final year... for a number of reasons.

1) LACK OF NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES. This was my main peeve with the program. Networking opportunities were non-existent, unfortunately. I asked a few of the professors and the head of the program about this aspect of the MFA many times - as it is crucial to a career in screenwriting - and I was never given a solid answer. I happen to know a few people/execs in the industry as well, who asked me to reach out to CSUN on their behalf because they had internship/job opportunities that they wanted to share with the school. When I gave them the dept. head's contact info, two of them told me they reached out to him and never received a response whatsoever. I followed up with the dept. head and he simply said, "Oh, yes, I do remember seeing that name... Please have them email me again." But by that time, the opportunities were long gone. This is key because not only are you required to find an internship and take an internship course during your last semester of the MFA, but it's also a very important part of the job and working in Hollywood. I know the UCLA and USC have amazing opportunities in this regard; but, alas, I applied to each of those schools and couldn't get in.

2) STRICTLY PEDAGOGIC. The program is much more tailored to those who want to teach screenwriting at the college level than it does for those who actually want to be screenwriters. I say this not only because of my previous reason - lack of networking - but also because I spoke to one of the profs who's been there since the inception of the program who told me as much outright. Additionally, there was a lot of repetition in many of the lessons we learned.

3) VERY STRUCTURE-BASED COURSEWORK. I'm all for studying structure and form, but I also think that people entering a screenwriting Master's program should have a fairly good handle on that before joining. One of the professors who taught two of our courses over the first year taught his very-specific, step-by-step breakdown of how to break a story using his unique concept. It was very specific and odd, and we spent a LOT of time focusing on only his method, when there are dozens out there, many of which have proven to be great! I actually really liked this prof on a personal level, but I do not like that 2 of the 7 course I paid for dealt entirely with his methods and didn't allow for exploration of the many other forms.

4) LOOSE SYLLABI. Unfortunately, about 2 of the 7 courses that were taught didn't have syllabi at all, or really seem to have much of a purpose. In our teaching for screenwriting course, there were 14 of us. Basically, two of us came in each class and gave a lesson each week, and the prof provided very minimal feedback at the end of each lesson. It was like we weren't being taught anything at all. The lessons were all lead by other students in my peer group, and while some of them were great, I didn't expect to have to pay for and take valuable time (driving and attending) out of my nights to listen to other students speculate on what the best way to do _____ might be.

TAKE AWAY: If you don't know anything about screenwriting at all at this point in your life, OR if you're set on teaching screenwriting someday, this might be a good program for you. But if you're looking for industry connections and opportunities, save your money and look elsewhere (unless they revamp the program sometime in the next few years). The best part of the first year of the program, in my opinion, happened to be the two courses we took with adjunct professors who had real-life experience working in writers rooms. They were able to provide excellent feedback and guidance while we were working on our one-hour spec and half-hour original comedy pilots, and I feel that I can take those samples away and actually put them to use.

When I joined this program, I'd already studied screenwriting as an undergrad a bit, and worked some in the industry. I'd written a few episodes for an Emmy-nominated show and sold three concepts to a streaming network as well. I got a tip from a working writer that CSUN's film dept. had just gotten some kind of $8m influx via donations or something, but that wasn't evident in any part of the program, which was fine. That said, I was really hoping that the CSUN program would provide the networking opportunities and the chances to collaborate with other talented student directors, actors, producers, etc.--and it did not.
 

alanray

Active Member
Hello! I see many of you have gotten in to this program by the time I'm posting this, so best of luck to you all. But I wanted to give my input because I was accepted to the CSUN MFA program in 2018 and took part in it for a full year; however, I recently decided not to go back and complete the program's second and final year... for a number of reasons.

1) LACK OF NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES. This was my main peeve with the program. Networking opportunities were non-existent, unfortunately. I asked a few of the professors and the head of the program about this aspect of the MFA many times - as it is crucial to a career in screenwriting - and I was never given a solid answer. I happen to know a few people/execs in the industry as well, who asked me to reach out to CSUN on their behalf because they had internship/job opportunities that they wanted to share with the school. When I gave them the dept. head's contact info, two of them told me they reached out to him and never received a response whatsoever. I followed up with the dept. head and he simply said, "Oh, yes, I do remember seeing that name... Please have them email me again." But by that time, the opportunities were long gone. This is key because not only are you required to find an internship and take an internship course during your last semester of the MFA, but it's also a very important part of the job and working in Hollywood. I know the UCLA and USC have amazing opportunities in this regard; but, alas, I applied to each of those schools and couldn't get in.

2) STRICTLY PEDAGOGIC. The program is much more tailored to those who want to teach screenwriting at the college level than it does for those who actually want to be screenwriters. I say this not only because of my previous reason - lack of networking - but also because I spoke to one of the profs who's been there since the inception of the program who told me as much outright. Additionally, there was a lot of repetition in many of the lessons we learned.

3) VERY STRUCTURE-BASED COURSEWORK. I'm all for studying structure and form, but I also think that people entering a screenwriting Master's program should have a fairly good handle on that before joining. One of the professors who taught two of our courses over the first year taught his very-specific, step-by-step breakdown of how to break a story using his unique concept. It was very specific and odd, and we spent a LOT of time focusing on only his method, when there are dozens out there, many of which have proven to be great! I actually really liked this prof on a personal level, but I do not like that 2 of the 7 course I paid for dealt entirely with his methods and didn't allow for exploration of the many other forms.

4) LOOSE SYLLABI. Unfortunately, about 2 of the 7 courses that were taught didn't have syllabi at all, or really seem to have much of a purpose. In our teaching for screenwriting course, there were 14 of us. Basically, two of us came in each class and gave a lesson each week, and the prof provided very minimal feedback at the end of each lesson. It was like we weren't being taught anything at all. The lessons were all lead by other students in my peer group, and while some of them were great, I didn't expect to have to pay for and take valuable time (driving and attending) out of my nights to listen to other students speculate on what the best way to do _____ might be.

TAKE AWAY: If you don't know anything about screenwriting at all at this point in your life, OR if you're set on teaching screenwriting someday, this might be a good program for you. But if you're looking for industry connections and opportunities, save your money and look elsewhere (unless they revamp the program sometime in the next few years). The best part of the first year of the program, in my opinion, happened to be the two courses we took with adjunct professors who had real-life experience working in writers rooms. They were able to provide excellent feedback and guidance while we were working on our one-hour spec and half-hour original comedy pilots, and I feel that I can take those samples away and actually put them to use.

When I joined this program, I'd already studied screenwriting as an undergrad a bit, and worked some in the industry. I'd written a few episodes for an Emmy-nominated show and sold three concepts to a streaming network as well. I got a tip from a working writer that CSUN's film dept. had just gotten some kind of $8m influx via donations or something, but that wasn't evident in any part of the program, which was fine. That said, I was really hoping that the CSUN program would provide the networking opportunities and the chances to collaborate with other talented student directors, actors, producers, etc.--and it did not.
Really insightful and useful input! Thanks for the well-articulated review. I wish all the CSUN students luck, hopefully it is able to benefit them more :) I heard the program is making changes, hopefully it continues to improve! I'm literally just curious, what made you decide to go back to grad school after writing tv episodes and having already sold three concepts? It sounds like you were already pretty successful and well connected (at least to my plebeian ears). I'm not in the industry yet so I was just wondering about the current landscape from someone who's already been involved in the industry.
 

hrhblakeknight

New Member
Really insightful and useful input! Thanks for the well-articulated review. I wish all the CSUN students luck, hopefully it is able to benefit them more :) I heard the program is making changes, hopefully it continues to improve! I'm literally just curious, what made you decide to go back to grad school after writing tv episodes and having already sold three concepts? It sounds like you were already pretty successful and well connected (at least to my plebeian ears). I'm not in the industry yet so I was just wondering about the current landscape from someone who's already been involved in the industry.
The main reason I applied to grad schools in the first place was for the networking. While I have had some writing success and currently have about 36 episodes of 4 different shows being produced or in pre- or post-production, all of the work I've done so far has been for non-union projects. That's all good and well, and I'm thankful for those opportunities, but I'm trying to make the leap into the big leagues now (and I want to make that real $$$!). CSUN didn't see to have an alumni network set up whatsoever for people working in entertainment, which is a huge mistake given their undergrad/grad degree tracts and their proximity to Hollywood and all the studios. A handful of people in my cohort tried to set up a monthly meeting to get something like this going, but we didn't have access to all of the alumni and it ended up being people from our MFA meeting up and chatting. I almost feel like I could've saved a ton of money and joined a handful of rigorous, independent writer's workshops in the city, or taken classes with consultants like Jen Grisanti, to get the same results. However, as I mentioned, if you want to TEACH writing, I think the CSUN MFA would be a good choice.
 

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