Help me decide! NYU or USC for sitcom writer (Columbia pending)

Matt Ramphele

New Member
Hey Kids, so I'm a South African screenwriter (specialising in sitcom) and I have no idea what to pick! I have received a fellowship from NYU (full tuition) and I've received the George Lucas Scholarship from USC ($25 000 out of $60 000) and, as an international student, I only have six months after my degree to establish myself before I am booted out of the US. Also my country's economy is borderline junk status (1$ = R16). Also. Columbia. That's a thing. #dreamschool ... Heellllppppp Meeeeeeee!!!!

Please and thank you
I would say no film school is worth the debt if you can avoid it. I'd go with NYU all the way, unless the cost of living in NYC would outweigh the USD$ 35,000 you'd have to shell out for USC.

Also, as an international student in the US, it's worth pointing out you'll have 12 months after graduating to try to get work and a work visa. You'll just have to request the OPT (Optional Practical Training).

Point Break

I agree with @danieldrummond. Most of that additional 35,000 (at USC) is housing/cost of living expenses. If your full ride at NYU covers the insane NYC housing prices and cost of living, then I would seriously consider the cost factor in your decision on which SCHOOL to choose.

However, becoming a TV SITCOM writer is a goal you may want to consider by taking the financial aspect off the table for a moment (especially since international students have additional visa stakes to worry about) - btw, I made my decision to accept the massive debt on top of my current debt based on the opportunity.

The TV industry is in LA, so the opportunities to network, intern, and take meetings are way more convenient - as you already know. Both schools are prestigious, but you may save time by developing your network in LA and pursuing jobs and assistant gigs during your MFA program. No one says you must finish the program to become a professional writer. There have been some who have left the 2-yr MFA when the "right" opportunity (money upfront) came along, and the founder of USC's MFA program told me last week that these students were always the proactive ones who started the program with a lot of momentum towards their careers.

A fellow USC MFA candidate this year is Colombian, so he's making every effort to get representation and expedite the job hunt in order to get his visa. This isn't to say that you can't do comedy in New York. SNL and HBO are out there, so if you want to do sketch or indie comedy-dramas, you could definitely find success and gain attention from producers and representation. But traditional, multi-cam, network gigs tend to reside in LA.

I say this as someone who also favored Columbia University and New York before the film school gods doled out my fate. The opportunities and location associated with USC ended up superseding initial costs and opened up the possibility of TV, when I was traditionally focused on feature. Hopefully this helps give you perspective. Either way, you're in a good position to choose and it seems like your work is respected already. Good luck with your decision!
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For TV I would always say USC and LA. In fact I would almost always say USC and LA for the networking possibilities and connections, unless you're reeeeally into indies. This is despite me liking NYC lifestyle more. I just think LA is the place, specially for television.

At the same time, money is a factor. Living in NYC tends to be more expensive, so if NYU is only covering tuition, I would factor that in and see how much of a difference there is really when you add all the cost of attending each school and living in each city.

Personally speaking, I feel like USC is the superior school in this case (and in most cases). Even if I love Columbia's approach/program. (NYU, is not a saint of my devotion, tbh.)

Just my two cents ;)
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@Matt Ramphele I vote full ride. But it all depends on your goal: go back to SA and continue climbing or make a name for yourself on international scene. Either way, full ride is always the key element for me, unless money isn't an issue for you.

Edit: @the end of the day, your heart has probably already decided though, so I'd suggest something that may sound silly but never fails: just listen to it!



Thanks so much guys, I think LA will be the smart move for me... USC, Ahoyyyy! If anyone else is going, dm me.... I need friends. hahaha
Welcome to USC. :) You should join our graduate student Facebook group and introduce yourself. You should've received a link to join a few weeks back.

Paul J.

Active Member
Do you know if it is a private group? Have not joined myself due to still being in the process of breaking the news to friends and family. Would not want people to see me joining the group on FB :D


It's a closed group! Not quite sure what the difference is, there are so many types of groups. :confused:
I been to both NYU and USC. I am currently at USC and can give you more specific feedback about both programs. They are very different but both great depending on whats best for you.

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