Northwestern Screenwriting / Playwriting fall 2012


Hi Drufur. The application deadline was Dec. 31 2011 for the class starting in Sept. 2012. I would imagine that it would be the same this year. As far as info about the program, Silverlenz posted this in 2010 and it's quite comprehensive:

Originally posted by Silverlenz:
Hey guys I just returned home from my trip to Northwestern University and all I can say is wow guys. They really rolled out the red carpet for myself and another student who was also visiting before making their decision. While in Evanston I had the luxury of visiting with 5 (two of which are graduating in June) students, the Director and Associate director of the program, and touring their amazing facilities. Below you will find updated information about Northwestern's program. Please forgive the length of my post. My hope is that future and prospective Northwestern students can get a better understanding of what the program can offer them. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to comment or pm me.

Ӣ5,400 scholarship for all first year MFA students. This money is equally distributed over three quarters.

ӢFree medical insurance (That's correct I didn't stutter)- One of the graduate students told me about this. I was shocked and definitely surprised that they don't advertise this on their website. BTW, I confirmed this with the Director of the program and the program assistant and this is indeed true.

ӢTA ship- you are offered a TA position during your 2nd year at Northwestern University and while you TA you pay no tuition or fees (a 14 thousand dollar value). In addition to no tuition and fees you also receive a $ 5,000 stipend while you teach. I don't know about you guys but I think this is a pretty sweet deal; especially for those of you who have expressed interest in teaching.

Ӣ$5,000 production grant- during your 2nd year you have the option of using this grant money to produce one of your pieces (play, short, screenplay). Students who have co-written pieces with other MFA students have the ability to combine their monies together. But what if you have no plans of producing a play or screenplay? Well, there's another option for people in that category. Northwestern recently passed a new rule that allows you to borrow up to $2,500 of the $5,000 and use it towards any expenses incurred while doing an internship in New York or Los Angles. If you decide to do an internship in Chicago, you can use up to $1,000 dollars of your $5,000 towards an internship cost incurred. Not bad huh.

Financial Aide Package at a glance

5,400-guranteed scholarship for all first year students
1,300-medical expenses (insurance)
14,000-TA ship
5,000- stipend while TA ing
5,000- Production / Internship grant (Please refer to info above)
$30,700 over two years of study at Northwestern University <----(Don't know of any other programs that give as much)

Things I didn't know before my visit / Interesting facts about NU

ӢThis will be their fourth cohort.

ӢThere are only 12 students admitted each year.

ӢYou are only required to write one Play if you consider yourself a screenwriter. They realize that not everyone is into playwrights.

ӢYou are only required to write one screenplay if you are more into plays.

ӢThey require all MFA's to take at least one production course but this can be waived and substituted for another course (elective or theory) if you can show

ӢDuring my visit I talked to five students. Two of the five were 2nd year students graduating in June, while the others where first year students. For the most part the all agreed that it's best to live in Evanston because they felt that it added to the cohesiveness of the cohort. They mentioned that in previous years students lived throughout the greater Chicago area and that it made it hard for them to meet up and gel outside of class.

ӢThe oldest person that ever went through the program was 54 years old. She was award winning (Peabody) documentary filmmaker.

ӢStudents in the program have been successful and landing great internship/job opportunities:

Comedy Central School Me (Paid) Internship in New York City
Original Programming department at Showtime Networks (LA) Internship
Ugly Betty Internship
Office Internship
Sara Silverman Internship
Sundance Channel Development Internship
MTV Networks, Logo Channels Original programming Department
Chicago Raven Theater Internship
Promo Producer for TBS's Lopez Tonight
Summer Internship at TP&R Casting
Apprentice for Richard J. Lewis, Director of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation


ӢThe students spoke highly of the program, faculty, and the sense of community within the program. They also spoke in great detail about the generosity of Northwestern Alums. Most of the students belong to the Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance (NUEA). Two of the students I talked with were able to land internships in Los Angles and New York because of NU alums.

ӢThe program is two years in length and is comprised of three 10-week quarters each year. Students can take up to four courses a quarter, although only one student I talked to actually took four. The other four students recommended that you take only three courses a quarter. Between the first and second year you are required to take a mandatory internship. The school prefers that you do it in New York, Los Angles, or Chicago. During my interview with the director I inquired about the possibilities of doing internships in other locations and he informed me that one of the students this year was approved to do their internship in Kenya. So good news guys they are open to doing internships in other locations. Also, another cool thing is that unlike other schools, they don't require you to pay for the internship credit (i.e. You don't pay tuition while taking your internship).

ӢIf you look at the degree requirements for the MFA in Screen and Stage, you will notice that they require a couple of theory courses. Well I talked with both students and the director and they informed me that are willing to substitute other courses in place of theater, film, production, and performance theory courses. For example, one of the students took a graduate level history course and used the information learned from the class to write historical/ time period screenplay. So this may be an option for if you either hate theory courses or have had your fair share of them during undergrad.

ӢThe general consensus among the students was that the program is getting better each and every year. In addition they mentioned that they felt that the administration listened to them for the most part. For example, several students felt financially burden by the cost incurred via their internship in LA and New York and because of this students are now allowed to use up to half of their production grant to offset costs.

ӢChicago is the third largest city in the United States but it's relatively inexpensive when compared to Los Angles and New York. I found two bedroom apartments and condos for about $850 a month.

ӢAlthough it's highly unlikely students can petition and qualify for a 2nd quarter of TA ship. Two of the students I talked with actually got selected for this and were very pleased. According to them the same offer applied and they were given free tuition and fees and a $5,000 stipend. Now that's a pretty sweet deal. The students who got a 2nd TA ship only paid for one quarter of tuition and fees. So they basically saved about 26 thousand (in tuition and fees) by TA ing for two quarters.

Thanks again guys for reading my extremely long post. I hope this helps and puts some of you at ease. Once again please feel free to pm me or comment if you have any other questions.

Best regards,
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Just got this e-mail

Thank you for your interest in Northwestern University's MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage. Just an update, we are still in the midst of reviewing applications. Can you please confirm that you are still interested in being considered for admission or have your plans, for any reason, changed? Any additional information you can provide regarding your current inclinations would be helpful to us. Thanks.

Told them I was still interested. Forget what I said earlier. I will keep saying 'yes' until they tell me 'no'. Im so crazy-hyper-dreaming-spirit.


Good Luck, caribunny! So glad you got that e-mail!

Has anyone else received an e-mail?
Since I haven't seen a rejection notice, I'm hoping that I'm still in the running as well.

*all fingers crossed* and honestly for everyone =)


Haven't seen or heard anything yet. I randomly google around to see if anyone has posted anything on any other message boards (there aren't many) and found a woman's blog dated late Feb 2012 that says she got a call around then saying she was accepted. I think she's going, from what I can glean from her posts. Side note: I'm sure she'd be creeped out to read this...

Other than what I've found on this message board, no other info.


March 11 I e-mailed Yolanda asking if a decision had been made because i was planning to travel for my scholarship interview.

I got an auto reply saying she would be our of office until March 19. So I'm thinking I only got that e-mail because they were checking if I was still interested.

Just thought i should clarify that the e-mail may just be "personal" and not one sent to all 'wait'listers'. It does not mean "higher up in the list". She could just be replying to mails.


Thanks for the clarification, caribunny, and sorry for not posting any sooner.

I just phoned in, trying my best to be polite and inquire for any general updates. Yolanda said they were still in the process and if there had been no change to your status, you're still being considered.

What bothered me most was how tired and sad she sounded....
I guess we still have hope.


New Member
Just thought I'd throw my hat out there. I also applied to this program. Heard zilch. I emailed about two weeks ago and got a similar response: If you haven't heard anything, you're still under consideration.
No news is simply no news.


This update has good news, bad news, and my solution.

Good news: I got into NU. Interview was April 24 via Skype 34 mins. Acceptance notification came in April 26. I Accepted on May 4. Last day to do this was May 7 (today)

Bad news: As posted I don't have all the funds to go. This made the decision to accept the spot very difficult. My family and I prayed about it an entire week. Should I take it in faith or let someone else have my spot.

Solution: We decided in faith to accept the spot and trust that the money would follow later. Why? Because I REALLY NEVER ONCE prayed to "get in" I only asked if it was meant to be let it happen.

So we created a Facebook page to accept donations. I will share the news later today with my "network".

That's all for now folks.
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Have not heard from Northwestern still. Called a week ago to get info and learned they were out of the office.

Really hoping to at least hear yay/nay in June. I need to get on with my life (planning for the future, at least).

EDIT/UPDATE: Received my rejection letter through the system that I first applied through. No notification e-mail, but one on the GATS.

Best of luck to all. I'm moving on....
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