• Script, writer's note, computer keyboard/banner with wording Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting

Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting - FAQ

1. Why should I study screenwriting at Cal State Northridge?

ANSWER: Our faculty are professional screenwriters, professional educators, and published authors, all award-winning artists and teachers. We have long-standing relationships with countless film and television companies; many top Hollywood guest speakers come for presentations in our classrooms; hundreds of our alumni now work in film and TV; our curriculum is shaped to be practical and professionally focused; and we have a strong internship program available. Many of our students pursue opportunities that integrate them into the professional world as a natural extension of what we do.

One of the great strengths of our graduate screenwriting program is our close proximity to the film and television industries and the professional relationships we have formed.  

Lastly, we’re affordable. Our Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree costs a fraction of other comparable programs.

2. What is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree and what can I do with it?

ANSWER: An MFA degree is a 42 unit terminal degree. "Terminal" here means that in this field of the arts, there is no degree higher. A terminal degree is required for teaching at the college and university levels. Our Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree focuses exclusively on the true source of all visual storytelling for cinema and television art – the script. What’s more, the MFA is becoming the strongest way to launch a professional career in film or TV.

3. My Bachelor of Arts degree is in a discipline other than Film. Can I still apply to the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting Program?

ANSWER: Yes. The B.A. or B.S. degree is required, but not necessarily in a field related to film.

However, we do require that the applicant has taken at least one or two courses in screenwriting before coming to our graduate program. Many community colleges and university extension programs offer such classes, and the UCLA Extension Writers' Program offers screenwriting courses online for distance learners.  

4. Are financing and financial aid available?

ANSWER: Yes. Financial aid opportunities can be explored through the CSUN university web site http://www.csun.edu/financialaid/ or by calling the CSUN Financial Aid Office, (818) 677-4058.

EVERYONE should file for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in the year: https://fafsa.ed.gov

For California residents (and you become eligible to file for residency after one year) pursuing a Cal Grant award, be sure to file for FASFA before the Cal Grant March 1st deadline. 

5. What are your application deadlines?

ANSWER: The department admits graduate students annually in the fall semester. Applications are accepted from October 1 through February 10 for the following fall semester. This early February deadline is to ensure that the university has time to process application materials, and to give entering students time to pursue financial aid and register for courses. We do not offer spring admissions.

6. How do I apply?

ANSWER: You will need to apply to both the CSUN Department of Cinema and Television Arts AND Cal State University, Northridge.

For university on-line applications, go to: www.csumentor.edu

*NOTE--CSU Mentor will shut down on May 31, 2017.  The current campus application process will no longer be available online after May 31st . The new system, http://www.calstate.edu/apply, will be up and running as of August 1st for applications.

For the CTVA Department on-line applications, click the “Application Form” link on the right of this page. Mail the department application directly to: Graduate Advisor, CTVA Department, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8317

Or, drop off your application at the CTVA Department office, Manzanita Hall, MZ 195, between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

NOTE: Both the CTVA Department and the university application periods for the M.F.A. in Screenwriting program are the same - October 1 through February 10. Some other programs at CSUN close their graduate applications on November 30, BUT WE DO NOT.  

7. I’ve heard that your Department also offers graduate degrees in other film areas besides screenwriting. Is this true?

ANSWER: No. Our department currently offers the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting graduate degree only. In the last few years we have built a strong grad program and added new faculty members to focus completely on professional screenwriting, thereby becoming superior in this one area. Our graduate screenwriting faculty is among the very best you will find anywhere.

8. What sort of writing sample do I need to submit with my application?

ANSWER: We require three writing samples. First, you will need to submit a Statement Essay/Letter of Intent of no more than 500 words providing information about yourself and stating your general purposes and goals in pursuing an MFA with us.  

Second, we require that you submit a work sample in script form – a screenplay, original pilot teleplay or stage play. A full-length script is preferred, but we will accept a complete, shorter work of approximately 30 pages, or the first act of a feature film screenplay in progress. We need to know that an applicant has worked in the script form previously and has at least some experience with visual storytelling format. If a TV script is submitted, it must be an original pilot teleplay of your own – as spec episodes for existing current or recently aired TV programs make it impossible to see how writers handle the creation of original characters and dialogue on their own.

Third, the application form sets out a few specific parameters to set up a new original scene, of three to four pages, to be written by the applicant in screenplay format.

9. Will I need letters of recommendation, too?

ANSWER: Yes. You need to submit three letters of recommendation from people in positions of authority who have worked with you and who can objectively assess your potential as a graduate student and screenwriter. At least one letter must be from a professor with whom you have studied. The recommendation letters must be sent to us directly by the recommenders, on letterhead stationary, and with a completed recommender questionnaire form included.

10. Where should I send my transcripts?

ANSWER: Official transcripts need to be mailed to the CSUN Admissions and Records office. The address is: CSUN - Admissions and Records, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8207

***Official transcripts are not sent to the CTVA office.

11. What are the international student requirements?

ANSWER: International students must take the TOEFL English writing proficiency exam and pass with at least a score of 80, or the IELTS exam with a minimum test score of 6.5.