We use our proprietary methodology to produce these rankings. Learn more →

The Best Screenwriting Schools

The Best Screenwriting Schools
The Best Screenwriting Schools
Rank School Location
1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, California
2 New York University New York, New York
3 University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, California
4 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, New Hampshire
5 American Film Institute Conservatory Los Angeles, California
6 The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas
7 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, New York
8 Northwestern University Evanston, Illinois
9 University of North Carolina School of the Arts Winston Salem, North Carolina
10 California Institute of the Arts Valencia, California
11 Boston University Boston, Massachusetts

The best Screenwriting Schools ranking is a resource for students, parents and guidance counselors to be informed of college and degree options when researching screenwriting programs.

These schools have strong reputations in screenwriting education.

These schools are all well-respected institutions that offer comprehensive screenwriting programs, and have a track record of producing successful screenwriters.

Other screenwriting programs, including undergraduate and graduate programs, are available as online degree programs.

Aspiring Screenwriters can learn writing skills within top screenwriting degrees at the best screenwriting schools in the country. This list ranks formal degree programs in screenwriting, which includes undergrad and graduate degrees.

The theater film and television industry needs screenwriters who can write for different visual media arts. A Screenwriting program teaches students television writing, film history, film writing, character development, film theory, film and media arts, hands on industry experience, film production and film economics.

Undergrad and graduate students learn to write screenplays. These can be a feature length screenplay for a movie, screenplays for television, or for commercials and ad campaigns. This can also involve the business side of movies, and include business administration instruction in the degree program.

Graduate and undergraduate degrees encourage individual learning but also learning from fellow students. Faculty members are a good resource for students. Successful alumni have gone into careers in the entertainment industry. Some popular programs will teach film history and how to write a feature length screenplay.

Many of these schools have highly selective admissions processes, which indicates the quality of the program. These schools have strong faculty and resources available to students, such as access to entertainment industry professionals and state-of-the-art facilities.

Colleges may download our badge.

The Best Screenwriting Schools

This ranking is based on the resources available to students, the quality of the faculty, alumni success in film and screenwriting, and the academic influence of the schools in Screenwriting.

All schools are ranked based on Student Success criteria. More information about the ranking system can be found at our College Denominator.


University of Southern California

School of Cinematic Arts

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

Consider pursuing your Bachelor of Arts in Writing for Screen & Television at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

This program prides itself on being the only one of its kind, offering a fully interdisciplinary experience in all major film and media arts disciplines.

Students will learn to write compelling and cohesive scripts for new media forms. You might write scripts for video games or online mediums.

USC aims to produce well-rounded students ready to step off campus and into the studio. You'll be learning and growing right in the heart of Los Angeles.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree involves a four-year, 128-credit on-campus program of study. USC only admits thirty students to the program annually, in the Fall semester only.

Thus, the cohort size is intimate. The size ensures that each students learn through ample opportunities for development. You'll get to hear your work read aloud by actors many times during the workshopping process.

Due to the program's interdisciplinary nature, writing students learn directing and producing. This helps students understand the practical side of filmmaking, which strengthens their scripts.


New York University

Tisch School of the Arts

New York, New York

New York University

NYU's Tisch School of the Art offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing. This four-year, on-campus program teaches students a strong background in writing for theatre, film, and television.

Students gain exposure to various mediums. After completing a survey, they may choose a screenwriting concentration.

Many students choose multiple concentrations. For example, many screenwriting students focus on writing for film and television. You will choose your concentration at the end of your second year.

NYU takes a pragmatic approach to training students, exposing them to the realities of a profession in the arts. You'll meet real, working professionals and learn about their experiences first-hand. The school uses a workshop model, and many students pursue internships across New York City.

Exposure to courses on dramatic writing for the theatre might prove helpful for budding screenwriters. NYU is aware of the recent Hollywood trend of hiring playwrights for television projects. On campus, you'll be steps away from Broadway stages, bolstering your exposure to the great work on stage today.


University of California-Los Angeles

School of Theater, Film, and Television

Los Angeles, California

University of California Los Angeles UCLA

Hollywood is an excellent destination if you hope to achieve a Bachelor of Arts in Film & Television with a writing emphasis at UCLA. This degree is a four-year, 180-credit, on-campus program.

Students complete their general education and pre-requisite courses during the first two years. They will spend their final two years engaging deeply in their film studies.

You'll spend your junior year immersed in all aspects of filmmaking to gain a foundation in the industry. Before beginning your senior year, you'll select your screenwriting concentration. That's when you'll begin the practical portion of your degree program.

All students in the program complete a professional internship as part of their studies. As the campus is in the heart of LA, you'll be working with talented professionals. Every student leaves the program with notable experience on their resume, prepared to work in real writers' rooms.

Other considerations include access to the UCLA Film & Television Archive and access to award-winning notable alumni.

A master of fine arts in Screenwriting is also available. The master of fine arts is a two year program, and has two specializations: feature film or television writing. Students write feature length screenplays or write for tv for their thesis portfolio. Though many students complete both concentrations in the master of fine arts program.


Southern New Hampshire University

Manchester, New Hampshire

Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers students the Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing - Screenwriting degree. This program can be taken online or on-campus.

A few benefits of SNHU, which rank it highly, are that the tuition is one of the lowest in the U.S., and that they have fast online and on-campus bachelor's degrees that can be completed in 2 years. Both the fast completion time and the low tuition are important factors that prospective students should consider.

Courses include:

  • Advanced Screenwriting Workshop
  • New Media: Writing and Publishing
  • Intermediate Screenwriting Workshop
  • Introduction to Screenwriting Workshop

This program is a combination of developing relevant screenwriting skills along with the creative aspects of writing. The media that students are exposed to include short films, feature length films, writing for television, and other media like documentaries and internet videos.

SNHU also offers a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in Screenwriting degree, which can be taken online or on-campus.

Credits: 36 credits.

Students are taught the craft of creative writing for film in particular, and create their own screenplay by the end of the program. Students learn the structure of stories, how to develop characters, and learn visual storytelling.

Courses include:

  • Screenwriting fundamentals
  • Screenwriting Thesis Writing
  • Screenwriting Thesis Completion

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education.


American Film Institute Conservatory

Los Angeles, California

American Film Institute Conservatory

The American Film Institute offers a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting, one of the best graduate screenwriting programs.

You'll enter the program as a fellow, with the goal of creating six tight, compelling full-length works during your two years in the program. The school's location in Los Angeles puts graduate students right where they need to be when ready to step into the studio and gain practical, on-set experience.

All students leave the program having written at least three feature length screenplays, two television spec scripts, and an original pilot. These high-quality materials will be ready for submission or production.

As AFI is a conservatory program, all your coursework will focus on screenwriting. The curriculum is project-centered, so you will constantly have something new to work on, such as feature screenplays.


The University of Texas at Austin

Department of Radio-Television-Film

Austin, Texas

University of Texas at Austin

If you are ready to create brilliant cinema, consider a Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television, and Film with a Screenwriting emphasis at UT Austin.

You'll gain access to a suite of surround-sound dub stages, the latest color correction technology, and a massive dedicated green screen. It's no wonder that UT Austin students begin hands-on experience in filmmaking starting in the first semester.

This four-year, 120-credit, on-campus program includes up to 48 credits of dedicated coursework in radio, television, and film. All students complete a series of comprehensive foundation courses. From there, you will choose a pathway, allowing you to focus on screenwriting through the lens of media studies or production.

The advanced screenwriting workshop mimics a real Hollywood writer's room. You'll gain skills through practical writing exercises and collaboration. There is room to focus on writing for film or television, allowing you to focus on the most enticing path.

UT students frequently pursue off-campus internship opportunities in New York, Los Angeles, and abroad.


Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, New York

Columbia University

Columbia University is a world-renowned school for graduate degrees. If you've completed an undergraduate degree, your next step might be a Master of Fine Arts in Film from Columbia University. Columbia University offers a concentration in writing for film and television.

This three-year, on-campus program might be for you if your goal is to improve your writing craft, regardless of your preferred storytelling medium. Columbia is a "structure school" whose curriculum centers on the basic tenants of good stories. The program is aware of shifting media technology and seeks to equip students with the tools they need to transcend mediums and create meaning.

After your first year, you'll have the opportunity to declare your concentration. Your second year features a year-long, workshop-style course where you'll hear work aloud and hone your dramatic voice. Your third year is entirely dedicated to a thesis project.

As one of the best schools for screenwriting, Columbia is a highly selective program with an intimate cohort structure. The screenwriting program core faculty includes recognizable names from the film industry, including Christina Lazaridi and David Klass.


Northwestern University

School of Communication

Evanston, Illinois

Northwestern University

If you're ready for an interdisciplinary foundation in all things media, look into the Bachelor of Science in Radio, Television, and Film with a screenwriting emphasis at Northwestern University.

Students learn what makes a compelling script. This background in theory and history will prepare you to transform your own scripts into tightly structured, transformative works of art.

The degree is a four-year, on-campus program. If you choose the screenwriting concentration, you'll gain access to a range of upper-level writing courses. The goal is for each student to leave the program with a comprehensive portfolio of production-ready work.

You'll be in the heart of Chicago, where great, provocative works of art are being created daily. The unique art and theatre scene will provide a context of creativity as you discover and hone your artistic voice.


University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Winston Salem, North Carolina

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

If you're ready to pursue an undergraduate degree in screenwriting, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting program at UNCSA is an excellent option. The screenwriting program will teach students with the belief that film is a writer's medium.

The BFA in Screenwriting is a four-year, on-campus program. After your first two years of general study, you'll undergo a rigorous portfolio review. This determines your acceptance into the selective undergraduate screenwriting cohort.

Once accepted into the program, you'll gain access to the program's year-long, writer's room-style screenwriting labs. The highlight of the program is the Feature Screenplay course. All students graduate with at least one polished, feature-length script ready for submission or production.

UNCSA is one of the few options for screenwriting schools that keeps the future at the forefront. You will exit the program with an outline, ready to become your next complete script.


California Institute of the Arts

Valencia, California

California Institute of the Arts

If you're searching for the best colleges for a screenwriting degree program, don't sleep on the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video program at CalArts. It's a four-year, on-campus program that emphasizes growth. While many screenwriting schools focus on commercial writing, CalArts seeks to foster independent works.

During your time in the program, you'll become part of an interdisciplinary community of artists. You may find yourself sitting beside directors, cinematographers, and animators. All film and video classes are workshop-style and encourage experimentation with voice and form.

Still, the first year of study focuses on building practical vocational skills in production. You'll focus on traditional and new forms of media, from documentaries to experimental short films.

Be aware that while you can build your own screenwriting concentration, you will also engage in interdisciplinary work. With that said, this program is excellent preparation for the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at CalArts.


Boston University

College of Communication

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston University

While applying to screenwriting schools, consider the Bachelor of Science in Film and Television Screenwriting track at Boston University. The goal of this program is simply to help students make great movies. Boston University is a public university located in Boston Massachusetts.

The BS degree program at Boston University program is a four-year, on-campus screenwriting program, and every moment is student-centered. Boston University offers a student-run production company and a student-operated television station. The community has access to regular screenings and conversations with leaders in the industry.

Students spend their time participating in every aspect of the screenwriting and filmmaking process. Students customize their screenwriting program of study to suit their strengths and interests.

BU offers a popular summer internship program in Los Angeles. LA is where BU students frequently gain their first jobs and references in the industry.

Meanwhile, the program values diversity. It can be helpful to develop a unique dialogic voice without the influence of Hollywood trends.

Screenwriting Programs

Nearly every program requires you to apply with a sample of your work. The piece you submit should demonstrate your understanding of dramatic structure and characterization. They may ask you to submit a personal statement about the type of work you hope to create.

You don't need to be a perfect polished screenwriter to gain admission to a great program. You merely need to demonstrate potential.

Here are some of the skills that programs look to develop during a program:

  • Research skills
  • Creative writing
  • Persuasive writing
  • Resilience
  • Persistence
  • The ability to network
  • Collaborative skills
  • Willingness to revise
  • Technical understanding of scriptwriting

What Can You Do With a Degree in Screenwriting?

Pursuing a Screenwriting degree does not mean you're locked into a single job. You'll gain profound insight into communication, collaborative processes, and media production. A foundation in dramatic structure can prepare you to write in any medium, including feature film.

Many aspiring screenwriters begin by working on film sets. Graduates might start their career as a production or writer's assistant. Screenwriting schools can even prepare students to operate film equipment.

A screenwriting degree may also be useful in these careers:

  • Copywriting
  • Teaching
  • Film or media critique
  • Video game scriptwriter
  • Podcast writer
  • Virtual content creator
  • Script reader
  • Talent agent or casting assistant
  • Producer
  • Editor
  • Speechwriter

Many screenwriters work on freelance projects between jobs. A screenwriter with a master's degree may also be qualified to teach undergraduate writing courses.

As you begin applying to screenwriting colleges, deciding what's important to you in a program is a good way to assess which school is the right choice.

Most American films and television shows have historically originated in Hollywood. With that in mind, many students choose to study in California. Proximity to the industry can be a great benefit for networking and employment prospects after graduation.

Likewise, writing students may wish to consider an online program. This is ideal for programs without an on-campus element. An online option might be more appropriate for students pursuing bachelor's degrees.

Tuition and Financial Aid

A career in the arts can be competitive and challenging. Beginning your career in debt does not make it any easier. You might begin by comparing school costs, reading online reviews, researching scholarship opportunities, or writing grants. See our student's guide for financial aid.

More resources:

College and program data sources:

  1. University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinematic Arts: Bachelor of Arts in Writing for Screen & Television
  2. New York University (NYU) Tisch School of the Arts: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing
  3. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film, and Television: Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television: Writing Emphasis
  4. American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory: Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  5. University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) Department of Radio-Television-Film: Bachelor of Science in Radio-Television-Film: Screenwriting Emphasis
  6. Columbia University School of the Arts: Master of Fine Arts in Film
  7. Northwestern University School of Communication: Bachelor of Science in Radio/Television/Film: Screenwriting Emphasis
  8. University of North Carolina School of the Arts: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
  9. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Film/Video: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film/Video: Writing
  10. Boston University College of Communication: Bachelor of Science in Film & Television: Screenwriting Track
  11. National Center for Education Statistics