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Downtown Pittsburgh's Creative Center for Film and Theatre

Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts offers Downtown Pittsburgh's first low-residency Master of Fine Arts in writing for the screen and stage, a rigorous and challenging program taught by nationally recognized, award-winning screenwriters and playwrights.

The M.F.A. in screenwriting and playwriting program will immerse you in the art of dramatic writing, which is like no other literary form. Like Pittsburgh's three rivers, the confluence of craft, hard work and imagination is the source of all successful storytelling in film, theater, television and the evolving multiplatform storytelling world.

M.F.A. Virtual Open House

MFA Zoom Open House from Point Park Cinema Arts on Vimeo.

Program Goals, Features and Highlights

Program Goals

The M.F.A. in writing for the screen and stage program will give you the time, focus and support needed to create professional quality work to apply yourself in the field of your choice.

As part of a community of writers, you can expect to be challenged and meet the following goals:

  • Complete a portfolio of film, theatre, and/or television scripts, along with outlines, treatments, bibles and pitches in the genres of your choice.
  • Master the ability to develop stories from your own dramatic point of view through the exploration of personal experiences, values and skills.
  • Enact a plan of action to utilize your M.F.A. degree in developing a balanced, realistic and engaging career in writing and/or teaching.
  • Immerse in the collaborative nature of writing for the screen and stage through critical exchanges with mentors, co-writers, directors and actors.

Low-Residency Program Features

The M.F.A. low-residency program offers the following opportunities:

  • Artistic awards (scholarships) to eligible students based on review of their application and artistic portfolio interview.
  • Online courses during the fall and spring semesters. Distance learning allows you to balance your studies and your life.
  • Three dynamic residencies of one to two weeks on Point Park's Downtown Pittsburgh campus.
  • Writing workshops in the field of your choice.
  • Flexibility in degree design and completion to tailor your course work in writing for the screen or stage.
  • One-on-one mentoring with committed faculty.

Design your M.F.A. in Screenwriting or Playwriting

The M.F.A. in writing for the screen and stage provides flexibility in degree design and completion. After an immersion into the principles of dramatic writing, students may select to focus their studies on:

  • Screenwriting (film, television, digital, web): plunge into the arduous work of developing scripts;
  • Playwriting: dive into creating plays;
  • Or, choose to engage in both disciplines.

Regardless of focus, the rubrics of storytelling are the same: structure, characterization and story development. As you move through the program, progress and mastery of the following will be expected:

  • Plot, structure and theme
  • Story development
  • Collaboration and rewrites
  • Dialogue
  • Format
  • Premise
  • Character

The balanced interplay of these fundamentals is essential to producing successful work.

Additional Area of Focus in Dramatic Writing

Writers in today's market need to be versatile, ready to anticipate future trends and prepared to write across various forms of media.

In addition to a focus on genre in screenwriting or playwriting, you will be required to produce a second area of dramatic writing such as:

  • Animation
  • Gaming
  • Digital media
  • Webisodes
  • Narrative forms for social media

Low-Residency Program Highlights


Over the course of two years, you will attend three dynamic residencies of one to two weeks on Point Park's Downtown Pittsburgh campus. The program includes temporary housing at no additional cost in close proximity to campus.

Class entering in 2019

  • Residency one: July 29-Aug. 2, 2019
  • Residency two: July 22-31, 2020
  • Residency three: May 2021 TBD

Class entering in 2020

  • Residency one: July 27-31, 2020
  • Residency two: TBD
  • Residency three: TBD 

In the residencies, you will participate in the exhilarating and exhaustive process of workshopping scripts and plays, engage in table reads with actors, directors, fellow students and visiting artists, and incorporate and offer feedback in an intensive collaborative environment.


Workshops with industry professionals will explore topics such as creativity, storytelling, genre, style, engaging an audience, writing across media, as well as brass tacks topics in professional development.

Career Development

Upon completion of the program, you will meet with faculty to discuss your professional next steps and goals with advice on internships, developmental programs, agents, interviews, teaching practicums and avenues for the future.

What is a low-residency Master of Fine Arts program?

The low-residency M.F.A. in writing for the screen and stage program is structured so that students can complete their degree while living in their own community and balance work and life commitments. Most of the course work will be completed via distance learning, but students will also come to Point Park to participate in three on-campus residencies.

What happens during the residencies?

During the three on-campus residencies, students will stay in on-campus housing and participate in workshops led by internationally-recognized master teachers and guest artists. Residencies will consist of:

  • Intensive writing workshops
  • Lectures from industry professionals
  • Readings

How many graduate hours will I need to complete?

The rigorous program, which can be completed in two years, is a 44-credit program that provides optional credit completion for internships, teaching practicums and courses for teaching in an online environment.

What type of writing can I focus on in the program?

Students may focus on writing for the screen (television, new media, film, gaming, etc.) and the stage, and the student can decide on an area of concentration. Students are required to create work in an alternate area of concentration.

For a comprehensive list of program requirements check out the degree requirements and course descriptions.

How much is tuition? Are there scholarships available?

Tuition is calculated on a per credit basis. See our tuition and fees chart to calculate the total program cost (multiply the graduate cost per credit by the total number of program credits, which is 44 credits). Note: there are no additional housing or meal costs for the residencies. These are included in your tuition costs.

The M.F.A. program does offer artistic scholarships, which are awarded based on the student application, the portfolio submission and the interview process.

Do I need to have written professionally or extensively in order to be qualified for this program?

While admission to the program is selective, we accept applicants with a varying degree of experience writing for the screen or stage.

What is the application deadline?

Applications and portfolios are accepted on a rolling basis until July 15, 2021.

What does the application process entail?

  1. Complete Point Park's graduate application for admission and submit official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended to the Office of Graduate Admission.
  2. Submit an artistic portfolio through Acceptd via Point Park University's Acceptd home page.
  3. Participate in an in-person or distance interview with a M.F.A. faculty member.

How many students enter the program each year?

Point Park accepts 15-20 applicants each summer. Each entering class progresses through the two-year program as a cohort, enabling students to connect and build a rich community of writers that will exist long after the program is complete.

Who can I contact for more information?

Faculty who work in the field

Point Park faculty members bring academic and work experience into the classroom.

Meet the faculty
Pictured is Matt Pelfrey, graduate program director.
"I love working with students and helping them articulate their vision, so the chance to interact with both young and mature writers is a thrill."
Pictured is Elise D'Haene.
"I am engaged fully in each student’s project. I get super excited to work with students on developing their projects from the spark of an idea to its completion as a fully realized project."

Course Offerings

Some of the courses offered in the writing for the screen and stage program include:

  • Dramatic Storytelling
  • Writing for the Screen and Stage
  • Engaging the Audience
  • Writing Landscapes
  • Thesis I, II and Presentation

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