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Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting

Storytellers as Cultural Leaders

Pepperdine's two-year MFA in Screenwriting prepares students to pursue vocations as screenwriters as well as to become cultural leaders in the entertainment industry. Hollywood professionals nurture, train, and support students in writing workshops and in courses that examine the storyteller in conversation with contemporary culture. Here at Pepperdine we take a values-centered approach to education and work to strengthen student lives in purpose, service, and leadership.

Program Requirements

The MFA degree in Screenwriting will be awarded upon satisfactory completion of classes and approval of a Master's Thesis portfolio which will contain:

Ten-Page Vocational Statement Including:

  • A statement of values, purpose, and goals as a cultural leader.
  • An outline/roadmap to accomplish these goals.

Thesis Project:

  • Screenwriting Emphasis: two full-length screenplays (each 110-120 pages)
  • Television Emphasis: two 60-minute teleplays and two 30 minute teleplays
  • Or any combination of the two emphases above (approx. 180-240 pages), with the approval of the Thesis Director. The Master's Thesis Project and portfolio will be overseen by a thesis committee which will include the Program Director, a faculty member from Creative Writing, and a faculty member from Film Studies. The approval of the Thesis Project Committee is necessary for the awarding of the degree.


Screenwriting Student Testimonial


  Who are some of the recent speakers and teachers at Pepperdine?
  What are our alums doing?

Pepperdine has 75 years of alums who have worked and are working in every aspect of the industry.

Here is a tiny sampling of what some of our "Waves" are doing in the entertainment industry:

  • John Burd was director of development and production at MarVista Entertainment and has produced TV movies for channels such as Hallmark and Lifetime. He now writes screenplays full time.
  • D.J. Caruso has directed such films as Disturbia and Eagle Eye as well as such television shows as The Shield, Smallville, and Dark Angel.
  • Blaine Chiapetta was coordinator of development and production at MarVista, producing TV movies. He has had many scripts produced.
  • Chad Creasey has written and produced such television shows as Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Pushing Daisies, and Castle.
  • Greg Fera is an accomplished television director with credits ranging from the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Country Music Awards, Sid the Science Kid, and Muppets Tonight. (He also has an Emmy.)
  • Denise Huth is a producer on such TV shows as The Walking Dead and such films as The Mist.
  • Brent Lilly was an agent with Mosaic. He now runs BLI Entertainment and Real Good Touring.
  • Harry Lengsfield is an agent with LBI Entertainment.
  • Jeff Loveness is a writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live and for Marvel.
  • Candace Lowry is a writer/producer at BuzzFeed.
  • Jerrid Meikle is working on Nick's Instant Mom (starring alum Tia Mowry).
  • Rob Moore is former vice chairman of Paramount and currently CEO of Phoenix1 Esports.
  • Taylor Johns is working at Moxie Firecracker Films, producing documentaries with Rory Kennedy. Last Days of Vietnam was just nominated for an Oscar.
  • Eric Martin is an Executive Producer with Marvel. He has written for Heels on Starz and Loki on Disney+.
  • Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamara Mowry-Housley are producing and starring in their own TV shows.
  • Ted Nitschke was a coordinator at the Kaplan Stahler Agency. He's now in development and a Jr. Creative at Sony Animation.
  • Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson made the Finding Kind documentary and founded the Kind Campaign; they also do school assemblies and spread awareness about school bullying.
  • Jenni Runyan is VP of communications at Comedy Central.
  • Steven Sawalich is a director and producer with credits ranging from Music Within, Tales from the Crypt, and Operation Change.
  • George Schlatter is a legendary comedy producer of such shows as Laugh-In and many television specials.
  • Emmy-winner Michael Waldron wrote and sold the pilot for Heels to Starz. He is the showrunner for Loki on Starz and writes in the Star Wars franchise.
  • David Weiss wrote such scripts as The Smurfs and Shrek 2.
  • Stiles White wrote such scripts as Knowing,The Possession, and Ouija.
  • Tyler Zacharia is an executive producer. His credits include Wildflower, The Ticket, and Martin Scorcese's Silence.

And more!

  Do you offer scholarships?

Yes, we do have scholarships you can apply for. Please email leslie.kreiner@pepperdine.edu for information about the application process.

  Do you have teaching assistantships?

Yes, we do have teaching assistantships and many other campus jobs. Go to Handshake to apply: https://seaver.pepperdine.edu/career-services/handshake.htm. Keep checking back. Sometimes jobs are posted even after the semester has started. Graduate students interested in applying to teach in the HUM 111, 212, 313 sequence are also encouraged to contact the coordinator bryan.givens@pepperdine.edu.

  When do your classes meet?

Our classes meet Monday through Thursday nights 6-9:50pm.

  Will I get my hands on experience in a literary agency, production company, or studio?

The MFA degree requires that students do an internship and take a corollary class (2 units). Our MFAers have done internships with the following:

  • 1895 Productions
  • BBC
  • Fox
  • Freefall Films
  • Gersh Agency
  • Harmonius Claptrap (Dan Harmon)
  • The Idea Factory
  • Intrinsic Value Films
  • Kaplan Stahler Agency
  • Kopelson Entertainment
  • Leeding Media
  • Lionsgate
  • MarVista
  • Moxie Firecracker Films (Rory Kennedy)
  • NBC/Universal
  • Oxygen Network
  • Participant
  • Resolution
  • Revelations Entertainment (Morgan Freeman)
  • Roll Call
  • T-Group
  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • The Untitled Owen Wilson Company
  • Vesuvio
  • Warner Brothers
  • The Weinstein Company
  • WWF Films
  How much does it cost to attend?

Learn more about estimating costs.

Additionally, please see previous questions above for information on scholarships and teaching assistantships.

  What is Pepperdine MFA Presents: Graduate Student Hiking Pod?

Graduate students tell us they feel stress and anxiety. You know what helps with that? Hiking Malibu. Director Leslie Kreiner Wilson leads a pod on all of the most popular Malibu hikes including simple ones such as laps around our track and the Zuma Beach boardwalk. Contact her for more details: leslie.kreiner@pepperdine.edu.

  What is Pepperdine MFA Presents: Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival (DIFF)?

The undergraduates host the Reel Stories Film Festival. DIFF celebrates the best in short films from all members of the Pepperdine community.

We're looking for work that embraces themes related to diversity and inclusion. Submit in the spring semester and attend the show in March. All judging is done by audience vote.

Contact the festival director for more information: leslie.kreiner@pepperdine.edu.

Your voice matters. You can make a DIFFerence.

  Do you offer tours?

Pepperdine is a small private university on the cliffs of Malibu. You may want to visit us for campus tours or be your own guide:

  Further questions?

Additional queries can be sent directly to the MFA program director:

Leslie Kreiner Wilson, Ph.D.


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Contact Us

Humanities & Teacher Education Division
Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
Office: CAC 300


Stella Erbes
Divisional Dean & Professor of Education

Leslie Kreiner Wilson
Program Director & Professor of Creative Writing & Film

Genny Moore
Office Manager

Lee Jackson
Administrative Assistant