Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
- Application Deadline: March 31
- Housing and Residence Life Deadline: Rolling
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.
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 with the writer's approach to this vocation, 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.
Who are some of the recent speakers and teachers at Pepperdine?
Some of our recent speakers and teachers include:
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 works on MFA instructor Sheryl J. Anderson's new show on the UP network, Ties That Bind. He wrote The Other Mother for Lifetime as well as the finale episode for Heels.
- 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.
- Michael Waldron worked on Rick & Morty as well as Community. He works at Starburns Industries and has sold a pilot Heels to Paramount.
- 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.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes, we do have scholarships you can apply for. Please complete this form, then scan and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This scholarship is in the form of a tuition discount and typically falls in the range of $2000-$3000 per semester. (We divide the scholarship dollars we are given evenly among recipients, so the amount varies as enrollment fluctuates.) Announcements tend to come after all applications are processed – in May.
Do you have teaching assistantships?
We also have teaching assistantships in which you assist a professor teaching large Humanities sections: 111, 212, 313. These pay $2100 per semester and require an average of about 12 hours of work per week. The application for the TAship is on the same scholarship form mentioned above. You can complete this electronically and email it to Dr. Leslie Kreiner Wilson.
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
- Freefall Films
- Gersh Agency
- Harmonius Claptrap (Dan Harmon)
- The Idea Factory
- Intrinsic Value Films
- Kaplan Stahler Agency
- Kopelson Entertainment
- Leeding Media
- Moxie Firecracker Films (Rory Kennedy)
- Oxygen Network
- Revelations Entertainment (Morgan Freeman)
- Roll Call
- Twentieth Century Fox
- The Untitled Owen Wilson Company
- Warner Brothers
- The Weinstein Company
- WWF Films
How much does it cost to attend?
Additionally, please see previous questions above for information on scholarships and teaching assistantships.
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:
Additional queries can be sent directly to the MFA program director:
Leslie Kreiner Wilson, Ph.D.