MFA in Television, Film and Theatre: Writing

MFA in TV, Film and Theatre: Writing Option at Cal State LA

LA’s Triple Threat


The MFA in Television, Film and Theatre (TVFT) is a three-year, terminal degree program that prepares students for diverse professional and academic careers in content creation, acting, and writing in the narrative media. The MFA degree, in conjunction with extensive professional experience, qualifies students to work and teach in these fields. Students in our program will learn current industry business practices and gain ample hands-on opportunities to develop a creative voice and vision as they work on stage, set, collaborative projects, and culminating projects while applying real-world skills.  In addition to a core of praxis-centric courses, the MFA in TVFT program also includes coursework in the theory and aesthetics of theatre, film, television, and new media along with the history and politics of narrative.  

Historically, screenwriters, TV writers, and playwrights have stayed in their lane.  But not anymore.  In the last several years, and with the explosion of television and streaming services, there has been enormous crossover of feature film writers and playwrights into television.  With over 450+ TV shows being produced each year, the medium needs great writing talent, wherever they can find it.  

The Writing Option prepares students to navigate all three fields, seamlessly, and expands their possibilities for success once out in the professional world.

MFA Thesis Reading Feature Film Script INTENSIVE TRAINNG: 

  • A progression in writing skills from fundamentals to more advanced work: one-act play, full-length play, short film script(s), TV Spec - both drama and comedy, TV pilot, feature-film screenplays, along with an introduction to interactive media and gaming.
  • An overview of the history of theater, film and television writing, as well as the development process, workflow, and business of each art form.
  • Opportunities to work on stage, set, and learn real-world skills.
  • An exploration of creative voice, vision, and artistic experimentation, with an emphasis on social justice.
  • An understanding of the politics of narrative, and the positioning of storytelling in the context of critical race theory, gender, and class.
  • Strong mentorship faculty, a diverse group of scholar and professionals, experienced writers working in multiple areas of theatre and the entertainment industry.
  • Writing Option students’ whose work is exceptional, may have the opportunity to have their work viewed and reviewed via the highly prestigious The Black List, a much respected on-line community for screenwriters in Hollywood and beyond.  Many scripts that have been highlighted by The Black List have gone on to be produced and have won multiple Academy Awards, as well as other awards.


  • On-going opportunities to create a professional writing portfolio
  • On-going opportunities to develop new work through workshops and productions
  • On-going opportunities to contribute to department sponsored productions directed/produced by faculty, guest artists, and other students
  • On-going opportunities to collaborate with the MFA students in the Acting and Production options, getting faculty guidance in real-world situations, gaining practical experience and building relationships with your future network    



  • Annual opportunities for paid positions as a Graduate Assistant to faculty for undergraduate courses in writing. 
  • Teaching Associate positions available to students who have an extensive background in areas such as cinematography, editing, sound, theater stage production and other specialties.
  • We offer a full year of guided teacher training that qualifies students for paid Teaching Associate positions in the undergraduate acting classes.
  • Paid Federal Work Study positions for qualified students.

The peak TV era has sparked a new love affair between playwrights and the small screen 

- LA Times article

Writers Guild of America Statistic regarding feature film writers
2008: 900 full-time feature film writers
2017: 400 full-time feature film writers (more than half now work in television as well

Learn more about Instructors and the courses they teach.  

Read descriptions of the courses.

See an overview of the 3-year program.

To Apply: 

  • Cal State LA's MFA program only accepts students for admission every other year.  

  • The applications for Fall 2024 will open up in October 2023 and will close in February 2024. 

  • We are NOT accepting applications for Fall 2023. 

  • We do NOT have Spring admissions.

  • The application process is done entirely through CSU Apply.

  • For information about the application requirements & process, see our APPLY page

  • For questions: email [email protected]