Join our next cohort, beginning August 2021 — Accelerated, Low-Residency Screenwriting MFA
Earn a terminal degree in screenwriting in less than two years with our accelerated, low-residency MFA program. Students can study anywhere in the world, joining faculty, guest screenwriters and filmmakers, and peers at three annual Texas-based writers retreats. (Read more…)
Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
The Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting is a 48-credit-hour terminal degree. The workshop-driven program provides a rigorous creative environment to prepare students to craft compelling scripts for film, television, video games, and emerging digital mediums. A parallel MFA in Creative Writing is also available.
The MFA utilizes an accelerated, low-residency model designed to meet the needs of today’s students, while emphasizing a strong commitment to excellence in craft, analysis, and creativity. Three times per year, students and faculty gather for week-long writers’ residencies on HBU’s campus or at destination retreats, including at the annual South by Southwest Film Festival and Conference in Austin, TX. Each residency features workshops and extensive interaction with professional writers and filmmakers serving as guest instructors, as well as ongoing mentorship from HBU’s exceptional full-time faculty.
Between residencies, students work from home, maintaining connections with their cohort through online workshops and ongoing coursework. These long-distance classes preserve HBU’s apprenticeship model, providing frequent feedback and personalized direction from each student’s writing mentors and peers. While the low-residency model allows writers to continue to live and work in their home cities, students should expect to commit considerable time every week to practicing their craft in order to successfully develop and hone their creative skills.
The accelerated schedule allows students to complete the MFA degree in less than two years. For professional screenwriters, the Master of Fine Arts serves as a terminally qualifying degree, allowing successful graduates to teach at the university level. However, the program’s primary goal is to nurture students’ creative potential, ensuring that their artistic craft is sharpened and developed.
Most importantly, the core of this degree remains HBU’s steadfast commitment to providing a learning experience that instills in students a passion for academic, spiritual, and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. Students learn how this faith has guided storytellers, filmmakers, and artists throughout history and will be inspired by this rich heritage as together we seek to craft new cinematic works reflecting our Creator’s goodness, truth, and beauty.
Applications for our next cohort (beginning August 2021) are now open.
A writing portfolio is required for admission.
The MFA in Screenwriting places a strong emphasis on practice and feedback, using rigorous faculty-led workshops throughout the program. Students will work closely with writing mentors and receive valuable critiques from their cohort of peers.
Study from Anywhere
The MFA in Screenwriting is offered as a low-residency program, requiring approximately three weeks of in-person, Texas-based instruction each year, supplemented by year-round online workshops that can be completed from anywhere in the world. (Learn more…)
Accelerated, Terminal Degree
The Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting is a terminal degree, qualifying graduates to teach at the university-level. With intense, focused classroom instruction during the residencies and year-round online workshops, students earn the 48-credit-hour degree in less than two years. (Learn more…)
South by Southwest Film Festival
The MFA tuition includes registration and lodging at the annual South by Southwest Film Festival and Conference in Austin, Texas—the largest media gathering in the state, packed with incredible films, world-class speakers, and dynamic networking opportunities.
Learn from the Best
Each residency features professional filmmakers and writers from a variety of disciplines. The focused retreat structure means students have extensive face-to-face interaction with visiting screenwriters, authors, and poets, while year-round online workshops also facilitate feedback from HBU’s exceptional faculty and distinguished adjunct instructors. (Learn more…)
Strong Christian Foundation
HBU is committed to providing a learning experience that instills a passion for academic, spiritual and professional excellence as a result of our Christian convictions. MFA students explore the rich heritage of our faith, which has guided storytellers, filmmakers, and artists throughout history.
Since 2013, HBU has offered a wide array of dynamic degrees in Cinema & New Media Arts (CNMA), including undergraduate degrees in Cinematic Arts, Mass Media, Interactive Media, and Graphic Design. Graduates of these programs are creating compelling content in a variety of fields, from award-winning independent films to video games, health care, education, and faith-based ministries. At the heart of the CNMA program’s success is the School of Fine Art’s commitment to mentor and educate students towards excellence in artistic creation for the glory of God. We prioritize hands-on field experience, apprenticeship and mentorship, strong understanding of tradition and theory, a clear focus on emerging opportunities, and an essential spiritual foundation for every student.
The Cinema & New Media Arts program frequently hosts industry professionals as guest speakers and adjunct instructors, including:
- A.J. Edwards (screenwriter/director of The Better Angels, Age Out; editor of The Tree of Life)
- Scott Teems (screenwriter/director, Narcos, Rectify, The Quarry)
- Patrick Fabian (actor from Better Call Saul, Agents of SHIELD, Veronica Mars)
- Doug TenNapel (award-winning video game designer, comic book artist, screenwriter; Earthworm Jim, VeggieTales, Creature Tech)
- Matthew Aughtry (filmmaker of Mothers of the Desert)
- Mark Stolaroff (producer of DriverX, Pig, Following)
- J.A.C. Redford (music orchestrator of Avatar, Wall•E, Newsies)
- Jeffrey Overstreet (film critic and novelist, Through a Screen Darkly, Auralia’s Colors)
Julio & Marla Quintana
Filmmaking team behind The Vessel; collaborators with Terrence Malick on The Tree of Life
Nambi E. Kelley
Screenwriter for Showtime’s The Chi, acclaimed actress and playwright (Native Son)
Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Metropolitan, Last Days of Disco, Love & Friendship
Oscar-winning editor, sound designer of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather
German Michael Torres
Producer and talent agent (Moulin Rouge!, Proof of Life)
Screenwriter and actress (Dynasty, Gossip Girl)
HBU’s cross-disciplinary writing MFAs bring together screenwriters, novelists, and poets at multiple retreats throughout the year, providing unique opportunities for experienced writers to inspire and challenge a new generation of storytellers.
Accelerated, Low-Residency Model
Our unique model is tailored to fit the active schedules of today’s writers, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world through online workshops, while not sacrificing invaluable face-to-face instruction with faculty, guest instructors, and peers facilitated through Texas-based writers retreats.
With our accelerated, low-residency model, students earn a 48-credit-hour terminal degree in screenwriting in less than two years. Across six residencies, students will gain 30 credit hours of intensive residential classes, providing essential foundations for the 18 credit hours of online courses that supplement the in-person instruction (learn more about the courses offered).
MFA in Screenwriting — Sample Schedule
|August Residency (6 credit hrs)|
August 1–6, 2021, on-campus
|CNMA 6321: Cinematic Core Principles
CNMA 6310: Faith, Culture, and the Arts I
|Fall Semester (6 credit hrs)|
|CNMA 6331: Screenwriting Workshop I
CNMA 6320: Topics & Genres: Filmmakers on Cinema I
|January Retreat (6 credit hrs)|
January 9–15, 2022, destination retreat
|CNMA 6322: Art of Storytelling
CNMA 6380: Screenwriting Special Topic I
|Spring Semester / South by Southwest (6 credit hrs)|
South by Southwest (spring break; Austin, TX)
|CNMA 6332: Screenwriting Workshop II
CNMA 6323: Media Industry & Business
week-long film festival and conference
|Summer Semester / August Residency (6 credit hrs)|
week-long residency in early August
|CNMA 6333: Screenwriting Workshop III
CNMA 6310: Faith, Culture, and the Arts II
|Fall Semester (6 credit hrs)|
|CNMA 6334: Screenwriting Workshop IV
CNMA 6320: Topics & Genres: Filmmakers on Cinema II
|January Retreat (6 credit hrs)|
week-long retreat in early January
|CNMA 6391: Thesis Project I
CNMA 6380: Screenwriting Special Topic II
|Spring Semester (6 credit hrs)|
South by Southwest (optional; Austin, TX)
|CNMA 6392: Thesis Project II
CNMA 6385: Internship
or CNMA 6380: South by Southwest
|Anticipated Graduation: May 2023|
Spring Commencement Ceremony
What to expect at the residencies…
Each writing residency is carefully planned to provide an ideal, concentrated creative environment for learning and lasting growth. Bond with peers in small, focused workshops and learn directly from seasoned professional writers and filmmakers through extended conversations in-class and over meals.
The residencies also provide an opportunity to be inspired and challenged by a wide variety of writers, as we bring together poets, fiction authors, creative non-fiction writers, screenwriters, and playwrights in cross-disciplinary discussions.
August On-Campus Residency
For six days in early August, students gather on HBU’s campus for classes and workshops. With special visiting instructors, the first August residency explores the craft of writing for the screen and how artists of faith can create in ways that reflect the goodness, truth, and beauty of our Creator.
January Destination Retreat
For seven days in early January, students travel to a Texas-based retreat location in cities like Galveston, San Antonio, or Austin. Be inspired by a fresh locale and the beauty of God’s natural world, as we take a break from our busy lives and gather together to focus on artistry and creativity. This retreat explores how students can build upon a great tradition of filmmaking and storytelling, while developing unique voices of their own.
South by Southwest Film Festival & Conference
During spring break each year, we travel to Austin for the largest media conference in Texas. Watch the latest in independent and studio films, network with fellow filmmakers, and learn from a wide array of industry experts. South by Southwest is a jam-packed, unbeatable experience for every student.
Meals and lodging for the August and January residencies are included in tuition, as well as registration and lodging for South by Southwest. Students are responsible for their own travel arrangements.
COVID-19 Residency Plans: At this time, HBU plans to resume traditional in-person activities by August 2021. Over the past year, residencies were offered in a hybrid format, allowing students, faculty, and guests to participate in-person at HBU’s campus or remotely from home. On campus events follow all local health advisories and institutional policies, including distancing and masking. Once the health crisis has abated, we do not anticipate providing a remote option for future residencies, as the in-person experience is central to the academic approach for this program.
- Personal Statement – Please submit a personal statement, between 300 and 500 words, sharing your desire to attend the HBU Graduate School and how you feel a degree from HBU will assist you in your academic and professional careers.
- Résumé – Email a current résumé to the Graduate School at GradAdmissions@hbu.edu.
- Writing Portfolio – Please submit a portfolio containing examples of your writing to The Graduate School. Your writing sample must be at least 30-50 pages in length and may contain multiple short scripts or excerpts. Additional work from other genres may be included as well.