A university diploma certificate granted to a Master's in Screenwriting graduate has an ornamental film clapperboard decoration in the border, symbolizing a specialized degree from a prestigious film and scriptwriting program.

The 10 Best Screenwriting Schools in the World | Launch Careers with Top Film Programs

If you aspire to transform imaginative stories into groundbreaking scripts that come alive on screens big and small, pursuing a degree in screenwriting takes dedication.

But the most elite screenwriting programs open doors to careers in film, TV, streaming, and digital media by blending rigorous curriculum with industry access.

We spotlight the 10 university writing programs across North America and Europe renowned for nurturing the next generation of A-list screenwriters with connections, mentorship, and real production experience.

With competition and application requirements rising each year at top film schools, prospective students should research each one extensively to find where they can thrive.

A cinematic opening shot with a vintage film clapperboard centered prominently in frame against a blurred background, setting the movie and cinema theme.

What Makes for an Exceptional Screenwriting School?

In ranking selections, we evaluated core elements vital for scripts-focused education based on curriculum, faculty expertise, specializations, career results for alumni, program culture, and more. Exceptional screenwriting schools provide:

  • Robust writing intensives focused on film and episodic scripts spanning features, pilots, web series, and shorts
  • Small class sizes and mentoring studios to workshop stories individually
  • Options to specialize in film, TV/digital media, or genre writing
  • Hands-on production work from pitch to screen
  • Internship pipelines to studios, agencies, management, and productions
  • Faculty who are working with industry writers, directors, and showrunners
  • Network of prominent screenwriter alumni mentoring current students
  • Access to talent agents and development executives for debuting scripts

Now let’s explore the Top 10 universities around the world that make the grade when it comes to advancing screenwriters throughout their careers—from writing craft to dealmaking.

  1. USC School of Cinematic Arts (Los Angeles)

The University of Southern California’s storied film school based in Los Angeles remains a global leader in almost every entertainment specialty.

But its Screenwriting Program is legendary for sharpening the next generation of A-list screenwriters and showrunners branching across film, television, and digital storytelling.

With a 12:1 student-faculty ratio in writing classes guided by working Hollywood professionals, the program recently expanded specialized tracks. Students can now concentrate on film, TV, or genre writing flowing from script development to production.

Courses like Advanced Television Writing and Advanced Screenwriting complement writing intensives focused entirely on completed scripts—not just fragments or treatments. This ensures graduates have portfolio-ready samples to launch careers.

Further setting the curriculum apart are opportunities for original scripts to be produced by the school’s technical and production-oriented programs.

Options exist too for self-created web series as well as shorts showcased at film festivals. Along with writing craft, students gain practical experience negotiating contracts, pitching stories, and understanding Hollywood’s complex development process.

Recognizable alumni who laid foundations at USC Screenwriting now at the epicenter of entertainment include:

  • John August (Big Fish, Aladdin, Frankenweenie)
  • Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People Vs. OJ Simpson, Ed Wood, Dolemite Is My Name)
  • Laeta Kalogridis (Alita: Battle Angel, Shutter Island, Terminator Genisys)

With endless industry connections and pathways to debut scripts, USC Screenwriting deserves its A-list reputation. Yet gaining admittance is highly competitive with only 140 candidates enrolled yearly out of 2,500 global applicants.

  1. AFI Conservatory (Los Angeles)

As an elite film school located in the heart of Hollywood, the American Film Institute Conservatory Directing Program is equally regarded for polished screenwriters breaking into the industry.

The two-year graduate program immerses only 140 Fellows annually in a TOTAL IMMERSION curriculum centered entirely on film production and writing for cinema.

Unlike other university programs split between theory and practical coursework, AFI Conservatory is completely hands-on—fusing creativity with technique through an intensive regimen.

The Screenwriting Discipline allows for specializations in features or series writing integrating lessons on advances in digital media. Crucially, storytelling tracks culminate with writing, shooting, directing, and editing a finished short film.

The program also ensures realistic training by having Fellows collaborate across all creative roles—from budgeting and scheduling to editing and sound mixes. Outcomes result in portfolios packed with short films and feature scripts ready for festival and industry circulation.

Among AFI Conservatory’s extensive screenwriting alumni recognized with film and television writing careers are:

  • Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton, The Kitchen)
  • Scott Frank (Logan, Out of Sight, Minority Report)
  • Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, Ever After)
  • David Peoples (12 Monkeys, Unforgiven, Blade Runner)

With individualized mentorship guiding only 140 Fellows yearly from working concepts to shoot-ready scripts, AFI Conservatory is designed as a boot camp for tomorrow’s screenwriters seeking creative challenges.

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  1. NYU Tisch School of the Arts

As part of New York University’s broader performing arts college, the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television within Tisch School of the Arts breeds writers equally at home generating novelistic scripts, episodic shows, and avant-garde stories transcending traditional formats.

With a dedicated Department of Dramatic Writing, Tisch dramaturgy programs nurture screenwriters through small, mentor-driven classes focused extensively on original pilots, features, and shorts designed specifically for production by the school’s seasoned filmmakers. Screenwriting students can earn their place by collaborating with directors, DPs, and editors during the creative process.

But Tisch also stresses broader entertainment industry foundations through courses on pitching stories, navigating Hollywood bureaucracy, and multimedia writing—crucial for new media such as VR and emerging digital platforms.

Standout alumni who launched screenwriting careers from NYU Tisch connections include:

  • Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
  • Alexander Dinelaris Jr. (Birdman, The Revenant)
  • Chris Terrio (Argo, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice)

For ambitious writers equally drawn to stage and media arts seeking East Coast connections, Tisch remains highly selective—with five percent undergraduate acceptance rates and three percent for graduate dramatic writing applicants. Yet the program continues developing innovative screen storytellers launching cinema that challenges Hollywood conventions.

  1. UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

With its location in Westwood adjacent to Beverly Hills, ambitious screenwriters worldwide apply to study film and television at The UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television–one of the most competitive programs accepting under five percent of applicants overall.

The screenwriting specialization within the Graduate Screenwriting Program is overseen by an advisory committee of A-list screenwriters and showrunners–including alums like David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight, Batman Begins).

The two-to-three-year Master of Fine Arts track admits only 30 candidates annually allowing for significant mentoring and workshop time to elevate scripts.

Whether interests lean toward genre, animation, sitcoms, hour-long television, or YouTube concepts—students leave UCLA ready to market scripts directly to studios, networks, and agencies.

Alongside writing craft, the business foundations ingrain savvy ways for navigating complicated Hollywood systems for selling viable stories.

Just some of the successful screenwriters who earned inaugural credits at UCLA Theater include:

  • Justin Marks (The Jungle Book, Top Gun: Maverick)
  • Phil Lord & Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street)
  • Mike White (HBO’s Enlightened, The White Lotus)

With endless industry ties and pathways to debut scripts through the West Coast ecosystem, UCLA Theater, Film, and Television continues its reign grooming the next generation of screenwriters breaking into competitive creative roles with polished portfolios ready for the fast lane.

Three student graduation caps decorated colorfully with clapperboard slate motifs, film reels, and movie camera designs to tie academic celebration to excellence in screenwriting and cinematic arts.

  1. National Film and Television School (UK)

Since launching in 1971, the National Film and TV School near London has cemented esteem as Europe’s leading center for creative screenwriting alongside directing, producing, and technical craft education. Dubbed the “Oscars Factory”, NFTS holds the claim to being the most Oscar-decorated film school outside Hollywood.

With connections across BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, ITV, and more—graduates consistently achieve exhibition and distribution for projects birthed at the school. This access comes via training under working industry veterans along with options to concentrate on television or digital series writing besides film.

Crucially, the curriculum balances writing craft with professional skill-building for selling stories, pitching concepts, and navigating global entertainment networks essential for new screenwriters lacking experience.

Students participate in structured Agency nights and UK pilot season events to debut scripts—leading to representation and nascent writing jobs even before graduation.

Just a few of NFTS distinguished screenwriting graduates who launched careers from scripts and shorts created in school include:

  • Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre, Harlots)
  • Jack Thorne (Wonder, The Eddy)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Small Axe anthology)

For screenwriters outside the Hollywood ecosystem determined to create inventive film and television without compromising bold creative visions, NFTS UK delivers formidable industry inroads.

  1. California Institute of the Arts

With bold original voices in high demand across animation, streaming series, film festivals, and the digital landscape, CalArts near Los Angeles nurtures the next generation of unique screenwriting talent.

The diverse Experimental Animation and Creative Writing MFA programs mentor just 45 students per year allowing for significant one-on-one development tailored to each writer’s interests and strengths.

By blending traditional storytelling craft with experimental structures, multimedia formats, and evolving digital spaces, writers leave ready-to-market truly original pilots, features, web concepts, and interactive scripts.

Mentorship from award-winning animation filmmakers and show creators support this innovation through regular workshops and writing labs designed like mini-studio models.

Notable CalArts screenwriting alumni creating buzzy film and television include:

  • Julia Cox (Showtime’s Billions)
  • Sian Heder (CODA, Tallulah, Orange Is the New Black)
  • Natasha Lyonne (Netflix’s Russian Doll)

For iconoclastic writers seeking mentors invested in nurturing wholly unique voices without compromise, CalArts’ experimental ethos pays dividends in writers whose bold visions expand the entertainment landscape.

A group of creative screenwriters and TV show writers collaborating during an intense pitch session in a writers room in front of whiteboards and video monitors.

  1. Chapman University’s Dodge College

Based in Southern California’s Orange County adjacent to Los Angeles, Dodge College’s graduate screenwriting program equips writers to succeed in the evolving entertainment world through innovation and experimentation.

With esteemed faculty plus established showrunners, screenwriters, and directors mentoring intimate classes under 20 students–every candidate leaves with portfolios packed with market-ready scripts spanning features, pilots, shorts, and new media concepts.

But Dodge College equally stresses business foundations through mandatory internships at major studios and agencies to comprehend complicated entertainment systems before pitching polished stories.

Students additionally learn to write for global markets as Hollywood increasingly eyes international co-productions and multi-language streaming platforms.

Standout alumni launching screenwriting careers right out the gate include:

  • Liz Hannah (longtime film and TV scribe behind The Post)
  • Maddie Nesrallah (Hulu’s The Great, Echo 3)
  • Michael Mohan (Hulu’s PEN15, The Voyeurs)

For prospective writers equally drawn to television, streaming, and interactive content looking for robust professional development beyond writing craft, Dodge College blends Hollywood pipelines with global entertainment perspectives.

  1. Vancouver Film School

As a premier entertainment arts center located outside Hollywood in British Columbia, Vancouver Film School equally breeds screenwriters through innovative Storytelling for Film & TV programs transcending traditional formats.

With access to state-of-the-art production gear plus post-production facilities, writers generate portfolio-worthy scripts while collaborating with directors, editors, and working crew on shorts and spec episodes.

But intensive writing workshops focused purely on story foundations, structure, characters, and form are balanced with simulated writers’ room environments mirroring real production pacing.

Screenwriters additionally prototype viable scripts using Final Draft software and create professional pitch decks for selling viable concepts.

Distinct too is instruction and feedback from program heads who are showrunners, story editors, and screenwriters on breakout Netflix, Amazon, and CW programs.

Attending industry pitch fests and screenings in Vancouver, Seattle and Toronto provides networking to fast-track careers after graduation.

With a cutting-edge curriculum fusing creativity and technique for film, television, and digital media, Vancouver Film School deserves more attention grooming screenwriters crafting innovative stories and pioneering new formats.

  1. Boston University Film & TV Institute

For over 50 years, Boston University has cultivated award-winning screenwriters through elite yet flexible graduate programs at the Film & Television Institute tailored equally to career switchers. Options exist for full or part-time Master of Fine Arts tracks allowing working creatives to earn degrees on flexible schedules.

With access to faculty who are working television scribes, playwrights, and film writers–students workshop original pilots, features and shorts while specializing within genres.

Crucial business components detail navigating complex entertainment systems, pitching polished stories, and securing literary representation. The program’s success is further evident in students selling scripts written and developed entirely while at school–a rarity for university screenwriting courses.

Notable television and film alumni who finessed writing skills at Boston University include:

  • Ayad Akhtar (The War With Grandpa)
  • Steven Rogers (I, Tonya, Stepmom)
  • Greg Berlanti (You, Dawson’s Creek creator)

For screenwriters in New England desiring top-tier writing programs close to home that deliver real results without Hollywood hurdles, BU’s Film & TV Institute breeds success through vital coaching tailored to each writer’s vision and style.

A collage of headshot photographs featuring award-winning and acclaimed contemporary screenwriters and film creators known for their unique movie and television writing.

  1. Northern Film School (Leeds)

Housed within Leeds Beckett University in Northern England, the Northern Film School screenwriting programs groom the next wave of distinctive British film and television writers through intensive mentoring, production experience, and direct industry contact from concept to deals.

With esteemed TV and film professionals leading courses focused purely on writing and development craft, the graduate programs ensure each admitted candidate spends significant time workshopping original pilots and features to market viability.

Crucially, writers leave with portfolios packed with completed screenplays and professional pitching decks ready to secure funding, shooting partners, and distribution interest. Short scripts and podcasts equally get produced in-house.

By participating in industry events like Edinburgh TV Festivals alongside agents, producers, and commissioners from UK broadcasters and streamers even before graduating, writers land management and nascent development roles fast.

Name alumni include Rising Belfast writer Steph O’Gorman now being mentored by Paul Abbott (Shameless, No Offense), and Enyi Kwinyah landing short films at festivals while studying.

For screenwriting hopefuls across Europe determined to create binge-worthy television or compelling cinema with mass appeal, Northern Film School propels talented voices into industry conversations before graduation.

Launch a Screenwriting Career from the Best Programs

In an era where Hollywood seeks creative disruption from new voices and streaming platforms take risks on provocative concepts, graduating from the top screenwriting programs provides direct bridges to management, production, studios, and agencies eager for fresh ideas. The alumni results and career trajectories speak for themselves in terms of ushering new writers into competitive careers.

While gaining entry into elite film schools and dramatic writing programs remains intensely selective, creative candidates willing to put in long hours to refine their craft will discover where they can truly soar.

For driven prospective students set on honing skills while building industry connections to sell breakout scripts immediately, this authoritative list of top global screenwriting schools serves as the perfect launch pad.

Frequently Asked Questions

What major is screenwriting under?

Screenwriting typically falls under an undergraduate or graduate major in Film and Television, Cinema/Media Studies, Dramatic Writing, or Creative Writing. Some colleges have dedicated screenwriting courses or certificate programs as well.

Where is the best place to be a screenwriter?

Los Angeles and New York remain the top media hubs for screenwriting jobs given the concentration of studios, agencies, productions, and managers. Many writers get started in cities with emerging indie film, TV, or digital media scenes too.

What majors are good for screenwriting?

Useful college majors for learning strong writing skills applicable to screenwriting include English, Journalism, Communication, Media Studies/Production, Theater/Drama, and Creative Writing.

Where did screenwriters go to college?

Notable colleges where successful screenwriters studied include UCLA, USC, NYU, Northwestern University, Brown University, Oberlin College, Wesleyan University, and University of Texas at Austin amongst others.

Does screenwriting pay well?

On average, experienced screenwriters earn anywhere from $65,000 at entry levels to well over $200k annually depending on credits, reputation, and demand. Hit studio films or hot TV/streaming shows pay very lucratively.

What classes should I take to become a screenwriter?

Great classes to take are dedicated screenwriting workshops, film/media writing courses, storytelling or narrative construction seminars, theater/playwriting, short fiction workshops, film production, and creative writing courses generally.

What age do most screenwriters start?

Many successful screenwriters sold their first feature spec scripts or television pilots in their late 20s or 30s after refining their craft through workshops, fellowships, and internships. It’s common for the first major industry jobs to happen in the 30s.

Are screenwriters in high demand?

As content across film, broadcast TV and streaming grows exponentially, so does the demand for talented screenwriters with fresh concepts that grab audiences. TV staffing continues growing as episodic production booms.

Is it hard to get a job as a screenwriter?

Breaking into professional screenwriting is very competitive, though TV staffing provides more access points than film. Pursuing fellowships, networking relentlessly, and cutting teeth on indie productions can provide pathways to agents and management necessary for bigger jobs. Pitching unique stories remains key.

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