John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television review committee places considerable importance on the autobiographical character sketch, story ideas, writing samples, portfolio list and letters of recommendation during the application review process. There are no admission interviews. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed.

This section includes information needed to apply to the Writing for Screen and Television MFA Program. Please read all the following information carefully.

Application Overview

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All candidates must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. Applicants whose prior study was outside the United States must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree. To verify that your bachelor's degree is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor degree, as well as learn about specific academic and language requirements you may need for admission, click here.

The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the Writing for Screen and Television MFA Program.

  • USC Graduate Application for Admission
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Cinematic Arts Supplemental Materials
      • Autobiographical Character Sketch
      • Creative Challenges (A & B)
      • Most Challenging Moment
      • Writing Sample (Maximum of 10 pages)
      • Curriculum Vitae
      • Creative Portfolio List
      • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official Transcripts (From all Academic Institutions Attended)
  • Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Students Only)

All matters relating to admission are the applicant's responsibility. When submitting an application, make sure you have completed both USC's Graduate Application for Admission and the SlideRoom application. Both applications allow you to check your application to verify your application materials have been uploaded and submitted. Incomplete applications, or applications not submitted, will not be considered.

Each year, we strive to develop a well-balanced cohort of students for each of our programs. As such, we do not grant admission deferrals and we recommend that applicants apply for a future term when certain they can accept admission.

Application Deadlines

Graduate Writing for Screen and Television

  • Fall Admission Deadline: November 15th

Note: Spring admission is not available for the Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. graduate program.

View all Application Deadlines.

Application Instructions

All applicants wishing to be considered for the Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. program must follow the instructions below. All steps, where applicable, must be completed in order to be considered. Please note that the application submission to the Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. program is a two--part process--you must submit the general USC Graduate Online Application for Admission and the corresponding supplemental materials for the Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. program via the SlideRoom application. Materials sent by mail will not be accepted.

Clearly title all documents with the appropriate supplemental document title (e.g. Autobiographical Character Sketch, Creative Challenge A, etc.).

Step 1: Submit the General USC Graduate Application for Admission

  • To begin the application process, you will be required to submit the USC Graduate Application for Admission.
  • Be sure to indicate that you are applying to the USC School of Cinematic Arts and select the "Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A." program.
  • Please complete all sections of the application including the "Questions" tab of the "Program Materials" section of the application.

If you experience any technical issues, please contact Graduate Admissions here.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

By indicating that you are interested in submitting an application for the Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. on the USC Graduate Application for Admission, you will be provided with information on how to access the SlideRoom application. This information can be found under the "Supplemental Forms" section of USC's Graduate Application for Admission.

The following supplemental materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom application for admission consideration:

  1. Autobiographical Character Sketch (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    Write a creative essay or short story that evokes an understanding of how you became who you are. This should reflect your individuality. It's not a resume. (1-2 pages in length)

  2. Creative Challenges (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    1. Write a scene between two very different kinds of people who get stuck in an elevator on New Year's Eve. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
    2. Write a scene between two people (e.g., a parent and child, roommates, spouses, etc.) who live together. The first character strongly desires to go out; the second desperately wants the first to stay home. Emphasize visual elements as well as dialogue. 2-5 pages. Please use screenplay format.
  3. Most Challenging Moment (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    Convey in writing the greatest challenge you have faced and how you responded to it. The challenge may be of any kind you care to write about -physical, emotional, moral, creative, personal, professional or some other sort. (1-2 pages in length).

  4. Writing Sample (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    One sample of your creative writing. This may be an excerpt with a note explaining the context. Writing in script form is not required. Please only include original material-do not submit a television spec episode of an existing television show. Maximum of 10 pages. If you send more than 10, only the first 10 will be read.

  5. Curriculum Vitae (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    A record of the applicant's background and experience, listing education, employment, etc.

  6. Creative Portfolio List (please upload in PDF format under the "Forms" section):
    A list of all significant creative projects in which the applicant has participated, noting the role the applicant has played. Formal recognition such as awards, publications, and exhibitions should also be noted. An example of the portfolio list is below:
    • July 2008, A Day in the Life, digital video, 12 minutes. Position: writer/director. A documentary on a homeless Iraq vet who has lived on the streets since his return from the military. Created for senior-year multimedia term project, San Raphael High School, Miami, Florida.
    • March 2008, Doorways, a series of 5 black-and-white photographs. Position: photographer. "Second Prize Winner" in the Des Moines Sunday Journal photo contest.
    • February 2007, Cellomorphosis, short story. Position: writer. A variation on the novella by Franz Kafka; published in Writing, vol. IV, 2007, at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts.
  7. Letters of Recommendation (One letter from an academic reference.)
    Three letters of recommendation are required. All letters of recommendation must be submitted via the SlideRoom reference system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been received.

Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts

Official transcripts from all schools attended since high school graduation must be submitted to USC. For guidelines on how to send your official transcripts to USC, please click here. It is recommended that you send all official transcripts to USC's Office of Graduate Admissions at least 3 weeks prior to the application deadline. Official hard-copy transcripts should be mailed to:

University of Southern California
USC Office of Graduate Admission
3601 South Flower Street
Room 112
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

Step 4: Submit Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Applicants Only)

International students are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) unless you fulfill one of these two conditions:

  1. You hold a bachelor's degree completed in residency in the United States or other English speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (except Quebec). The bachelor's degree should come from a regionally accredited university located in the United States or an officially recognized university in another country where English is both the language of instruction and the only officially recognized language of the country. Please note that the entire program must have been completed in the qualifying country. USC will not waive the English-proficiency requirement based on either a graduate degree from a university in the U.S. or other qualifying country, or an undergraduate program taught in English in a non-English speaking country.

  2. Your native language is English. This applies to native English speakers from countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada (except Quebec) where English is both the only official language of the country and the language of instruction.

If you are unsure if you need to take the language exam, please check with the USC Office of Graduate Admissions. Applicants must meet one of the minimum required scores below:

  • TOEFL
    • Minimum required score: 100 on the iBT test
    • Submit scores via ETS. When sending the scores, please indicate the institution code for USC, which is 4852 (no department code is required).
  • IELTS:
    • Minimum required score: 7.0 overall band score
    • To submit your IELTS results to USC, please select the "University of Southern California"
      • USC will only accept electronic IELTS scores. Paper scores are not considered official.
  • PTE
    • Minimum required score: 68 on the PTE test
    • Please request to have official scores sent electronically through the PTE website.

Applicants must receive the minimum required score to be considered. Official scores must be received directly from the testing service and date no earlier than 2 years (24 months) prior to the start of your intended first term at USC.

Step 5: Apply for SCA Scholarships (Optional)

The SCA Scholarship Application is optional and is not required for admission consideration. However, all students who wish to be considered for scholarships must complete the SCA Scholarship Application, which will be available only to applicants who submit a complete application for admission. The scholarship application will open on Monday, January 4th and the deadline to apply is Friday, February 5th. For more information about SCA Scholarships, please visit the SCA Scholarships page.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

All Writing for Screen and Television M.F.A. applicants will be considered for The Robert Rodriguez Fellowships to Support New Voices in Entertainment funded by The USC Fogelman Family Fund for Diversity (no separate application is required to be considered for this fellowship). To learn more about this opportunity and other SCA Scholarships, please visit the SCA Scholarships page.

Many financial aid and scholarship processes run concurrently with the admissions process. Therefore, please be sure to research and apply for financial aid and scholarships as you are applying for admission. For more information about applying for financial aid at USC, please contact the USC Financial Aid Office. Prospective students are also encouraged to consider USC Scholarships as the university maintains a number of prestigious scholarship programs.

Proof of Financial Support (International Applicants Only)

International applicants (those who are, or will be, in the United States on a non-immigrant visa) must submit documented evidence of financial support. The U.S. government requires that all international student applicants provide proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses for themselves and their dependents (if applicable) before a formal letter of admission and an I-20 or DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility can be issued. The financial support must be sufficient to cover the student's estimated expenses for one academic year (9-12 months) as determined by USC. To learn about the guidelines for submitting documents, including a list of expenses for the upcoming academic year, please visit USC's Graduate Admissions web page for submitting financial documents.