The Bachelor of Fine Arts in the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television is a unique, four-year program for students who seek intensive professional preparation for a career in screen and television writing. This rigorous program emphasizes small, workshop-style classes, an attracts students from all over the world. Students attend a variety of guest speaker presentations, take high level industry internships, are provided with mentors and taught by world-class professors.

The faculty admissions 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 but applicants may be contacted for more information or clarification of submitted materials. The committee ensures that all applicants are judged equitably by limiting evaluation to the items listed.

Application Overview

The following items must be submitted to be considered for admission to the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. program.

  • The Common Application
  • USC Writing Supplement
  • SlideRoom Application
    • Autobiographical Character Sketch
    • Creative Challenges (Both A & B are required)
    • Most Challenging Moment
    • Commitment Prompt
    • Writing Sample
    • Creative Portfolio List
    • Letters of Recommendation (3)
  • Official High School Transcripts
  • Official SAT or ACT Test Scores
  • Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Students Only)

In order to be considered for admission, all required applications and materials must be submitted by the deadline. Late applications will not be considered. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all materials are submitted.

The School of Cinematic Arts cannot verify receipt of any application materials. Applicants may check their USC Applicant portal and SlideRoom Application portal for the status of materials.

No specific high school curriculum is prescribed or required, though students offered admission typically pursue the most rigorous program available to them in English, mathematics, science, social studies, foreign language and the arts.

View additional detailed information regarding first-year admission on the Office of Admission’s website.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall Admission: December 1st (Application will open on August 1st)

View all Application Deadlines.

All applicants wishing to be considered for admission must complete the following steps in the application process where applicable:

Step 1: Submit the Common Application for General Admission and the USC Writing Supplement

The Common Application and USC Writing Supplement can be accessed at The Common Application website. Please note that the Common Application and USC Writing Supplement are two separate submissions. Both must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered for admission.

Please carefully review and follow the application instructions for first-year applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.

Step 2: Submit Supplemental Materials via the SlideRoom Application

In addition to the Common Application and USC Writing Supplement, all applicants are required to submit supplemental materials via the SlideRoom Application. Please be sure to submit the SlideRoom Application titled: " Writing for Screen & Television B.F.A. Program — First-Year/Freshmen Applicants & External Transfer Applicants." All materials must be submitted via the SlideRoom application and any materials sent by mail or email will not be considered.

  1. Autobiographical Character Sketch (must be upload in PDF format)
    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 - Both A & B are required: (must be upload in PDF format)
    Two scenes with assigned parameters:
    1. Write a scene between two very different kinds of people who get stuck in an elevator on New Year's Eve. Please use screenplay format. (2-5 pages in length)
    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. Please use screenplay format. (2-5 pages in length)
  3. Most Challenging Moment: (must be upload in PDF format)
    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. Commitment Prompt: (must be upload in PDF format)
    When did you want to be a writer?  Why do you want to be a writer? What keeps you writing?  (No more than 300 words)

  5. Writing Sample: (must be upload in PDF format)
    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)

  6. Creative Portfolio List (must be upload in PDF format)
    The Creative Portfolio List is 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.

  7. Letters of Recommendation
    Three letters of recommendation in particular format are required. At least one letter of recommendation must be an academic reference. Any letters submitted via the Common Application will be used towards the requirement and do not need to be resubmitted via SlideRoom. Any additional letters may be submitted via the SlideRoom references system. Applicants are responsible for requesting letters of recommendation as well as confirming that they have been submitted by the deadline.

Step 3: Send Official Academic Transcripts

First-year applicants should submit official transcripts of all high school and college coursework completed to USC's Office of Admission, not the School of Cinematic Arts.

Transcripts can be sent electronically via the Common Application or sent by mail to:

University of Southern California
Office of Undergraduate Admissions
University Park Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0911

Step 4: Send Official Test Scores

Arrange for the testing agency to send your SAT or ACT scores directly to USC.

The essay portion of the ACT is optional. The essay portion of the SAT will be optional for students taking the redesigned test in March 2016 or after.

Step 5: Submit Official English Proficiency Test Scores (International Applicants Only)

Academic success at USC depends on your ability to communicate effectively in English. All international applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency in the following manner:

First-year international applicants should earn:

  • Minimum score of 600 on the SAT Critical Reading exam (previous SAT) or 650 on the SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing exam (redesigned SAT) or 27 on the ACT English exam; OR
  • A minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL iBT (with a minimum score of 20 in each section); OR
  • A minimum IELTS score of 7; OR
  • A minimum PTE score of 68.

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.

Please carefully review and follow the application instructions for first-year international applicants on USC's Undergraduate Admission website.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

The School of Cinematic Arts offers scholarships to incoming students. To learn more, please visit the SCA Scholarships page. The Office of Student Affairs will notify all students who submit a completed application for admission information about the SCA scholarship application process. Please note that in order to be considered for SCA scholarships, domestic students are required to apply for Financial Aid at USC. Therefore, please make sure to complete your application for financial aid on time. 

Prospective students are also encouraged to consider USC Scholarships as the university maintains a number of prestigious scholarship programs. Learn more about costs and financial aid here.