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Program FAQs

Yes!  We are thrilled to offer full tuition remission as well as a generous stipend for each quarter of the two year program.  So our program not only allows you to earn an MFA without having to worry about tuition, it also pays you so that you can focus more fully on your artistic growth.

Your storytelling abilities. The ability to surprise. To engage. To enrage. To shock. We are looking for maturity of topic, understanding of character, playfulness with genre. Ambition, scope, passion. In short: Potential. You may submit a play, screenplay or teleplay. No journalism, prose or poetry please.

Most importantly, we are looking for a deeper understanding of your background and goals as a writer. You may also address what you hope to learn in this Program and/or what you will bring to your peer group. We are looking for YOU in your Statement. Don’t write what you think you should, write who you are.

No. The Program is looking for creative writers who know how to spin a story. We are much more interested in your “voice” than your knowledge of proper formatting.

Yes. One of the reasons this MFA program is so unique is that it allows the student to focus on and/or discover other interests. As a graduate student, you will be able to (and are encouraged to) take advanced classes in departments such as Performance Studies, Radio-TV-Film, Theatre and more. Some examples of such classes are Studies in Film Noir & Neo Noir, Adaptation and Stage of Texts, a seminar on Media and Performance, Computer Animation, Dramatic Directing, Studies in American Theatre and Drama.

Yes, a variety of “topics” courses are usually offered once a year. Some examples of past courses are: Writing The Comedy, Writing Character, Writing the Romantic Comedy, Story Structure in the Feature Film, Writing the Thriller, Writing the TV Pilot, Writing the Successful Short Film and Rewriting.

Depending on the classes you elect to take, your instructors will most likely vary each quarter. Northwestern instructors are working writers with a wealth of experience and anecdotes (see faculty). They understand the Art of Writing, the Business of Writing, and the Life of a Writer.

Absolutely. Although our approach is interdisciplinary and we believe you’ll be excited by all three idioms, you can focus primarily on playwriting if you so choose. You’ll also be in Chicago, one of the centers of playwriting/new works in the country. So if you’re a playwright, this is a great program for you.

Absolutely. Although our approach is interdisciplinary and while we believe you’ll be excited by playwriting and the possibility of having a command of different media forms, you are required to take only one course in which the product is a play. The rest of your courses and activities can be organized around screenwriting if you so choose: Writing a full-length screenplay in your second year, taking topic courses that concentrate on screenwriting, possibly producing one of your screenplays as a film or video. So yes, this is a great program for you.

Well, not in the literal sense, but Northwestern alumni are known for their generosity, warmth, and willingness to “give back.” Other qualities Northwestern alumni are known for: helping new arrivals to LA or NY find jobs or even apartments; recommending their peers and colleagues for jobs, grants, fellowships; building a strong sense of community; adhering to the belief that “when one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”
No. Writers can be unconventional. Some don’t test well, but still have tremendous potential. We emphasize the writing sample, and statement of purpose over tests.

No. It’s got to be ten. Due to the volume of applications we receive, we can only read ten pages from everyone. These can be any ten pages that you want to submit: an excerpt; a complete work; a few shorter works. Just keep it under ten teleplay, screenplay or play pages—no prose, poetry or short stories, please.

Please email or call 847-467-1157. We look forward to speaking to you.