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We’ve designed our two-year MFA Program around six core courses, which introduce you to a set of “transportable” media writing concepts, as well as specific idioms/genres.

You’ll build a significant portfolio – a screenplay, play, TV episode, and full-length thesis project of your choosing. You’ll understand not just the art and craft of media writing, but also the business of media writing as well as practice pitching, taking meetings, writing query letters, and understanding contracts. You’ll choose from a range of writing topics courses, such as developing character, developing the pilot, writing the teen film, experimental adaptation, and interactive narrative. You’ll meet artists and executives from TV, stage, film, and new media. You’ll also take theory and history courses to give you a better sense of the relationship between writing and the broader worlds of theatre, film, and television.

Below are the specific course requirements, a sample schedule, and other graduation requirements. Questions? Please contact us at or 847-467-1157.

Coursework Requirements – 18 Units Total

Core courses (9)Units
RTVF 561 – Screenwriting Workshop (Year One + Year Two)2
RTVF 562 – Playwriting Workshop (Year One + Year Two)2
RTVF 563 – Television Writing Workshop (Year One + Year Two)2
RTVF 564 – Full-length Project I (Year Two Only)1
RTVF 565 – Full-length Project II (Year Two Only)1
RTVF 566 – Full-length Project III (Year Two Only)1
Production courses (300-level or higher) (1) 
From RTVF or Theatre with approval of the Director of the MFA.1
Theory/history/culture courses (300-level or higher) (1) 
From Screen Cultures/RTVF, Performance Studies, Art Theory and Practice, Theatre, or other departments with approval of MFA program director.1
Topics in Media Writing Courses AND Electives (6-8) 

RTVF 360 Topics in Media Writing — these courses vary in subject. Some sample courses include: 

Writing Horror/Fantasy/Supernatural
Writing the Dramatic Pilot
Writing the Comedy Screenplay
Writing the Sci-Fi Script
Writing the Anti-Hero
Writing the Fact-Based Drama
LGBTQIA for Theater, TV, and/or Web
Improv for Writers
Pitching the TV Series
Writing and Performing Stand-Up
Writing Video Games
Writing Complex Women
Writing the Musical

Non-writing electives from Production, Screen Cultures, Performance Studies, Art Theory and Practice, Theatre or other departments with approval of the Director of the MFA. Some sample courses include:

AF AM ST: Grad Topics in Af Am Studies: Toni Morrison
ANTHRO: Topics in Anthropology: Political Ecology
COMP LIT: Theories of Literature: Recounting the Plague: In and Around Literature
ENGLISH: Writers’ Studies in Literature: Art & Practice of Public Writing
GNDR ST: Topics: Gender/Sexuality Study: Queer Theory
HISTORY: Topics in US History: The US Empire
PERF ST: Topics in Performance Studies: Autobiographical Performance
RTVF: Topics in Post-Production: Color Correction
RTVF: Adv Seminar in Film & Video: Race, Performance & Media
RTVF : Symposium: Issues in RTVF: Religion, Film, Existentialism
THEATRE: Studies in Am Theatre & Drama: Rebuilding Theatre in Chicago
THEATRE: Theatre Practice: Devising

Professional Experience Practicum/Capstone 1
Total credits:18-20

Other MFA Degree Requirements

MFA students will be allowed to take a maximum of 20 credits.

Criteria for Satisfactory Academic Progress: You must maintain a B average. If your average is not a B or higher by the end of the first year, you may be asked to leave the program. 

First Year Review: The academic and professional progress of all first year MFAs will be reviewed in early June by the director of the program in consultation with writing faculty. If weaknesses are identified, a formal interview with that student will be conducted by the director and writing faculty to determine an appropriate course of action. Subsequent to that interview, at the discretion of the director, the grade for the spring core 500 level writing seminar may be used to determine whether that student will be allowed to continue in the program with a grade of C+ or below resulting in possible removal.

Final portfolio Review/Defense: In consultation with the Director of the Program, you will choose a committee of two faculty members (both part of the Graduate School faculty) to review your final portfolio (at least 3 substantial scripts created within the context of courses) and to judge your final defense of that portfolio.