Achievement by Screenwriting Students and Alumni

  • Full-length feature filmscript sold to Disney
  • Full-length feature filmscript sold to Universal
  • Full-length feature film distributed in wide release by Tristar Pictures
  • Television episodes aired on Disney Channel
  • Best comedy, Script Exposure Screenwriting Competition
  • 1st place, Write Movies International Screenwriting Competition

Listen to a podcast by Larry Brenner about the sale of his script to Disney:

Film Production Seminar

In the Film Production Seminar, students film, direct, and edit their own short scripts. A filming session is pictured above. Here are examples of these short pieces.

The Half-Blind Date by Ashley Cook, screenwriting

Mary Merry by Jenny Blandford, screenwriting

Clown Karma by Cappy Rush, playwriting

The Intern by Roland Mann, fiction

About the Screenwriting Program

At Spalding, we offer individual tracks in Screenwriting or Playwriting, with an opportunity for optional interdisciplinary study for the student interested in acquiring a mastery of writing for both screen and stage. The unique Spalding University Master of Fine Arts degree combines traditional on-campus classes with nontraditional independent study. Students can choose to study on-campus in Louisville, KY, or abroad in an international residency. Each residency experience lasts ten days. Upon returning home (where writers actually do their writing), students work in the independent study, usually with an exchange by email, in a way that is both intense, individually tailored, and one-on-one with their expert teacher. Due to the small size and high student to teacher ratio of the low-residency MFA program, instructors are able to provide highly focused attention to each individual students’ project. For film, TV, and theater professionals who wish to earn a terminal degree, the Spalding low-residency MFA offers the perfect course of study. In addition, the mentors come from both coasts: east and west, and their teaching styles reflect both an independent and more commercial sensibility.

Acceleration for Professionals

Students who have had a film, TV pilot or series, or stage play produced may wish to inquire about completing the program in three semesters instead of four.

Designing a Course of Study

During the Spalding residency, screenwriters (film and TV) attend workshop discussions offering both peer and faculty feedback on scripts by workshop members. Students also attend lectures on the writing for film, TV, and theater, view films, TV shows, and filmclips as the basis for discussion, hear readings by professional actors of student scripts and plays, plan their future writing and reading/viewing in consultation with their mentor, and attend plenary lectures about principles that apply to all forms of creative writing. Residencies include a production component (the Film Production Seminar) that gives students hands-on experience moving short scripts into actual films and videos as they take turns assuming roles directing, acting, filming, and editing.MFA-FPS

During the independent-study portion of the semester, students send their mentors five installments of their work at regular intervals. An installment typically consists of a student’s original scripts—new and revised versions—and short critical essays focusing on their reading/viewing of professional scripts. Both the student’s scripts and films selected for study may vary in length and mode, from very short to feature length, from thrillers to art films, from fantasy to documentaries, from comedies to tragedies. Students are encouraged to experiment in different modes.


Whether the student chooses to begin a semester in Louisville or abroad, all residencies provide an exciting learning environment and a nurturing community. Students form important friendships and professional connections among writers not only pursuing screenwriting for film and TV but in our other areas of concentration—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, writing for children and young adults, and playwriting. All students participate in cross-genre reading and writing opportunities and in experiencing the interrelatedness of all the arts. Residencies provide the added stimulation of interacting with the local culture.

Choosing Among Fall, Spring and Summer Semesters

Students should choose a combination of spring/fall study if they

● wish to complete the program in two years
● prefer residencies in Louisville, a culturally rich, easily accessible American city
● choose to spend 25 hours a week on their studies

Students should choose summer study if they

● want to enrich their studies with international travel
● can participate in a residency more easily in summer than in spring or fall
● prefer a longer semester with a less intensive writing schedule at home (15 hours a week)
● would like to spread tuition costs over a longer period of time
● want to complete the program in four years

Students who wish to study in the longer semester without traveling abroad may attend the spring residency.

Students who mix the summer and spring/fall semesters can finish the program in about three years.

Designed for mature people who wish to obtain the MFA (a terminal degree, like the PhD), the Spalding program features intellectual stimulation, emotional support, and the opportunity to do a great deal of writing with individualized instruction from a professional teacher-writer. Our students and faculty come from all parts of the U.S. as well as some foreign countries. Our youngest entering student was twenty-two; our oldest graduate was eighty-two.

Summer residency destinations (past and upcoming) include London/Bath (2008), Barcelona (2009), Buenos Aires (2010), Rome/Tuscany (2011), and Paris (2012).

In addition to features discussed above, all the Spalding MFA semesters include

● the opportunity to apply for TV and screenwriting scholarships/assistantships or federal student loans
● low student-faculty ratio
● a choice of housing accommodations

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines are  February 1 for the spring and summer semesters and August 1 for the fall semester.

What Our Graduates Say

David B. Carren (UTPA Associate Professor, University of Texas-Pan American): “The program was a joy for me. I worked on five projects, two of which I eventually sold or optioned. The environment created at Spalding is incredibly supportive and productive.”

Wayne Crawford (Faculty, University of North Carolina, School for the Arts): “I was a writer when I started. Now, after the Spalding experience, I’m a much better writer. If you want an intellectual and artistic workout—Spalding is the place. The program is rigorous and exciting. It’s a terrific program that has informed my teaching.”

Keith Nixon (Script Analyst, Hart/Lunsford Pictures) :”The MFA in Screenwriting program at Spalding University is both rigorous and exciting. I believe that working with qualified mentors, who care about my critical and creative work, has made all the difference in the world.”

Recent Guests

● Archie Borders (Paper Cut)
● Sabrina Dhawan (Monsoon Wedding)
● Jonas Goodman (We Don’t Live Here Anymore)
● Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)
● Ed Hart (Diminished Capacity)
● Elliot Greenbaum (Assisted Living)
● Gil Holland (The War Boys)
● David Kipen, author of The Schreiber Theory
● Bobby Moresco (Crash, Million Dollar Baby)
● Marsha Norman (‘night Mother)
● Kevin Willmott (C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America)

Faculty, current and recent

● David-Matthew Barnes (Threnody)
● Larry Brenner (Bethlehem)
● Charles Gaines (Edith Wharton’s Summer, Pumping Iron, Pumping Iron II: The Women, Stay Hungry)
● Helena Kriel (Skin, Heated and The Other Woman; adaptations of The Good Soldier, The Arabian Nights, Tsotsi, Valley Song, and Wuthering Heights; Kama Sutra, The Day the Mercedes Became a Hat)
● Charles Schulman (The Apollo Comedy Hour)
● Sam Zalutsky (How to Make It to the Promised Land, You Belong to Me, SuperStore Stefan’s Silver Bell, Boy’s Briefs, Smear)

Click for a pdf of the screenwriting brochure.

Complete faculty information

Contact us:

MFA Office: (502) 873-4400 or (800) 896-8941, ext. 4400

MFA in Writing
Spalding University
851 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40203

page last updated 07-08-14