Perfect your writing craft for page, stage, and screen.
Turn passion into action and learn the craft of professional storytelling for film, television, the stage, and emerging media with Antioch University Santa Barbara’s MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media. Whether you’re a writer, screenwriter, or playwright, you will discover how to use the fundamental elements of narrative to craft stories. Earn more than just a degree by balancing intensive study with tangible professional assistance on how to improve, market and present your work for post-graduation success.
This degree is offered by AU Santa Barbara.
When you complete our mentor-based MFA program, you will not only have a professional-level product in your chosen genre but will be prepared to apply your skills to your future creative projects.
Our low-residency, four-semester MFA program combines the flexibility of online learning with in-person faculty and student collaboration. Each semester begins with a week-long residency in our picturesque Santa Barbara setting. During the residency, students work actively with faculty mentors against a beautiful Pacific backdrop as they develop ideas, receive feedback on their work, and shape creative projects that meet their professional goals.
After each residency, the semester continues online as students balance intensive study in the art and craft of storytelling with practical instruction on how to improve, market, and present their work.
AUSB MFA students can work in TV/screenwriting, playwriting, or emerging and new media. If a student wishes to pursue a Dual Concentration (3 semesters studying a primary genre, 2 semesters studying a secondary genre) they may do so.
View the latest edition of our newsletter: The MFA Citizen Newsletter – December
4 semesters (full-time)
AUSB’s MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media program is a low residency program that is made up of 48 academic units distributed across four semesters. The program is designed to be completed in four semesters, for a total of 28 face-to-face days of instruction across four Residencies. The MFA semester consists of an intensive 7-day on-campus residency, followed by a five-month online project period during which each student focuses on their creative project goals as well as scholarly work under the supervision of a faculty mentor. The Semester continues using Antioch University’s virtual learning environment (i.e., Sakai) for the remainder of each semester. Students will also be required to attend a 3-day Graduation Residency to make a final presentation of a portion of their Thesis Project.
Project Period Coursework:
Project periods are the online portion of each semester following each residency. They last about twenty weeks, with work packets due 5 times, or about every 4 weeks.
In each work packet, students submit 25-30 pages of written work, both creative and scholarly. They will receive detailed feedback on this work from a faculty mentor within a week.
Students will have ten reading assignments (books, plays, screenplays) per project period and will maintain an annotated bibliography of their reading throughout the program.
During Semester 1, students are required to write a short critical paper (approximately 5 pages) followed by a longer paper (12-15 pages) during the second term. This paper is based on library or online research or is an in-depth critical reaction to a topic agreed upon by the student and the mentor. The paper typically examines a topic of literary or cultural theory, or a craft issue in a genre. It may also be a literary or historical study or a biographical study.
During the third and fourth terms, students will develop, write and revise a thesis project such as a full length screenplay or stage play. Students working in television or emerging media will generate a project appropriate to their genre but of equivalent length and complexity to a full-length screenplay.
The program’s coursework expands your understanding of yourself, your community, and our society to give you a more comprehensive outlook on your work and your professional goals. The MFA graduate:
- Understands his/her own creative process and cognitive strengths, and possesses strategies for applying that knowledge towards successful writing goals.
- Is adept at analyzing his/her own writing and its effect on targeted audiences.
- Understands the unique distinctions that exist between different media platforms: television, film, stage, and emerging media.
- Possesses full understanding of how to transform actual or fictional experience into narrative through competent and imaginative writing.
- Emerges from the program with a full-length, publication, or production-ready work, as well as strategy for the final product’s marketing and presentation.
- Has expertise in a chosen genre, and can produce creative work suitable for the right professional setting.
Admissions / Cost / Aid
The MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media program seeks applicants who want to participate effectively as writers in professional, academic, and community settings; want to develop their skills in the craft of writing; care deeply about the role of the arts and artists in society, and share a commitment to and appreciation for culturally diverse writers and traditions. The program upholds Antioch University Santa Barbara’s tradition of honoring both academic and experiential learning. Applicants must be self-motivated individuals who are able to work independently in a distance-learning format. Program participants must have access to a computer, Microsoft Word, and the Internet.
Admissions for this program are rolling. The MFA Summer/Fall term begins mid-June, and the Winter/Spring term begins mid-December. View dates and deadlines
Please note: AUSB’s MFA Program does not provide Visa credentials for international students.
- Complete the online admissions application
- Complete and submit the Admission Essay. In one 3-5 page, double-spaced essay, please address the following:
- Describe your background as a writer (including academic training, professional experience, experiential learning, workshops, continuing education courses, etc.)
- Describe your goals as a writer and how you see AUSB’s MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media helping you to fulfill these goals.
- Describe your goals and experiences in the context of contemporary media and the digital environment.
- Which of our genres are you interested in exploring during your MFA program? Writing for Television – Screenwriting – Writing for the Stage – Writing for Radio – Multimedia (combining text with sound and/or image) – Emerging media (like podcasting or virtual reality or other new forms) – other.
- Send in all official transcripts indicating bachelor’s degree conferral from a regionally accredited institution.
- Submit a sample of writing, media, or production work.
- Recommendations: Please provide the names and contact information (email and phone) of two references whom we may contact during our admissions process (you will be prompted to do so during the application process). If you would like to turn in recommendations voluntarily, please have your recommender(s) send them to [email protected].
Please submit all materials to: Antioch University Santa Barbara, Admissions Office, 602 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101.
|Tuition Per Semester Unit||$840|
|All Students - General Fee (technology, electronic library, student activity)||$100|
|Late Registration Fee||$100|
|Transcript Fee/Transcript & Assessments Fee||$10/$15|
|Late Payment Fee||$50|
|Return Check Fee||$50|
Please note: Additional fees for all AUSB programs may include (but are not necessarily limited to) charges for materials, late registration, enrollment maintenance, parking, graduation, transcripts, tuition payment plan, late payments, late registration, and returned checks.
A majority of AUSB students finance their education through some form of financial aid. You may not be sure which federal, state, public, and private aid packages – such as loans, scholarships, and grants – are right for you. Our staff is here to help you, so you can focus on what’s most important: beginning your academic program at AUSB. Learn more about financial aid.
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