Master of Fine ArtsDramatic Writing

writers working on a script

Third-year MFA Dramatic Writing student and actor discussing script changes during a rehearsal for a production in the School’s annual New Works Festival Year 3. Photo by Craig Schwartz

American Theatre is at a transformative moment — be a part of that change.

The Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing (MFADW) at the USC School of Dramatic Arts provides students with the foundation to not only build a fruitful career, but to further discover and develop their own authentic voice.  

At the heart of this program, the MFADW teaches playwriting first and foremost, then expands into adaptation, screenwriting, television writing, digital media and beyond. Presentations occur each year as part of a yearly New Works Festival, presented in conjunction with prominent local and national theatres most recently including The Hero Theatre, The Latino Theatre Company and Pasadena Playhouse.

Opportunities for collaboration with acting students at the graduate and undergraduate levels are also supported — as well as internships and exposure to a wide array of celebrated guest artists, who have included Suzan-Lori Parks, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Colman Domingo, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner and many others.

SDA MFADW alumni have found their success on stages throughout the country and internationally, as well as on film and television, and other media. More importantly, they have learned ways to sustain and to find joy in their dramatic writing, giving them not simply a career but a calling.

Apply Now


Our conservatory-style MFA program offers artists the opportunity to engage with other artistic students and develop a skill-set that extends their curiosity and challenges their imagination in a supportive, environment.

For more, visit the USC Catalogue.

Year One
THTR 500 Dramaturgical Perspectives and Approaches (4 units)
THTR 501 Poetry and Prose into Drama (4 units)
THTR 506 Advanced Creating Characters (2 units)
THTR 529A Textual Studies for Performance (4 units)
THTR 566 Dramatic Writing Studio (8 units)
THTR 590 Directed Research (2 units)

Year Two
THTR 500 Dramaturgical Perspectives and Approaches (4 units)
THTR 501 Poetry and Prose into Drama (4 units)
THTR 566 Dramatic Writing Studio (8 units)
THTR 590 Directed Research (2 units)
CTWR 513 Writing the Short Script (2 units)
CTWR 514A Basic Dramatic Screenwriting (2 units)
CTWR 514B Basic Dramatic Screenwriting (2 units)

Year Three
THTR 500 Dramaturgical Perspectives and Approaches (4 units)
THTR 501 Poetry and Prose into Drama (4 units)
THTR 527 Writing the Pacific Rim: Global and Western Dramatic Writing (4 units)
THTR 566 Dramatic Writing Studio (8 units)
THTR 596A&B Thesis Development and Attainment (4 units)

A minimum of 72 units of graduate coursework, the submission of a full-thesis on the University’s thesis submission due date, successful annual reviews, and full participation including rehearsals and attendance in all New Works Festivals events, must be completed prior to degree being granted.  These requirements will be part of the grade evaluation for THTR 596b.

Learn more about the learning objectives.