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Television Writing

  • Program Overview

    MFA in Television Writing

    The MFA in Television Writing is a two plus year program that is designed to enable the aspiring Television Writer to expand their artistic vision, hone their skills and build their writing portfolio in order to break into this growing and dynamic field and thrive once working in the profession. Students will graduate with a portfolio of three pilot scripts. In addition, each student will write, direct and produce a micro pilot for an original web series. Students will also learn how to work in collaborative writers rooms with showrunners to break stories and build season arcs on both open ended and limited series.  Faculty: Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, Alan Kingsberg, Magdalene Brandeis, Scott Burkhardt, Syd Sidner, Jim Jennewein, Kris Lefcoe, Adam Yaffe, Stephen Gates, Perry Blackshear, Jennie Allen, Simone Pero, Karen Offitzer, and Jordan Roberts, along with top industry professionals, guide participants through the essential elements of TV Writing. Hands-on, experiential, in-depth, project driven.

    The curriculum requires 45-48 credits.

    Interested students should request information from the department and find application information at

    Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, especially if they plan to apply for financial aid.


    The scholarship application deadline is January 1, 2024 for Fall 2024

    Television Writing

    Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing & Film

    Associate Provost: Paul Harding, (631) 632-5028 

    Artistic Director: Christine Vachon, (646) 472-2025

    Director: Alan Kingsberg, (646) 472-2025

    Director of the Manhattan Center: Scott Sullivan 646) 472-2025

    Degree Awarded: M.F.A. in Television Writing

    Web Sites:


  • Admissions


    The scholarship application deadline is January 1, 2024 for Fall 2024.


    This MFA program is intensive, and admission to it is highly selective.  Upon review, finalists may be invited for an on-campus interview.

    Please use Stony Brook Graduate School's Online Application.

    You must create an account to start a new application. You can also log in to continue an application after an account has been created.

    For admission, the following, in addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, are required:

    1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
    2. Undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0.
    3. Three letters of recommendation.
    4. A current resume
    5. A statement of purpose. Describe in a page or two why you are interested in this opportunity, how you would benefit, and what makes you a particularly deserving candidate. Upload this to the Additional Supplemental Materials, personal statement section of the application.
    6. Video Pitch. (Go to Portfolio Instructions and upload Video Pitch to the Digital Portfolio section of the application.)
    • All candidates: This is one of the more important elements to your application. You have probably seen people pitching for donations on a crowdsourcing site. In this case, you should pitch us yourself as a candidate. You can mention a project you want to work on, or something else that is exciting to you but we are interested in who you are as a creative artist/storyteller. The video pitch should be creative, polished, inventive. We want you to win us over here! SUGGESTED LENGTH: 3 MINUTES
    • Written materials: (All written materials may be uploaded in the Additional Supplemental Materials section)

      Your written material should include:

    • All Candidates: The Scene. Write a short, 2-3-page scene inspired by one of these words that have no English language translation. We prefer a scene with two characters where one character wants something from the other, and that you do NOT explicitly use the word you have chosen.

      • Glas wen (Welsh) - A smile that is insincere or mocking. Literally, a blue smile.Yuputka
      • (Ulwa) - The phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.Iktsuarpok
      • (Inuit) - You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

    • All Candidates: The Logline. Write an extended log line or a paragraph describing a project you’d like to realize with us. Attach this logline to the bottom of your scene. Please note here as well: MFA in Television Writing.



    If a student accepted into the M.F.A. program wishes to offer, either for credit toward the degree or for exemption from enrollment in courses required by Stony Brook, analogous courses taken at another university, transcripts and other supporting material must be presented for consideration by the graduate program director before the end of the student’s first semester in the program (see Transfer of Credit from Other Universities).

    Robert  Sklar  Diversity Fellowship

    In Fall 2024, we will award a handful of full and partial Graduate and Teaching Assistantships to our incoming students, particularly to those students who can contribute to the diversity of Stony Brook. All applications for full-time study in the Fall term are considered, provided that the application is submitted by January 1, 2024. These GA/TA awards are extremely competitive.

    A full TA/GA offer comes with an academic-year stipend of approximately $20,000, a 15-20 hour/week workload, full tuition waiver and subsidized health insurance. A partial TA/GA offer comes with a 50% tuition remission scholarship, and an academic-year stipend of approximately $10,000, as well as subsidized health insurance and an 8-10 hour/week workload; after 8-10 hour/week workload; or with a 25% tuition remission scholarship, and an academic-year stipend of approximately $5,000, as well as subsidized health insurance and an 4-6 hour/week workload. Students in good standing could expect to have their funding renewed for their second year, when they teach film and screenwriting courses to Stony Brook undergraduates. 

    Recipients of funding offers who can contribute to the diversity of Stony Brook may be additionally eligible for the  Turner Fellowship. Those with outstanding academic promise may be eligible for the  Graduate Council Fellowship. These fellowships award an additional $30,000 over the course of three years to their recipients, along with tuition waiver and stipend.

    GRE - Even though the application will ask for it, you do not need GRE scores.


    In the program drop-down menu, please choose MFA in TV Writing, and indicate whether you are applying as a part-time or full-time student. Type “Manhattan Track” in the “Specialization” line.

    If a recommender does not want to submit a letter online or doesn’t use email, you may print out a blank recommendation form for him or her to fill out and mail directly to the program.

    Electronic official transcripts from any undergraduate and graduate institutions you have attended should be sent to the Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions, at

    or snail-mailed directly to the graduate school:

    Office of Graduate and Health Sciences Admissions
    Stony Brook University
    Health Sciences Tower, Level 2 - Rm. 271
    Stony Brook, NY 11794-8276

    For questions, please call Margaret Grigonis at (631) 632-5028

    Qualified graduate students without TA/GA funding are encouraged and, in their second year, eligible to apply for teaching artist and administrative jobs as they arise.

    To favor one incoming student over another, by awarding assistantships or prizes, runs counter to our philosophy that we are all in this together, faculty and students alike, struggling with the extraordinarily difficult work of putting words together. If you earn admission to our program, with funding or without, we guarantee that you will be treated with the same respect as any other member of our community.

    Then there's your own resourcefulness in defraying the costs of graduate study. Applicants are encouraged to explore opportunities for external funding independent of our program's limited resources. For more information on other types of financial aid, contact the   Office of Student Financial Aid Services   at (631) 632-6840


    For More Information

    The fine print about transfer credits, international students, and other admissions arcana is revealed in the  Graduate Bulletin.

    Or contact us:

    MFA Program in Television Writing

    Chancellors Hall, Room 239

    Stony Brook Southampton

    239 Montauk Highway Southampton, NY 11968

    Phone: (631) 632-5028

    Fax: (631) 632-2576



  • Degree Requirements

    Degree Requirements

    The MFA in Television Writing requires a minimum of 45 credits.  In addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, the following are required:

    Program requirements: 45 – 49 credits

    Required Core Courses:  19 credits

    TVW 500 Introduction to Graduate Studies, 4 cr.

    TVW 501 Film Tools, 3 cr.

    TVW 537 Production I, 3 cr.

    TVW 638 Directing I, 3 cr.

    TVW 650 Screenwriting Workshop, 3 cr.

    TVW 660 Acting Workshop, 3 cr. (SOUTHAMPTON)

    Experiential Option: 3 credits

    One or more of the following Experiential options:

    TVW 591 Independent Project

    TVW 690 Professional Internship; or

    TVW 550 Teaching Practicum, 3 cr.

    Required MFA Project & Thesis: 6 credits

    TVW 691 MFA Project, 3 cr. (SOUTHAMPTON)

    TVW 692 Thesis, 3 cr. (SOUTHAMPTON)

    Select six or more of the following (17-21 credits):

    TVW 505 TVW Management I

    TVW 510 TV Writing History

    TVW 526 Topics in TV Writing

    TVW 536 Forms of TV Writing

    TVW 575 Adaptation

    TVW 525 Topics in TV Writing

    TVW 576 TV Writing Workshop

    TVW 651 Screenwriting Workshop II

    TVW 652 Screenwriting Workshop III

    CWL 530 Forms of Scriptwriting

    With permission of MFA Director, one additional course from Creative Writing and Literature (CWL 510 or above).

    Residence Requirement 

    This program is normally completed in three years of full-time residency. Three credits must include Southampton residency, TVW 660 Acting for Directors, (or course substitution, pending approval from Director).

    University Requirements

    The granting of master’s degree is based upon the completion of any special departmental requirements in addition to the items listed below:

    Courses and Grade Point Average 

    A student must maintain a 3.0 overall grade point average


    Degree candidates must be registered in the program granting their degree. Students must be registered for the semester in which they intend to graduate. Spring (May) and Fall (December) candidates must register for at least one graduate credit; Summer (August) candidates may register for zero credits in either summer session, but it still must be graduate level.

    Time Limits

    The time limit for the MFA is three years for full-time study and five years for part-time study. A student’s full- or part-time status is based on registration, and the time-limit may be modified if enrollment switches between part- and full-time. The student may petition for an extension of time limit for the degree. Such requests must be filed before the limit is exceeded and must contain a significant justification.

  • Facilities


    The MFA in Film is located primarily at the Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing and Film at 535 8th Avenue, and also in the Carriage House on the Stony Brook Southampton campus, which includes the Avram Theater and Gallery, a 429-seat theater that was substantially renovated in 2007. The program features an impressive range of industry standard camera, light, grip and sound equipment. Highlights include  the RED Epic-W, Canon C100 MKII, Canon XC10, Canon 5D and 7D, Go Pro Hero 4, Canon Cine Prime Lenses, Zooms, Kino Flos, ARRI 4 and 3 Light Kits, Lite Panels, Dedos, Tascam Field Recorders, RODE, AT and Sennheiser Shotguns, Countryman Lavs, Kessler Slider, and several one ton grip packages. Our post-production offerings include 27" iMacs equipped with Adobe Creative Cloud, AVID Media Composer and Pro Tools. The University Library holds in excess of 15,000 items comprised of books, eBooks, videos, periodicals, music scores, dissertations, and audio files related to the study of film, which are easily accessible through interlibrary document delivery. Our book collection contains over 7,500 volumes.


  • Faculty

    Faculty of the MFA in Television Writing  Program

    Associate Professor

    Reeves, Robert, Associate Provost. M.A., 1977, Harvard University

    Kingsberg, Alan. Director, MFA in TV Writing, M.F.A. 1984, New York University.

    Visiting Professor

    Vachon, Christine, Artistic Director.  B.A., 1983, Brown University

    Visiting Assistant Professor

    Brandeis, Magdalene, Executive Director.  M.F.A., 2008, Stony Brook University

    Koffler, Pamela. B.A., 1987, Yale University

    Allen, Jennie. M.F.A., 2013, Columbia University

    Crooks, Leonard. M.B.A., 1981, Strathclyde University, Scotland. Former head of the UK Film Council’s New Cinema Fund.

    Pero, Simone.  M.P.P., 1994, University at Albany

    Blackshear, Perry. M.F.A., MFA 2012, New York University

    Sidner, Syd. M.F.A., 2000. Columbia School of the Arts


    Burkhardt, Scott. M.F.A., 2008. Columbia School of the Arts

    Gates, Stephen, MFA, 1990, NYU.

    Jennewein, Jim. University of Notre Dame

    Lefcoe, Kris.  1993. University of Toronto.

    Offitzer, Karen. M.F.A. University of Arizona, M.A. NYU.

    Roberts, Jordan. M.F.A., 2009.  New York Film Academy

    Adam Yaffe, MFA, 1996, Columbia University.

  • Contact

    Television Writing

    Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing & Film

    Associate Provost: Paul Harding, (631) 632-5028 

    Artistic Director: Christine Vachon, (646) 472-2025

    Director: Alan Kingsberg, (646) 472-2025

    Director of the Manhattan Center: Scott Sullivan 646) 472-2025

    Degree Awarded: M.F.A. in Television Writing

    Web Sites: