Faculty & Staff  |  Current Students

Online | News | Calendar | Directory | Library | Give

Conservatory of Performing Arts

Screenwriting and Playwriting Program Structure


Students in a stage craft class at the Playhouse. Photo | John McKieth

Design your M.F.A. in Screenwriting or Playwriting

The M.F.A. in writing for the screen and stage provides flexibility in degree design and completion. After an immersion into the principles of dramatic writing, students may select to focus their studies on:

Screen and Stage Faculty

The program will be taught by nationally recognized, award-winning screenwriters and playwrights, including:

  • Matt Pelfrey, graduate program director and assistant professor
  • Elise D'Haene, visiting artist, screenwriter, novelist and editor
  • Molly Rice part-time faculty, playwright and songwriter

Guest Artists

The Conservatory has a rich tradition of inviting distinguished guest artists to campus. Previous artists include:

  • Screenwriting (film, television, digital, web): plunge into the arduous work of developing scripts;
  • Playwriting: dive into creating plays;
  • Or, choose to engage in both disciplines.

Regardless of focus, the rubrics of storytelling are the same: structure, characterization and story development. As you move through the program, progress and mastery of the following will be expected:

  • Plot, structure and theme
  • Story development
  • Collaboration and rewrites
  • Dialogue
  • Format
  • Premise
  • Character

The balanced interplay of these fundamentals is essential to producing successful work.

Additional Area of Focus in Dramatic Writing

Writers in today's market need to be versatile, ready to anticipate future trends and prepared to write across various forms of media.

In addition to a focus on genre in screenwriting or playwriting, you will be required to produce a second area of dramatic writing such as:

  • Animation
  • Gaming
  • Digital media
  • Webisodes
  • Narrative forms for social media

Low-Residency Program Highlights


Over the course of two years, you will attend three dynamic residencies of one to two weeks on Point Park's Downtown Pittsburgh campus. The program includes temporary housing at no additional cost in close proximity to campus.

Class entering in 2016

  • Residency one: July 31-Aug. 5, 2016
  • Residency two: July 25-Aug. 4, 2017
  • Residency three: May 14-19, 2018 (may occur in Los Angeles, requiring additional fee)

Class entering in 2017

  • Residency one: July 31-Aug. 4, 2017
  • Residency two: July 25-Aug. 3, 2018 
  • Residency three: May 13-18, 2019 (may occur in Los Angeles, requiring additional fee)

Class entering in 2018

  • Residency one: July 30-Aug. 3, 2018
  • Residency two: July 24-Aug. 2, 2019
  • Residency three: May 11-16, 2020 (may occur in Los Angeles, requiring additional fee)

Class entering in 2019

  • Residency one: July 29-Aug.2, 2019
  • Residency two: July 22-31, 2020
  • Residency three: May 2021 TBD (may occur in Los Angeles, requiring additional fee)

In the residencies, you will participate in the exhilarating and exhaustive process of workshopping scripts and plays, engage in table reads with actors, directors, fellow students and visiting artists, and incorporate and offer feedback in an intensive collaborative environment.


Workshops with industry professionals will explore topics such as creativity, storytelling, genre, style, engaging an audience, writing across media, as well as brass tacks topics in professional development.

Career Development

Upon completion of the program, you will meet with faculty to discuss your professional next steps and goals with advice on internships, developmental programs, agents, interviews, teaching practicums and avenues for the future.

Screen and Stage Courses

Some of the courses offered in the writing for the screen and stage program include:

  • Dramatic Storytelling
  • Writing for the Screen and Stage
  • Engaging the Audience
  • Writing Landscapes
  • Thesis I, II and Presentation

Students in the M.F.A. low-residency program will have the opportunity to study and analyze classic and contemporary films and plays. Learn more about the degree requirements and coursework in the writing for the screen and stage course descriptions.