Nov 28, 2021  
University Catalog 2021-2022 
University Catalog 2021-2022

Writing and Contemporary Media, MFA

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MFA in Writing & Contemporary Media
Location: AU Santa Barbara
Credits for Degree: 48 semester credits
Standard Mode of Instruction: Hybrid
Standard time to completion: 24 months

Program Overview

In AUSB’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing & Contemporary Media program, students learn the craft of professional storytelling. Whether students prefer writing for the stage, the screen, or new media, they will discover how to use the fundamental elements of narrative to craft stories. When students complete the MFA degree, they will have a high quality product in their chosen genre and will be prepared to apply their skills as a writer.

AUSB’s student-centered MFA program empowers writers to explore the ever-changing landscape of storytelling through numerous genres: film and television, stage, and Internet. Through intensive study and mentorship, students strengthen their creative thinking and writing skills, applying those skills to their chosen focus. With this balance of creative expression and practical application, our graduates are able to:

  • Write creatively and persuasively across a range of genres and formats
  • Employ a full range of story-crafting techniques in various professional settings
  • Understand how to match the right creative goal with the right genre and media platform
  • Understand how to market and sell their own creative product

MFA Program Design

The AUSB low-residency MFA program consists of 48 semester credits of coursework completed over four semesters. Each semester begins with a 7-day residency in our picturesque Santa Barbara setting, in which students and faculty engage in intensive study and community-based learning. The remainder of the semester takes the collaborative process into our virtual setting, allowing students the freedom to pursue their creative projects with continued mentorship from their instructor.


The Residency is an essential part of the AUSB MFA experience. Students spend an intensive week immersed in craft seminars, writing workshops, and developing an individualized reading and writing plan for the coming semester under the guidance of a mentor who is an expert in the student’s chosen genre of writing. Residencies also typically include guest artists. Recent guest artists include Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and screenwriter Richard Russo, acclaimed screenwriter Leslie Dixon, and writer/directors Jane Anderson, Billy Ray, and WarnerMedia Entertainment Senior Vice President Kelly Edwards.

Project Periods

After each residency, students return home and begin a 20-week project period. During this time, each student will submit 5 packets of work to their mentor. Each packet will contain 25-30 pages, which will include both scholarly and creative writing. Students will read at least two books, plays or screenplays during each packet period, and will write a short annotation of each work read.

During the student’s final two semesters, they will create a final manuscript or project appropriate to their chosen genre. For example, a screenwriter would create a polished draft of a feature-length screenplay. Or a TV writer might create a pilot script for a series as well as a second episode script. For emerging media, the length and format of the project will be determined in consultation with a faculty mentor.

Admission Requirements


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.

International Students

Please note: AUSB’s MFA Program does not provide Visa credentials for international students.

Application Requirements
  1. Complete the online admissions application
  2. Complete and submit the Admission Essay.
  3. Send in all official transcripts indicating bachelor’s degree conferral from a regionally accredited institution.
  4. Submit a sample of writing, media, or production work.

Current Tuition and Fees

University Tuition and Fees  

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