Television Writing Intensive

6 Points with Non-Credit Option
Session I: May 26 - July 2
M, W 10 am - 1 pm & 2 - 5 pm; R 6 - 8 pm
Instructor(s): Alan Kingsberg, Charlie Rubin, Scott Burkhardt, Michael Rauch, Guy Nicolucci, Jerome Hairston, Syd Sidner
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The Television Writing Intensive is a six-week, concentrated and encompassing introduction into the field of television writing, designed to prepare students to join the professional worlds of half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas across network, cable and digital platforms. In an interconnected program consisting of two intensive writing workshops and a lecture series with guest writers and producers, students gain the knowledge and authority to explore, examine and create the kind of groundbreaking work that is taking over television here and around the world. 

The Television Writing Intensive focuses on two specific formats.  One is the half-hour comedy; the other is the one-hour drama. These two formats, although having much in common, come out of different traditions and are conceived and written in different ways.

This intensive course meets 15 hours per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays for six hours during the day, and Thursdays for three hours. The times for the Thursday class are usually in the evenings but may vary based on the availability of guest speakers and other opportunities such as visits to live production sets.
Site visit to Royal Pains
Actor/Director Mark Feuerstein talks with students on the set of Royal Pains.
The TV Writing Intensive taught me the skills I needed to get an agent at CAA and get staffed on the A&E prime time show The RETURNED. And it was the most fun I had while still learning!
—Jessie Nickson Lopez, Columbia Summer ‘12
Columbia’s TV Writing Intensive helped me build the writing portfolio I needed to gain admission to NYU's Dramatic Writing MFA. The classes were invaluable. I continue to revisit my notes from that summer.
—Nina Bradock  Columbia Summer ’11; NYU MFA ‘15

Class 5B, the original pilot I wrote in the TV Writing Intensive at Columbia was one the 20 finalists (out of 2000 submissions) in NetLab, Brazil's biggest teleplay competition.
—Iuli Gerbase, Columbia Summer ‘14
The Pilot
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

We examine the fundamental tools of the craft of television writing while developing and completing the steps towards an original one-hour drama or half-hour comedy pilot. 

With the pilot as focal point, we explore the opportunities and challenges of telling and sustaining a story episodically (one episode per week) and over a long period of time (a year, two years, five years, etc,) with an emphasis on the creation of the quintessential premise and the on-going conflict, be it thematic or literal, behind a successful series.

Over the first week of the course students present/pitch their series ideas.  During the subsequent week or two, students develop their “show bible” or “series concept” which becomes the foundation and blueprint of their potential series.

Working from the series concept, students create A, B and C stories for their pilot episode.  Once stories are solid, an outline is built and then students write scenes and work towards the goal of the final weeks of the course which is the beginnings of a finished pilot/teleplay.

Additional course work includes weekly examinations and analysis of successful teleplays, well established series, and the role of the writer/executive-producer in the medium.

Daily Show writer Zhubin Parang talks about his work in the 2014 Writers Room class.        
The Spec
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

We examine the fundamental tools of the craft of television writing while developing a speculative script for an existing television series.

The course focuses on how to tell multiple original stories for established characters within a single episode.  Key to writing a successful spec is learning how to deconstruct stories, define character missions and incorporate the established templates of an existing series. This task closely mirrors the job of a staff writer hired on a prime time TV show and informs the work that takes place in the Pilot class.

The goal of the course is to create a professional entry-level sample teleplay.

Additional work includes weekly examinations and analysis of successful teleplays and well-established series, and the role of the writer in relation to the series and its staff.

Site visit to Royal Pains
2014 TV Writing Intensive visits the Royal Pains set in Greenpoint Brooklyn.
The Writer's Room
3 hours, 1x per week, 6 weeks

Includes at least one of the following master classes and a series of guest speakers.

1. MASTER CLASS – Inside The Writer’s Room

Taught by Executive Producer and Showrunner (Royal Pains,Beautiful People), Michael Rauch. Michael will break down how the writer’s room works at his hit show Royal Pains which currently airs on The USA Network. The three-session class will include a case study of one of the series’ best episodes, a mock writers room where the class will create a “new episode” of Royal Pains and a visit to the Royal Pains set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to watch a scene being shot.  This is a unique opportunity to study a prime time hit with the show’s long-time showrunner. 

2. MASTER CLASS – Sketch Comedy

Taught by Emmy Award winning writer, Guy  Nicolucci (The Daily Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  This three-session Master Class will give students an overview of influential and contemporary sketch comedy shows as well as an opportunity to write and workshop their own sketches.  Students learn to write in several sketch formats (topical, commercial parody, historical) and improve dialogue and joke writing skills.


A three-session class which will feature in-depth analysis of successful teleplays and series from that week’s quest lecturer. Guests will include working writers and producers from the field.  Last year’s guests included Jessi Klein, head writer on Inside Amy Schumer, Will Graham, writer and producer on Amazon’s Alpha House and Onion News Network and Zhubin Parang, writer on The Daily Show.

Candidates are required to apply via the online application, using the Apply Now link at the top of this page. Admissions will be on a rolling basis until the start of classes, or the course fills. Qualified applicants are encouraged to complete the application as soon as possible, as we anticipate the course to fill with a waiting list.

Admission to the Television Writing Intensive is competitive. Students are asked to submit a writing sample, a CV, and a short statement about what you would like to work on during the intensive.

Tuition & Fees
The Summer 2015 standard Continuing Education tuition rate is $1,570 per point ($9,420 for a 6-point intensive). For more information visit our Tuition & Fees page.
A limited number of non-credit spaces in the course will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The non-credit tuition rate is $6,985.
A materials fee of $150 will also be required, in addition to the standard Columbia University Summer Session facilities and transcript fees.
Limited housing in university dorms will be made available to students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students will be sent a link to the Housing application, once admitted to the course.
For questions about this course, please write to We will do our best to respond to your email within 24 hours. If you wish to speak to someone about this course, please send your phone number and request for a call.
About the Instructors
Alan Kingsberg
Alan Kingsberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he won the Chester Kestler award for outstanding achievement at the Wharton Business School. He received his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where his film Minors won an Academy Award as the top student film in the US. more

Charlie Rubin

Charlie Rubin has been a TV writer and producer for two decades. Recently, he spent 2004-09 as Supervising Producer of Law & Order Criminal Intent where he wrote ten episodes. Before that his career was mainly on comedy staffs: Seinfeld, In Living Color's first season, The Jon Stewart Show, and various pilots, including his own. more

Scott Burkhardt
Scott Burkhardt is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts where he received an MFA in Film. Scott was a writer on the NBC drama, Smash, and is currently a Consulting Producer on Men in Shorts, a comedy pilot for ABC/Universal TV. more
Michael Rauch
Michael Rauch, Executive Producer and Showrunner of the USA Network television show Royal Pains, starring Mark Feuerstein and Campbell Scott, has written, produced, and directed numerous projects in both film and television. more
Guy Nicolucci
Guy Nicolucci is an Emmy Award-winning writer whose work has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show, The Burn with Jeff Ross, and numerous Comedy Central Roasts. more
Syd Snyder
Syd Sidner has taught screenwriting at Columbia, writing for television at NYU, theater at The Dalton School and theater and screenwriting at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute (NHSI). Sydney has an extensive background in screenwriting and theater. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.