Television Writing Intensive

Summer 2017

The TV 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. 


Participants in The Television Writing Intensive learn about half-hour comedy and one-hour drama by writing and developing spec scripts and original pilots.  A spec script is a teleplay for an existing show where the writer brings original stories to existing characters.  A pilot is a script written for an original series that the writer creates. 


This intensive course meets 15 hours per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays for six hours during the day, and Thursdays for two 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.



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

The Pilot

3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

Each student develops an original series concept and an accompanying pilot script. There is a focus on the pilot as both a successful episode and a blueprint for an ongoing series that has a strong enough premise to sustain dynamic stories for multiple seasons.


In a step-by-step process, students move from series concept to pilot stories, to outline and lastly to writing scenes. Both ½ hour and 1 hour series are covered. 


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.

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

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.

The Writers' Room

3 hours, 1x per week, 6 weeks


Includes the following two modules:

1. MASTER CLASS – Inside The Writer’s Room


Taught by Executive Producer and Showrunner (Royal PainsBeautiful 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.



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


Admission to the Television Writing Intensive is competitive. The online application requires applicants to submit a writing sample (5-10 page excerpt from a screenplay, teleplay or sketch), a resume and a short one-page statement of intent about your background, qualifications and goals for the intensive.


Applicants whose native language is not English are expected to meet or exceed the program minimum language requirements. Submission of test scores is not required as part of the application process.


The application deadline for this course for domestic students is April 21, 2017. Applications from domestic students received after the deadline will be considered based on remaining available space in the course. International students must apply by April 1st.