Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect to experience my first summer in Roanoke?

Your first summer in our program is used to create a strong foundation in the craft that will serve you well as you move forward on your creative journey. You take two courses:  Film 505: Intro to Screenwriting and Film 510:  Intro to Film Studies. With this 1-2 combo, we challenge you to be creative, and analytical. In Film 505 you’ll work in a collaborative workshop environment to develop and write a feature length screenplay. In Film 510, you will be taught the foundations of critical film appreciation. Even though the content and requirements of these two courses are very different, the goal is the same: to identify and appreciate the creative patterns that are part of all cinematic storytelling endeavors.

What’s a low residency program mean?

Our program meets for six weeks every summer on the Hollins University campus in picturesque Roanoke, Virginia. Students live in campus housing (dorms, apartments, or private room in one of the large houses on campus). Each class meets twice a week for six weeks. One evening each week is dedicated to a presentation by current or visiting faculty and each weekend we feature screenings and presentations from industry guests. The learning experience doesn’t end once the six weeks in summer are over. Throughout the year we offer online learning opportunities from one-time online lectures to semester-long online courses.

How can I check out the campus and program before deciding?

We offer personal tours of our picturesque campus and surrounding area. Our Director Tim Albaugh is available for 1:1 phone consultations to answer any questions or to plan your writing future.   We have alums in cities around the nation who are more than willing to take you to coffee to give you a first hand account of their experiences in our program.  Contact Tim Albaugh ( for more information.

How long does a degree take?

Low residency doesn’t mean it takes a long time to complete your degree. For the M.F.A., students are required to complete 40 credits (10 courses) and an 8- credit thesis to complete the degree. The M.A. requires a total of 32 credits in course work and an 8-credit thesis for a total of 40 credits.

The plan for completing the M.F.A. would look something like this: Your first summer you’ll take two courses (Film 505:  Intro to Screenwriting and Film 510:  Film Analysis). Most students take an independent study between their first and second summers. During your second summer, you are able to take three courses. Then, if you like, another independent study between summers two and three. In your last summer, you take three more courses. Once done with those ten courses, students start their 8-credit thesis project, which usually takes six months. So, theoretically, a student can complete the degree in four years.