UCLA Extension Writers' Program

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UCLA Extension Writers' Program is a unit within UCLA Extension [1], the not-for-profit and self-supporting community outreach arm of the University of California, Los Angeles. Located in the Westwood Village area of the city, the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program offers more than 400 annual open-enrollment screenwriting and creative writing courses for all levels of writers. Courses are available online, on the UCLA campus, and at some satellite locations in the Los Angeles area, and all courses are approved by the UCLA Academic Senate [2]. The Writers’ Program also offers many services and free events that are open to the public.


The Regents of the University of California [3] established University Extension in 1891. A permanent Extension office was opened in Los Angeles in 1917.1 Extension moved to the UCLA campus in 1948, and subsequently to its present location at Gayley and LeConte in 1971. The UCLA Extension Writers’ Program was established in 1966. Today, the Writers’ Program offers more courses than any university-related writing program in the world [4].


The Writers’ Program offers more than 400 annual onsite and online courses including beginning, intermediate, and advanced-level courses in fiction, memoir, personal essay, poetry, playwriting, publishing, writing for the youth market, feature film writing, and television writing. Courses are taught by a roster of more than 200 published or produced writing professionals. Daytime, evening, and weekend courses are available. The Writers’ Program also offers nine- and six-month Master Classes in Novel Writing, Feature Film Writing, and Television Writing, and a four-day intensive Writers Studio.


Five certificate programs (Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Feature Film Writing, Television Writing and Film and TV Comprehensive) are available for students who prefer a structured course of study. The Writers’ Program also offers script and manuscript consultations and annual literary and screenwriting competitions. The James Kirkwood Literary Prize was established in 1991 in memory of James Kirkwood to honor the literary achievements of new generations of fiction writers. The UCLA Extension Screenplay Competition replaced the Diane Thomas Screenwriting Award in 2006.


The Writers’ Program hosts an annual Publication Party where instructors read aloud from their recently published fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Refreshments are available and authors sell and sign copies of their work. In addition, the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program partners with, or has a presence at, various literary and film-oriented events throughout the year.


The UCLA Extension Writers' Program Scholarship seeks to acknowledge and foster the talent of promising writers from diverse backgrounds and cultures who might otherwise not have the opportunity to study their craft in a supportive educational environment. Up to ten scholars are named annually, and each of the recipients is given the opportunity to enroll in three full-length Writers' Program courses during a one-year period. This scholarship replaces the Community Access Scholarship Program which was created in 1991.

In 2014, the Writers' Program established the Allegra Johnson Prize, a merit-based award with a prize of $5,000. The award will be given to a promising novelist or memoirist in alternating years, providing both formal recognition of their talent and financial resources to support them as they complete their manuscripts.


In 2013, Gotham Books published two books that were edited by Writers' Program Director, Linda Venis, and written by Writers' Program instructors, all of whom are working professionals with hundreds of writing and producing credits to their names. The books are: Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers' Program and Inside the Room: Writing Television with the Pros at UCLA Extension Writers' Program.

Student Success Stories[edit]

Thousands of UCLA Extension Writers’ Program students have gone on to have their work published or produced. Some of the most notable are: Bryan Cogman, Game of Thrones; Stuart Beattie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; Australia; Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; 30 Days of Night; Collateral; Zoanne Clack, Grey’s Anatomy; Tucker Cawley, Parks and Recreation, Everybody Loves Raymond; Eric Jerome Dickey, Resurrecting Midnight; Doug Ellin, Entourage; Janet Fitch, White Oleander (Oprah Pick); Alice Greenway, White Ghost Girls (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction)[8]; Gavin Hood, Tsotsi (Academy Award winner, Best Foreign Film), Randi Mayem Singer, Mrs. Doubtfire; Melissa Rosenberg, adaptation of Twilight, Dexter; Earl W. Wallace, Witness (Academy Award winner for Best Original Screenplay); Joseph Wambaugh, The Onion Field; Kevin Williamson, Scream, Dawson’s Creek; Iris Yamashita, Letters from Iwo Jima (Academy Award nominee for Best Original Screenplay).


1UCLA Extension Approvals Guide, p. 8

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