BA in Digital Film: Screenwriting Emphasis

Bachelor of Arts in Digital Film with an Emphasis in Screenwriting

Offered By: College of Arts and Media

Dive Into Screenwriting Techniques With a Digital Film Degree

Films can be informative, entertaining or inspiring. They can both reflect and become part of cultural ideals and values. If you have a passion for film and screenwriting, you can build a strong foundation by fueling your creative aspirations and honing your storytelling skills with the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Digital Film with an Emphasis in Screenwriting from Grand Canyon University.

Delve into film and screenwriting competencies and prepare to pursue a potential career in preproduction. Whether taking these screenwriting classes online, on campus or in the evening, you will explore effective strategies in story development, practice creating authentic dialogue, and build characters that audiences can connect with.

Earn Your Digital Film Degree at GCU

This bachelor’s degree in film: screenwriting emphasis is offered by the College of Arts and Media. The comprehensive film and screenwriting curriculum covers genre-specific screenwriting techniques, as well as other types of writing styles for a well-rounded education. You will explore the adaptation process for transferring a story from another medium into digital film.

The screenwriting classes can also provide opportunities for you to develop an in-depth understanding of the business side of film creation and the various movements within cinema throughout history. Additionally, you will explore aspects of film creation in the production stage, such as cinematography and directing.

Each screenwriting course integrates the Christian perspective and values into the curriculum. As a private Christian university, GCU encourages you to grow into a mindful servant leader who actively evaluates ethical dilemmas and searches for moral solutions.

GCU’s digital film degree, offered online, on campus, or as evening classes, can prepare you to work toward making your mark on the arts and entertainment industry.

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GCU strives to make higher education accessible to all regardless of geographic location or learning modality preference. You can complete online screenwriting courses via our interactive e-learning platform and enjoy the same quality of curriculum and instruction as our on-campus students. With greater convenience and flexibility, online screenwriting classes may place higher education within reach for more students. Plus, you’ll still be able to enjoy stimulating discussions with peers and instructors online.

You can earn your digital film degree as a traditional on-campus student. You’ll enjoy face-to-face interactions in your screenwriting classes, and have opportunities to participate in numerous extracurricular activities as a member of our vibrant campus in Phoenix. GCU strives to create a spirited campus experience for all our students by accessing our many on-campus amenities, including recreational opportunities, clubs and more.

Campus students who choose to pursue their professional studies in person on the main campus can look forward to a welcoming environment through convenient classes offered in an evening cohort. Most evening classes meet in person one evening per week for each screenwriting course, leaving the rest of your week open for coursework and other responsibilities. As an on-campus evening student, you can tap into a supportive network of instructors and peers that may help enhance your learning experience through direct guidance and collaborative engagement.

Examine Digital Film and Screenwriting Competencies

Become a student of human nature by transferring authentic experiences and genuine interactions to the written word. Immerse yourself in the world of professional film and screenwriting with classes that cover topics such as:

  • The principles of motion picture production, emphasizing the technical and aesthetic aspects of small-format digital production
  • A survey of genre tropes and conventions through script analysis and screenwriting exercises
  • The craft, technologies and aesthetic principles of cinematography, lighting and set design techniques
  • Nonlinear editing, with a look at editing theories and techniques such as montage, fast cut, long take, jump cut and more
  • The role of character development, how characters relate to the overall story and how to develop dynamic, believable characters

You’ll also explore strategies for writing meaningful dialogue that encompasses each character’s unique voice, as well as the process of adapting various forms of media to screenplays.

Gain Practical Screenwriting Experience

During your senior year, you will take a capstone course in which you will be asked to demonstrate your understanding, skills and creativity by cultivating a screenplay project. The capstone screenwriting course can help bring together what you have been taught, including:

  • Character and place development
  • Film structure
  • Themes
  • Conflict
  • Expressive storytelling

Upon completion, you may have multiple well-developed screenplays in your professional portfolio, which is intended to highlight your career qualifications as you pursue your professional ambitions.

Career Paths for Graduates With a Digital Film Degree

Screenwriters pursuing a career in the film industry may choose to be generalists or to focus on a particular genre of film. For example, some screenwriters prefer to write comedy, science fiction, drama or horror movies. Others may focus on adapting writing from other forms, such as novels into screenplays.

Screenwriters often work out of a home office, as most of them are contract-based, self-employed professionals. They may be commissioned by production companies or write scripts “on spec” (speculation) with the aim of getting the scripts picked up by production companies. Some screenwriters are represented by a talent agency or booking agent, who represents the screenwriter’s best interests and helps connect them to jobs.1

Earn Your BA in Digital Film Degree From an Institutionally Accredited University

Our Christian university is proud to be institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1968. The College of Arts and Media shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies. With a focus on guiding students toward achieving their dreams, GCU is pleased to provide a quality education via a comprehensive curriculum and engaged instructors who are knowledgeable in their fields.

BA in Digital Film: Screenwriting Emphasis FAQs

While you are reflecting upon your potential career pathway, it can be helpful to conduct some additional background research on your options. You can use the following frequently asked questions and answers as a starting point for your research to guide your decision-making process.

This answer likely depends on where your personal passions and career interests lie. If you are an aspiring writer who understands the power of the written word and enjoys the creative process of writing, then a bachelor’s degree in film: screenwriting emphasis may be a worthwhile choice for you. On the other hand, there are other film degrees with different emphases to consider. If you’re attracted to the idea of pursuing a career as a producer, then you might instead consider earning a degree that focuses on video production.

Both subfields are showing growth potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that job growth for producers and directors will increase by 7% from 2022 through 2032, faster than average.2 Although the BLS does not track employment data for screenwriters specifically, the job growth rate for many types of writers and authors (including screenwriters) is expected to increase by 4% from 2022 through 2032, as fast as average.3, 4

No. GCU’s bachelor’s degree in digital film: screenwriting emphasis is more interested in your “voice” and seeks creative writers who can spin a story. To increase your chances of being accepted, you should have basic knowledge of plot structure, dialogue, language and writing skills, creativity to generate original ideas and confidence in your work.

No. A writing portfolio is not necessary to apply, but it may help you stand out. An established portfolio documenting your writing skills may allow you to enter the program with a framework of screenwriting experience.

No matter how you choose to earn your bachelor’s degree in film: screenwriting emphasis, you’ll work through the same curriculum and take the same classes as other students in the program. Online and on-campus students benefit from the same quality of education taught by experienced instructors. The only major difference is that on-campus students have face-to-face interactions with peers and instructors, whereas online students interact with each other through the collaborative e-learning platform.

Pursue your passion for creative storytelling in screenwriting classes taught by experienced instructors. Apply today to earn your digital film degree online, on campus or through evening classes at GCU.

1 The Art Career Project. (2021, July 20). Screenwriter. Retrieved on Dec. 7, 2023.

2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Producers and Directors, retrieved on Dec. 12, 2023.

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023, Sept. 6). What Writers and Authors Do. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on Dec. 12, 2023.

4 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Writers and Authors, retrieved on Dec. 12, 2023.

Total Credits: 120
Campus: 15 weeks
[More Info]
Online: 7 weeks
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Up to 90 credits, only 84 can be lower division
Campus: $8,250 per semester
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Online: $485 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

General Education Requirements:
34-40 credits
80 credits
Open Elective Credits:
0-6 credits
Degree Requirements:
120 credits

General Education Requirements

General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University’s General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.


Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.

Course Options

  • UNV-103, University Success: 4
  • UNV-303, University Success: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.

Course Options

  • ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
  • UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
  • ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
  • COM-263, Elements of Intercultural Communication: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.

Course Options

  • CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
  • CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments. Students are required to take 3 credits of college mathematics or higher.

Course Options

  • MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4


Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.

Course Options

  • PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
  • INT-244, World Religions: 4
  • SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4

Core Courses

Course Description

This course covers multiple eras and movements throughout the age of film.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the technical and aesthetic aspects of small format digital production as well as the basic principles of motion picture production. Students learn the language of film/digital video and how its manipulation can express one’s individual message or purpose.

Course Description

Students in this writing intensive course learn storytelling for the screen through a managed regimen of in-class and out-of-class experiences that emphasize the essential mix of imagination and craft in writing. They hone their skills in observation, communication, and visualization, and receive instruction on structure for screenwriting and how to employ written language to articulate dramatic and visual expression.

Course Description

Understanding genre conventions and tropes is critical to a screenwriter’s success. This course combines script analysis with the practice of writing short scripts for a variety of genres. Prerequisite: DFP-221.

Course Description

This course is an intensive exploration of the craft, technologies, and aesthetic principles of cinematography, lighting, and set design techniques. Lectures and in-class demonstrations cover video formats, cameras, exposure, lenses and optics, lighting units, lighting placement, lighting control, camera support, and camera movement.

Course Description

This course focuses on the elements that make up almost all storytelling. Students are encouraged to discover and develop their unique voices as writers and storytellers, while understanding the critical importance of working as part of a creative team. This course emphasizes the use of traditional storytelling, classic mythology, and the ways in which these devices apply to contemporary media.

Course Description

This course follows the general chronology of editing from capture and logging, through editing and effects, to final output of a finished program. The first half of the course is devoted entirely to a mastery of the editing software. The second half of the course is devoted to examining how and why editing is important. Different editing theories are explored, including montage, fast cut, long take, jump cut, and others.

Course Description

One of the greatest challenges for screenwriters is to create dynamic, believable characters. In this course, students will reflect on the role of character and the relationship between strong characters and a strong screenplay. Prerequisite: DFP-221.

Course Description

Visual effects are an integral part of contemporary film and streaming productions. This course provides an overview of the foundational skills in visual effects. Prerequisite: DFP-225, DFP-351.

Course Description

This course utilizes techniques of directing, sound editing, lighting, and advanced editing programs. Several practical and written exercises lead to a short digital production. Students spend time working with actors in front of the camera as well as composing shots to convey a story visually. Prerequisites: DFP-111 and DFP-221.

Course Description

Poorly written dialogue can remove a character’s authenticity and diminish the audience’s suspension of disbelief. This course explores what constitutes great dialogue and delves into techniques that allow writers to incorporate powerful subtext, craft honest and emotionally impactful dialogue, and integrate exposition seamlessly. Prerequisite: DFP-235.

Course Description

This course will prepare students for success as creative professionals. Students will research their industry, develop their personal brand, and establish business and entrepreneurial practices.

Course Description

In this course, students explore the multiple aspects of writing for interactive media and how it differs from traditional storytelling. The course discusses the importance of worldbuilding, creating dynamic characters, and how player and viewer choice can create compelling experiences. Special emphasis is placed on video games, virtual and augmented reality, and choose-your-own-adventure media. Prerequisite: DFP-111, DFP-221, DFP-225, DFP-226.

Course Description

In this course, students will learn the entire process of creating a dramatic television series. Students learn the skills of developing ideas, researching the marketplace, creating character bios, writing pilots, and pitching. Prerequisite: DFP-221.

Course Description

In this course, students learn the entire process of creating commercials. Students learn the skills of writing copy, developing ideas, researching the marketplace, working with client needs, pitching, and production of commercials. Prerequisite: DFP-111, DFP-221, & DFP-331.

Course Description

Students in this writing intensive course study, analyze, and implement advanced techniques in creating cinema screenplays. This course emphasizes the use of traditional storytelling and classic mythology, and how these devices apply to contemporary screenplays. Prerequisite: DFP-221.

Course Description

Students learn to adapt various forms of media to screenplays. Prerequisite: DFP-221.

Course Description

This course exposes students to the various types of writing tasks utilized by Public Relations professionals. In addition to enabling students to write with clarity and skill for various media and contexts, this course encourages students to use strategy, creativity, and critical thinking in composing public relations material. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop and subscription to industry-standard software to complete assignments.. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on Prerequisite: ENG-105.

Course Description

Students participate in individually writing a full-length feature film. They also explore all aspects of structure, character, settings, theme, obstacle, and expressive writing storytelling. Prerequisites: DFP-457 and DFP-463.

Course Description

This writing intensive course focuses on creative copywriting techniques to develop advertising campaigns for print and multimedia channels. Students enhance persuasive writing skills to create compelling and ethical advertising campaigns that are competitive in the industry. Technology requirement: Students are responsible for providing their own laptop that is capable of running the Adobe Creative Cloud. Verify required technical specifications in the University Policy Handbook available on


GCU Campus Student

Join Grand Canyon University’s vibrant and growing campus community, with daytime classes designed for traditional students. Immerse yourself in a full undergraduate experience, complete with curriculum designed within the context of our Christian worldview.

GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.