TV Writing Fellowships: The Big Six

TV Writing Fellowships: The Big Six


We all know that staffing season is right around the corner, but a great way to learn more about the TV writing industry while simultaneously get a major push in “breaking into it” is by getting selected into one of the main TV writing fellowships (AKA diversity writers program) out there (not just using TV writing contests). It’s also the number one answer when it comes to “how to get into writing for television”.

Although several lists of them have been posted here and there, I didn’t find an exhaustive one listing both the current application requirements for 2017, as well as the correct submission period (plus other info like eligibility, number of fellows selected, etc.). So here is one.

For future reference, I have also included the two fellowships whose deadlines have already past.
Note that the listed application requirements exclude the obvious signed agreements/application forms that must always be completed. In addition, I did not include the physical details of the submission process such as number of copies of scripts required, notarization of application, shipping address, etc. (all of it can be found on the official page of the programs).

CBS Writers Mentoring Program
CBS Mentoring Program
Application Webpage
The focus of this six month program is on opening doors: providing opportunities to build relationships with network executives and show runners; to support new and emerging writers in their efforts to improve their craft; and to develop the interpersonal skills necessary to break in and succeed.
The Writers Mentoring Program (or CBS Diversity Program) is not employment and there is no monetary compensation. It is, instead, a structured program of career development, support, and personal access to executives and decision-making processes, with the goal of preparing aspiring writers for later employment opportunities in television.
Each participant will be teamed with two different mentors.
One is a show mentor who is a senior-level writer on a current CBS drama or comedy series. This relationship builds over the course of the Program and is focused on helping the participant with creative feedback on their writing as well as help and advice on career goals.
The other is a CBS network or studio executive with whom they will meet on a regular basis, to discuss their work, get creative feedback on their material and get advice and support in furthering their career.
Once a week, participants will be invited to attend a small workshop-style meeting with various CBS show runners and other industry professionals. Speakers include executive producers, agents, managers, development and current executives and others. The purpose of these gatherings is for participants to gain a better understanding of how the business works from many different perspectives as well as creating the opportunity to make critical networking connections.
It’s been found that in order to derive the greatest benefit from the Program, participants should be available to 1) attend a once a week (evening) workshop and 2) attend meetings or observe in various situations for a minimum of five full days (not necessarily in sequence) over the course of the six-month Program.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 10
Submission period: March 1, 2017 – May 1, 2017
Dates of program: October 2017 – April, 1 2018
Eligibility: The primary focus of The CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program is to provide access and opportunities for talented and motivated diverse writers with a focus on writers of color. Aspiring diverse writers with a strong desire to write for CBS television series are encouraged to apply. You must be 21 or older to be eligible.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network, cable or online series that aired new episodes during the 2016-2017 season
– One original work of writing (original pilot, screenplay, stage play, short fiction story). The original sample should be similar in tone to the spec sample.
– Current resume or short biographical summary
– Letter of interest
– A signed and notarized Submission Release form for the writing samples.
Cost: Free

Disney/ABC TV Writing Program
ABC Writing Program
Application Webpage
The Disney ABC Television Writing Program (informally known as the Disney writing fellowship) is designed to expose aspiring writers to key executives, producers and literary representatives – all essential in the pursuit of a writing career. Additionally, while in the program, writers have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a current programming or development executive to create spec scripts of series from the current broadcast season. The ultimate goal of the ABC Writing Fellowship is to prepare and nurture the writers for a professional writing career.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 8
Submission period: May 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017
Dates of program: January 2018 – January 2019
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have US employment eligibility. Prior professional work experience in the entertainment industry is recommended. Post college experience preferred. Although one completed script is required for consideration, the ideal candidates should have a body of work consisting of no less than two spec scripts and at least one original sample. If candidate advances to final stages of interview process, the review of additional scripts and referrals from working entertainment industry professionals will be required.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network, cable or online series that aired new episodes during the 2016-2017 season
– One original pilot script that captures the writer’s unique tone, style and point of view.
NOTE: Material should tonally translate to the type of programming broadcast on DATG series. Both samples must be live-action content. Animation samples of any form are
not accepted.
– Current resume
– An autobiographical summary
– An essay reflecting “the applicant’s unique life experiences and personal stories which will demonstrate the writer’s ability to make distinct contributions to a writers’ room.”
– Letters of recommendation from entertainment industry professionals (optional). The letters must be written on your behalf by working entertainment industry professionals who can discuss your potential as a professional television staff writer.
Cost: Free

FOX Diversity Writer’s Initiative
FOX Diversity
Application Webpage
Writers selected will be able to attend master classes with a wide range of FOX showrunners, writers, directors, screenwriters and creative executives. The goal of the FOX Writing Fellowship is to provide the accepted finalists with intensive creative and professional development, exposure and opportunity that would best equip him or her to succeed.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 10
Submission period: September 2017
Eligibility: The FOX writing program is open solely to referred writers with professional writing experience in film and/or television, as well as theater and other literary mediums, having an interest in expanding their professional opportunities to include broadcast, film or new media.
FWI is by nomination only. Fox has identified a select number of organizations (see website for more) which have a history of fostering strong emerging and developed talent from diverse backgrounds. These companies have been invited to nominate up to five affiliated writers. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
Application requirements:
If you are nominated, you will need:
– One original pilot script (half-hour or one-hour) OR one feature-length script
– A page-length biography
– Notarized Fox Submission Release and Letter Agreement
Cost: Free

NBC/Universal Writers on the Verge
Writers on the Verge
Application Webpage
NBC Writers on the Verge (or NBC Writing Fellowship and NBC Fellowship Program) is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. The program will consist of two night classes, which will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays (7-10pm), weekly at NBC in Universal City, CA. Once accepted, students must attend all classes and turn in all written assignments.
Classes concentrate on creating an exceptional spec script and understanding the dynamics of pitching oneself in the television industry. Writers are given the chance to interact with industry players ranging from network executives to showrunners to agents and receive valuable feedback on their work and pitch style.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 8
Submission period: May 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017 (11:59 PM PST deadline)
Dates of program: Late September 2017 – Mid-January 2018
Eligibility: Anybody can apply. The program is especially looking for writers who are “almost there” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills. They particularly encourage writers of diverse backgrounds to apply.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network, cable or online series that aired new episodes during the 2016-2017 season
– Two short essay questions (provided when application goes live)
– Current resume
Cost: Free

Nickelodeon Writing Fellowship
Nick Fellowship
Application Webpage
Operating in a three-phased structure, the Fellowship provides a salaried position for up to one year and offers hands-on experience writing spec scripts and pitching story ideas in both live action and animation television.
This three-phased structure allows fellows an opportunity to nurture relationships with creators, network executives, line producers, head writers, showrunners and story editors.
As part of their script writing, each fellow will be assigned to an Executive in Charge of Production and have an opportunity to write a spec script for an on-air Nickelodeon show.
In addition, all fellows are integrated into the activities of both the development and production departments. This allows the fellows an opportunity to attend storyboard pitches, notes meetings, records, table reads, show pitches and show tapings, all while being exposed to top creators and key production crews.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 4
Submission period: January 2, 2017 – February 28, 2017
Dates of program: October 2017 – October 2018
Eligibility: Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have US employment eligibility.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour comedic spec script based on a primetime network, cable or online live-action or animation series that aired new episodes during the 2016-2017 season
– Current resume
– Half-page biography
Cost: Free

WB Writers’ Workshop
WB Writers Workshop
Application Webpage
The Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop (or WB Writing Fellowship) consists of three components, all geared towards preparing the writer for a successful career in television writing.
Lectures: Weekly lectures feature guest speakers currently working in television and include a mix of showrunners, directors, actors and agents. Each seminar will teach a new skill essential for surviving and excelling in a writers’ room as a staff writer and beyond.
Simulated Writers’ Room: After the lectures, the Workshop participants are divided into smaller groups for an intensive writing experience. Each participant will be required to complete a new spec script under the same deadlines found on a show currently in production. How participants perform during this exercise will determine whether they will be chosen for a possible staffing position on a Warner Bros. show.
Staffing: Upon completion of the program, Studio executives will help participants, who pass the Writers’ Room, obtain a staff position on a Warner Bros. television show currently in production. We can’t guarantee you will get staffed, but we will get your material in front of the people who make the ultimate decisions – the showrunners.
Number of applicants selected: Up to 10
Submission period: May 1, 2017 – May 31, 2017 (11:59 PM PST deadline)
Dates of program: October 2017 – March 2018
Eligibility: Applicants must have US employment eligibility.
Application requirements:
– One half-hour or hour spec script based on a primetime network, cable or online series that aired new episodes during the 2016-2017 season. (The specced TV show must be listed on their official website.) Applicants may submit up to two specs.
– Current resume
– A one-page composition telling “why you want to be a television writer and how your background will add a unique perspective to television.”
Cost: $30 application fee per script (multiple scripts can be entered through separate applications)

Still wondering which show to spec?

Try my awesome TV Spec Test


  1. Jen

    April 29, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Are the letters of recommendation a new thing for the ABC/Disney one? That’s never been a requirement in the past.

  2. Alex

    April 29, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    Yes, it is the main addition to this year’s application process. The letters must be included in the application materials but not sent or emailed directly to the program from the people recommending you.
    They have also pushed forward the submission period by a full month (i.e. it will start on May 1st).

  3. Jen

    April 29, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    Oh wow. Man, I’m glad you posted this! Thanks for the heads up!

  4. Oz P

    May 1, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Thanks for gathering all this info together! One detail that you may want to explicitly add to the WB description is that applicants are allowed to apply twice and submit two scripts– though I think the entries are assessed separately (at least “officially”).

  5. Zach

    May 6, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    I agree, a huge thanks for posting this!

    I’m curious, regarding the WB Writers’ Workshop, what falls under the heading of a “primetime network or cable series?” Does that only cover shows that air from 8-10pm? Is an HBO show acceptable, as premium cable?

  6. Alex

    May 6, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    @Oz P: Good catch. I’ll add it to the list.

    @Zach: The distinction between premium and basic cable pretty much doesn’t exist in regards to fellowships. By that I mean Dexter or Treme will be as wildly (un)known as Breaking Bad or White Collar. The bottom line is that premium series are as much accepted as any series.

  7. Zach

    May 7, 2011 at 12:24 AM

    Thanks again, Alex!

  8. Juan

    January 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Do you guys know if a spec can have another writer? I have several specs but with a wirting partner. is that acceptable?

  9. Nai'lah Carter

    November 30, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    Thanks for this post. Preparing for the season–Staffing season that is! Wish you all the best of luck.


  10. April

    January 28, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    @ Juan, at least for the WB Writers’ Workshop writing partners are accepted. Check out the website.

  11. Shadae A. Bradshaw

    November 7, 2016 at 10:57 AM

    do you know of any premium networks that have these programs, ie: HBO, Starz, Showtime?

  12. Alex

    March 22, 2017 at 12:16 PM

    As far as I know, only HBO has an equivalent program called HBO Access. You can learn more on this site: http://www.hbo.com/hboaccess/writing/

  13. Atesha Jones

    April 16, 2017 at 6:56 PM

    Should I include a logline for Spec Script and Pilot?

  14. Alex

    April 27, 2017 at 3:14 PM

    Each fellowship needs different things, so the application will make it clear if/when to include a logline for your spec and/or pilot.

    Loglines are usually requested specifically for the submission release.

  15. LEScribe

    April 30, 2017 at 11:31 AM

    any ideas on why HBO ( directing ) application seems like a dead link
    http://www.hbo.com/hboaccess/directing/ ? It just says “spring 2018”

  16. Atesha

    May 5, 2017 at 3:12 PM

    Are there certain page specifications that fellowships are looking for? The average is about 60 pages or less but can I submit less the 50 pages? (For both Spec and Pilot)

  17. Alex

    May 18, 2017 at 9:26 PM

    HBO’s writing and directing fellowship alternate every season.

    As far as I know, the page specifications are the same as for any spec or pilot you would write.
    For comedies that’s around 30-40 pages, and for dramas that’s about 50-60 pages.

    If you’re writing a drama script and it falls well below 50 pages, then you’re short and may have some structural/narrative problems.

  18. Lawrence Lewyn

    May 26, 2017 at 8:38 AM

    Damn. I wish I had found out about this earlier. Looks like I have 5 days to write a script. Oh well, I love a challenge!

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Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.

I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

707 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.

Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.

I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.

Write on.

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