University Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are these online courses a response to the pandemic?
  2. What is the Playwrights’ Center’s relationship to Augsburg University?
  3. What courses do you offer?
  4. Who teaches the courses?
  5. Who are these courses for?
  6. Are there any prerequisites for the courses?
  7. Can I take one of these courses even if I’m not currently enrolled at a university?
  8. How large are the classes?
  9. How much does a Playwrights' Center University Course cost?
  10. When are the courses offered? 
  11. When do the classes meet? Are they synchronous or asynchronous? 
  12. How do I apply?
  13. How does course scheduling work?
  14. How do I enroll?
  15. How does the transfer of tuition/financial aid and academic credit actually happen?
  16. I’m a professor or administrator, and I’m concerned about sending tuition and financial aid off-campus. 
  17. Our university already offers playwriting courses. What do you provide that’s different?
  18. My school is on the trimester system and/or our courses are 3 credits (or 1). How will that work if these PWC courses are 4 credits on a semester system?
  19. If I have questions, where should I direct them?
  20. Are there any videos about the courses?

 

Are these online courses a response to the pandemic?

No. The entire University Courses program was developed before the onset of COVID-19 in response to students' and educators' requests that we provide playwriting experiences taught by Playwrights’ Center writers that could count for college credit. Our hope has always been to serve students more broadly and deeply at a wide range of universities across the country, and online courses help us do that. We designed this program to expose students to the expertise of professional writers, connect them with a more diverse group of artist-mentors, and give them access to tools and platforms for creating the new and visionary narratives that will transform our world. We still maintain our vision, while also contemplating ways we can further support students and schools now that we have all entered a new relationship to online education.

 

What is the Playwrights’ Center’s relationship to Augsburg University?

Augsburg is the accrediting academic institution for the Playwrights' Center. Because the Playwrights' Center can't issue college credit or accept financial aid on its own without a university partner, Augsburg will process transcripts, applications, and other academic paperwork and provide IT support and online tools. But the Playwrights’ Center hires and pays the instructors and holds primary responsibility for the curriculum. We are working closely with Augsburg’s Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) because it already has the systems and infrastructure in place to enroll and serve students around the world—and, even more importantly, its programs focus on the “empowerment of the participants to work for personal and social transformation,” a mission that closely mirrors our own.

 

What courses do you offer?

  • Playwriting (PWC 300) – a general playwriting workshop for students at any stage of their development

  • Topics in Playwriting (PWC 310) – a playwriting course more specifically focused on topics of interest to students and instructors, such as the revision process, experiments in genre, professional development, activist performance, etc.; past topics include "Excavating Your 'Stuff'" and "Human Rights and Social Justice"

  • Writing for Television (PWC 320) – a hands-on television-writing course taught by playwrights working actively in TV writers' rooms

  • Writing for Digital Media (PWC 330) – a practice-based course that explores the intersection of digitial media and theatrical storytelling; areas of focus may include games, apps, audio/radio performance, installation, immersive performance, and live participatory online experiences

 

Who teaches the courses?

Playwrights’ Center Fellows and Core Writers and Affiliated Writers teach and mentor the next generation of playwrights in these courses. The program provides an opportunity for students to connect deeply with these leading writers in the field who are rarely able to teach at students’ own universities. The instructors themselves go through an intensive hiring process and orientation and receive ongoing teaching support from Playwrights' Center staff throughout the year.

 

Who are these courses for?

First and foremost, these courses are for undergraduate students with a passion for playwriting, an eagerness to learn from professional writers all around the country, an interest in building community with peers at other universities, and a desire to tell stories on stage and in other related fields. We are also able to enroll graduate students and post-grads in our courses if they are interested in a particular topic or an in-depth, semester-long, credit-bearing experience.

 

Are there any prerequisites for the courses?

The only official academic prerequisite is a basic effective writing/composition course or equivalent experience, usually completed by the first semester of a student’s first year. 

 

Can I take one of these courses even if I’m not currently enrolled at a university?

Yes, although spots are generally first set aside for current undergraduates. We also have a wealth of other non-accredited short- and long-term classes offered at Playwrights’ Center that may be a better fit for you if you’re not a full-time student. If you are indeed interested in a semester-long experience for academic credit and you are not currently enrolled at a university, please reach out to Sarah Myers, Director of University Programs and Partnerships, at sarahm@pwcenter.org or 612-547-5743 to discuss your options.

 

How large are the classes?

Classes are capped at 15 so that all writers get the individualized attention they need and can create meaningful community with each other.

 

How much does a Playwrights' Center University Course cost?

Before financial aid and scholarships are applied, the cost per course for non-Augsburg students during the 2021-2022 school year is $4,912, the equivalent of a 4-credit course at Augsburg. Please don’t let concerns about cost keep you from applying. Consider these very important factors:

  • We will work closely with a student’s home institution to try to create a pathway for tuition and financial aid transfer whenever possible.

  • This tuition fee can replace the cost of one course at a student’s school, so taking a Playwrights' Center class can be cost-saving for students from universities with higher tuition than Augsburg. We will also factor in each student's individual financial aid package so that they are not paying in excess of what they generally pay for a full course at their home institution.

  • If you attend a community college or 4-year school where $4,912 is higher than what you’d pay for a 4-credit course or you are not currently enrolled anywhere, we will work with you on reducing the cost of the course based on financial need. Please contact Sarah Myers at sarahm@pwcenter.org or 612-547-5743 to discuss options.

  • We know that every university and every student is unique, and we're committed to finding a fair and equitable option for you whenever we can.

 

When are the courses offered? 

Courses are offered every fall and spring semester, as well as in the summer when there is demand. Start and end dates follow Augsburg University’s academic calendar

 

When do the classes meet? Are they synchronous or asynchronous? 

Right now, almost all of our courses meet synchronously for 15 weeks for a total of three hours a week: either one 3-hour block or two 90-minute blocks. We use Zoom for synchronous class meetings and Moodle (an online learning platform) for other asynchronous activities. In rare cases, courses might meet synchronously for fewer than three hours a week, and the rest of the hours are spent in asynchronous instruction through Moodle and smaller group meetings. Read on for more information about how the synchronous workshops are scheduled.
 

How do I apply?

Students must apply through Augsburg’s Center for Global Education & Experience (CGEE) site (found here). Once you’ve entered the system by clicking on the “Apply Now” button and receiving a login for non-Augsburg students, you will fill out a short application with contact information and a brief questionnaire about your playwriting experience and reasons for applying; you will also sign off on the course cancellation policy and provide a copy of your unofficial transcript. You won’t be charged or enter into any commitment at this time, and you won’t have to submit your official transcript until later. You will then have a short meeting with the Director of University Programs and Partnerships, Sarah Myers, to discuss Playwrights' Center course values and next steps in the application/registration process.

 

How does course scheduling work?

Once your application is reviewed and accepted, you will get access to one more simple survey in which you will indicate your availability and schedule constraints for the semester. Playwrights' Center staff then work to create synchronous workshop times that accommodate as many students’ schedules as possible, and we may be in touch with you personally at this point. Our goal is to create a cohort of students first and then use their availability to set meeting times.

 

How do I enroll?

Once you are accepted into the program and change your status to "committed," you will receive an Augsburg ID and email address and access to the course Moodle site. CGEE staff will enroll you in the course, and Playwrights' Center staff will continue to be in touch both with you and, when applicable, with your home institution. Because these courses are intimate and our approach is very hands-on, we are always here to help you through this whole process and answer any questions you may have. Once the course is over at the end of the semester, CGEE will ensure that you receive transcripted academic credit from Augsburg for the PWC course.

 

How does the transfer of tuition/financial aid and academic credit actually happen?

The Playwrights’ Center and CGEE work directly with each university to create a pathway for students to register, apply their tuition dollars when possible, and get credit at their home institution. This can be done on an individual basis for a single student or ideally through an affiliation agreement with a university. The affiliation agreement simply ensures there is a standard path for students to follow to get college credit for their work and for tuition to be transferred. This agreement is generally negotiated with the study away office, the registrar’s office, the financial aid office, and/or the dean’s office at any given school. Additionally, departments can decide whether PWC courses may count towards a major or minor, as electives, etc. We consider faculty in theater and creative writing departments key partners in this program and will be in ongoing contact with them to be sure these courses are meeting curricular needs.

CGEE already has affiliation agreements with universities across the world for its many programs. The Playwrights’ Center is working with CGEE in part because they have the infrastructure and processes in place to make courses like these possible for the greatest number of students.

 

I’m a professor or administrator, and I’m concerned about sending tuition and financial aid off-campus. 

That’s understandable in our current academic climate. But please consider that because we are building a cohort of student writers from all over the country this program can only accommodate one or two students from any given school at a time—and, even then, only for one course per student; at most that’s eight credits of aid/tuition from an entire university for a semester. View this program as a mini-study away experience or an independent study with an off-site instructor. We’ve deliberately designed our courses to complement, rather than compete with offerings at your school—and to give your students an opportunity they would not be able to get elsewhere. 

 

Our university already offers playwriting courses. What do you provide that’s different?

The Playwrights’ Center will regularly hire leading writers in theater, TV, and other media to teach these courses—artists working actively in their fields who would not be able to teach at one university for an entire semester. We’ll also be offering specifically-themed playwriting courses on topics you may not have in your standard curriculum. And beyond playwriting courses, your students could study writing for television or digital media. You might even have a student who has already taken every creative writing course you offer and still wants more, but you can’t accommodate that request for just one student. We can. Not every course we offer will be right for your school, but we’re here to support you and your specific needs with an array of options.

 

My school is on the trimester system and/or our courses are 3 credits (or 1). How will that work if these PWC courses are 4 credits on a semester system?

We will figure out an arrangement that works for you and your university. CGEE has lots of experience navigating situations like these. That’s one of the many reasons we’re partnering with them. 

 

If I have questions, where should I direct them?

Please get in touch with Director of University Programs and Partnerships, Dr. Sarah Myers, at sarahm@pwcenter.org or 612-547-5743. She’s a former associate professor and department chair herself, so she can help you navigate many parts of this process.

  

Are there any videos about the courses?

Student Angelique Dina speaks about her experience in Topics in Playwriting (PWC 310) with Tori Sampson

Student Gage Pipkin speaks about his experience in Topics in Playwriting (PWC 310) with Tori Sampson

Sarah Myers, Director of University Programs and Partnerships, discusses program logistics, application, and registration in Fall 2020

Philip Dawkins, Playwriting (PWC 300) Instructor for Fall 2020, talks about his pedagogy and artistic experience