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. I'd like my university to have a more formal partnership with the Playwrights' Center so students here can have greater access to these PWC courses. How does that 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 undergrad PWC courses are 4 credits on a semester system?
  19. If I have questions, where should I direct them?

 

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 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 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; topics so far have included Expanding Theatrical Possibilities Through Genre WritingQueering the PageHuman Rights and Social Justice, and Excavating Your "Stuff."

  • 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

  • Topics in Writing for Screen and Stage (PWC 510) – a graduate-level course focused on rotating topics in writing for theater, television, film, or digital media; may be taken as a more advanced version of our 300-level courses, or as a stand-alone grad course

These courses have all been approved by Augsburg University. Each academic year, we make careful decisions about which of our courses to offer and how many sections of each. Right now, we are offering five classes per year, but that number will likely expand in the future as interest and capacity grow.

 

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 a selection process 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 and graduate students with a passion for writing, 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 other writers in our courses if they are interested in 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 in college or senior year in high school.

 

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 students. We also have a wealth of other non-accredited short- and long-term classes offered at the 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?

The full tuition for an enrolled student paying out-of-pocket without school support is $2,200 per course. However, you will not pay the standard tuition if it is beyond your financial means. We charge students on a sliding scale based on individual financial circumstances, and we work closely with you to determine a tuition amount and/or payment plan that is fair and equitable. 

After you have been accepted to a PWC course, you will have access in your application to a Financial Information for Tuition Reduction form that provides guidance for staff in determining an equitable tuition amount. If you are an enrolled student, we will also work with your home university to try to create a pathway for tuition transfer and scholarship support whenever possible. Please contact Sarah Myers at sarahm@pwcenter.org or 612-547-5743 if you have any questions or if you'd like to discuss this process.

When a formal partnership is developed between Augsburg University/Playwrights' Center and another university interested in offering our courses as part of their approved off-campus study options, tuition will be determined based on Augsburg's undergraduate and/or graduate tuition, as well as that university's tuition rates and other pertinent information.

 

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 per week, usually for one 3-hour block on a weekend day or weekday evening. 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) website. 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 writing experience and reasons for applying. You will also sign off that you've read our values statement and that you understand the course cancellation policy. In addition, you'll provide a copy of your unofficial transcript (for college-level courses you've completed) and information so that Augsburg can send PWC credits to your home institution at the end of the semester. Once you submit your application, you'll have a short Zoom meeting/interview with the Director of University Programs and Partnerships to discuss your interest in the class, the course content, scheduling process, registration, and final steps in the application. This will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have.

Acceptance into the course comes after this meeting. Once you've been accepted, you'll have access through the CGEE portal to the course scheduling survey (see below). You will also have access to a form for requesting tuition reduction based on financial need. This form will only appear if your school does not have an existing partnership with Augsburg University/Playwrights' Center, and it deliberately comes at the end of the process so your acceptance to the course is independent of any need for reduced tuition. You are always welcome to ask questions about reduced tuition earlier in the process, but we want to make sure you know your acceptance will not be affected by your need for a scholarship.

 

How does course scheduling work?

Once your application is reviewed and accepted, you will get access to a Google 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. This is a complex process, so it requires collaboration and communication from everyone involved.

 

How do I enroll?

Once you are accepted into the course and change your status to "committed" on the CGEE portal, you will receive an Augsburg ID and email address and access to the course Moodle site. Augsburg 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. After the course is over at the end of the semester, CGEE will send the transcripted academic credit to your home university based on the information you filled out in your initial application.

 

I'd like my university to have a more formal partnership with the Playwrights' Center so students here can have greater access to these PWC courses. How does that happen?

The Playwrights’ Center and CGEE work directly with each interested university to create a formal affiliation agreement whenever possible. This affiliation agreement (individualized for each school) simply ensures there is a standard pathway for students to register and for tuition to be transferred. The agreement is generally negotiated in conversations with a dean’s office, an off-campus study office, the registrar’s office, and/or the financial aid office at any given school. Additionally, academic departments can decide whether PWC courses may support their program of study and count towards a major or minor. All parts of a partnership can be reflected in an affiliation agreement based on each school's needs. We consider faculty in theater and creative writing departments key partners in this program and will be in ongoing contact with them to ensure our courses are meeting curricular needs and supplementing, never replacing, what they offer.

CGEE already has affiliation agreements with universities across the world for its many domestic and international 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. If you'd like to discuss any of this further, please reach out to Sarah Myers, Director of University Programs and Partnerships, at sarahm@pwcenter.org or 612-547-5743.

 

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

That’s totally understandable in our current academic climate. But 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 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 rarely be able to teach at one university for an entire semester. We also offer 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 undergrad 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.