Stories impact us in profound ways. Good stories can inspire and touch our souls; they bring freshness, life, understanding and clarity to our experience. They can draw us closer to God and to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. They are at the core of the entertainment which shapes our culture and society. Under the guidance of experienced writers, you will study the discipline and craft of powerfully telling your stories for multiple mediums, whether that be a screenplay, novel, or short story.
Creative and Screenwriting Curriculum
In addition to studying the discipline and craft of writing novels, screenplays, and short stories, students will develop creative ideas and explore techniques to take their writing to a much deeper level. In our Humanities program, you will study the great works of Western literature from the Greek Golden Age to the modern era. Through that rigorous consideration of the great books, you will grapple with the profound questions at the heart of any enduring creative work - what is the nature of God, man, and society? This is essential study for properly developing your talent or “divine spark” of creativity in order to produce enduring works which serve the common good of humanity.
St. John Paul the Great, a writer and artist himself, wrote extensively to encourage artists to develop their “divine spark” in order to create works whose excellence communicates truth and beauty. Such a task, he believed, was essential for the common good. “Society needs artists,” he wrote, “they not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favour of the common good.”
What makes our Creative Writing and Screenwriting Program so different is the opportunity to develop your natural creativity in dialogue with the great artistic achievements of Western Tradition, and you will engage and wrestle with the best ideas and writings throughout our civilization. We approach the perennial questions of life captured in literature from a thoroughly Catholic perspective and learn from faculty who are deeply committed to the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church.
Story is at the heart of our mission. Stories have an incredible power in opening us to a new way of perceiving reality and in helping us understand important truths with more clarity. To fulfill our mission to Impact Culture for Christ, we teach you to write compelling mainstream movies, TV and short films that can reach broad audiences and bring them closer to truth, beauty, and goodness.
You will receive an outstanding real-world education in the art and business of screenwriting, where you will create a script of your choosing and get personal mentorship in polishing, pitching, and selling it. Chris Riley, professor of screenwriting, is a veteran of the script department at Warner Brothers and wrote The Hollywood standard, which is used at most film schools as the authoritative source for screenplay format and style.
The creative writing curriculum covers both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a wide range of genres from poetry, drama, to speculative novels, journalistic work, and fantasy. You will examine creative writing techniques such as point of view, language, tone, pacing and plot, and more. You will explore in depth the literature and nonfiction creative writing of the twentieth and twenty-first century to study the writing practices and techniques of the authors to provide insights for you to create your own enduring works.
Passionately Christian Professionals
JPCatholic exists for one reason: to Impact Culture for Christ. We’re committed to creating compelling mainstream stories that draw wide audiences closer to Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. You will study under faculty and with peers who are singularly focussed on bringing meaningful stories to audiences everywhere.
We must know Christ in our own lives to share Him with the world. Join our Humanities program and surround yourself with people who are committed both to excellence in pursuing their craft and in their faith in Jesus Christ.
Our commitment to our Catholic identity is paramount. The teachings of Jesus Christ form our foundation, shaping who you become and preparing you to impact culture for Christ. Our liberal arts core curriculum is rooted in a rigorous study of Sacred Scripture, Catholic theology, and the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.
You will also engage the great books of Western Civilization, the great sacred art and music of the Church, the history of philosophical thought, marriage and family, and Catholic social teaching. Most importantly, you will learn how to integrate your study of Scripture into your prayer life, thus turning your work into an expression of your personal commitment to Christ.
Throughout your freshman and sophomore year, you will meet with a faculty mentor, a seasoned writer and scholar who is passionate about our mission to Impact Culture for Christ.
Your mentor helps you drill down into career trajectory fits you best, and helps you understand your strengths and skill set. Mentorship is a critical piece of your creative growth. Small class sizes allow you to develop a close relationship with faculty.
Graduate in Three Years
JPCatholic is structured on a year-round quarter system, and you graduate in 12 quarters. Each quarter is ten weeks long.
In addition to the Catholic Core curriculum, every student takes six classes in business with the opportunity to earn a minor by taking two additional courses. These courses will give you a high level understanding of business models in addition to core skills in marketing, management, leadership, and deal making. In whatever walk of life God leads you, business and organizational skills are critical to making an Impact.
Writing and Rhetoric
This course is designed to help students develop their writing and speaking skills with the goal of being able to develop an argument using various sources of information and communicate their conclusions clearly. Students will study source texts to learn various techniques and styles of communication, and will practice these techniques in written and oral assignments.
The Greeks I
In this course students will examine literary texts from multiple Greek writers including Homer and Sophocles. The course will focus on the great themes found in this literature including: morality and the human condition, the nature of justice, fate and free will, and the lex talionis. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the various texts in class with the goal of being able to make a text-based argument about one of these themes.
The Greeks II
In this course students will examine philosophical texts from multiple Greek writers including Plato and Aristotle. The course will focus on the great themes found in this literature including: the difference between opinion and knowledge, nature and convention, the nature of justice, the place of friendship in a happy life, and whether philosophy is good for the city. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the various texts in class with the goal of being able to make a text-based argument about one of these themes.
Rome and the Early Christians
In this course students will examine texts from Roman and early Christian writers including Virgil, Cicero, St. Athanasius, and St. Augustine. The course will examine the different answers given by each writer to the perennial questions about God, humanity, and society. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the various texts in class with the goal of being able to write a critical essay about one of these perennial questions.
The Medieval Period
In this course students will examine the texts and history of medieval Europe, considering particularly the many contributions made at this time to the intellectual and artistic tradition of western civilization. Students will discuss these works in class in order to understand how they still shape our culture and thinking today.
This course will provide students with an overview of western civilization in the early modern period through the lens of texts, art, and historical records of the time. The course will help students to view these works in continuity with other cultural artifacts.
This course will provide students with an overview of western civilization from recent history through the present day through the lens of texts, art, and historical records of the time. The course will help students to view these works in continuity with other cultural artifacts.
The sequence covers: statistical literacy, rigorous interviewing techniques, and understanding the work of experts.
ENTM 261 – TV Production I
An introduction to the skills used in multi-camera television production. This course provides a comprehensive overview of the medium and provides the student with hands-on experience in television studio techniques.
ENTM 361 – TV Production II
Using multi-camera TV production, students will plan and produce a series of live-on-tape studio productions. Content could include talk shows, sitcoms, new casts, news magazines and music performances.
ENTM 362 – Field ENG Production
This class introduces students to electronic news gathering. Students will learn how to visually craft a new story, shoot interviews, collect b-roll and edit these materials into a 90 second news story.
ENTM 460 – The Business of Television Content Creation
An exploration of the business aspects of the television industry including business models and organizational structures of broadcast and cable networks, local TV stations, studios and independent production companies and how they affect the development of content.
The class explores the aesthetic, sociological, economic, demographic, and technological trends that impact television programming decisions: what gets on the air and what stays on the air and what constitutes success in the face of competing demands of commercial viability, artistic merit, advertiser requests, and public pressure.
Story, Genre, and Structure
A theoretical and practical introduction to the human phenomenon of storytelling, what stories are, their central role in culture from ancient times to the present day, and how storytellers seek and communicate meaning. Particular attention will be paid to the significance of story in the Judeo-Christian tradition and story’s role within the Christian faith.
Students will generate numerous story ideas, and with the help of their classmates and the instructor will evaluate those ideas in terms of audience appeal, theme and meaning.
Film Criticism and the Art of Visual Storytelling
This class will study some of the most important films in American cinema to understand the cultural context in which they were created, the role of the director in the filmmaking process, and the lasting legacy that the various films enjoy.
Film and Literature
This course examines storytelling in literature and film. It will illuminate the ways in which the greatest stories embodied in great literature are perennially resonant and can continue to be sources of inspiration and reflection for writers and film makers today. The course will proceed by considering the role of myth and archetypes in some of the greatest stories ever told in literature and film. The course will also include reflection on the difference that medium makes in storytelling by comparing the media of literature and film. As a special focus dedicated to this last goal, this course will consider select film adaptations of works of literature.
Writing and Pitching a Script
This course builds on the storytelling fundamentals learned in Story, Genre and Structure, with specific application to writing for the screen. The student will learn the basics of scriptwriting and will combine this with previously acquired writing and storytelling skills to write a spec script for an existing half- hour or hour-long television series. Students will hone their presentation skills to pitch their television story.
Class time will be dedicated to covering beginning and intermediate topics including breaking stories, scene writing, dialogue, subtext, direction, giving and receiving notes in a writers’ group, and script format. Students will critique one another’s work in small groups, with instructor guidance.
Considerable time will be required for students to write outside of class. Students will read and respond to the required texts as well as assigned episodic television scripts.
Fundamentals of Story Development
This course builds on student understanding of screen storytelling established in Story, Genre and Structure and Writing and Pitching a Script. Students will develop an original feature-length screen story from multiple ideas through idea evaluation and selection, character creation and development, story structure, treatment, pitch and beat sheet. At the end of the course, students will register their work with the WGA (a $20 fee). Students will consider more advanced screenwriting concepts presented in the text and will apply those principles to their developing stories.
Writing for the Screen I
This course builds on the work completed in Fundamentals of Story Development. Students will at a minimum write the first two acts of a screenplay. They will read classic and modern screenplays. Class time will be dedicated to covering intermediate topics including scene transitions, writing with subtext, visual writing, and further developing skills in scene and dialogue writing and script formatting, and finding solutions to writer's block. Students will critique one another's work in small groups, with instructor supervision and guidance. Considerable time will be required for students to write.
Writing for the Screen II
Students will continue their study of screenwriting begun in Writing for the Screen 1. They will complete the first draft of a feature length screenplay and plan and complete a second draft of that screenplay, and they will register their finished work with the WGA. Class time will be dedicated to covering intermediate and advanced topics including rewriting, working with producers, directors and agents, types of professional meetings and how to make the most of them, how to seek buyers for scripted material, and the articulation of a well-developed personal code of ethics in entertainment. Students will critique one another's work in small groups, with instructor supervision and guidance. Considerable time will be required for students to write. Students will read and respond to the required texts as well as to feature screenplays and episodic television scripts.
Writing Short Form Cinema
Students will continue their study of screenwriting with a focus on writing narrative films under 40 minutes in length. They will screen and analyze multiple examples of short cinema to gain an understanding of the qualities possessed by the best examples of the form. They will write numerous short scripts with the goal of generating one or more short scripts of high quality that can be produced either inside or outside the university setting. Students will critique one another's work with instructor supervision and guidance. Considerable time will be required for students to write. Students will read and respond to the required texts.
Writing for TV
The course examines the unique structure of multi-camera television production from a writing perspective, and instructs the students on how to effectively write for productions such as talk shows, sitcoms, variety shows, newscasts and news magazines.
This course builds on the storytelling fundamentals learned in Story, Genre and Structure, and Fundamentals of Story Development, with a focus on the principles and skills of adapting for the screen a story which originates in another medium, as well as adapting true stories for the screen. The student will consider the challenges inherent in adapting a story from another medium, and from true life, and will gain skills and experience by writing, developing, and/or pitching multiple stories of this type. The knowledge, skills, and experience gained in this course will serve aspiring screenwriters, as well as aspiring producers, directors, agents, managers, and executives who will involve themselves in the development of story material for the screen. Students will pitch their adaptations and will critique one another’s work in large and small groups, with instructor supervision and guidance. Considerable time will be required for students to write and develop stories outside of class. Students will read and respond to the required text.
Advanced Writing Seminar I
This course provides advanced writing experience for students who have completed multiple scripts for the screen. Assignments will be individualized based on student experience, interest, and skill, and may include development and writing of feature film scripts, television episodes or pilots, short film scripts, and scripts for web-based distribution. Students may also rewrite existing works for which they've written earlier drafts. Students will read and lead discussions of numerous screenplays. Students will pitch their stories, and may be asked to pitch to students in other courses. Students will critique one another’s work in large and small groups, with instructor supervision and guidance. They will also develop a personalized career strategy as a writer for the screen. The knowledge, skills, and experience gained in this course will serve aspiring writers, writer-directors, and writer-producers for film, television, and new media. Considerable time will be required for students to write and develop scripts outside of class.
Advanced Writing Seminar II
This course follows Advanced Writing Seminar I and provides additional advanced writing experience for students who have completed multiple scripts for the screen. Assignments will be individualized based on student experience, interest, and skill, and may include development and writing of feature film scripts, television episodes or pilots, short film scripts, and scripts for web-based distribution. Students may also rewrite existing works for which they've written earlier drafts. Students will read and lead discussions of numerous screenplays. Students will pitch their stories, and may be asked to pitch to students in other courses. Students will critique one another’s work in large and small groups, with instructor supervision and guidance. They may also be asked to supervise the script development work of underclassmen. The knowledge, skills, and experience gained in this course will serve aspiring writers, writer-directors, and writer-producers for film, television, and new media. Considerable time will be required for students to write and develop scripts outside of class.
Imaginative and Nonfiction Creative Writing
This course will consider literature and nonfiction creative writing of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and will pay particular attention to the representation of place and the engagement with culture. Students will examine the use of aspects of creative writing such as point of view, language, tone, pacing and plot, and so on from a writer’s perspective.
Creative Writing I
This course examines a range of writing practices that authors have undertaken in order to create. It studies how copyright law and developing ideas about authorship influenced the ways writers worked in the nineteenth century. It considers how experimentation in the twentieth century continued to develop form. It looks at idea of the romantic genius, the challenges of the collaboration process, and the incorporation of different writing media. It argues that creativity may express itself in a wide range of ways by studying the practice of poets, fiction writers, and artists of the U.S. and UK.
Creative Writing II
Writing allows us to explore alternative realities and this course examines the literary devices and purposes of a range of genres including travel writing, poetry, drama, speculative novels and fantasy stories. We are especially interested in the purpose behind the creation of alternative worlds – to satirize contemporary society, to imagine new possibilities, to experiment with form and so on.
Consciousness and Creativity
What is the source of creativity? Where do writers acquire their material and how do they select and arrange it? This course examines how writers explore creativity in the treatment of the mind. It also studies narrative treatment of consciousness through the use of point of view and perspective. It looks at the way in which thought and perception has preoccupied artists from the time of the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century to Edgar Allan Poe’s detective stories in the nineteenth century and to study of the mind in drama by Beckett in the twentieth century.
Nonfiction Writing: Travel, Nature, and Identity
This course provides an overview of various kinds of nonfiction writing, especially focusing on travel, nature, and personal identity writing. By reading various nonfiction works, students will become familiar with the techniques and structure of different kinds of nonfiction writing, and practice using those techniques in their own works.
THEO 100 - Introduction to Scripture I
In this course the student explores the Scriptures, particularly the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to understand the person of Jesus Christ. This Scripture course serves as the basis for JPCatholic’s religion curriculum.
While examining some of the basic literary and historical issues relating to Scripture study, the course also introduces students to the theological principles of Catholic biblical exegesis, and the ways the study of Scripture enhances the life of prayer.
THEO 200 - Introduction to Scripture II
This course is a continuation of THEO 100. Whereas THEO 100 focuses largely on the Gospels, this course takes a closer look at the major figures and events of the Old Testament. After a discussion of the literary and historical issues relating to biblical study, students learn the basic structure of the story of salvation history, surveying the books of the Old Testament.
Special attention is given to the way the Old Testament books relate to those in the New Testament. As in THEO 100 students also focus on how Scripture study relates to the life of prayer.
THEO 110 - The Intellectual Life and Virtue
This class will examine the nature of university life by means of pursuing the good life of intellectual and moral virtue. It will examine what defines a virtuous intellectual life, with the underlying core of the class being the primacy of our relationship to Christ who is the Truth. The outcome will be that each student will gain both greater comprehension and facility in university study and the life of the mind.
THEO 311 - Fundamentals of Catholicism
The Catechism explains that there is a three-fold dimension to the Catholic faith: the Church believes it (Creed), celebrates it (Liturgy) and lives it (Morality, Prayer) (cf. no. 2558). This course begins a sequence of three courses (THEO 311, THEO 312, THEO 313) that cover these aspects of the Catholic faith, offering students a comprehensive study of the Catechism.
Particular topics of examination include divine revelation and its sources, the role of faith, the Incarnation, Christ’s work of redemption, beliefs about Mary and the communion of saints, the nature and mission of the Church, and more.
THEO 312 - Sacraments, Liturgy, and Prayer
This course builds on THEO 311 and offers students an in-depth study of the sacraments, liturgy, spirituality and prayer. The course examines the challenges of developing an interior life, focusing on the nature and difficulties of prayer. In addition, students analyze the Church’s liturgical life, with a focus on the seven sacraments by studying the Catechism and spiritual masters.
THEO 313 - Moral Theology and Ethics
Building on THEO 311 and THEO 312, this course rounds out the study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, offering an in-depth analysis of the third pillar, namely, the section on Catholic morality.
THEO 400 - Catholic Social Teaching
Building upon what had been discussed in THEO 313, this course is a broad study of general Church teaching on social questions, with strong emphasis on the papal encyclicals and other Church documents. Major issues explored include the role of the State, poverty, war, structures of sin, the duties of employers and employees, and challenges to building a culture of life.
THEO 401 - Marriage and Family
This course introduces the student to the teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacramental understanding of marriage. It examines marriage from a biblical, historical, and doctrinal viewpoint. The course provides a Catholic understanding of human sexuality and the issues that arise in premarital and marital relationships.
The implications of commitment and the realities of today’s external forces on the family are analyzed. Students will learn the significant implications of parenthood and the spiritual and financial duties of raising children.
HUMA 106 - Logic
Students learn about the basic structures of sound reasoning, focusing largely on classic Aristotelian logic. The course serves to help students think and argue with clarity as well as to effectively analyze arguments of others.
The course includes a careful analysis of the operations of the intellect, i.e., understanding, judgment, and reasoning, focusing on their products, i.e., term, proposition, and syllogism.
HUMA 107 - Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion
This course is the second in a series of three that explore logic as art. This course focuses on rhetorical discussion and literature. This course incorporates an analysis of practical evangelization.
PHIL 203 - Philosophy of Nature
This course is a detailed study in the various understandings of nature, beginning with mythology as a primitive attempt at grasping the world, to the classical understanding found in Aristotle and Aquinas, then modern science concepts of Descartes, Galileo and Newton, Darwin, and finally to near-contemporary physicists such as Heisenberg.
PHIL 204 - Philosophy of Man
After providing an overview of the basic principles of the Philosophy of Nature, this course examines the nature of the human being, beginning from the Epic of Gilgamesh, continuing through the Classical period by means of Aristotle, the Middle Ages in Aquinas, the Renaissance via Pascal, and concluding in the modern period in Nietzsche, Freud and T. S. Eliot.
PHIL 408 - Philosophy of God
This is a course in the various understandings of metaphysics, or the nature of being as being, beginning from Plato and Aristotle, and the Middle Ages in Aquinas. The course continues by covering several related questions, beginning with Natural Theology (discussing the traditional proofs for the existence of God, the Divine Attributes that can be understood using reason alone, the analogy of being, and the act of creation), continuing with the “problem of evil” and the question of free will.
HUMA 120 - Culture Making
This course examines how media and business shape the attitudes, practices and beliefs of individuals and groups, and develops in students a rich understanding of the subtle and powerful cultural currents swirling around them, so that they can make valuable contributions to the development of the future of American and international culture.
HUMA 301 - Global Cultures, History and Politics
This course studies a wide variety of global cultures by listening to indigenous voices expressing themselves in cultural products that include novels, films, music, poetry, essays, speeches, and journalism.
HUMA 111, 211, 311 - History of Culture Through the Arts I, II, & III
This course will explain how developments in literature and the arts reflect and impact culture from ancient civilizations through the rise of the Byzantine Empire (I), from late Cristendom through the American and French Revolutions (II), and from then to the presend day (III).
HUMA 402 - American Politics
This course provides an overview of the American political system. Beginning with the Founding Fathers and examining their thought process and progressing through the modern day political landscape this course explores both the system and the importance of the citizen in the political process.
Electives: (2) Choose two from HUMA, PHIL, or THEO, or from the list below:
HUMA 122 - College Writing I
This course will emphasize the use of correct grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and mechanics. Students will be required to apply these skills to writing assignments.
HUMA 123 - College Writing II
This course will build on the skills learned in HUMA122.
HUMA 204 - Poetics and Aesthetics
This course stands as the culmination of the sequence of courses in the freshman year that covered grammar, logic and rhetoric. The course examines the role of the artist, the nature and purpose of art, of beauty, and of a life of art-making, and considers whether and how the quality of art can be evaluated in light of a Catholic understanding of art and artists. The course further considers the significance of these ideas to human endeavors such as work and business that are not typically viewed as artistic.
MATH 115 - Decisions Based on Data
This course is a review of basic mathematical skills, with a focus on those needed to review and understand business statistics and information. The course focuses on real life application of the concepts learned.
Students will also be introduced to basic financial literacy concepts such as budgeting and planning for large purchases that require a loan. The course is also designed to help students learn how to interpret quantitative information and other data in order to make decisions.
SCI 200 - Natural Science
This course explores the scientific method and reasoning. A special emphasis is placed on the design found in nature and environmental science.
BUSI 191 - Entrepreneurial Thinking
In today’s world there is a need for strategic thinking and business vision based on a different paradigm. Competition is not only between products and services, but also between business models. Students will learn about innovation-driven business strategies and methodologies to develop business designs to successfully compete in the new economy.
BUSI 193 - Introduction to Marketing
This course focuses on introducing the idea of “entrepreneurial marketing” and is aimed at students who plan to start a new venture or take a job as a marketing professional pursuing an innovative marketing approach. Students will study a full spectrum of marketing strategies and tactics that are especially suitable for entrepreneurial firms aiming for high growth and innovation yet faced by limited resources and uncertain industry dynamics.
Students will work in teams on marketing plans for their own venture or for other high profile entrepreneurs or executives. The focus of this course is on hands-on experiences and practical application of marketing concepts.
BUSI 291 - Business Planning
In this class students get a “big picture” look at the ingredients of a start-up firm and the process of creating one. The class details those ingredients, discusses the stories (good & bad) of people who have done it, and learn the process by going through it with a team. Students learn the business planning process, how to craft a compelling and clear business story, and acquire inquisitiveness as to how the world of business really works.
The class deliverable is a complete Business Plan created by student teams along with a presentation of the plan.
BUSI 300 - Negotiation Skills
This course teaches students to meet and resolve objections and conflicts that result from written and oral proposals and pitches. Emphasis is on resolving customer obstacles before addressing your own. Topics covered include: Wants vs. Needs; Win-Win Strategies; Best Alternatives to Agreement; Schedule vs. Quality vs. Cost; Progress vs. Perfection. The class progresses through carefully structured, progressively more complex negotiation exercises. Students learn how external and internal negotiation has become a way of life for effective managers in a constantly changing business environment.
BUSI 301 - Social Media Marketing
This course will prepare you to act both strategically and tactically - utilizing social media tools like blogs, microblogs (Twitter), vodcasts, video, and networking sites to engage with your audience and sell your products and services. You will discover how to use analytic tools to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns and communicate meaningfully with your audience. In this class, we will divide into small groups. Each group will build their own blog, as well as two accompanying social media accounts (Twitter & Facebook) for their chosen “business,” and we will analyze their implementation & progress.
BUSI 393 - Leadership and Management
This course gives an in-depth understanding of the differences between – and similarities of -- leadership and management. The course focuses on the major traits of leaders and managers, and augments these with examples of great historic leaders, including George Custer and Jesus Christ.
The course also studies the leadership traits of Abraham Lincoln, and looks at how these can be applied in business to improve management techniques.
COMM 200 - Business Communications
This course will teach students how to write and speak effectively in business and other communication.
* This interactive curriculum page may not be a comprehensive listing of all course offerings and requirements. Courses and course descriptions are subject to change. Please see the official University catalog for the most up to date information.
Graduates of the Creative Writing program pursue professional careers in many aspects of the creative and education fields as writers, editors, and teachers. JPCatholic’s unique curriculum will also prepare students for a broad array of roles with critical thinking skills and a broad appreciation for how the world works. If this sounds like something you love, apply now to JPCatholic! Generous scholarships are still available.