Master’s program Serial Storytelling
The MA Serial Storytelling at the ifs internationale filmschule köln is the first graduate degree program of its kind. Focusing on both local and international series markets, this intensive two-year degree program combines story development skills with collaboration techniques and the innovative approach of artistic research.
This program is ideal for young professionals who aspire to make story development for series projects in a variety of forms and platforms their professional goal. It is the new vision of young professionals like our students that is driving revolutionary change in the industry today.
Start of studies: 18. September 2019
Next application phase: from autumn 2020
In a curriculum equally balanced in theory and practice a selected group of max. 16 international students explore traditional, current, and future ways of serial storytelling. Prospective students may apply for one of two tracks: either to study and write in English for international audiences (international track), or in German with a focus on German-language series markets (German track). Over the course of two years, the groups will join together for English language case studies and most seminars, but for more elaborate writing projects they will split into two »tracks«, with approx. 8 students each.
This unique combination of local and international qualities, combined with a strong focus on collaboration skills and innovative strategies will provide the students with the following exceptional learning experiences:
Acquire a wide-ranging skill set that combines the tools of professional screenwriters and an in-depth knowledge of creative teamwork.
Master models and methods of serial storytelling formats.
Learn to create fascinating characters, compelling ensembles, surprising plots, and sustainable concepts.
Gain hands-on experience in collaborative as well as individual screenwriting, including the creation of a complete drama series within a writers’ room led by an expert professional showrunner.
Develop 4-5 serial storytelling projects in different formats over 4 semesters.
Meet and work with highly acclaimed international writers, producers, showrunners and executives such as Lisa Albert (Mad Men), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Game of Thrones), Hagai Levi (The Affair), Jeppe Gjervig Gram & Ingolf Gabold (Borgen), Matthew Graham & John Yorke (Life on Mars), Frank Spotnitz (X-Files, The Man in the High Castle), Peter Nadermann (The Team), Anna & Jörg Winger (Deutschland ’83), Annette Hess (Ku’damm 56), Janna Nandzik (About: Kate), Orkun Ertener (KDD Kriminaldauerdienst), Phil Parker (The Art and Science of Screenwriting), Laurie Hutzler (Nine Powers).
Enjoy privileged networking opportunities, e.g. at international series festivals such as Série Series in Fontainebleau.
Gain professional work experience as a participant of co-operations with German and international broadcasters and festivals (e.g. RTL, ZDF, Sky Germany, Film Festival Cologne).
Explore philosophical and ethical topics and expand your knowledge of serial storytelling in academic as well as artistic research projects.
Experience the opportunity of Cologne’s diverse production community as a center for TV production, software development, web companies, and hi-tech video gaming.
Obtain a skill-set that is directly applicable to a wide range of career paths involving story development.
The MA Serial Storytelling starts every two years in the winter semester.
2 years (4 semesters)
With 120 ECTS the MA Serial Storytelling is a full-time M.A.. Attendance runs for 11 weeks each semester for the first three semesters. During the fourth semester students will focus on their master’s thesis, which is why attendance in Cologne will be required only for the colloquium, optional bridging Workshops, and the final presentations (approx. 6 weeks).
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Number of students:
max. 8 students in the »German track«, max. 8 students in the »international track«
Fees & Financing
Study fees EU Citizen
One-time registration fee: 400 euros Tuition fee per semester: 1750 euros (= 290 euros per month) Contribution to »The Friends of the ifs Society« per semester: 250 euros
Study fees Non-EU Citizen
One-time registration fee: 400 euros Tuition fee per semester: 2750 euros (= 459 euros per month) Contribution to »The Friends of the ifs Society« per semester: 250 euros
For financial assistance to cover tuition fees and/or living expenses, first-semester students may apply for an interest-free loan from »The Friends of the ifs international filmschule köln Society«. Approval of the interest-free loans depends on the funds available as well as on the applicant’s financial situation. Repayment of the loan begins six months after graduation/termination of studies.
»The Friends of the ifs internationale filmschule köln Society« offers second-semester students two scholarships for outstanding academic achievement (one scholarship for each “Track”) that run until the end of the Master’s program. These scholarships cover the tuition fees as well as an additional monthly allowance of up to 500 euros to cover living expenses (up to a total of 9,000 euros), paid throughout the course of studies until completion of the Master’s program.
Overview of scholarship funds for M.A. study programs
- Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes
- Stiftung der Deutschen Wirtschaft
- Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. Villigst
The requirements for the award of a scholarship vary between individual foundations. In any case, the enrollment at the TH Köln, franchise partner of the ifs, is mandatory. Another way to finance your studies is to apply for a repayable loan (eg Career Concept, db student loans, KfW Development Bank).
What is the regular tuition fee per semester?
Tuition fee for this program is 1750 euros for EU citizens and 2750 euros for Non-EU citizens per semester. (Additionally there is a mandatory contribution of 250 euros for the student funding »Friends of the ifs Society« to finance the loan and scholarship system.) Fees are due before the start of each semester, in certain cases tuition may be paid by installments. In addition, a one-time registration fee of 400 euros will be charged upon enrolment.
Are there any funding opportunities for the program?
To finance tuition fees and to support living expenses, students may apply to the »Friends of the ifs Society« for interest-free loans and scholarships.
Application for student loans is possible after acceptance to the program. The granting of loans is dependent on the economic situation of the applicant and the resources available. Repayment of the loans begins six months after graduation. In addition, two scholarships for excellent academic performance will be awarded to eligible students from the second semester until the end of the Master’s program. These scholarships will cover tuition costs plus a monthly allowance of 500 euros.
More information about financing you will find here.
Do I need to take an English proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTS etc.)?
Applicants need to provide proof of their English language skills at B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, e.g. by a TOEFL score of 87 points (internet-based) or equivalent test results. Native English speakers are exempted from this, as well as applicants holding an English high-school diploma or an English academic degree In addition, all applicants have to demonstrate the appropriate level of English during the selection process (interviews and writing assignments).
Do I need to speak German?
Only if you apply for the German track.
Can I submit texts in my native language?
Section 1 – 3 of the application tasks must be answered in English. Applicants for the international track are requested to submit also sections 4 – 6 in English. Candidates for the German track are requested to submit sections 4 – 6 in German language.
Can non-EU students apply?
Non-EU students are welcome to apply to the program.
Can I submit completed scripts or films in addition to the application documents?
Yes, you may also submit your finished scripts. But depending on the volume of material received, we cannot guarantee that the jurors will be able to read the additional scripts.
Can I apply if I hold a German »Magister« degree?
Yes, you can apply with a Bachelor’s degree or a graduate-level diploma, which includes the Magister.
Is it possible to apply without a bachelor’s degree?
To earn the Master’s degree, you are required to hold a bachelor’s or equivalent degree. Applicants with outstanding artistic qualification may be allowed to enroll in this program without previous academic experience. In this case, no Master’s title is awarded on completion of the program.
How much theoretical and practical screenwriting experience do I need?
If you don’t have a background in screenwriting you are required to read up on storytelling, screenwriting and screenplay format before the beginning of the program.
What you should bring to the program is a long-standing interest in and talent for writing for audiovisual formats. If you have this sort of experience and like working in a team (i.e. are open to give and receive input), you’ll bring along the tools needed for the program.
Do I have to come to Germany for an interview? When do the interviews take place?
Interviews as well as entrance exams will take place in Cologne (approx. 3 days). In the case this is not possible, the interviews may be conducted via Skype.
Do I have to submit a translation of my certificates?
Yes. You have to hand in a translated (German or English) and certified copy of your undergraduate degree certificate.
Do I need to have working experience?
Yes, applicants must have gained relevant practical experience in the field of media or writing for at least one year.
Will I be able to work during the lecture period?
This decision is up to you, but please be aware that the MA Serial Storytelling is a full-time 120 credits Master’s program.
In the first three semesters, we expect attendance for a period of about 14 weeks each semester, with courses running four days a week from 10:00 am till 4:00 pm (even longer during Project phase, etc.). Inbetween lecture periods there will be extensive writing assignments. During the fourth semester, while the master’s thesis is being written, there is no obligatory attendance, but at the end of the fourth semester students will be expected to attend a colloquium and presentations.
Do I have to enroll at the TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences as well?
The TH Köln – University of Applied Sciences is franchiser of the ifs. MA students are required to enroll at the TH Köln. This provides students with low-cost tickets for public transportation and the opportunity to use the services of the international office, student sporting facilities etc. The semester fee at the TH Köln amounts to approx. 270 euros.
How do I find accommodation in Cologne?
Students who are accepted will be provided with a list of useful links.
What’s the cost of living in Cologne?
For an estimation of the average costs of living in Cologne please see here.
If you have specific questions regarding the »MA Serial Storytelling«, please contact:
Carolin Grosse Hellmann
Head of Department Screenwriting
T +49 (0) 221.920188-261
T +49 (0) 221.920188-267
Office of Student Affairs
T +49 (0) 221.920188-222
Request info material
Here you can compile the requested information material on ifs programs.