The University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) holds the National Unified Auditions and Interviews (NUAIs) each winter in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, with hundreds of candidates participating from around the world. Students interested in acting, design, directing, theatre technology, stage management and theatre management are provided the opportunity to audition and interview for numerous positions with a variety of graduate training programs.
Some of the country's top programs for postgraduate theatre study are listed below.
The School of Drama Graduate Costume Design Program produces innovative leaders in the design and production fields of clothing for the stage, television, and film industries.
The School of Drama Graduate Lighting Design Program is an integrated, hands-on, three-year program which teaches practical, theoretical, and conceptual approaches for lighting design and technology.
The School of Drama Graduate Scenic Design Program prepares student for careers as scenic designers, art directors and production designers for theatre, film television, opera, dance and events.
The School of Drama Graduate Sound Design Program teaches students the technical and conceptual practices necessary for designing and integrating of audio elements into a production.
The School of Drama Graduate Video & Media Design Program is a conceptually rigorous, hands-on and innovative three–year program, which teaches advanced technical skills in a critical context.
The School of Drama Graduate Directing Option is a three-year program. It is designed for directors who have at least three years of professional experience and wish to expand and develop their skills. The program admits two highly motivated directors as John Wells Fellows each year who demonstrate the ability and drive to articulate their own vision for theater and contemporary performance. Directing skills are honed in workshops and performances, as well as through theory, history, and studio classes. The John Wells Graduate Directing Program provides Fellows with the opportunity to pursue both rigorous, classical training and experimental approaches to contemporary performance. As the boundaries of performance and theater continue to expand, it is critical that directors be provided with the tools, vocabulary and vision to not only thrive in this new environment but to envision its future.
The School of Drama Dramatic Writing Option provides students with rigorous, hands-on writing instruction. Combining playwriting, screenwriting, and writing for television, the Dramatic Writing MFA prepares you to immediately enter the field. Graduates of the program achieve a high level of craft, discipline, and openness to wild experimentation. Dramatic Writing students collaborate on productions of their stage and television scripts. They have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses and to participate in the Sloan/CMU Screenplay Competition, which awards $35,000 in prizes to current students each year. Both during and after their time at CMU, writers have access to an established framework of professional connections.
The School of Drama Graduate Production Technology and Management Option (PTM) offers specialized graduate training programs in technical direction, and production and stage management. Today’s professional theater environment requires a comprehensive grasp of all modern management and technological tools available to those working behind the scenes. An advanced understanding of resource management, communication and facilitation of every aspect of the creative process is an integral part of PTM training, both in the classroom and in hands-on production experiences.
The School of Drama’s Graduate Costume Production Program is a rigorous program producing leaders and innovations in the field of Costume making, management and construction.
Stage and Production Management
The School of Drama's program in Stage and Production Management provides a wide array of classroom and hands-on experiences to create leaders who facilitate creative projects in all aspects of the profession.
The School of Drama's Graduate Technical Direction program prepares students to manage the engineering and construction of scenery and scenic effects for theater and related markets in the live entertainment industry.
The MFA in Theatre and Drama is a three-year terminal degree program that marries the scholarly study of theatre with the practical making of theatre. The Acting, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, and Theatre Technology specializations serve as part of a comprehensive specialization in theatre, help fulfill the Liberal Arts and artistic missions of the Department, and contribute to interdisciplinary study on the campus. The faculty in Theatre and Drama are leaders in their field. Together they have many credits in all facets of the profession. Their contributions to undergraduate and graduate teaching have been, and will continue to be, through a curriculum that emphasizes (1) professional standards and discipline (2) development of both an articulate artist and collaborator through interrelating studies of theory and practice.
The MA and PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies are degrees that prepare scholars to use substantive research skills to analyze contemporary issues of theatre and performance. Students may specialize in the history and theory of theatre practice and dramatic literature or performance studies and ethnography to investigate a broad spectrum of performance traditions. The program trains students to transcend disciplinary boundaries and pose challenging questions that are pertinent to the field today. Successful theses and dissertations combine in-depth and well-conducted research, analytical writing and original ideas. The program encourages students to investigate the connections between theatre and its social, political and historical context, and also offers exciting and diverse opportunities to participate in performance, directing and dramaturgy. Students emerge from the program with direct experience and a heightened understanding of the integral relationship between artistic practice and serious scholarship.
The MFA in Performance is designed for the innovative performing artist with professional theatre experience and artistic vision who wishes to build on her or his strengths and insights in a rigorous, creative and scholarly context. This program is for the entrepreneurial artist who wishes to write, direct, perform and produce his or her own work; additionally, it enhances teaching artistry through strong mentorship, guidance and practice. This program is small and individualized; only six students are accepted every three years
A pre-professional, terminal degree, the MFA in Design emphasizes the development of specific production-related skills and prepares students to enter the professional theatre and entertainment fields. The highly competitive three-year program offers superior students advanced training and opportunities in costume, lighting or scenic design. Students can earn credit as assistant designers and designers at many of Washington DC’s professional theatres, On- and Off-Broadway, and in leading regional theatres.
The University of Texas M.F.A. is rigorous and particularly geared toward students actively pursuing a career in theatre and film. We seek committed, focused students who have a realistic knowledge of the business and are ready to make a serious commitment to their education. Students who have been out of undergraduate school for at least a year are preferred, but our entrance requirements are based upon demonstrated talent and skill rather than professional experience.
The M.F.A. Directing Program at The University of Texas at Austin is a vital, ascendant, highly selective professional training program, targeted to mid-career theatre artists of proven expertise -- and designed to embrace the evolving role of the 21st century director. As a department committed to the comprehensive training of directors and the creation of new works for the stage, we believe directing to be both a collaborative and generative craft - and thus our program welcomes artists from a variety of theatrical disciplines and backgrounds who seek a vigorous interdisciplinary approach to the art of making theatre.
The Master of the Fine Arts in Playwriting Program at the University of Texas at Austin is a demanding, three-year course of study designed for artists committed to professional dramatic writing and its teaching. The curriculum emphasizes the generation and revision of new work, both by the individual playwright and in progressive collaborations with other writers and artists within the department. While open to only a limited number of students, this highly selective program draws on the resources of one of the largest Universities in the country, allowing each playwright to tailor an experience suited to his or her style, ambition, and vision.
Nationally recognized as a leading graduate program in the field, the M.F.A. in Drama &Theatre for Youth & Communities (DTYC) focuses on the interdependence of theatre artistry, pedagogy, and scholarship. The DTYC program is inherently interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on practice and scholarship from many fields such as theatre/drama with youth, education, cultural studies, performance studies, health and wellness, youth development, and visual arts. Throughout their program of study, students in DTYC participate in socially engaged and culturally responsible coursework, fieldwork, performance-making and research activities. Through drama-based pedagogy, youth-focused artistry, and rigorous scholarship, students and faculty in this area demonstrate a strong commitment to leadership, community, diversity, innovation, and social justice. This M.F.A. program also responds to contemporary issues in the field and contributes to local and global discourses related to drama and theatre with/for youth and communities.
The MFA in Theatre Pedagogy Program is individually tailored to prepare early to mid-career theatre professionals to enter the field of teaching at the university or college level. The program allows the student to work with a faculty mentor in planning a two to three year curriculum integrating the practical application of teaching with that of well-rounded scholarly/academic training. Upon acceptance into the MFA in Theatre Pedagogy, a two to three year program is designed by the Departmental Director of Graduate Studies to aid the candidate in planning a curriculum that best prepares him or her for successful entry into the teaching profession. The program effectively combines classes in pedagogy, scholarship, academics, rehearsal and performance, and the practice of teaching. Additionally, candidates receive training in the art of job preparation and application. The thesis project may be related to a production or course in which the student is involved.
The Costume Design MFA integrates extensive theoretical and practical training. Graduate design courses are structured to address the specific needs of developing the individual student’s skills and talents. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. The MFA in Theatre: Costume Design integrates extensive training in costume design, costume history, and technical skill. Rendering and portfolio building, as well as computer drafting, with practicums and professional internships at local theatres complete the professional skills program. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. Second and third year students are expected to divide their time between the campus and other theatres.
The Scene Design MFA integrates extensive theoretical and practical training. Graduate design courses are structured to address the specific needs of developing the individual student’s skills and talents. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. The MFA in Theatre: Scene Design integrates extensive training in set design, history of interior design or architecture and scene painting. Rendering and portfolio building, as well as computer drafting, with practicums and professional internships at local theatres complete the professional skills program. This professional design training is grounded in traditional academic studies in theatre history, theory and criticism, and literature. Second and third year students are expected to divide their time between the campus and other theatres.
The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree is conferred on students holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college who complete with distinction any of the programs of study outlined and who exhibit excellence in their professional practice. Three years in residence is the time required for this work. The M.F.A. is awarded in the following areas of study: Acting, Design, Sound Design, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Directing, Playwriting, Stage Management,Technical Design and Production, and Theater Management.
The Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree is conferred on students who hold the M.F.A. degree in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism and who have completed the M.F.A. qualifying comprehensive examinations and have written a dissertation of distinction whose subject has been approved by the D.F.A. committee.
Certificate in Drama
The Certificate in Drama is conferred on students who do not hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, but who complete with distinction the three-year program in Acting, Design, Sound Design, Directing, Playwriting, Stage Management or Technical Design and Production. The Certificate in Drama is subject to the same training as that of the M.F.A. degree.
Technical Internship Certificate
The Technical Internship Certificate is awarded to students who complete with distinction the one-year internship program of the Technical Design and Production department.
The Master of Fine Arts in Drama is a four-year conservatory program in actor training. Each year 8 to 10 students will be accepted in the MFA program. These students will participate in advanced courses in addition to working side by side with undergraduates in certain skill set areas as well as performance.
The Graduate Seminar track runs through the curriculum for all four years of training, encompassing a variety of topics including, production, directing, playwriting, pedagogy, and current trends in American and World Theater.
The arc of training at Graduate Acting is a constantly evolving, but fully integrated, series of classes, based on the respective disciplines of Acting, Voice and Speech, and Movement. On any given day, students will experience all three disciplines and over the course of three years, students will have many of the same teachers, who are constantly ratcheting up the stakes and increasing the skill level demanded of their students. So, the arc of training provides an energetic balance between continuity and surprise, between assurance and obstacle, between confidence and challenge.
The training not only provides for the students to learn from the teachers, but for the teachers to learn from their students. Every year, feedback from our students is incorporated into the evolution of our training.
Theatre & Dance Ph.D.
UC San Diego Theatre and Dance offers a groundbreaking Ph.D. in Theatre and Drama in conjunction with the Department of Drama at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The joint nature of the Ph.D. program provides an unrivaled diversity of theatre faculty and affiliated faculty between both campuses available for coursework and advising. Within the context of the programï¿½s twin focus on theory and history, an innovative structure permits each student to pursue a custom-designed curriculum that draws from a rich variety of seminars in faculty research areas that include: Theatre of the Americas (modernist and postmodernist theatre and performance; US Latino theatre; African American theatre and dance; Asian American performance) and European Theatre (Greek classical theatre; Shakespeare; neoclassical, modern, Italian Renaissance, and contemporary French theatre; modern and contemporary German theatre), as well as Asian Theatre, Gender Studies, Intercultural Theatre, and Critical Theory.
The body and mind of the actor are synthesized to serve as an instrument of expression. The actor must depend on his or her instrument to perform, and the program places great emphasis on the strengthening and tuning of that instrument. The innate talent of the student is nurtured, coaxed and challenged with individual attention from an extraordinary team of professionals and specialists in actor training. All graduate students serve at least one professional residency with the La Jolla Playhouse and are cast in positions ranging from supporting to lead roles alongside professional actors and directors of national and international stature.
In 1985, we established a unique professional relationship with the La Jolla Playhouse and that relationship grows and gets stronger each year. The La Jolla Playhouse (Tony Outstanding Regional Theatre, 1993) is in residence at UCSD for extended seasons each year (May through December) in our shared facilities, the Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts. They produce some of the most vital and nervy theatre in this country and they share our vision of what theatre training ought to be. MFA students in Acting, Dance Theatre, Design, Directing, and Stage Management get at least one professional residency with the La Jolla Playhouse.
With an emphasis on the collaborative process, the Directing Program's purpose is to develop directors with a solid foundation in the components of production and the interpretation of text, learn the specific language of theatre and express their own vision through strong theatricality, clear scenic situations, visual metaphors and innovative concepts. Individuals are encouraged to make challenging choices, to break down barriers, and to create exciting, meaningful theatre.
The American theatre needs bold, committed, and compassionate playwrights who are connected to the world they live in. Each year we admit one or two such individuals who will be nurtured by the close individual attention and extensive production opportunities that are unique to this program. We believe that the theatre itself is a valuable teacher of playwrights and so playwrights work collaboratively with their colleagues in the MFA acting, directing, design, and stage management programs to create stimulating and meaningful works of art. The year-long development process includes a series of readings and a workshop week culminating in the Wagner New Play Festival, produced each April. The Festival provides a dynamic opportunity for all its featured plays to receive greater local and national attention as it attracts professional guests from theatre's across the country.
Stage Management M.F.A.
Stage managers are the orchestral conductors of the theatrical process. The stage manager takes the words and compositions of others and interprets them, using a unique approach. Stage managers artfully integrate the needs of a production as well as the personalities of all collaborators. Traditionally, the work of a stage manager is on a continuum through all five phases of production: pre-production, rehearsals, technical rehearsals, previews, and performance. As the only collaborator involved in all of these phases, the stage manager supplies the artistic continuity of the production, creatively orchestrating the unfolding of the process.
The stage management curriculum at UC San Diego wholeheartedly embraces the practical and the theoretical, acknowledging that the most fertile ground for learning is where they intersect. We teach stage managers how to set intentions and goals, which allow the cultivation of a supportive space for creative collaboration. Stage Management students approach each production with a keen collaborative sensibility, aided by a strong knowledge of directing, design, acting, and all production areas. Students are encouraged to be curious about their collaborators, and to view themselves as artistic partners.
The professional actor training program is designed to take advantage of training and performance opportunities made available by The Old Globe. Students' performance work in the Globe's professional productions is much more than an added attraction, it is the centerpiece of the training.
The program is unique in its ability to provide students with an exceptional number of professional performance opportunities. Partnership with the Globe demands that students achieve its formidable standard of artistic excellence and professionalism.
Because the Globe is the program's primary source for the performance faculty, directors, designers, guest artists, and master teachers, this demanding ethic inspires studio work as well.
Brown University’s Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies is home to three Graduate Programs: a Doctoral Program in Theatre and Performance Studies, a Masters of Fine Arts in Playwriting, and the Brown/Trinity MFA in Acting and Directing, housed at Trinity Repertory Theater Company in downtown Providence.
The program is unique in its equal commitment to creative practice and theory. MFA and PhD students collaborate on performance projects formally and informally throughout their graduate careers, on projects such as Writing is Live. MFA playwrights and directors attend courses on the Brown campus and join in critical theoretical discussions about theatre and performance on a regular basis.
The PhD Program in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies stresses research and scholarship in theatre history, theory and criticism, and performance studies. Faculty members encourage rigorous and creative thought that engage performance modes and methodologies from the humanities and social sciences. Faculty and graduate student research includes work on theatre, performance in everyday life, festival, film, dance, new media and animation. As a top-ranking program in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies, our doctoral students have a 100 percent placement rate in postdoctoral and/or faculty positions.
The MFA Program in Playwriting is unique in its focus on writing in multiple genres (performance, theatre, media, installation, etc.). Deeply committed to global perspective, formal innovation and social change, Brown's program is truly unique. Many of our playwrights have gone on to win major international and national awards, prestigious residencies and global recognition.
Committed to creating whole artists, the MFA Program in Acting and Directing offers actors and directors interdisciplinary artistic training. Graduates of the program continue to earn their way onto well-known stages, into avant-garde collaborations and film.
TFT graduate students are offered advanced professional training in all the major areas of theatrical endeavor. The education is grounded in a deep sense of the history of the medium, from the tragedies and comedies of ancient Athens to the best of American musical theater. The MFA programs have been designed as three-year courses of study. Students can pursue an M.F.A. in Acting, Design for Theatre and Entertainment Media, Directing, or Playwriting. The program also offers and M.A. in Theatre and a Ph.D. in Theatre & Performance Studies.
UCI is devoted to the development of working professional actors: actors who can make for themselves a successful professional life in an extraordinarily competitive field and who possess the skills, insight, intelligence, creativity, and vision to create the theatre of the future. UCI has proven itself notably successful in training working professionals: virtually all of our MFA graduates in the past fifteen years now perform on stages around the country, on and off Broadway, in regional theatres, or in feature films and television series. Many hold faculty positions in university theatre departments (please see our Alumni Newsletter for all details). Such a degree of success cannot be achieved by actors who possess mere professional competence. UCI actors are successfully working in the acting profession because their talent - and their training - has made them exceptional.
The MFA Directing program at UCIrvine Drama is dedicated to the idea that theatre should challenge and expand the mind, move the soul, and delight the spirit. We are committed to training professional directors who want to make this kind of theatre in the 21st Century.
It is not enough to have a bright idea, an inspiration. A director must have the skills to evaluate and develop the idea, articulate and inspire others with it, and guide a production to a fully developed realization. A director must be able to make difficult decisions, ask provocative questions, and guide a team of collaborators. We believe a director grows and improves through a combination of hands-on projects and robust academic studies.
The stage management program at the University of California, Irvine is dedicated to the professional training of advanced students interested in developing their skills, knowledge, and abilities in stage management.
Graduate stage managers at UCI work with directors, choreographers, musical directors, and designers in various genres including drama, musical theatre, dance, opera, concerts and special events. Through the course of the program, production assignments grow in complexity. Each graduate student will stage manage or assistant stage manage seven productions. Additionally, students gain exposure to industry professionals who are invited to the campus or who are visited on field trips throughout the Southern California area.
Students organize and participate in a series of collaboration and production meetings for each production assignment. These meetings assure communication between all production team members. In addition to the supervision of performers, they interview and select assistants for each production as well as supervise running crews, which can number up to 60 students. In turn, professional faculty and staff mentor graduate stage management students throughout every phase of production.
In the classroom, students pursue the art and science of stage management via a theme for each quarter. These include: Entertainment Law, Directing for Stage Managers, The Science and Art of Cue Calling, about Equity, Self Marketing, Psychology for Stage Managers, Production Management, Special Event Management, and Music and Dance Production. Training is provided not only in the specialized area of stage management but also in dramatic literature, the development of theatre, concepts and collaboration, and script analysis. These courses help stage management students to communicate effectively with all members of the production team on a professional level.
The professional credentials of the faculty and staff includes work in theatre, dance, music, themed entertainment, and special events. In addition, instruction is augmented by a long list of professionals from every area of the live entertainment industry, television, and film. These ties, along with UCI’s alumni network, provide graduate stage management students with multiple opportunities for internships and future employment.
Admission into the Graduate Stage Management program is competitive. Only nine students are admitted to the program (three per year) allowing for individualized attention and support.
UC Irvine provides a challenging and creative environment for the curious and resourceful design student. We believe a strong foundation in design for the theatre and the opportunity to explore digital tools will develop unique and thoughtful artistic collaborators. With a UCIrvine education, the designer will be exceptionally well-suited to a career in the theatre and related entertainment arts.
The Department of Drama at UC Irvine and the Department of Theatre and Dance at UCSD offer a Joint Doctoral Program in Drama and Theatre, the only one of its kind in the UC system and indeed in the entire US.
The Joint Program has the largest dedicated doctoral faculty of any Drama program in the nation and one of the lowest teacher-student ratios. The Program is designed to encourage carefully-selected students to develop a unique body of research working closely with a small group of faculty at both UCI and UCSD. This "boutique" approach calls on each student to explore avenues of research and scholarship that will maximize opportunities for entrance into the highest levels of academia.
The program's goal is to prepare students for a successful career at either a research university or a major liberal arts institution, in a variety of possible disciplines ranging from Drama and Theatre, English, Performance Studies, to Cultural, Gender, and Ethnic Studies. The UCI Drama Department places a high value on collegiality and professionalism, and we nurture these qualities through cooperative work within seminars, independent studies, organized events, teaching opportunities and professional trainings. The newly launched Dramaturgy emphasis offers UCI Drama PhD students a competitive edge at today's job market.
UCI Drama is proud of its diverse faculty and student body and their multicultural scholarly interests. We care deeply about diversity, as well as multicultural and interdisciplinary training. UCI Drama is a program with a true global vision.
The USC School of Dramatic Arts MFA in Acting is a progressive three-year course of study that fuses two strands of actor-training: the classical conservatory-style that attunes the voice, body and the intellect to the demands of text and performance; and an innovative physical approach that draws upon the work of artists of the past 50 years.
Working with a faculty of accomplished professionals with extensive experience in theatre, film and television, the program enjoys a close-knit, intimate scale that fosters individual attention. Students develop their craft and their vision as artists, and also gain the knowledge, skills, flexibility, experience and confidence to work in any medium, form or technology. We nurture artists who do not merely adapt to changes in fashion, technology or the ‘industry,’ but will lead, create and innovate.
While the curriculum and faculty honor the uniqueness of every person, the program envisions a self-motivated, collaborative and flexible actor working with purpose to make choices based on her or his personal imagery, and having the craft to execute those choices with clear and decisive actions.
In the spring of the third year, industry showcases are held in Los Angeles and New York for casting directors, agents and managers. Recent alumni of this program have been featured in major motion pictures; television series on HBO, NBC, ABC, CBS, TNT, FX, and the WB; and in theatres across the United States, including Center Theatre Group, South Coast Rep, the Berkeley Rep, the Public, BAM, Classic Stage Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Long Wharf, Denver Theatre Center, Dallas Theater Center, the Magic Theatre, and many others.
The Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing (MFADW) is an intensive, intimate three-year program presented in association with the USC School of Cinematic Arts. A mentor-based, practicing literary arts program within an elite research university, the MFADW is designed to mine the literary potential of the artist, and prepare the artist to engage meaningfully in global society and the profession.
The MFADW approaches dramatic writing through its critical roots in playwriting and then investigates beyond this foundation into adaptation, screenwriting, television writing, and new media. The program aims to help students utilize their innate artistry to build excellence and to discover their authentic voice. Included are production opportunities that culminate in a new play festival featuring concert readings of graduating students’ works. The festival utilizes professional directors, actors, and literary responders
MFADW also offers collaboration with graduate actors, literary management internships and professional observerships with Center Theatre Group (Los Angeles’ foremost theatrical organization that includes the Mark Taper Forum, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Kirk Douglas Theatre), professional theatre reviewing experience via our distinctive relationship with LA Weekly (Los Angeles’ leading independent newspaper), an vibrant partnership with The Pasadena Playhouse’s new development play development program, and exposure to a wide array of celebrated guests artists who have included Edward Albee, Tony Kushner, Amiri Baraka, David Henry Hwang, Christopher Hampton, Timberlake Wertenbaker, and Paula Vogel; and a thesis project that ably prepares students for entry into the professional sphere.
The acting program is an intensive combination of classroom exploration and practical production experience. Students follow a two-year acting sequence carefully designed to help them incrementally increase their knowledge of and facility with text analysis, character development, spontaneity and impulse, period and aesthetic style, and overall expressiveness.
The dramaturgy program provides practical and academic training for literary directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, and theater critics. The program is both individual and flexible. Classes are small and students complement class work by participating in the professional life of the American Repertory Theater. Courses are taught by the dramaturgs and artistic staff of the A.R.T. as well as leading scholars and critics in Moscow, whose professional experience provides an ideal bridge between the worlds of academic study and theatrical practice. Students work on a wide range of productions. They play an active role in the daily life of the theater: assisting directors, writing articles for the theater’s journal, delivering pre and post show talks, preparing program notes for A.R.T. and A.R.T. Institute productions, evaluating new scripts, and participating in the development of new plays. Working with some of the world’s most exciting directors, students become familiar with a wide range of theatrical styles and are encouraged to translate, adapt, and write dramatic texts. In Cambridge, students spend mornings in class and afternoons in rehearsal for Institute and A.R.T. productions.
Given the broad-based natured of their training, our students have gone on to careers in dramaturgy, playwriting, academia, film and theater script development, theater education, artisitic and academic administration, producing, literary and talent management, and theater criticism. Dramaturgy students also have opportunities to serve as paid Teaching Assistants for Theater, Dance, and Media courses at Harvard University. Students have the opportunity to audit lecture courses at Harvard University as well. Students complement their academic study with intensive practical work, including dramaturgical support of productions of the Institute, American Studio of the Moscow Art Theater School, and the A.R.T.
The goal of this program is to provide the gifted student of vocal production both the pedagogical craft and practical experience to become a teacher and/or coach for the professional theater or professional actor training program. It will give the student contact with a wide range of internationally renowned directors, theater styles, teachers of acting and movement, as well as provide a solid basis of voice teaching technique. The program is designed to be flexible to the individual student’s needs, building on their strengths and challenging their areas of weakness.
CalArts offers graduate concentrations and specializations within certain programs that allow students to delve deeper into their degree area.
This rigorous MFA Program is designed for advanced actors who are adventurous, imaginative, and highly motivated. It prepares students for the demands of a professional acting career across all media. The admissions process is very competitive. The curriculum focuses on all facets of the actor’s art and technique. It also strives to question commonly held assumptions about theater while exploring new possibilities.
Our objective is to nurture visionary actors who can work on stage, film, television – and in the exciting world of new media platforms. Based in classical actor training, this 3 year program focuses on the tools needed to succeed in the shifting landscape of the 21st century. Rigorous classes in acting, voice, speech, movement, and theatrical production are augmented by a wide range of performance and production experiences – each tailored to the individual needs of the student.
The curriculum is structured progressively – with particularly strong emphasis on movement and physical expression as a means to unlock the imagination. Additionally, the third year is devoted to on-camera technique as well as advanced scene study – all meant to address the growing importance of media to the actor. The final year is balanced between the deepening of craft and imagination and the practical preparation for a career in performance.
Dedicated to artistic experimentation, this rigorous three-year MFA program enables talented directors to formulate their personal vision for the theater and redefine the boundaries of performance. Under the leadership of internationally celebrated director Travis Preston, the mission of the Directing Program is to identify and nurture directors who can have a seminal impact on the future of the American theater. To that end, we foster the development of powerful individual visions in an environment of continuous artistic experimentation. This program is specifically designed to respond to the needs and artistic interests of each student, who, in turn, is expected to put forth an ambitious vision for innovative, cutting-edge theater.
With a clear and abiding emphasis on practical experience, students in this program are directing as frequently as possible—in classes, studios, labs and productions at one of the school’s five theaters. The program comprehensively addresses the full spectrum of the dramatic canon while it also recognizes the growing importance of work generated by directors. Additionally, students participate extensively in the Acting Program as well as in the Programs in Design and Production. They are further encouraged to take classes offered by other CalArts schools. Many MFA candidates engage in interdisciplinary collaborations with students throughout CalArts, while others take advantage of our many internship opportunities. Two students are accepted into the program each year, with significant directing experience a prerequisite for admission. This course of study culminates with a thesis project.
Launched by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, this MFA program facilitates the development of unique and original voices in playwriting and other forms of writing intended for performance. The curriculum extends traditional notions of play- and screenwriting into unconventional means of generating texts. It encourages an evolutionary sense of theater as a tool for social critique and activism, and embraces new collaborative ventures. This challenging program accepts two students each year. Applicants must show significant prior experience in theater.
The curriculum revolves around intensive writing classes in which students work closely with their instructors, their peers, and their collaborators to develop texts for both stage and screen. During the three-year residency, each student is expected to develop a significant body of work—including at least six plays. Additional coursework consists of classes in voice and movement and in literature and theater history—ranging from the Greeks to contemporary writers. Students in this program also work with visiting artists, and survey and analyze theater productions throughout the Los Angeles area.
This two-year MFA program offers intensive professional training in Scenic Art, Visual Communication and Art Direction. This new program covers all areas of advanced industry practice – from scenic art and drawing techniques to digital rendering and CAD. It is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in theater, film, television, themed entertainment, immersive design, and other entertainment industry specializations as creative thinkers, storytellers, scenic artists, and art directors. The degree is also applicable to those seeking careers in museums, commercial murals, interior design, and exhibition development.
This rigorous curriculum combines the modeling strategies of architecture and electronic design with the creative problem solving approaches of industrial and production design. Development of management and leadership skills will prepare students for today’s increasing industry demands. Students will engage in multiple projects to experience and develop a diversity of professional practices in live performance, film, and immersive environments.
This degree program is designed to serve students who have completed some training in art and/or theater and require more advanced skills and aesthetic exposure to achieve viable careers.
Scene Painting M.F.A.
The MFA Scene Design Program offers a specialization in Scene Painting that combines scene painting coursework with the direct application of new techniques and materials, as well as traditional processes, on a wide range of School of Theater productions.
The Management Specialization in Producing trains a new generation of producers who have highly developed aesthetics; who can recognize and champion original and important work and envision models for its performance; and who can invent new ways for supporting such work.
Production Management M.F.A.
The Management Specialization in Production Management focuses on the development of skills necessary for managing people, resources and time in a variety of creative environments, where leadership and versatility must be combined with a broad knowledge of design and production issues.
Stage Management M.F.A.
The Management Specialization in Stage Management emphasizes stage management for theater, and eventually widens its scope to encompass other arts and performance disciplines.
The Theatre School’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Acting program is highly truthful, expressive, and physical. Informed by our Chicago roots, we prepare actors to work on stage and screen all over the world.
Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty has spent many years developing successful, personal, and powerful curricula that mine a diversity of ideas from Stanislavski, Spolin, Grotowski, Shurtleff, Lessac, Linklater, Yoga, Tai Chi, Feldenkrais® Method, Laban, mask work, and more. Students are inspired through unique points-of-view within a comprehensive three-year progression of acting, movement, and voice and speech curricula.
Equally important to the training students receive in the classroom is the opportunity they have to synthesize that learning in the production process, with each student completing seven production assignments during their three years in the program.
The Theatre School’s graduate Arts Leadership Fellowship is a two-year master of fine arts (MFA) program that combines full-time employment at Chicago Shakespeare Theater with full-time coursework at DePaul University. This rigorous and nationally distinct program is designed to prepare students to become highly skilled leaders in the complex and sophisticated world of the arts. Through its dual nature, the Arts Leadership program focuses on training in management, leadership, and cultural decision-making, while students synthesize that training through their employment at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one of the most vibrant theatre organizations in the country. This experience is coupled with full-time coursework from The Theatre School and from DePaul University’s highly regarded Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, providing students with the tools to be successful and competitive. Coursework and employment components integrate into a comprehensive and demanding experience.
Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise and receive on-the-job training at one of the nation’s fastest growing theatre companies. The program is jointly supervised by veteran theatre producer and full-time faculty member Alan Salzenstein, and Executive Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Criss Henderson.
The Theatre School’s Master of Fine Art (MFA) degree in directing is a three-year program that allows directors to develop and explore their artistic vision and then apply their ideas through constant collaboration with other artists – actors, designers, dramaturgs. Coursework is focused on preparation – research, theory and analysis – as well as practical application through scene study, workshops, and quarterly full-length directing assignments.
Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise and who work with some of the most prolific and exciting theatre companies in Chicago.
Equally important to the training students receive in the classroom is the opportunity they have to synthesize that learning in the production process. Directing students complete one directing assistantship and direct a short play production in their first year, then direct up to five full-length productions in the second and third years of the program. Directors also complete a professional internship in the final year, chosen in collaboration with the directing faculty.
The Actors Studio Drama School was born of the decision to train students carefully selected for their talent and potential in the system practiced at the Actors Studio. Over the course of three years in a full-time program, all MFA candidates study and practice together as they learn a shared “language” and technique. Meanwhile, every student actor, director and writer undergoes rigorous training in his or her own discipline -- at the hands of one of the most distinguished acting, directing and writing faculties ever assembled. In addition, many members of the Actors Studio also teach intensive Friday Workshops and, while the Actors Studio is a private space accessible only to members, our MFA candidates also have the rare privilege of attending a number of the Studio’s closed-door sessions in an Observership Program.
The Theatre MFA programs in acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, stage management, and theatre management & producing seek students who have the talent, vision, and commitment to become exceptional artists. At the School of the Arts, students interact with the leading creators, practitioners, producers, and analysts of today’s theatre, acquiring disciplines rooted deeply in the classics while branching out into new forms and exploring the cutting edge of theatrical art. The best theatre in every culture and in all eras has not only reflected its time but also shaped its society and often helped point it toward the future. The Theatre Program aims to train theatre artists to fulfill that important role in today’s society.
Theatre MFA students are admitted to a specific course of study: acting, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, stage management or theatre management & producing. Students follow the prescribed program curriculum, designed to provide basic grounding in theatrical production, along with electives in their area of concentration. Coursework is correlated with required participation in stage production.
The MFA Acting curriculum proceeds from a deep exploration of the text. Working primarily in laboratory situations, this exploration takes many forms, drawing upon traditions as varied as Japanese Noh, commedia dell’arte, the theories of Gordon Craig, and the techniques of Stanislavski, among many others. It demands rigorous training of the voice, physical dexterity, a keen analytical mind, and a willingness to take new approaches to the stage. But ultimately it is the text that is paramount, and all acting training is focused on illuminating the great works of dramatic literature. Although all periods and styles of drama are examined, special attention is given to the classics including Greek tragedy, Shakespeare, Molière, and Chekhov. Students and faculty engage in practical, historical, and theoretical research, trying out ideas and experimenting in a context removed from the demanding presence of public performance. The study of the past is intended to provide a foundation for a re-examination of the present, and as a starting point for creating a theatre of the future. The program seeks to provide a range of resources and a variety of techniques for students to use in their own ways. Ensemble work and collaboration are fundamental to the training, while constant individual attention is integral to each student’s progress. The training provided here, while focused on classic and modern theatre, provides graduates with the tools to succeed in the contemporary American theatre, in television, and in film.
The MFA Directing program is based on the idea that one’s vision as a director is developed through practice, encouragement, critical feedback, collaboration, and more practice. In addition to exposure to the theories and practices of the great theatre directors of the past, students are encouraged to experiment with both formal structures and physical ideas of directing, and to apply theories from intersecting art forms such as music, painting, and dance to their work on the stage. They are asked to move constantly between practical considerations of staging and collaboration to the deeper issues behind the existence and nature of theatre. The training is project-oriented and offers the director the possibility of working daily with actors, playwrights, dramaturgs, and managers. There are opportunities to direct great classical texts, to work with playwrights on new plays, and to make performance events from fresh collaborations with artists of many disciplines.
The Columbia MFA Dramaturgy program seeks highly self-motivated, entrepreneurial, creative thinkers who are interested in deepening their total knowledge of the theatre, while finding new collaborators and newly expansive ideas about their professional prospects. Dramaturgs are people of ideas who function as a fluid, creative, motivating liaison among all the components of a creative team. They are at once theatre generalists and specialists who delve deeply into the world of the play at hand and are instrumental in its development. They possess sharp critical faculties, unrestrained creative abilities, identification both with their fellow artists and the audience, and highly developed interpersonal skills. Many of the best dramaturgs are individuals who have excelled in and continue to work in another theatrical discipline. In the School of the Arts program, we seek to define the career prospects of dramaturgy students broadly and ambitiously. While traditional positions of literary management and production dramaturgy will be a goal for some, we also encourage our students to think of themselves as future artistic directors, producers, and institution-builders. Students receive a foundation in dramatic theory, history, and literature as well as classes in producing, playwriting, directing and various forms of theatrical collaboration. There are also possibilities for interested students to expand their professional horizons by exploring the worlds of screenwriting, and film and television project development. Dramaturgy students will gain extensive experience in the development and production of new plays and classic texts, and will work on all Theatre Arts Program productions and class projects as well as with playwrights and screenwriters on readings.
There is not one way to write a good play, there are many. Every author must find his or her most effective methods of working. The playwriting program empowers dramatists to cultivate their unique and idiosyncratic voices, to help each play grow into the best version of itself. Central to our philosophy is an appreciation of diversity: artistic, cultural, international, and in all its forms. Accordingly, the distinguished faculty represents a wide range of aesthetic approaches and story interests. We also value a strong foundation in theatrical literature and dramatic strategies from around the world, and from other art forms. In addition, the program takes a practical approach to preparing graduates for lives and careers as dramatists. Studying in New York City provides unique opportunities to meet and learn from America’s leading playwrights, producers, artistic directors, and literary managers. The program provides the tools playwrights need to support themselves and broaden their professional activities, including courses in musical theatre, screenwriting, and television writing. Two years of reading and critiquing student work are supplemented by workshop productions, which allow for plays to be heard and seen, and for collaborations with directors, dramaturgs, and actors to develop. The third year of study includes professional development led by the concentration head, and the full production of a thesis project, under the guidance of a mentor playwright chosen by the student.
The MFA in Stage Management provides a contemporary approach for students who wish to pursue careers as professional stage managers. The program’s three-year curriculum is designed to expand upon two central principles:
1. Stage managers must have portable, flexible, and scalable skill-sets that allow them to work in a variety of arenas.
2. Modern stage management requires its practitioners to embrace the concept of the SM as a “hybrid CEO/COO,” an executive-level position that is at the top of any production’s organizational chart.
The coursework uses methodologies specific to commercial (Broadway) and not-for-profit theatrical stage management as a foundation. This allows students to build best-practices in many other areas: opera, dance, television, and corporate events (to name a few). Courses in dramatic literature and all aspects of theatre practice are mandatory; enrollment in relevant classes outside the Theatre Program is encouraged. Students are expected to develop a thorough comprehension of union regulations and theater administration, as well as a working knowledge of various theatrical aesthetics that enhance creative development on a production.
The goal of the program is to educate and inspire a new generation of creative managers and producers. The curriculum balances content-driven courses that emphasize the skill sets necessary for a career as a producer and manager with issue-oriented courses that explore the challenges facing the theatre industry. Study of commercial and not-for-profit theatre is equally weighted with an emphasis on the collaboration between the two business models. The program features a unique blend of two years of classroom study under the supervision of a faculty consisting of leading New York City-based theatre professionals, and a minimum of three internships that may be pursued at any time during the first two years or in the third year while writing the thesis. Students attend classes and theatrical performances both on campus and throughout the city; and, with access to selected courses offered through Columbia Law School, Columbia Business School, Teachers College, and the Film Program of the School of the Arts, our students take advantage of the best that Columbia University has to offer. In addition, through classroom projects and departmental and extracurricular productions, students are given the opportunity to hone their skills by working with student directors, playwrights, dramaturgs, actors and stage managers. Our graduates are highly employable, and our growing network of adjunct faculty, guest speakers, and alumni continues to promote the program and raise the profile of program graduates both nationally and internationally.
After more than 30 years of building our nationally recognized Playwriting Program—founded by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott in 1981—we now offer a three-year MFA in Playwriting that combines the best of our traditions with a new and exciting collaboration with the award-winning School of Theatre at Boston University. Our playwriting students’ voices are encouraged, nurtured, and challenged, and we have a profound and positive impact on their artistry by incorporating them into a vibrant community of artists.
We accept only four or five graduate students every two years—2014, 2016, and so on. This assures you of individual, hands-on attention from our faculty during all phases of the MFA degree program.
The objective of the MFA in Design, Production, and Management programs is to help students become consummate professionals. Each student is encouraged to hone skills that enable expression of a bold personal aesthetic. The key to this training lies in a mix of classes and design/production assignments, individually tailored to each student by a faculty of practicing professionals.
Individualized programs of study vary greatly depending on the level of preparation each graduate student brings to his or her first year of training, and there exists no model that is truly representative. In general, students in the Design program can expect their training regimen to mix both ongoing studio classes—which enhance rendering skills—with design classes that alternate short-term exercises with long-term projects in applied design. Similarly, Production and Management candidates will participate in both hands-on assignments and in-class instruction designed to enhance and broaden their skill sets.
The Production program prepares students for professional careers in the practical realization of scenery and costumes. In order to establish a common vocabulary and a set of fundamental perceptions about goals and procedures, the first two years of the curriculum closely parallel those of the Design program. As the content of the classes becomes more sophisticated and specific, the Production curriculum begins to diverge from that of the design disciplines, emphasizing its own particular orientations.
Advanced stage mechanics, welding, plastics fabrication, technical drafting, fabric dyeing, flat pattern drafting, draping, tailoring, millinery, mask making, and the many auxiliary craft techniques related to the construction of scenery, costumes, properties, and accessories all assume priority over the study and practice of design. Nevertheless, production students who exhibit the talent and interest often enroll in advanced design classes.
Much of the teaching and learning in this discipline occurs outside of formal classroom situations in master/apprentice relationships with either School of Theatre production staff or the production staff of the Huntington Theatre Company. Many of these working professionals possess special talents and are employed in specific areas of expertise. Students are prepared for increasingly complex crew assignments for productions mounted by the School of Theatre and the School of Music.
The MFA in Theatre Education provides a unique opportunity for early but experienced career theatre artists who want to become professional trainers in movement, voice and speech, or other related theatrical crafts. Theatre Education students and their faculty mentors design individualized programs of study that focus on strong teaching specialties set in a full understanding of all aspects of performance and production. A minimum of two years is normally required to complete such programs of study.
Applicants should have a sense of where they would like their focus to be throughout their curriculum, and seek the interest and approval of whichever faculty member will oversee the bulk of their eventual training. In the final year, each student develops a thesis project that is executed in accordance with the highest professional standards.
The MFA Directing program provides early-career professionals with the opportunity to cultivate their artistic identities and professional objectives while refining and enhancing their technical skills and range. The program is individually designed with each student’s artistic strengths, challenges, and personal ambitions in mind. Students are prepared for careers, either as resident or freelance directors, with special emphasis on understanding the American regional theatre and other not-for-profit venues. An “Artistic Director Option” is available that joins the MFA Directing curriculum with a graduate certificate program in Arts Administration at BU’s Metropolitan College. Students regularly interact with BU faculty and guest artists from the School’s Professional Theatre Initiative partners, including the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, New Repertory Theatre, and more.
The School of Theatre admits one or two students each year to the program. Ideal candidates have three to five years professional directing experience outside of a university setting.
The Design program at the School of Theatre is an intensive conservatory program with a national reputation. The goal of the program is to help students achieve professional competence. This program requires a serious commitment of time and energy from students. The program stresses collaboration and process. The School’s Boston University Theatre complex consists of three interconnected buildings that house two theaters (one proscenium and one black box), all of the shops and laboratories needed for creating the productions—scenery, costumes, lighting, sound—as well as classrooms and offices for the School’s Design & Production program.
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