Graduate Study in Theatre

The Graduate Programs of the School of Theatre and Dance adhere to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and encourage applicants who will add diversity to our programs and embody these values.

The School of Theatre and Dance offers two degrees, the Masters of Arts (MA) in Theatre and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre with specializations in:

  • Costume Design
  • Directing
  • Lighting Design
  • Music Directing
  • Scenic Design

Master of Arts (MA) 

The MA in Theatre is designed for students seeking preparation for a Ph.D., and experienced, certified secondary- or community-college-level teachers who wish to complete intensive academic coursework in theatre.
In the MA you will take core courses in performance theory and analysis, dramaturgy, literature, history and specialize in a research area of your choosing – this research can be in the form of a traditional written thesis, or a combination of performance practice as research and a shorter written thesis.

You will choose from a wide range of courses offered within the School of Theatre and Dance, the College of the Arts and Media and across the university, chosen in consultation with their advisor.

Applications are accepted every three years into the two-year program; there is no set class size. Please visit the UM Grad School website for details on how to initiate the application process and to see an updated application schedule when it becomes available.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

This three-year graduate program trains you to become an artist-practitioner with mastery of the integration of diverse elements of theatrical technique and expression. It is a considered the terminal degree for practitioners in our discipline. Graduates are qualified to continue working as professionals or to pursue tenure-track positions in higher education.

Directing and Music Direction

In this specialization, your training who guides and. The training of the director is a process of developing a broad perspective of storytelling and dramatic action through the practice and study of production concept, collaboration with other theatre artists, examination of criticism and performative theory, with an emphasis on developing your coherent individual aesthetic.

In the program, you will experience an intense first-year cohort experience with other MFA graduate students that will focus on techniques and principles in the service of communicating story and character through dramatic action and concept. You will create a short independent project in your first year of study and then direct or music direct a fully-realized production in each of the ensuing two years of residency.

Applications are now closed for the current three year cycle. We anticipate reopening applications in August of 2023. For more information email to express interest.

Design and Technology

This three-year program combines intensive professional training and production experience. During your time in the program you will choose to specialize primarily in scenery, costuming, or lighting with a secondary area of study. During your studies you are assigned a faculty advisor who will provide close individual guidance during your training. You are expected to design or make significant technical contributions to two or three productions a year, in addition to working to support all work in your assigned production shops.
The curriculum is designed to develop your technical skills and artistic abilities to the fullest. Course sequences are offered in all design areas and supported by advanced classes and independent study in the student’s area of concentration. You are expected to complete coursework in at least two areas of theatrical production. You are also encouraged to teach and mentor undergraduate students as a part of their academic training.
Each MFA candidate must complete a two-part Final Creative Project (FCP) in the student’s area of emphasis. This includes realized and unrealized production designs depending on area of emphasis. All MFA candidates are required to write a culminating paper describing the designer’s process, script analysis, and production outcome for each of the two shows.

Each emphasis will normally accepted a new MFA candidate every one to two years as funding is limited. Applications are being accepted for the 2022-2025 rotation: visit for details on how to initiate the application process.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

In both MFA programs, you will be required to utilize teaching and the development of personal pedagogy to further broaden your understanding of craft and theory. Teaching assistantships are available to qualified applicants. These are awarded annually on a competitive basis and are renewable depending on your progress and job performance and the instructional needs of your program.

All MFA applicants are considered for these awards. Students need not apply under separate cover. Teaching assistants are required to register for nine credits each semester.

Funding for the MA program is limited with opportunities to serve as a grader or teaching assistant available on a case-by-case basis.

Continuing graduate students in both may apply for additional merit scholarships through the School Theatre and Dance and the Graduate School.