Meg Pryor, MFA Class of 2020
UP Stages production of next to normal
Photo by Samantha Saunders Studio
Kristin O'Malley, (PhD) and LeMil Eiland (PhD)


The Department of Theatre Arts fosters a collaborative, inclusive learning community and excellence in theoretical and practical research and pedagogy through its MFA Performance Pedagogy and PhD Theatre and Performance Studies programs. The structure of the programs and their intersections encourage ways of thinking and communicating within and beyond students’ fields and the academy in support of students’ diverse personal and career goals.

Check our our current graduate students' work and news and our MFA alumni and PhD alumni careers and spotlights.

MFA Pedagogy Program

The MFA program is designed to equip working, professional actors with the tools to expand their employment opportunities in teaching acting and other performance styles at the college and university level. It offers a dynamic synthesis of teaching, practice, and scholarship. This program is based on the premise that the professional actor has already gained a level of craft and broad experience that can become the foundation for solid teaching skills. Therefore, emphasis is placed on exploration and strengthening of pedagogical techniques as related to areas of acting and performance training.

PhD in Theatre & Performance Studies

This PhD program prioritizes the integration of scholarship with teaching and artistic practice in order to prepare students to be competitive candidates for academic positions at a variety of institutions, post-doctoral research opportunities, and employment sectors beyond academia. In line with the department’s intellectual vision, the program integrates theory and practice and focuses on underrepresented groups and areas of research, including migration, disability studies, race, gender, sexuality, religion, and transnationalism, across historical, historiographical, literary, performance studies, and practice-based research methodologies.

MFA and PhD Collaboration

The integration of our MFA and PhD programs contributes to the programs’ national distinction. MFA and PhD students share multiple courses, including theatre history surveys and theoretical, historiographical, and pedagogy seminars. MFA and PhD students work alongside each other for course credit as actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, and stage managers on department productions. In terms of their pedagogy, students learn and collaborate alongside each other. During their first year, students all teach Introduction to Performance and take the department’s faculty development course in which they exchange ideas, share their own unique experiences, work on course materials, and develop formal and informal collaborations around their teaching. This integration is foundational to how the department envisions training the next generation of artists, scholars, and teachers.

How to Apply

In response to the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, graduate programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh are pausing admissions for fall 2021.

This one-year intermission will enable us to devote our resources and attention to our continuing students. Graduate training and research are central to the mission of the Dietrich School and the Department of Theatre Arts. While we do not pause admissions lightly, in these uncertain times we are committed to optimally supporting our current students’ success and wellbeing.
If you seek to begin your graduate studies in the fall of 2021, we thank you for your understanding and wish you all the best in your endeavors. If you consider applying to our program for fall 2022, or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Michelle Granshaw.

Before applying, please review the list of required materials for the PhD program and MFA program.

Please check this page for updates on when we will be admitting the next MFA class.


Find graduate course information including course number, course title, and course descriptions.