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

Admission applications for the fall 2024 PhD program will be accepted starting October 2023.

Admission applications for the fall 2024 MFA class will be accepted starting October 2023.

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.