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Theatre and Drama

Administrative Unit:Theatre and Drama
College/School: School of Education
Admitting Plans:MFA
Degrees Offered:MFA
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minor

Faculty: Professors Archbold (chair), Boyette, Furumoto, Saldivar, Sims, Vanden Heuvel; Associate Professors Brassard, Peterson; Assistant Professors Fan, Lisowski


The department offers the MFA advanced degree. The master of fine arts degree in theatre and drama offers specializations in acting, costume design, lighting design, scene design, and theatre technology.

The faculty in theatre and drama are leaders in their field. Together, they have many credits in all facets of the profession, working within their field of theatre research and practice both nationally and abroad. They are recognized for their critically acclaimed publications and production work and have won major awards and fellowships for scholarship, creative work, and teaching.

Graduate students at UW–Madison come from around the country and the world. Many have been working theatre professionals returning for advanced degrees. Some graduates go on to teach in the academy; others work in the profession as actors, directors, designers, and technologists.

Coursework and specializations are organized around two areas: acting and design and technology. Students in all specializations are encouraged to complement their major area of study by taking courses from other areas in the department.

University Theatre, the producing arm of the Department of Theatre and Drama, provides students with opportunities to complement work begun in the studios and classrooms. At UW–Madison, the stage is our laboratory. Coursework and discussions regularly connect theatre practice and study with larger issues of cultural and intercultural representation.

MFA Degree 

The MFA offers specialized preparation for careers in professional theatre. The foundation of MFA acting area courses offer a strong base in voice, speech, movement, and acting styles. The core of this specialization focuses on classical text-based acting and Stanislavski/Michael Chekhov techniques balanced with emerging theories and methodologies of actor training. Curricular interests in Asian stage discipline, multicultural theatre, theatre for youth provide additional opportunities for students to enhance their performance study. In addition to required core classes, electives provide students the ability to explore individual areas of interest in theatre and performance. Directing courses emphasizes an advanced understanding of the elements of play analysis, composition, and conceptualization. By combining studio work, production, observation, and classroom studies, the acting specialization encourages the development of an individual artistic voice in both acting and directing.

The MFA specialization in scene design, costume design, lighting design, or theatre technology strives for a balance of professional training and the practical application of skills through numerous collaborative experiences, both onstage and in the classroom. Students in all four disciplines are encouraged to be creative problem solvers through both an appreciation of the history of their craft and a curiosity about the contemporary world of theatre, design and the application of new technologies. Numerous opportunities for realized work, studio collaborations and individualized mentoring affords the MFA student the opportunity to grow and develop as an articulate and collaborative theatre artist.


The department requires a clear statement of purpose outlining plans for graduate study. The MFA program requires evidence of creative accomplishment; applicants must request detailed application instructions from the department. 

Funding opportunities for graduate work vary, but tend to be highly competitive. Please contact the department for more information on student financial support.

For more information: Graduate Coordinator, Department of Theatre and Drama, 6174 Vilas Hall, 821 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706-1497; 608-262-3890; fax 608-263-2463; gradsec@theatre.wisc.edu; www.theatre.wisc.edu.

This page was updated 2/10/15. Policy in the new page is effective fall 2015. For program offerings effective summer 2015 and earlier, please reference the archived page.