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Academics

Graduate Program

Please note that 2019 is our graduate admissions 'off year.' Our next deadline is January 15, 2020, for the class to enter September 2020.

The Department of Theater at UMass Amherst offers a dynamic, hands-on graduate program that teaches students how to collaborate successfully with fellow theater-makers, with a production season that serves as a teaching laboratory. Students pursue a rigorous core curriculum as well as practical experience alongside a dedicated faculty of committed teachers who have active careers in the professional theater. Our classes are small, allowing for personal mentorship and the opportunity to customize. 

Our program includes professional training programs with specializations in Costume Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Lighting Design, or Scenic Design and Technology. Graduates of our program receive the Master of Fine Arts degree and are prepared to work in resident professional theaters, in colleges and universities, and in many other areas of performance.

We accept students two out of every three years, and we welcome international students and students with nontraditional theater backgrounds. We do not require the GREs for admission to any of our MFA programs, but international students will need the TOEFL or IELTS exam for admission. Our application deadline is January 15. In some years, we may have a special late-admissions cycle with a June deadline. 

We firmly believe that no student should finish an MFA program in debt. All graduate students receive full tuition-waivers, health benefits, and assistantships during their three years. For 2018-2019, these assistantships are slated at approximately $19,200 for September-May duties.

Many students get extensive teaching experience, and most undertake internships. We have close relationships with outstanding theaters such as Hartford Stage, Shakespeare & Company, and Double Edge Theatre

We have a strong commitment to cultural diversity that is reflected in our faculty and our curriculum. Graduate students will find faculty mentors who specialize in African-American, African, Latinx, and Spanish-language theater, as well as feminism and gender studies.

For questions, contact Graduate Program Director Harley Erdman, harley@theater.umass.edu 

Harley Erdman
Graduate Program Director
Department of Theater
112 Fine Arts Center
University of Massachusetts
151 Presidents Drive Ofc. 2
Amherst, MA 01003-9331

All MFA students, in all programs of study, are assessed on the basis of these 10 benchmarks, in addition to the ones specific to each MFA program:

  • Ability to clearly and effectively communicate ideas and concepts with your team, orally and visually
  • Ability to read, analyze, and contextualize a wide variety of dramatic texts and performance styles
  • Ability to listen well to others, and to remain flexible, open, and in dialogue throughout a collaborative process
  • Ability to manage time effectively and get your tasks done on time
  • A strong grasp of the research process, and the ability to transform research into viable ideas and visions
  • Knowledge of all steps of the theatrical creation process, from early conversations through the realization of the work in all its performance, design and technical aspects through to the stage when the audience takes part
  • Ability to show leadership and vision in your discipline, and to be proactive and entrepreneurial in creating opportunity for yourself and others
  • Willingness to take risks, to try new things, to “fail”
  • Ability to be creative, controlled, and professional, even in stressful situations
  • Ability to remain joyful, playful, and resourceful in collaborative situations: a positive sought-after presence