Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Acting

Creating Connections

The M.F.A. Acting program offers extensive training to prepare candidates for professional careers in theatre. We seek talented and generous theatre artists dedicated to exploration, growth, and collaboration. Our aim is to provide training that strengthens all aspects of the actor’s instrument—in an environment that challenges perception, expands the intellect, and engages the heart—ultimately developing in our students a way to live truthfully and personally on stage, to expertly tell stories that reveal the depths of our shared humanity.

About the Program

Our three-year professional actor-training program focuses on leading from the heart, connecting with partner, and exploring why we do theatre—what we have to say as theatre artists about our common humanity. We offer a positive, supportive environment, essential to the kind of intensive work we do with our students. A small, select group of graduate students allows for highly personalized instruction. 

Our rigorous curriculum aims to awaken the rich inner life of each student and increase the ability to live fully and actively every moment onstage. Intensive exploratory work in the studio is fully complemented by numerous production experiences and the development of new work, culminating in the performance of a thesis role and one-person show.

At this time, the Department of Theatre Acting  cohort is full and we are not planning to take in new M.F.A. Actors  until the Fall of 2023.  Of course, things can change and evolve. If you are interested in receiving a notification when we open the application window, please complete this online form: UA THTR 2023 Interest Form. 

If you have any questions regarding the application or audition process to the M.F.A. Acting Program, please contact Amy Herzberg, Head of Acting at:

We offer graduate assistantships*, fellowships, and teaching opportunities.

Our assistantships pay for all tuition and give an $12,200 stipend each academic year. Additional funds are available through our graduate fellowship, which offers an additional $4000 each year to qualified students. There are some other select scholarships for which you might be eligible, as well. Summer assistantships are also sometimes available.

  • All new graduate assistants must have background checks before they can be appointed.  We will be permitted to make offers contingent on a successful background check, but no work can begin until the check is complete. 
  • Acting M.F.A. candidates will serve as teaching assistants as part of their assistantship duties. Other duties will be assigned as needed.

We offer MFAs in Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Scene Design, Costume Design, and Lighting Design—and there is a lot of interaction between the disciplines. The theatre faculty shares a philosophy that is deeply collaborative.

If you pursue an MFA in Acting at the University of Arkansas, you will join an intimate community of theatre artists who are at once mutually supportive and passionately devoted to craft.

We have an outstanding faculty that is devoted to making every student's experience positive and productive and focused on the individual development of each student.

In addition, we offer a vibrant guest artist series, which gives our students intensive training opportunities and builds connections with professional theatre artists with exceptional careers. Our guest artists have included Robert Redford, Moises Kaufman, Edward Albee, Mary Louise Parker, Tony Hale, Francis Guinan, Jason Moore, Idris Goodwin, Kevin Coval, Laurence Luckinbill, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Ben Livingston, Elizabeth Barnes (three time Emmy nominated casting director and alum of our program), Scott Wolf, John Cariani, Broadway actors, Los Angeles and New York agents, and artistic directors.

Our program believes M.F.A. candidates learn best by making theatre. Performance opportunities are plentiful, produced in three different spaces with generous production budgets to ensure actors, designers, directors, and playwrights can fully explore their artistry on stages large, medium, and intimate.

  • Large: The University Theatre is a 315-seat proscenium, housing fully equipped scenery and costume construction facilities, as well as state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and rigging systems.
  • Medium: The Global Campus Theatre is a 181-seat flexible black box space, located on the Downtown Fayetteville Square, featuring state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and projection systems.
  • Intimate: Studio 404 is a 75-seat black box space, which is a perfect venue for student directed projects, experimental productions, and new play workshops.

Northwest Arkansas is home to several active professional theatre companies, including TheatreSquared, a national award-winning professional Equity theatre located in Fayetteville, which the American Theatre Wing recently named as one of the top ten emerging theatres in the country.

Over the last decade, the Department of Theatre has been connected with TheatreSquared—and a variety of other local companies—where M.F.A. actors have worked (either during their tenure in our program or after graduation), earning points toward Equity and building connections with professional actors, directors, designers and playwrights from across the country who are working at the highest levels of our art form.

Our students are doing really well—they've been performing on Broadway, off-Broadway, at Lincoln Center, The Guthrie, Alliance Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Kennedy Center, The Public Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Atlantic Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, McCarter Theatre, Alley Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare, St. Louis Rep, Orlando Shakespeare, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Arkansas Shakespeare, in national tours, and in major film and television work. 

In the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Irene Ryan Acting Competition, we have had seven national finalists perform at the Kennedy Center--including two national winners and a national best-partner award--and ten national alternates from our program in fourteen years of our participation.

Nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Ozark Mountains, our community boasts low cost of living, a robust economy, and a thriving arts scene, making it an ideal location for emerging artists.  Fayetteville and its Northwest Arkansas environs are a regional cultural destination.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has already enriched the area’s cultural legacy in the visual arts, and they have recently announced plans to open a new space for contemporary performance and art.

Sample Plan of Study


  • Acting Studio: Principles
  • Voice and Speech I
  • Alexander Technique
  • Performance Collaboration
  • Script Analysis


  • Acting Studio: Shakespeare
  • Voice and Speech II
  • Devised Theatre
  • Movement


  • Acting Studio: Meisner Technique I
  • Voice and Speech III
  • Viewpoints
  • Dramatic Literature
  • Alexander Technique


  • Acting Studio: Meisner Technique II
  • Voice and Speech IV
  • Mask Characterization
  • Thesis: One Person Show


  • Acting Studio: Styles
  • Advanced One Person Show or Internship
  • Voice and Speech V
  • Alexander Technique
  • Singing


  • Acting Studio: Contemporary
  • Thesis: Capstone
  • Singing
  • Internship, Musical Theatre Performance, or Other Elective