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.

PRIORITY DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS TO THE ACTING AREA is February 1, 2019. However, those auditioning by video are strongly advised to submit by January 1, 2019.

The Department of Theatre seeks eight to ten M.F.A. Actors for admission to our program beginning Fall 2019. Applications will be accepted until all the positions are filled, with priority given to students who apply by February 1, 2019. Acceptance to the Acting area requires a preliminary audition and a callback audition either in-person or virtually. Callbacks will be held in January and February 2019. 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:


The application and admission into the program is a two-part process.



  • First, all applicants must apply directly to the Department of Theatre. Before applying, please familiarize yourself with the departmental requirements and be ready to provide:
  • Personal Information
  • Unofficial transcript(s), and college GPA 
  • Resume and headshot.
  • A Preliminary Audition: Prepare two contrasting monologues (a contemporary and classical), totaling no more than five minutes. If desired, applicants can provide an additional song from the musical theatre repertoire of up to one minute. In this case, the audition should not exceed six minutes. There are 3 ways to submit your preliminary audition for the M.F.A Acting Program:
  1. On Campus Visit: On-campus preliminary audition dates in the Fall of 2018 are October 11th, November 8th, December 6th, and January 22, 2019. If you choose to audition on-campus, you will be given an opportunity to indicate the date you wish to visit when you fill out your application. The Acting Program will contact you to confirm date and times. In the event none of those dates work, and you wish to audition on campus, please contact Amy Herzberg, Head of Acting at
  2. Chicago URTA Graduate Auditions, January 26-29th, 2019: These auditions will follow the URTA guidelines, which specify a different audition time limit. If you receive a callback at URTA's, please be prepared to perform the full preliminary materials described above.   
  3. Submit a video audition. If you choose to audition by video you are strongly advised to submit by January 1, 2019 as video auditions will be reviewed on a rolling basis.     
  • After preliminary auditions, qualified applicants will be invited to callback auditions either in-person at Chicago URTA's, on the U of A campus, or virtually. Dates for on-campus callback auditions are as follows:
  1. January 22, 2019
  2. February 5, 2019


If invited to a callback audition and you are unable to attend the on-campus callbacks, virtual or other arrangements will be made. If invited to callbacks, applicants will then be asked to provide the following:

  • A one- to two-page personal statement addressing the applicant’s reasons for wanting to pursue an M.F.A. in Acting. The statement should also discuss the applicant’s goals and expectations coming into the program. Applicants are welcome to share other relevant information that might give the selection committee perspective on their application.
  • Three letters of recommendation from theatre professionals, professors, or other people who are familiar with the applicant and/or their work. One of the recommendations must speak directly to the applicant’s work.
  • Graduate School Assistantship Form
  • The GRE Test is not required for admission to the M.F.A. Program in Acting. 

Please note: there is no application fee for the first step of our application process. Initially, applications will be reviewed by the department recruitment committee.

You should not proceed to Step Two or apply for admission to the UA Graduate School until you receive notification from the MFA Theatre program to do so.

Click here to visit the Department of Theatre Graduate Application Portal             


Graduate School Requirements

The graduate domestic and international application fee is $60.00 for new applicants and $30.00 for returning students.  TOEFL Scores are required for applicants whose native language is not English.


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

Apply Now