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.

The Department of Theatre seeks eight to ten M.F.A. Actors for admission to our program beginning Fall 2023. Applications will be accepted until all the positions are filled.  

PRIORITY  DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS TO THE ACTING AREA is February 1, 2023.  Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled. Application guidelines are below.

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.

Acceptance to the Acting area requires a preliminary video audition and a callback audition either in-person or virtually.

If you have any questions regarding the application or audition process, please contact Amy Herzberg, Head of Acting at:

In general, the application and admission into the program is a two-part process.

  • First, all applicants must apply directly to the Department of Theatre through our Graduate Application Portal.
  • Before applying, please familiarize yourself with the admission requirements below.
  • Please note: there is no application fee for the first step of our application process.

STEP ONE: (Due Feb. 1, 2023)

Applicants wishing to apply to the Acting Program should prepare to provide:

  • Applicant Information
  • Undergraduate degree and GPA
  • Resume and headshot
  • A Preliminary Audition: Prepare three contrasting monologues (a contemporary comedic, a contemporary dramatic, and a Shakespeare), totaling no more than eight 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 nine minutes.  All applicants must submit a video audition.

STEP TWO: By invitation/callback, due date to be determined with invitation. Applicants who receive an official callback will be asked to further provide:

  • 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 after completion of the program. Applicants are welcome to share  other relevant information that might give the selection committee  perspective on their application.
  • Transcript
  • Three letters of recommendation from theatre professionals, professors, or other people who are familiar with the applicant and/or their work. 

The GRE Test is not required for admission the University of Arkansas Graduate School and standardized tests are not required for admission into  the M.F.A. Program in Theatre.

STEP THREE:  After official acceptance, due date to be determined with acceptance offer.

Final admission into the MFA Program requires a formal application to the University of Arkansas Graduate School. This step is not necessary until one has been granted admission into the MFA Program. To apply to the graduate School, one should expect to provide:

  • Current official transcript (official transcripts must come from a College or University Registrar or similar office)
  • If one’s undergraduate career is incomplete at the time of application, a final official transcript must be sent to the graduate school before registration begins for one’s second semester.


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

Our assistantships pay for all tuition and give an $13,900 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