The M.F.A. acting program totally transformed the way I approach acting. I was challenged, inspired, got lots of individual attention, and had the opportunity to try many new things in an environment that was collaborative, supportive, and encouraging.

- Nadine Purvis Schmidt

I loved my time at the University of Arkansas. The training I received in the MFA Acting program was a definitive step in my growth as an actor and artist. The work is intimate, specific, and focuses on the personal development of each individual actor. The faculty is dedicated to helping you become the best version of yourself. At the end of three years, you emerge empowered; confident in your process and ready to pursue your career.

- Justin Walker

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Acting

Ours is a Professional Actor Training Program where intensive exploratory work in the studio is fully complemented by extensive performance opportunities across all periods and styles. A small and select group of graduate students allows for highly personalized instruction, and our rigorous curriculum awakens the rich inner life of each student, increasing the ability to live fully and actively every moment on stage. Numerous production experiences culminate in the performance of a thesis role and one-person show.

The most important things you should know are...
We have a very positive supportive environment, essential to the kind of intensive work we do with our students.

Our work is process-oriented.

The 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 the condition of being human and our common humanity.

Performance opportunities are plentiful.

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.

We are committed to developing new work for the theatre.


We offer MFAs in Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Scene Design, Costume Design, and Lighting Design--and there is a lot of interaction between the disciplines, as well as the option to take select classes in any area which supports the artistic goals of the student.

Professional Internship & Networking

We have a close association with TheatreSquared, a national award-winning professional Equity theatre located in Fayetteville, which the American Theatre Wing (Tony Awards) recently named one of the top ten emerging theatres in the country. Students quite often perform in the shows there, 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.

Guest Artists

Our guest artist opportunities have included Robert Redford, Moises Kaufman, Edward Albee, Mary Louise Parker, Francis Guinan, Jason Moore, Laurence Luckinbill, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, 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.

Professional Success

Our students are doing really well—in the past few years they've been performing on Broadway, off-Broadway, and at Lincoln Center, The Guthrie, 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. And 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, a national best-partner award, the Mark Twain award for best comedic performance, and the National Shakespeare internship award—and ten national alternates from our program in fifteen years of our participation.

Financial Assistance

We offer graduate assistantships, fellowships, and teaching opportunities. Our assistantships pay for all tuition and give an $11,000 stipend each academic year. Additional funds are available through our graduate fellowship, which offers an additional $3000 each year to qualified students. There are some other select scholarships for which you might be eligible, as well. 

Applying to the Program

We usually accept four students every year who get an abundance of personal attention and also work as an ensemble of twelve with the other MFA actors.

We accept students into the program based on an audition/interview. We hold on-campus auditions and attend unified auditions, which may include URTAs, SETC, and ACTF. For  your audition, please prepare three contrasting pieces—a Shakespeare, a contemporary comedic, and a contemporary dramatic totaling no more than 8 minutes. In addition, you are welcome to sing a short vocal selection (no more than a minute) from the Musical Theatre repertoire (please bring sheet music--we supply an accompanist for on-campus auditions). The next admission to the MFA in acting program will be in Fall 2016. Auditions will begin in October 2015. If you are interested in auditioning on-campus, we would love to have you sit in on classes, tour our facilities, and meet our wonderful students and faculty.

For more information, or to schedule an audition, please contact Amy Herzberg, Head of the M.F.A. Acting program, at

Sample Plan of Study

  • Acting Studio - Principles
  • Modern Styles of Acting Chekhov/Pinter
  • Voice and Speech I
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Movement
  • Alexander Lessons
  • Singing Lessons
  • Acting Studio - Characterization
  • Period Styles of Acting
  • Voice and Speech II
  • Musical Theatre Dance
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Period Styles of Dance
  • Alexander Lessons
  • Meisner Technique I
  • Musical Theatre Performance
  • Shakespeare Performance
  • Voice and Speech III
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Singing Lessons
  • Teach Acting I
  • Meisner Technique II
  • Acting for the Camera
  • Voice and Speech IV
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Musical Theatre Dance
  • Alexander Lessons
  • Teach Acting I
  • One Person Show
  • Thesis: Auditioning
  • Voice and Speech V
  • Viewpoints
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Alexander or Singing
  • Teach Acting I or Intro to Theatre
  • Acting Studio - Contemporary
  • Thesis: Ensemble Theatre Project
  • Voice and Speech VI
  • Tap Dance
  • Directing Studio Scene Study
  • Alexander or Singing
  • Teach Acting I or Intro to Theatre