MFA in Theatre: Directing and Public Dialogue

Our program provides professional training for directing, developing and maintaining an ensemble, creating and performing original work, and forming and facilitating creative community partnerships – all within the context of the artist as an engaged citizen.


Each student admitted will work with a primary advisor in a one-on-one studio environment over the three-year period. 

An individualized Plan of Study, based on the opportunity of a production assignment each semester carefully selected to serve the needs of the individual student, supports the examination of a wide range of performance styles and organizational structures in the context of ensemble theatre and public dialogue.  These practical assignments integrate production aesthetics with community engagement practices.

Each student participates closely with a required graduate committee every semester of enrollment to evaluate work done, assess progress, and plan future projects and experiences.

To complete the degree, successful completion of a minimum of 60 hours of  course credit is required.

All accepted students receive an assistantship and full tuition waiver.

The program guides each student towards developing and refining:

  • An artistic vision
  • Directing skills in conventional and non-conventional theatre spaces and contexts
  • Leadership strategies for the development, maintenance and growth of an ensemble of theatre artists
  • Skills in the disciplines of acting and performance - voice, movement, text analysis, scene study, etc.
  • Creative processes for originating theatrical material for performance
  • Negotiation skills for building and maintaining partnerships with individuals and organizations
  • A grounding in theory and analysis of human interaction in the personal, social, and political frames of reference

NOTE:  In addition to the formal, on-line application to the Graduate School, the School of Performing Arts requires an Application Process as follows:

1.  Cover letter stating why this particular program might serve your specific interests and needs;
2.  One page statement of your philosophy of theatre and your career goals;
3.  Wish list of plays and/or projects you would one day like to undertake; and,
4.  Your resume.

(Please send this material by e-mail attachment Bob Leonard or mail to the School of Performing (c/o Bob Leonard).

A student's thoughts

"This department provided the space and time necessary for me to continue my research and develop my work. Thanks to the attention of my committee I am leaving this grad department a more articulate, impactful, and socially engaged theatre artist than when I came in a few short years ago." - Vince DeGeorge, 2014 M.F.A. in Directing and Public Dialogue

Comments from the program director

“Our program offers a three-year inquiry into each student’s core artistic values in the context of the many communities in which the student lives and works through a practical, project-based approach based on ensemble practices and theatre as a public forum essential for social health. Not only do students in the program work toward creating their own directorial path; they also develop skills in acting and performance through voice, movement, text analysis, and scene study courses. Students leave the program not only as emerging leaders in the artistic field, but also as engaged citizens ready to create theatre that directly reflects our current world." Bob Leonard, head of the M.F.A. Directing and Public Dialogue program

Before applying, interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the program's primary advisor:
Robert H. (Bob) Leonard



To make a gift to the School of Performing Arts visit the link below. Designate your gift to the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Once you select the College a secondary field will open and you may then designate the School of Performing Arts.

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