Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Directing

Creating Connections

The M.F.A. Directing program offers extensive study and training to prepare candidates for professional careers in theatre directing. We're particularly interested in training talented and committed directors as future leaders of the American theatre, potentially becoming artistic directors of their own companies or regional theatres, as well as spearheading original works and adaptations in collaboration with other theatre artists.

About the Program

 We seek articulate, educated, and introspective students who bring a body of directing, theatre, and/or performing arts experience. We actively recruit students from around the nation and the world, with recent students hailing from Virginia, New York, Syria, Arkansas, Texas, Italy, Colombia, South Korea, and Kansas. Our directors are passionate to learn, grow, and embrace challenges. They are engaged, curious citizens, eager to create art that awakens our daily lives and challenges the status quo.

The theatre faculty provides directing candidates opportunities to develop their unique artistic voices, equipping them with the skills and experiences to become confident and imaginative storytellers. Directors prepare for production work by learning and practicing: script analysis and research; communication methods for collaborating; rehearsal organization and time management; and exploring visual and aural tools of our art form.

The student directors’ primary focus here is on their work with actors, helping them to discover, distill, and communicate story, relationships, and character. To that end, directors take many of the classes offered in the graduate acting track and lead our M.F.A. actors in directing studio classes throughout their three years of study. In classroom and production experiences we train directors to collaborate with an array of theatre artists, including: scenic, costume, lighting, sound, properties, and projection designers; playwrights; dance and fight choreographers; music directors; stage managers; technical directors; and business managers.

It is our hope that artistic relationships forged with their peers here will endure well beyond their graduate studies.

Students practice the process of directing a play with focused, rigorous classes that cover a wide range of historical and contemporary genres and styles. They helm productions that include new plays, devised theatre, and extant scripts, in our studio, black box, and proscenium spaces.

We value the flexibility of our program, striving to meet the individual needs and future goals of our students, offering strong guidance and mentorship as well as a wide range of classes, training and production experiences. We admit only two or three directors at a time, enabling us to offer small, intensive classes and provide personalized attention.

The Department of Theatre's next MFA directing  cohort will begin in Fall of 2026. If you would like to be notified when applications for that cohort open, please fill out our form.

If you have any questions, please contact Morgan Hicks 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.
  • Please note: there is no application fee for the first step of our application process.
  • The GRE Test is not required for admission to the M.F.A. Program in Theatre.


  • You should not proceed to Step Two or apply for admission to the UA Graduate School until you receive notification from the M.F.A. Theatre program to do so.
  • After departmental review, qualified applicants will be invited to apply to the University of Arkansas Graduate School for formal admission to the University. Please note, the deadline for Step Two will be determined by and communicated to you by the area head after the departmental review.

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. 
  • Directing M.F.A. candidates will serve as teaching assistants as part of their assistantship duties. Other duties will be assigned as needed.

An MFA in Directing requires thee years of full-time graduate study and 60 semester credit hours. Students direct one or more productions in each of their three years of study, including a fully-supported and designed thesis production. In their first year, student directors serve as the assistant director for one of our mainstage shows; most students also assistant direct at least one production with our acclaimed local professional theatre, TheatreSquared

In their first year, directors typically direct a one-act or full-length play with limited production support, which allows the faculty to assess the student's strengths and potential growth areas; the focus is on script interpretation and analysis and collaborating with actors. In their second year, directors expand their horizons to more complex styles, directing a full-length play that typically includes a collaborative process with two or more designers, along with a limited production budget and technical support. In their third year, directors mount a full-length thesis production, usually on our mainstage, with a full collaborative process and department support. The thesis production requires extensive research, analysis, and subjective journaling about the artistic experience, all of which culminate in a thesis paper. In their second and/or third year, directors collaborate with a graduate playwright on a staged reading or production of a new play. As time permits, directors are encouraged to work on independent projects both within our department and in the community.

Directors are given regular, in-depth feedback on all aspects of their work, including scenes directed in ongoing studio classes. The faculty directing mentor typically attends two or three rehearsals at various phases of each production process and provides written notes and oral feedback. Following the productions, the faculty mentor discusses the processes and end results, student accomplishments, and potential growth areas. In addition, the directing mentor requests and collates anonymous, aggregate feedback from the participating actors and stage manager, which is then shared in writing with the student director and reviewed with the mentor. This candid assessment provides invaluable, immediate, and direct feedback. Following the second and third year projects there are post-mortems with the design and production teams. Student directors are urged to visit privately with design and production collaborators and their mentors to glean further insights on their collaboration processes.

The Department of Theatre typically produces six productions a year with generous budgets in three different venues giving designers a variety of experiences.

  • The University Theater is a 315-seat proscenium stage theatre, housing fully equipped scenery, and costume construction facilities and state of the art lighting, sound and rigging systems.
  • The UA Black Box Theater is a 181-seat flexible black box space, located on the Downtown Fayetteville Square. This theatre features state of the art sound, lighting and production systems.
  • Studio 404 in Kimpel Hall is a 75-seat black box space which accommodates student directed, projects, experimental productions and new play workshops.

As stated above, most students assistant direct at least one production with our acclaimed local professional theatre, TheatreSquared. In the summer and during their third year of study, students are encouraged to pursue assistantships and internships in alignment with their passions and needs.

The Graduate School also provides modest financial support for some opportunities, including select directing labs and workshops.

Nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Fayetteville and its Northwest Arkansas environs are fast becoming a cultural destination. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, only adds to the area's already rich cultural legacy and has announced plans to open a new space for contemporary performance and art.

Fayetteville and the surrounding area of Bentonville, Rogers and Springdale is home to a thriving theatre community. Dazzling architecture and abundant live music, together with the area's natural beauty and congenial urban environment are found in the area. With its many restaurants and cafés and its tradition of live music, Fayetteville is often referred to as Austin's younger cousin.


Sample Plan of Study