This Bitch by Adrienne Dawes

"This Bitch - Esta Sangre Quiero" by M.F.A. Playwright Adrienne Dawes, Production Photo by Austin Bomkamp

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre: Playwriting

Creating Connections

The ultimate artisans of theatre, playwrights remind us where society has been and—more importantly—where it's headed. Our goal at the U of A is to provide M.F.A. playwriting candidates the opportunity to grow and amplify their artistic voice by equipping them with the skills and space to become confident theatrical storytellers and bold dealers in personal truth. Our three-year M.F.A. Program in Playwriting gives time for playwrights to build their portfolio of works for stage and screen, while allowing them space to discover and explore their larger artistic process.

The Department of Theatre next round of submissions for the M.F.A. in Playwriting is Fall of 2026. If you would like to be  notified when applications open, please fill out our form.

About the Program

M.F.A. playwrights learn by doing, and participate in a series of rigorous writing workshops on a variety of topics designed to expand and challenge their theatrical imaginations while building foundational knowledge in dramatic form and structure.

We aim to give writers equal space to focus on the playwright’s personal process, as they reach toward embracing a fearless form of personal expression—one rooted in deep personal investment while engaging with the larger cultural dialogue their work challenges and confronts. 

The Department of Theatre is not accepting new applicants for the M.F.A. in Playwriting until Fall 2026, however we would like to hear from you if you are interested.  If you have any questions about the application process or the program, please contact John Walch, Head of Playwriting @

If you would like to  be notified when applications  open, please fill out our form.

In general, the following information is requested for applications.


Applicants should be prepared to provide the following information and materials:

  • Applicant Information
  • Unofficial Transcript, and college GPA
  • A one- to two-page personal statement addressing the applicant’s reasons for wanting to pursue a M.F.A. in Playwriting at this moment in their development as a writer. 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.
  • A résumé detailing academic experience, professional work in the theatre, and other relevant work experience.
  • A portfolio of their work that includes two writing samples.
  1. The first work sample should be a full-length play that the applicant feels best reflects their theatrical sensibility and dramatic writing.
  2. The second can be a full-length, a one-act, a work-in-progress, or something in a different genre/medium. Applicants should provide a 15-20 minute excerpt from this piece, plus a one to two paragraph description of the work and their reasons for selecting it.

The GRE Test is not required for admission to the M.F.A. Program in Playwriting.


  • 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. This step is not necessary until one has been granted admission into the MFA Program.
    • 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.
  • Please note: there is a $60.00 application fee for the second step of our application process.
  • You will be asked to provide a 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 Graduate Assistantships pay for all tuition and give a $15,000 stipend each academic year (9 months). 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 applicants 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. 
  • Playwriting M.F.A. candidates can expect to teach introduction courses in Theatre Appreciation, serve as teaching assistants, and serve as readers for the annual Kernodle New Play Award as part of their assistantship duties. Other duties will be assigned as needed.

We offer a comprehensive three-year degree covering all aspects of dramatic writing—from short- and long-form structures, and special topics in adaptation television/screenwriting, and writing for the solo-performer. Additional courses in dramatic form and structure unlock  strategies other writers have used in creating work, and develop the dramaturgical skills to articulate how a variety of plays function and create theatrical meaning.  The program is intentionally intimate, only two or three playwrights are accepted, allowing for intensive individualized mentorship, as well as the flexibility to let writers shape their course of study to meet their own creative goals and ambitions.

Black Book
"Black Book" by M.F.A.

Austin Dean Ashford

The theatre faculty shares a philosophy that is deeply collaborative, with cross-disciplinary classes that regularly generate new work – both individual and group-centered. If you pursue an M.F.A. in playwriting 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. Playwrights are also encouraged to take acting, directing and design classes and to diversify their artistic palettes by taking poetry, fiction, and translation workshops offered by the U of A's renowned Creative Writing Program, along with a rich array of related courses in the arts.

Students are given multiple opportunities to practice the process of building a new play from conception to completion, working peer-to-peer with fellow collaborators including: directors, actors, and designers.  This process is repeated throughout the writer’s three-year course of study at varying levels, from concert- and staged-readings through to a full production in their thesis year as a part of the ArkType New Works Festival, presented in our newly renovated theatre @ Global Campus.

As a part of their assistantships, playwrights serve as administrators on the Kernodle New Play Award and are given additional opportunities to serve as dramaturgs on departmental productions. These experiences develop the playwright’s skill-set in Literary Management and—more critically—provide opportunities for deeper investigation into how other writers create theatrical meaning.

While our core focus is on preparing playwrights for a professional career in the field, opportunities can and have been created for playwriting candidates who express an interest in developing the tools and skills to teach. Because of our small size, we are nimble enough to create TA opportunities, in-classroom opportunities, and full classes for those candidates who want to gain teaching experience.

Writing workshops thrive on the creative tension between rigorous attention to dramatic structure and an equally rigorous focus on each writer's unique voice. Our playwriting faculty is led by active playwright, John Walch.  Additionally, the area  is committed to bringing in guest playwrights and "virtual mentors" to give multiple perspectives on student work and further models for creating work. Guests have included playwrights Lisa D’Amour, Dael Orlandersmith, Sharon Bridgforth, Mia Chung, Idris Goodwin and Kevin Coval (Hip Hop Theatre), Emily Schwend/Theatre for One, Amy Evans, Sherry Kramer, Sheila Callaghan, and J.T. Rodgers. Guest directors have included Dexter Singleton, Estefani Fadul, and Jared Stein. Our students also take ala carte workshops with TheatreSquared visiting playwrights, who have included Stephen Karam, Mona Monsour, and Robert Schenkkan.

Our faculty seeks to prepare our students for the unknowns of the professional world, by making them confident in the power of their voice, while being capable to articulate their vision, triage critical feedback, and effectively improvise with collaborators.

Guest Workshop with Lisa D'Amour

Guest Playwright Lisa D'Amour works with MFA Playwriting students

As part of their training, playwrights are encouraged to pursue internships with literary departments and/or new play festivals at theatres around the country, including in the Arkansas New Play Festival at TheatreSquared, which the American Theatre Wing recognized as one of the ten most promising emerging theatres in the country. Graduate playwrights also participate in the administration of the nationally listed Kernodle New Play Award.


>Read all playwright activity on the UARK Newswire


  • Artists 360 Award, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Sarah Loucks and Adrienne Dawes, (2023) >Read Press Release
  • 2023 Individual Artist Fellowships, Arkansas Arts Council for Literary Arts--Theatre, Sarah Loucks and Adrienne Dawes, (2023) >Read Press Release
  • Award. One & Only,  Fusion Theater 17th annual national playwriting contest: “The Seven”, Emma K. Cleary (undergrad, taught by graduate M.F.A. students) (2023) >Read Press Release
  • Distinguished Achievement, The Kennedy Center Latinx Playwriting Award, Adrienne Dawes (2022)
  • Artists 360 Award, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Na’Tosha Devon, Khloud Sawaf, John Walch (2022) >Read Press Release
  • Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, Adrienne Dawes, (2022)
  • Arizona Actors Academy and Theatre Upstairs Present "Richter" by Megan McEnery, (2022) >Read Press Release
  • Ragdale Foundation, Alice Judson Hayes Fellow, Adrienne Dawes, (2022)
  • 2022 Sin Muros: A Borderless Teatro Festival, Stages Rep, Houston, Adrienne Dawes (2022) >Read Interview
  • New Harmony Project residency, Adrienne Dawes, (2022), Lauren Ferebee (2021)
  • Yale Drama Series Award, Rachel Lynett (2021) >Read Press Release
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Planet Earth Arts Playwriting Award for plays addressing environmental and social justice issues, Lauren Ferebee (2021) >Read Press Release
  • Publication: Teen Dad, TRW Plays (UK), Adrienne Dawes (2021) >Read Press Release
  • 2021 Artist 360 Award, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Sarah Loucks (2021) >Read Press Release
  • Television Academy Foundation Internship program, just one of 50 students chosen from across the country, Adrienne Dawes (2021) >Read Press Release
  • Commission/production: Artemisia Theatre, Chicago, IL, Lauren Ferebee, (2020, 2021) >Read Press Release
  • Publication: Run. Hide. Fight, "Best New Ten-Minute Plays 2020", Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, Adrienne Dawes, (2020)
  • Los Angeles Times Feature: 40 Black Playwrights On the Theatre Industry’s Insidious Racism, Adrienne Dawes (2020) >Read Article
  • International Centre for Women Playwrights development grant, Adrienne Dawes (2020)
  • New York Times Feature: Summer Residency Playwrights, Adrienne Dawes (2019) >Read Article
  • One Beat Columbia Fellow, International, Austin Dean Ashford (2019)
  • The Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Austin Dean Ashford (2019) >Read Press Release
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region VI): Outstanding Production of a New Work, Austin Dean Ashford (2019)  >Read Press Release
  • The Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award, awarded to work that insists that theatrical production is central to urgent community, national and international conversations on campuses of higher education. Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Austin Dean Ashford (2019) >Read Press Release
  • New Zealand International Fringe Festival: Outstanding Performer, Austin Dean Ashford (2019)
  • Certificate for Distinguished Achievement by the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Austin Dean Ashford (2018) >Read Press Release
  • The Harold and Mimi Steinberg National Student Playwriting Award, second place honors, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Austin Dean Ashford (2018) >Read Press Release
  • The Hip Hop Theatre Creator Award, second place honors, Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Austin Dean Ashford (2018) >Read Press Release
  • San Diego International Fringe Festival Best of Fest: Austin Dean Ashford (2018)
  • Best One-Person Show, United Solo Festival, NYC, Austin Dean Ashford (2018) >Read Press Release
  • “Best Women’s Stage Monologues", Smith & Kraus, Lauren Ferebee (2018)
  • “Best Men’s Stage Monologues”, Smith & Kraus, Lauren Ferebee (2018)
  • The William Inge Theatre Festival and Conference invited writer, Brendan Beseth (2018)

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 and The Momentary--a multi-disciplinary space for visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, and artist residencies--only add to the areas already rich cultural legacy.

  A maturing arts scene and abundant live music, together with the areas natural beauty and congenial urban environment, make for an atmosphere that is the highly conducive to writing.

Sample Plan of Study (subject to change)

Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Playwriting Form and Structure
  • Collaboration Strategies
  • Script Analysis
  • Alexander Technique
  • Literary Internship (at TheatreSquared)*
  • Presentation: One-Act or 10 Minute Play

Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Adaptation
  • Writing for Television
  • Core Elective
  • Literary Internship (at TheatreSquared)*
  • Presentation: Readings of Full-Length Play


  • Optional: Internship/Independent Study

*As negotiated and needed

Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Playwriting Lineages
  • Interdisciplinary Elective (ie. Experiments in Moving Image)
  • Literary Internship (at TheatreSquared)*
  • Presentation: Workshop/Readings

Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Writing Through Resistance
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Literary Internship (at TheatreSquared)*
  • Acting/Directing/Design Elective
  • Devising
  • Presentation: Workshop Productions of Full-Length Play


  • Apply for Pre-thesis Fellowship

*As negotiated and needed

Fall Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop:  Writing for Solo Performer
  • Writing for Television (can be repeated)
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Thesis
  • Presentation: Production of Thesis Play

Spring Semester

  • Playwriting Workshop: Rewriting Strategies/Portfolio Development
  • Interdisciplinary Elective
  • Thesis
  • Presentation: Production of Thesis Play