Scenic design from the play Argonautica.

Theatre, M.F.A.

M.F.A. in Theatre

Perform. Grow. Inspire. Direct your future.

The theatre has become your home and you’re ready to take the next step. Earning an M.F.A. in Theatre at Penn State will build upon what you have learned and help you to grow into the artist you dream of becoming. Our world-class faculty is ready to help you advance your career and discover your artistic voice with highly specialized instruction tailored to your goals. Our M.F.A. degree includes programs in theatre design and technology, directing for musical theatre, and music directing for musical theatre.

Program Application Deadline

The deadline for applications for AY 2023–24 is January 15, 2023.

To be assured full consideration, please review all details on program and admission requirements, and ensure that you apply by this deadline.

For candidates participating in the URTA interview process, we abide by the offer/acceptance timeline laid out in the URTA materials.

Earn an M.F.A. in Theatre at Penn State

The next chapter of your theatre story is waiting to be written. Stay in the spotlight and take your career to another level.

Our M.F.A in Theatre program has proven to be an incubator for elite theatre talent. By offering a wide range of degree concentrations, Penn State is a place where you will have room to grow as an artist while being part of one of the most respected theatre programs in the country.

Graduate students enrolled in our M.F.A. in Theatre program focus on theatre design and technology, directing for musical theatre, or music directing for musical theatre.

The highly specialized theatre design and technology concentration offers students the opportunity to focus on costume design, costume technology, or scenic design.

If a career in directing musical theatre is in your future, our highly competitive and groundbreaking directing and music directing for musical theatre programs offer training from industry leaders that will prepare you to be a uniquely skilled director in the evolving musical theatre landscape.

All of our degree concentrations offer various professional production opportunities and collaborative educational experiences with established theatre professionals that will help you to hone your skills while making invaluable connections to the industry.

Application Procedures

Graduate Faculty

Steve Broadnax

  • Head, MFA Acting
  • Associate Artistic Director for Outreach

William Doan

  • Professor, School of Theatre

Charlene Gross

  • Associate Professor, Costume Design

Rick Lombardo

  • Director, School of Theatre
  • Producing Artistic Director, Penn State Centre Stage

Milagros Ponce De Leon

  • Head, B.F.A. Design and Technology
  • Associate Professor of Scenic Design

Laura Robinson

  • Costume Design and Technology

Dan Robinson

  • Associate Director for Academics, Head - Design and Production Programs

Raymond Sage

  • Associate Professor, Voice

Susan Schulman

  • Professor Emeritus of Theatre


Graduate students pursuing an MFA in Theatre typically attend with a full tuition waiver and a graduate assistantship. The assistantship is 1⁄2 time (20 hours per week) and includes a stipend of approximately $20,000 per academic year (Fall and Spring semesters). The assistantship also includes a generous health insurance subsidy.

Under assistantship, the student works either in production, teaching and/or assistant-teaching undergraduate classes, or as an accompanist.

The duration of an assistantship is three academic years, contingent upon satisfactory progress. This financial offer constitutes approximately $150,000 of investment in each graduate student’s education.

M.F.A. Theatre student showcasing his costume design work.

Degree Options

Our goal is to develop well-rounded theatre professionals, critical thinkers, and collaborative artists who bring artistry and technology together, and have the skills to succeed in today’s job market.

Explore the M.F.A. degree concentrations housed within the Design + Technology, Directing and Music Directing program options.

Is an M.F.A. in Theatre right for you?

The M.F.A in Theatre program is one of the most unique and well-respected theatre education programs in the country that consistently exists as a conduit to Broadway and beyond.

Collaboration is at the core of the educational experience at Penn State, as evident in our assistantship opportunities. The program’s wholistic approach to developing artists and acts as a model for modern theatre education.

The strength of the three-year graduate training programs lies within our students who are committed to growth, accept challenges, and are eager to perform in a program that encompasses both rigorous classwork and demanding production experience.

Stage and lighting scene rehearsal for the play Albatross.

Considering the M.F.A. in Theatre? Consider this.

Focus on design & tech, directing for music theatre, or music directing for music theatre.

  • Highly specialized courses and individualized attention prepare you for the industry.
  • Numerous opportunities to interact with and learn from guest artists with a range of experiences.
  • Collaborate with experienced faculty and undergraduate students

Being 'Scene'

Student's costumes and set designs from initial sketches through final fabrication.