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B.S.Bukowski.Sondheim conceived by Joanne Gordon, with poems by Charles Bukowski and songs by Stephen Sondheim, 2012. Click for Actors and Creative Team.

MFA in Theatre Arts - Option in Acting

Information on Applying and Auditions is available.


The Graduate Program in Acting is a two-year track for candidates with extensive experience and professional credits who wish to pursue a teaching career at the university level.

The mission of the MFA in Acting is to mentor seasoned professional actors, directors, and choreographers who after successful careers in the business wish to focus on teaching performance-related subjects (Acting, Voice & Speech, Movement, Directing) at a university. This intensive two-year degree provides the candidate with a set of core classes centered around a variety of acting techniques and theories, within a flexible pedagogical laboratory that allows for exploration in other areas of interest. The student is afforded ample opportunity to hone both their performance and teaching skills, as they attain the terminal Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in order to win employment in their chosen specialization.

Criteria for Admission

Information on Applying and Auditions is available.


The Performance Faculty is comprised of vastly experienced, professional actors who have worked at the top of their profession on Broadway, National Tours, Off-Broadway, top Regional Theatres, Shakespeare Festivals, Primetime and Daytime Television, Feature Film, Cabarets and International Arts Festivals. The team of teaching artists includes Golden Globe Award winning actors and Screen Actors Guild Award nominees.

Acting Opportunities & Teaching Assistantships

The MFA in Acting also offers graduate students the opportunity to perform in a repertory-styled acting company - California Repertory Company (Cal Rep). The production repertoire of Cal Rep consists predominantly of highly theatrical work. Both national and international guest artists regularly complement the faculty. Click here to learn more about Production Opportunities for Graduate Students.

The department offers a financial assistantship to most graduate acting students through teaching. MFA Acting students are required to teach one or two entry level theatre classes each semester to earn their assistantship.The set curriculum has some structure to it but also leaves room for individual flexibility as well.

If you have any questions please contact the head of Acting, Hugh O’Gorman.


The curriculum is structured around a first year of core classes in Acting, Voice & Speech, Movement and pedagogy theory. Additional classes include Dramaturgy, Theory and Practice of Contemporary Theatre, and Aesthetic Theory and Conceptualization. The second year focuses on the individual’s desired area of teaching specialization through a more flexible and idiosyncratic curriculum.

Actor training covers a variety of approaches to teaching and performance theory, and includes, but is not limited to: the Psycho-Physical work of Michael Chekhov, the fundamentals of Stanislavski’s system, Psychological Realism, Non-Linear Theatre, Ensemble Playing in Repertory, Improvisation, and other technique courses. Voice training is grounded in the work of Catherine Fitzmaurice while the Speech component is centered around the Knight/Thompson approach. Training covers enrichment and expansion of individual vocal skills, use of dialects and accents, and exploration of microphone techniques for radio, film, and voice-over work. Movement training covers body mechanics and nonverbal communication, unarmed and armed combat with safety techniques, movement styles, Commedia Dell’Arte and clown work.

The flexible curriculum allows students to study with many different teachers and directors and to experience differing approaches and techniques in order to enrich their teaching and performance skills. In addition, each graduate student has the opportunity to teach on the undergraduate level. A MFA Thesis is required and focuses on the candidate’s areas of interest and expertise.

A committee will review the student's work no later than the end of his/her first year in residence to judge whether the student should continue in the program. In order to obtain full classified status, a committee from the Theatre Arts graduate faculty will evaluate academic progress, individual skill development, and review performance at the end of the student's first full year in residence.

The MFA degree in Theatre Arts is a terminal degree offering the professional training deemed necessary by major theatre arts schools in the United States for university and college teaching positions as well as professional employment as an actor.

The MFA curriculum emphasizes full-time professionally oriented study. It requires two years of full-time graduate study and the completion of sixty semester credit hours. In addition to academic and professional studies, internships under professional conditions with California Repertory Company are an integral part of the program.

The curriculum consists of 60 units, comprising both practical and theoretical work.

Take all of the following:

  • THEA 517 Repertory Theatre I (2+2)
  • THEA 518 Repertory Theatre II (2+2)
  • THEA 520A Voice (3)
  • THEA 520B Voice (3)
  • THEA 523 Theory/Practice of Contemporary Theatre (3)
  • THEA 524 Dramaturgy (3)
  • THEA 525 Theatrical Critical Theory (3)
  • THEA 530A Acting I (3)
  • THEA 530B Acting I (3)
  • THEA 531A Acting II (3)
  • THEA 531B Acting II (3)
  • THEA 552 Collaborative Studies (3)
  • THEA 564A Movement I (3)
  • THEA 564B Movement I (3)
  • THEA 574 Directing (3)
  • THEA 628 Writing for the Theatre Professional (3)

Take 4 units of:

  • THEA 699 MFA Thesis/Project (1-6)

Take six units from the following:

  • THEA 521A Speech (3), THEA 521B Speech (3), THEA 565A Movement II (3), 565B Movement II (3), THEA 694 Special Studies (3)

Information on Applying and Auditions is available.

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