Skip to main content
Skip to main navigation

Theatre - Directing

Illinois State's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Directing program cultivates the next generation of creative leaders in the American theatre.

The Directing program accepts a select group of advanced students who have demonstrated the potential to succeed in long-term careers as professional directors. We nurture the emergence of a unique and personal aesthetic for each director, while at the same time fostering an appreciation for the skills and technique required to achieve sustainable success in the profession. Accepted candidates will demonstrate curiosity about their world and the capacity to lead with empathy.

The goals of the program challenge students to:

  • Develop an individualized aesthetic that speaks to today's world
  • Communicate effectively with performers
  • Collaborate openly and creatively with a design team
  • Analyze plays from multiple genres
  • Embrace poetic language and rhetorical device in classical plays
  • Master staging techniques for multiple space configurations
  • Work with professional rigor

Production Experience

Learn more about the production experience available during each of the Directing program's three years.

Illinois Shakespeare Festival

Directors will work for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival for 10 hours per week as part of their graduate assistantship. Duties may include casting, education, marketing, or company management depending on the student's interest and the needs of the Festival. All MFA students will also teach one undergraduate theatre class per semester.

University Admission Requirements

A student applying to a master's program must:

  • have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
  • have a minimum 2.8 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work
  • present official transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. Transcripts can be emailed from the university to or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Office of Admissions, 201 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 2200, Normal, IL 61790-2200

International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.

Additional Program Admission Requirements

A student applying to this program must:

  • submit a current resume.
  • provide three professional or academic letters of recommendation.
  • interview with a member of the faculty. Interviews are held at U/RTA sites in Chicago and New York or on the Illinois State campus.
  • submit a letter of intent and statement of purpose addressing why you make theatre your professional and artistic goals and the appropriateness of advanced training at this time.

Directing written materials must be submitted by January 1 to:

School of Theatre and Dance
Campus Box 5700
Normal, IL 61790-5700

For more information regarding MFA in Directing, contact Robert Quinlan.

Admission Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline
Fall  February 16 

Graduate Assistantship Information

The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.


To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,

  • be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
  • be in good-standing
  • be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).


Graduate assistants receive

  • monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
  • a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
  • a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment

Cost & Funding

See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from continuous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.

Graduate Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Ann Haugo  Centennial West 201C  (309) 438-5871 
2016-08-30T13:46:29.206-05:00 2016