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
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.
Point of Pride
The college's notable alumni include film, television, and theatre professionals such as Jane Lynch, Sean Hayes, John Malkovich, Craig Robinson, Terry Kinney, Jeff Perry, and Laurie Metcalf. Chicago's famed Steppenwolf Theatre was created by theatre students while they were attending Illinois State.
Discover what life as a Illinois State graduate student is like with an Online Graduate Student Information Session.
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 unofficial transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. The unofficial transcript should be easily readable and clearly indicate degree(s) awarded, courses and course grades for each term. If accepted, official transcripts can be emailed from the university to GraduateAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Illinois State University, Graduate School, 209 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 4040, Normal, IL 61790-4040.
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.
- Fall Term — This program is not accepting applicants for fall 2021. The next application will begin for fall 2022.
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
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 contiguous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.