[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Master of Fine Arts, Acting

Dale McFadden Dale McFadden
Head of Acting and Directing Program
Email | 812-855-4080 | Bio »

The M.F.A. in Acting program has completed recruiting students for fall 2017. Our next recruiting class will be for fall 2018 admission.

The mission of the M.F.A. program in acting is to train artists, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to work in professional theatre. Our performance faculty of eleven full-time teacher/artists bring varied strengths to teaching and creative activity, and all are united in preparing actors for the professional theatre. Through a combination of classes in technique and process, actors will have the opportunity to develop several successful methodological approaches to working on demanding texts of the classical and contemporary theatre through their work with a variety of mentors.

Our acting program provides training with an emphasis on individual attention to technique and growth. We believe that a specific journey can be created for training, and that is why we start with a methodology class on individual access to truth before moving on to text, scene study, styles, audition work, and a camera class. This is all complemented by comprehensive work in movement, voice, and speech and a comprehensive reading list is given to all actors for subsequent discussion with faculty.

Program Highlights

Comprehensive training, professional access, dedicated teachers, financial support, and a vibrant atmosphere are just a few of the highlights of our M.F.A. Acting Program. Richard III You will find an array of experienced, professionally connected teacher/artists and scholars who are dedicated to the mission of providing comprehensive training with individual attention.

Visit our faculty page for bios and credientials.

M.F.A. Acting at Indiana University

  • Intensive, 3-year experience
  • Highly selective program of 9 M.F.A. actors
  • Personalized attention to individual artistic growth
  • Comprehensive training in methodology including text and scene study; ensemble creation; realism and non-realism; the audition process; and camera work
  • Professional preparation/auditions/opportunities
  • Voice and Speech classes every semester
  • Movement classes every semester with stage combat annually
  • 2 courses in theatre history, theory, and literature
  • Mentoring by renowned guest artists
  • Immediate casting opportunities, including two mainstage roles per year
  • Summer casting opportunities at the Indiana Festival Theatre
  • Mainstage thesis role with actor input on casting
  • Full tuition waivers plus assistantships with a $15,750 min. stipend (2015-2016)
  • Teaching opportunities
  • Travel grant funds
  • Membership in a large and vital department of over 250 students from B.A. to Ph.D.
  • Sophisticated university atmosphere with a beautiful campus and a broad range of academic disciplines
  • Residence in a vibrant, arts-friendly community
  • Our alumni work in many professional theatres across the country with current and recent examples being Broadway, Chicago Shakespeare, Utah Shakespeare, PCPA Rep, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Victory Gardens Theatre.


We maintain a total of nine actors in our three year program, and though our faculty teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, the 11:9 ratio of teachers to actors ensures that no M.F.A. actor will get lost in the shuffle.

Applications are generally considered beginning in January, but will be accepted until all openings have been filled. Please e-mail acadsec@indiana.edu with questions regarding the application process.

Auditions and Interviews

Auditions and interviews for prospective M.F.A. students in the areas of acting and directing are held annually in January-February via the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA) in New York and Chicago. Applications for acting programs are generally accepted through December, but those who wish to participate in U/RTA's National Unified Auditions and Interviews (NUA/I) and avoid additional fees should complete the online application by U/RTA's deadline in mid-November.

The Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance is committed to diversity in its production seasons and casting of roles. By definition this means considering and casting actors of color in any role and/or production presented by the Department. The Department is also dedicated to exploring and implementing non-traditional casting.

Those students not participating in the U/RTA auditions, but wishing to audition for representatives of Indiana University in New York, Chicago, or on the Bloomington campus, should submit a letter requesting an interview/audition at the desired site, along with a resume, headshot, and statement of purpose to:

Graduate Secretary
Indiana University
Department of Theatre and Drama
275 N. Jordan Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405-5551

Inquiries for a non-U/RTA audition or interview should be received NO LATER THAN THREE WEEKS BEFORE the requested interview date. It is the prerogative of the department to deny or grant an interview or audition request based on resumes and any other supporting materials. Email acadsec@indiana.edu with additional questions about application materials or scheduling an appointment.

Specific Requirements

  1. Apply to attend the University Resident Theatre Association's National Unified Auditions and Interviews OR schedule a private audition/interview in New York, Chicago, or on Indiana University's Bloomington campus.
  2. Prepare two additional two-minute acting pieces. One should be a selection from a verse drama (preferably Shakespeare), and the other should be a contemporary selection.
  3. Provide a photograph and resume that lists your creative work in the theatre and related areas.

Additional information about Graduate Admissions Requirements »


We produce eight regular season productions in our IU Theatre season and three full-scale productions at our professional summer repertory theatre, the Indiana Festival Theatre. M.F.A. actors perform two or more roles during the academic year and also have the opportunity for casting during the summer. When you add in the summer casting it is not uncommon that our actors will play seven to ten roles during their three-year tenure.

We strive to cast all actors in the first semester, and there is evaluation and discussion with the faculty about the first role played each year, in what we call a project role. An actor is assigned an advisor for this project, and the advisor works with the actor to articulate goals for the actor and also attends rehearsals and provides feedback to the actor during the rehearsal process.

In the third year a thesis role is played, and there is discussion with the actor on which roles will suitably challenge him/her. The actor decides which faculty will serve on his/her thesis committee.


Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the official source of information regarding Graduate School degree requirements is the University Graduate School web page.

Year One: Exploration and Fundamentals

Fall Semester

  • T500 Research Methods and Materials (1.5 cr) Methods and materials of theatre research, principles of scholarly investigation, strategies of production research, criticism, and analysis of the drama in production. Must be taken during the first term of residence.
  • T700 Independent Study (1.5 cr) Preparation for Teaching
  • T 510 Movement (3 cr) “Preparing the Vessel”
  • T521 Acting Technique (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T525 Voice for the M.F.A. I (3 cr) Berry, Rodenberg, and Linklater Techniques

Spring Semester

  • T511 Movement I (3 cr) “Preparing the Vessel”
  • T522 Acting Technique II (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T535 Voice for the M.F.A. II (3 cr) Further Technique/Intro to High Comedy
  • TBA (3 cr) History, Theory, and Literature Course

Year Two: Technique and Process

Fall Semester

  • T583 Ensemble Creation (3 cr) Technique for Group Development/Creation
  • T610 Movement II (3 cr) “Exploring Impulse”
  • T621 Shakespeare (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T625 IPA/Dialects (3 cr) Meir/Stein Techniques

Spring Semester

  • T611 Movement II (3 cr) “Exploring Impulse”
  • T622 Style in Acting (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T635 Advanced Dialectics (3 cr) Further Technique Work
  • TBA (3 cr) History, Theory, and Literature Course

Year Three: Professional Preparation

Fall Semester

  • T723 Acting for the Camera (2 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T700 Independent Study (1 cr) Professional Preparation
  • T710 Movement II (3 cr) “Character Class”
  • T721 Non-realism (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T725 Vocal Process (3 cr) Vocal Technique for the Professional Theatre

Spring Semester

  • T504 Stage Combat (3 cr) Methodology and Technique
  • T735 The Audition Process (3 cr) Vocal Technique in Auditions
  • T722 Acting Seminar (3 cr) Various Topics
  • T897 Thesis (3 cr) M.F.A. Thesis Project

Guest Artists

Guest artists are brought into the studio, the rehearsal process, and production in order to supplement training and experience. Casting agents, artistic directors, and prominent artists are part of our commitment to keeping our actors engaged in the profession.


Although our M.F.A. actors are provided teaching opportunities and wefirmly believe that teaching can enhance a student’s perspective, we are not primarily training actors to enter the teaching profession.We also feel that teaching sharpens your skills as an actor, and we provide guidance and support in your work as a teacher.

Financial Aid

Graduate students in the M.F.A. acting program are typically awarded an assistantship which includes a tuition waiver covering most fees, in addition to a stipend (in 2014-2015 a minimum of $15,750) for working 20 hours a week divided between teaching and administrative duties within the department. Academic merit fellowships and research/creative activity travel grant opportunities are also available on a competitive basis.

Academic Appointments

The standard graduate appointment is a 50% Full Time Employment (FTE) position requiring 20 hours of service per week or the teaching of three to four courses per academic year. Stipends for these graduate appointments are paid on a monthly basis and will have all appropriate taxes and deductions withheld.

There are two types of graduate appointments:

Graduate Assistantships
Graduate assistants work in various areas of theatre production (costuming, lights/sound, props, stagecraft), administrative offices (audience development, dramaturgy, house management, production management), or departmental offices (accounts, advising).

Associate Instructorships
Associate instructors teach first year courses in acting, oral interpretation, and theatre appreciation. These appointments are open to M.F.A. students and Ph.D. students who have completed 30 hours of graduate work.


Appointment of associate instructorships and graduate assistantships, as well as the awarding of fellowships, is contingent upon: maintenance of a 3.2 academic average, satisfactory performance of duties of the appointment or fellowship, and enrollment in a specified minimum number of graduate hours.

Persons seeking financial aid through a graduate appointment must submit an application for admission into the University Graduate School (complete with all transcripts, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores). If a student has skills in program areas other than for what he/she is applying, a separate statement outlining those skills should be included.

For some graduate students there is also the possibility of summer employment at the Indiana Festival Theatre, a professional repertory theatre, run by the Department of Theatre and Drama on the IU Bloomington campus.

* Various scholarships, fellowships, and loans may be available through the University Graduate School or the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Inquiries should be sent to: Office of Student Financial Assistance, Indiana University, Franklin Hall 208, Bloomington, Indiana 47405.

Additional Benefits

Student Academic Appointees and Fellowship Recipients are automatically enrolled in the student insurance plan and the cost of the student premium is paid by the university. The plan also includes dental, mental health and prescription drug benefits. Eligible students may also insure their dependents. Eligible dependents are the spouse/same-sex domestic partner (residing with the Insured student) and unmarried children under the age of 24.

Learn more about the Student Academic Appointee Health Insurance Plan

Additional benefits include a "green conscious" campus with free buses, free Adobe and Microsoft products, and a ubiquitous wireless internet

Evaluation and Retention

In the first two years each M.F.A. actor must complete a major creative project. These projects will be seen and evaluated by the Acting/Directing faculty in the Fall semester when all actors are cast in a creative project. In the Spring semester there is an annual evaluation of each actor based on artistic progress, academic achievement , and overall compliance with the obligations for being an M.F.A. actor (meeting teaching expectations, professional standards of commitment, rehearsal practices etc.). A recommendation is sent to the Graduate Committee as to whether or not the student should be allowed to continue in the program. A non-recommendation detailing the areas of weakness would result in academic probation and a possible eventual dismissal.

An end of the year discussion is also held with each actor to discuss any questions and/or concerns that the actor wants to bring to the attention of the Acting/Directing faculty.

In the third year each M.F.A. actor must complete a thesis project. In addition, an oral examination with prescribed material, an oral defense of the project, and an appropriate record of the project are required. The permanent record of the thesis project will follow a format prescribed by the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.

The above meetings and procedures meet the standard of evaluation once each semester as required by NAST Guidelines.