The primary goal of the stage manager is to enable all members of a production to reach their full potential as artists. Our program, with a strong focus on collaboration and the development of new works, balances the needs of all artists, including the stage manager as artist. 

Your three years in the MFA program will be tailored to meet your individual needs. Your faculty will serve as personal trainers, coaching you to resolve any deficiencies and to maximize your strengths as a stage manager. We seek intellectually curious and academically gifted students with strong interpersonal skills.

A new class of MFA Stage Management students is admitted every fall. The deadline to apply is in January each year (students attending U/RTAs should follow U/RTA deadlines).

Why Iowa for Stage Management

Degree requirements

Your studies will include production assignments, classroom instruction, and weekly individual meetings with the Head of Stage Management. Just as there is no one way to stage manage a production, each stage manager enters the program with different training, experiences, and career goals. Your plan of study will be reviewed each semester and tailored to your individual needs (a minimum of 69 semester hours total):

MFA in Stage Management Coursework
Course Semester Hours
Six stage management seminars (Two meetings per week with rotating topics: communication and conflict resolution techniques, new technology for stage managers, and organizational tools and applications) 12
Projects in Theatre (individual mentor support for your stage management assignments each semester) 8
Stage Management Special Topics: AEA/LORT Contract 3
Stage Management Special Topics: From Tech Through Closing 3
Stage Management Special Topics: Opera and Dance Stage Management 3
Production Management for Stage Managers 3
Arts Leadership Seminar 3
Thesis (major production or research project) 3
Individualized path: Three-course focus on a particular aspect of stage management (stage management/design, arts management, teaching and education, dance/opera, stage management research/history, entertainment industry, and self-designed paths) 9
MFA in Theatre Arts Coursework
Course Semester Hours
Orientation to Graduate Studies 1
Directing (can be waived if completed as an undergraduate student) 3
Acting for Non-Graduate Actors 3
Two courses in design/technical production/art 6
Three courses in theatrical analysis/history 9

The stage management faculty support students taking additional electives, particularly if students enter the program with limited experience in areas such as Musical Theatre.

Each year, stage managers are involved in over 25 theatrical productions, most of which are new works. Stage management faculty help select each season, based on the needs of our students. In addition, our graduate students regularly stage manage dance and opera productions.

Create your academic path

You'll find degree overviews, requirements, course lists, academic plans, and more to help you plan your education and explore your possibilities.

View General Catalog

Current course list

The MyUI Schedule displays registered courses for a particular session and is available to enrolled students. The list view includes course instructors, time and location, and features to drop courses or change sections.

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Learn more about stage management at Iowa

The theatre world is a small world, and who you know is as important as what you know. Our annual graduate stage manager trip rotates between regional and touring productions in Washington, D.C., commercial Broadway and Off-Broadway productions in New York City, and other theatre hub cities.

This three-year rotation serves to expose our students to different kinds of work opportunities in the industry and to broaden their professional networks.  Students typically shadow three to four productions and tour at least two other venues. Many of these advanced shadowing opportunities allow the students to observe pre-show and performance and to have lengthy career discussions with PSMs, SMs, and ASMs.

Your academic work, including your own teaching or research assistant work, will be reviewed at the end of each semester. At the end of your second year of study, you will participate in a comprehensive review of your academic and production work. During the exam the stage management faculty committee will review material including student performance evaluations, academic record, and the student’s personal statement.


Portrait of Melissa L. F. Turner, MFA, BA

Melissa L. F. Turner, MFA, BA

Associate Professor of Instruction
Head of Stage Management

Get Involved

Want to learn more about productions on campus? Visit the Theatre Arts Callboard to find audition information, production guidelines, facilities information, and more.

Stage management faculty

Portrait of James Albert, MFA

James Albert, MFA

Portrait of Melissa L. F. Turner, MFA, BA

Melissa L. F. Turner, MFA, BA

Associate Professor of Instruction
Head of Stage Management
Portrait of Bryon Winn, MFA, BA

Bryon Winn, MFA, BA

Director of Theatre