Graduate Programs

Becoming a theatre artist requires mastering one field of study while developing knowledge and respect for the others. For this reason MFA students at Iowa have their own intensive programs and work closely with one another across disciplines. The art of the theatre occurs most successfully with this kind of open collaboration. When you apply for an MFA program at Iowa you are applying for admission to a community of artists.

Each of Iowa’s MFA programs is

  • An intensive 3-year course of study
  • Dedicated to the development of theatre artists & new work
  • Grounded in the study of dramatic literature
  • Connected to its sister programs by means of formal & informal collaborations

What sets Iowa apart?
WATCH: Theatre at Iowa
WATCH: Why Iowa?

Fellowships, Assistantships & Scholarships

We have a range of teaching and research assistantships, as well as fellowships and scholarships based on talent, academic merit, and financial need.  Virtually every graduate student in Theatre is appointed as a teaching or research assistant or has substantial scholarship support. Assistantships are awarded to incoming students as part of their acceptance package; continuing students apply in February for the following year, and they may propose to continue their current assignment or seek a new position in order to diversify their skill-sets.

Iowa Arts Fellowships

Each year the Department of Theatre Arts offers an Iowa Arts Fellowship to four incoming student between the six MFA programs. This is a one-year award that includes an $20,000 academic year fellowship stipend plus tuition and health insurance allowance.

Iowa Arts Fellowships

Teaching and Research Assistantships

Nearly all Theatre Arts graduate students hold an assistantship for the three years they are in residence. Theatre Arts assistantships require anywhere from ten to twenty hours per week. Salaries for 2022-23 range from $10,299 to $20,598.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

Tuition Scholarships

Students holding a 25% or greater teaching or research assistantship (covered by the COGS bargaining unit) are assured a scholarship that covers full tuition and 50% of mandatory student fees for the 2022-23 academic year. Students who have an assistantship quarter-time or more are classified as Iowa residents for tuition and fee purposes.

Graduate Assistant Tuition Scholarship

Theatre Arts Scholarships

The Department of Theatre Arts has a number of scholarships specifically designated for graduate students. Scholarships are awarded annually. Awards are based on the recommendation of the head of each program.

Graduate College MFA Summer Fellowship

The Graduate College offers an MFA Summer Fellowship program that encourages students to pursue projects and professional development opportunities during the summer break.  For the summer of 2019, 6 theatre arts graduate students were awarded the fellowship (a stipend of $4,500 each). 

Admission Details

Admission to the Theatre Arts graduate program requires two steps:

  • Admission to the University of Iowa Graduate College
  • Admission to the specific program to which you are applying in Theatre Arts

Detailed information about both steps, including admission requirements, deadlines, procedures etc, is available through the MFA in Theatre Arts pages in the Graduate section of the University Admissions site.

Graduate Admissions Information

One advantage of studying in the Department of Theatre Arts is that you work within a small community of artists. One advantage of studying at the University of Iowa is that it is a large research institution with a vast array of resources.  The advantage of studying in Iowa City is that it is classic college town filled with students and hundreds of student related activities. The links below provide information about the University campus and Iowa City.

Community Information
Financial Assistance

Each program has its own identity, its own admission schedule, and its own criteria for admission, here are links to those pages.

Playwrights Workshop
Stage Management

General Program Requirements & Procedures

To attain the MFA degree in Theatre Arts, you normally must complete:

  • 6 semesters in residence (internships may be substituted with the permission of the program faculty and the Director of Graduate Studies);
  • A minimum of 61 semester hours, but requirements for specific programs may be higher. Accordingly, each student must complete the requisite number of graduate hours stipulated by their Plan of Study;
  • All requirements of the Graduate College;
  • G.P.A requirements of both the Graduate College and the Department as specified below. 
  • Creative or scholarly work of high quality according to program requirements;
  • A comprehensive examination;
  • A written thesis.

Students must make normal progress toward completion of the degree requirements to remain in their respective programs. Making normal progress means maintaining

  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.75, in accordance with requirements of the Graduate College (if the average falls below 2.75 it must be raised to that level by the end of the following semester);
  • A GPA of at least 3.0 in all courses within the primary area of concentration, as defined by each program in the Department;
  • Grades of at least B- or Satisfactory in all courses in the primary area of concentration;
  • A record of approved creative or scholarly work, as evaluated by the program faculty.

You must also demonstrate that you are effective collaborators and observe professional standards and ethics appropriate to your discipline.

If you fail to make normal progress, you are placed on academic probation and given only one semester to resolve the outstanding issues.

University of Iowa MFA Theatre Arts Program Academic Procedures