• Allyson Mallandra, MFA '15 Acting.   Television: Discovery Channel, A&E Pilot, The 7th Secret, Multiple Commercials
  • Ethan Henry, MFA '09 Acting.  Film & Television: Iron Man 3, Bloodline, South Beach
  • Nick Garcia, MFA ‘09 ~ Acting Academics: Chair of Dramatic Arts Department at Los Medanos College
  • Helen Kim, MFA, Film & Television: Glow (Co-Star, Netflix), Famous in Love (Co-Star, Freeform), Boys and Girls (Pilot, Black
  • Jamyl Dobson, MFA '06 Acting. Film & Television: Gotham, The Path, Hall Pass
  • Valeria Avina, MFA '15 Acting.  Television: The Circle, Street Justice: The Bronx, Time to Fear
  • Joniece Abbot-Pratt, MFA '06 Acting.  Film & Television: Orange is the New Black, Blindspot, Luke Cage.
  • Sasha Hillebrand, MFA '15 Acting.  Assistant Director of Theatre & Artistic Director at Sterling College
  • Gregory Gefford, MFA '12 Acting.  Film & Television: Chicago Justice, Up on the Wooftop, The formula
  • Deonna Bouye MFA ‘09  Theatre: Arena Stage, The Guthrie Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville


Our mission is to train artists who understand and promote the development of new theatre—a visionary actor—not a prop or a pawn, but a participant in the creation of a living event.

The MFA in acting at the University of Iowa offers a rigorous, comprehensive curriculum that expands upon traditional concepts of training, while grounding the actor in solid technique. The acting program integrates the theories of Sanford Meisner, Jerzy Grotowski, Jacques Lecoq, and Kristin Linklater with extensive training in movement, voice, theatrical analysis, and digital media to produce an unusually responsive, emotionally available artist that can meet the creative and technical demands of the twenty-first century.

We seek curious and courageous individuals who are socially conscious and disciplined, with a passion for pushing the boundaries of theatre and digital media.

We admit students to our acting program every three years. This allows us to more fully focus our attention on the needs of each class. Students admitted to the MFA program in acting should have an undergraduate degree in theatre, or equivalent training and experience.

Our next class of actors will be admitted in the fall of 2021. The application deadline is January 15, 2021. Applicants that are attending U/RTAs must adhere to U/RTA deadlines.

MFA Acting Program Admissions Requirements & Plan of Study

Theatre at Iowa

Iowa is home to one of the premiere playwriting programs in the United States, producing more than 18 new works each year. Actors work constantly with the playwrights of the future on new material that challenges social, cultural, and political norms – originating characters and contexts never before seen on stage. Iowa playwriting alumni include Tennessee Williams, Lee Blessing, Naomi Wallace, Jen Silverman, Rebecca Gilman, and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Sam Hunter. The graduate acting faculty is made up of theatre professionals who have trained with some of the most prestigious names and organizations in theatre, including Meisner, Kristin Linklater, Stephen Wangh, Norman Taylor and Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre. In addition, we are privileged to work with an array of guest artists who visit our campus such as Robert Wilson, Liz Lehrman, Alice Ripley, Mary Beth Hurt, Martha Clarke, Anne Bogart, and other specialized industry professionals.

Continuation in the Program

The first year is a probationary period for all MFA students in acting. At the end of the first year, the faculty evaluates your work to determine if you’re eligible to continue in the program. This decision is based on demonstrated talent, potential, discipline, professionalism, and satisfactory progress in academic and artistic learning situations. Students who are accepted into the second year normally proceed to satisfactory completion of the degree. Nonetheless, evaluation is an ongoing process and students must continue to present work of distinction in their production assignments and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better in their performance classes. If a student's grade point average falls below 3.0 it must be raised to that level by the end of the following semester. Failure to do so may be grounds for dismissal.

Performance Evaluation

Evaluation of performance in productions is ongoing. You are required to speak personally with the faculty member you have been assigned to shortly after completion of the performance for feedback. You are also encouraged to speak to the other graduate acting faculty and as many other faculty members as possible about your work. Additionally, you’re required to prepare two monologues and present them at every general departmental audition. Normally there are two general auditions each academic year. Monologues may not be repeated. Following each audition, you are required to schedule individual meetings with the Head of Acting, and your Movement and Voice teachers for feedback.

Academic & Program Evaluation

At the end of every semester, you receive a formal oral evaluation of your course and production work. These discussions deal comprehensively with all aspects of your progress.

At the end of the first and second academic years you receive a written evaluation of your work, a copy of which is placed in your academic file. In conjunction with the end of the first year evaluation you must write a process paper. The purpose of the process paper is to encourage a synergistic examination of your creative process as it develops: a self-evaluation of the development of a personal approach to acting. Three weeks prior to the first year evaluation you must submit the process paper to the evaluating committee.

At the end of the second, fourth, and fifth semesters the faculty will review your website and digital platforms.

In the second year of residency the process paper is revised and serves as the your comprehensive examination.

In the final year the process paper is revised once more and, with the annotated resume, forms the written portion of the Master's Thesis. Your thesis also includes your updated website and social platforms.

Iowa Actors, Past and Present

Link to a selection of recent student bios and headshots of the Class of 2018.

More Information

Paul Kalina
Associate Professor
Department of Theatre Arts
The University of Iowa
107 Theatre Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1705