Stage Management Graduate Program

Stage Management

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.

Admission Requirements
Plan of Study
Production Requirements
Annual Theatre Trip to Network & Shadow
Internships & Thesis
Continuation in the Program
Production Evaluation
Academic & Program Evaluation
Iowa Stage Managers, Past and Present


The University of Iowa is one of the few programs in the United States with two dedicated full-time faculty members in Stage Management.  There is no single “Iowa way” to stage manage a production, but rather students learn multiple approaches to best match the needs of an individual production.  To this end, the program invites a number of prominent stage managers to work with students.  Our 2015-2016 guests included stage managers from Broadway, Steppenwolf Theatre, Seattle Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Children's Theatre Company.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission into Stage Management Program, you must:

Make sure you are aware of all of the deadlines and that you meet the minimum requirements for entry.

You must complete the following steps to be considered for the MFA in Stage Management:

  • Start an application file.  If you are applying through URTA, file directly through URTA.  If applying independently, create your application file for the University of Iowa.  
  • Submit the following documents.  URTA applicants should e-mail the head of stage management these documents.  Independent applicants should upload documents to their UI application file.
    • cover letter/letter of interest
    • resume
    • official transcript clearly indicating a final GPA of 3.0 or higher. The GRE exam is not required
    • three letters of recommendation about your skills in stage management
    • statement of purpose, including your reasons for pursuing graduate study in stage management and your professional goals after completing the MFA in Stage Management at Iowa
    • two writing samples (4-10 pages each, either previous academic or professional work).  If you are invited to interview, we will request samples of your stage management paperwork (promptbook or selected organizational and cuing documents).
  • For URTA candidates, the due date for the Common Packet is set by URTA.
  • For independent candidates, all documents must be received no later than January 15th.

The application deadline for Fall 2020 enrollment is January 15, 2020.

Participate in a personal interview with the Head of Stage Management or other program faculty by February 1st. Interviews may be scheduled as campus visits at the University of Iowa or via video conferencing. We will conduct interviews for both URTA and Non-URTA candidates in Chicago on January 27-28.  Prior to your application, we will be available for informational interviews through the USITT LINK event in Atlanta on November 11-13 and in Washington, DC, on December 16-17.  We seek the best overall candidates; we do not weight in-person interviews more than video conferences so as to not disadvantage students who are unable to interview in-person due to cost or show commitments.  

Whenever possible, we do recommend that prospective students visit Iowa City to see the campus and discuss the stage management program with our current students and us.  Please contact Melissa Turner if you would like to have an informational meeting prior to the application interview or if you would like to meet with our current students.

All MFA stage managers receive a tuition scholarship from the Graduate College, which offsets the amount of the current tuition. General fees are not included in this scholarship. Additionally, all MFA stage managers hold teaching or research assistantships, which in 2019-20 pay at least $9,822. Departmental scholarships also may be awarded, with the amounts varying on an annual basis.

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Plan of Study

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:

Stage Management

  • 6 Stage Management Seminars (twice-a-week meetings with rotating topics including communication and conflict resolution techniques, new technology for stage managers, and organizational tools and applications)
  • 6 Projects in Theatre (individual mentor support for your stage management assignments each semester)
  • SM Special Topics: AEA/LORT Contract
  • SM Special Topics: From Tech Through Closing
  • SM Special Topics: Opera and Dance Stage Management
  • Production Management for Stage Managers
  • Thesis (Options: major production or research project)



  • Orientation to Graduate Studies
  • Directing (can be waived if Directing course completed as undergraduate)
  • Collaborative Performance
  • 2 Courses in Design/Technical Production/Art (we encourage your growth as an artist)
  • 3 Courses in Theatrical Analysis/History
  • Arts Leadership Seminar

Individualized Path (3-course focus on a particular aspect of stage management)

  • SM/Design
  • Arts Management
  • Teaching & Education
  • Dance/Opera
  • SM Research/History
  • Entertainment Industry
  • and Self-designed Paths

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

Go to BA Stage Management Road Map

Production Requirements

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.  Students may also earn EMC points through the Iowa Summer Rep, a professional AEA/URTA company in residence each summer. 

Production assignments are based on individual needs, but often include:

  • First Year: ASM for Mainstage, SM for 1-2 New Works
  • Second Year: SM for Mainstage, ASM for Dance or Opera, SM for 1-2 New Works
  • Third Year: SM for Mainstage, SM for Dance or Opera, PSM for New Play Festival or Teaching Assignment

Annual Theatre Trip to Network & Shadow

The theatre world is a small world, and whom 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 3-4 productions and tour at least 2 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.  During our 2016 trip to Washington, DC, our students shadowed stage managers and met with production managers at Arena Stage, Ford's Theatre, The Shakespeare Theatre, Signature Theatre, Synetic Theatre, and the Washington National Opera.

Academic & Program Evaluation

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 SM Faculty Committee will review material including student performance evaluations, academic record, and the student’s personal statement.

Iowa Stage Managers, Past and Present

Link to a selection of current and recent Iowa Stage Managers' bios.

More Information

Abbie Katz
Head of Stage Management
Department of Theatre Arts
The University of Iowa
107 Theatre Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1705