The MFA Directing program provides early-career professionals with the opportunity to cultivate their artistic identities and professional objectives while refining and enhancing their technical skills and range. The program is individually designed with each student’s artistic strengths, challenges, and personal ambitions in mind. Students are prepared for careers, either as resident or freelance directors, with special emphasis on understanding the American regional theatre and other not-for-profit venues. An “Artistic Director Option” is available that joins the MFA Directing curriculum with a graduate certificate program in Arts Administration at BU’s Metropolitan College. Students regularly interact with BU faculty and guest artists from the School’s Professional Theatre Initiative partners, including the Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, New Repertory Theatre, and more.
The School of Theatre admits one or two students each year to the program. Ideal candidates have three to five years professional directing experience outside of a university setting.
Earn an Arts Administration Certificate while you’re here:
Degree & Admissions Information
MFA Directing: Course of Study Outline
- Scene Study
- Design Master Class
- Directed Studies in Acting, Movement, Directing, Voice & Speech, etc.
- Dramatic Literature
- Dramatic Criticism
- Professional Theatre Initiative Internship
- Compact, highly specialized courses.
- Work alongside both BFA Performance and BFA and MFA Design & Production majors in a wide selection of elective coursework designed to address individual challenges.
- Direct two to four of our 40 productions per calendar year in a variety of venues with ever-growing access to designers.
- Participate in the School’s casting process, drawing from our acclaimed BFA Performance programs. Backstage named BU’s BFA program one of “5 Tried-and-True Acting Colleges” in 2014.
- Build strong professional connections in Boston and beyond through interaction with member companies of the BU Professional Theatre Initiative.
- Engage with playwrights and new work via our MFA Playwriting program and the University’s New Play Initiative.
- A required professional development residency in the third year with a theatre company or artistic mentor of your choice.
- Direct a large-scale, and widely-promoted, thesis production in the third year with a full complement of designers.
- Barbara Grossman, Ph.D. (CFA ’76), author, Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Professor of Drama at Tufts University
- Jason King Jones (CFA ’12), Artistic Director of the National Players educational touring company. Read more about Jason’s experience at BU here.
- Rick Lombardo (CFA ’84), stage director, adapter, and former Artistic Director of San Jose Rep
- Jeffrey Stanton (CFA ’09), Boston-based director and founder of Chicago’s Interrobang Theatre Project
- Adrienne Boris (CFA ’15), National New Play Network (NNPN) Producer in Residence at New Repertory Theatre, Boston
- Darryl Jones (CFA ’94), Off-Broadway and regional theatre director, and Head of the Musical Theatre program at California State, East Bay
- Emily Ranii (CFA ’13), Boston-based director, Full time faculty at Wheelock College, BU Summer Theatre Institute Academic Program Head
- Richard Seer (CFA ’85), award-winning actor, and Director of The Old Globe/University of San Diego Professional Actor Training program
- Douglas C. Wager (CFA ’74), Associate Dean of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts and Artistic Director of Theatre at Temple University; Former Artistic Director of Arena Stage
- Lenny Leibowitz (CFA ’06), Founding Artistic Director of NYC’s Marvell Repertory Theatre
- How many students are accepted into the program? One or two students each academic year.
- After I submit my application, when can I expect to hear from BU? Calls are made to between five and ten finalists in mid-March. We invite finalists to spend the day with us in Boston in late March for further orientation, interviews, tours, discussion with current students, and the direction of a scene of your choice with our current BFA Acting students. Following this, we make our decisions in early April. Applicants not admitted to the program are usually notified in mid- to late-March.
- What is an “early career professional?” This describes an applicant who completed his or her undergraduate degree at least three to five years prior to applying, and someone who has pursued a life in the theatre or related area, developing his or her own voice as a director in the field.
- What is the “Artistic Director Option”? Students interested in pursuing this option will complete a Certificate in Arts Administration through the BU Metropolitan College in addition to their MFA Directing curriculum. This supplemental training allows for the director to gain practical knowledge in the understanding of institutional tasks requisite for the artistic directorship of a non-profit or commercial theatre venture.
- Is it possible for a full-time MFA Directing student to hold down a job while in the program? No. The full-time curriculum in addition to assisting, directing, and homework make it impossible during the school year. Students are free to have jobs, do internships, engage in other PTI experiences, etc., during the summer or the long winter break.
- Is it possible for an enrolled MFA Directing student to direct outside of the program? During the school year, we encourage you to direct within the program, to take advantage of our mentorship in residence. As stated above, summers and winter breaks provide time to work elsewhere. Students, in consultation with faculty, have successfully petitioned faculty to adjust the timing of their internship semester away to accommodate an unusual opportunity.
- How many plays does an MFA Directing student direct over his or her three years in the program? Students customarily direct six to seven productions in their 2.5 semesters in residence. Year 1: two productions, Year 2: three productions, Year 3: one or two productions (including Thesis project).
- Who is in the casting pool for these directing projects? The bulk of the casting pool is comprised of our talented BFA Acting and Theatre Arts students. On rare occasions, MFA Theatre Education students, MFA Directing students, and faculty/staff members are cast in productions.
- What sort of financial support is offered for admitted MFA Directing students? BU School of Theatre offers one or two fully funded positions per year. This funding includes tuition and provides an assistantship and a stipend. Living costs are the student’s responsibility. Typically, if students take out loans, it is to cover these expenses.