MFA in Playwriting

The MFA in Playwriting is offered by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (GRS) in close collaboration with the College of Fine Arts (CFA) School of Theatre.

As partners in the MFA in Playwriting, the Playwriting program and the School of Theatre (SOT) want to ensure that our playwriting graduates are equipped for both the academic and professional worlds of the theatre. To that end, the MFA in Playwriting combines a strong commitment to literary scholarship with invaluable, hands-on collaborations with other theatre artists.

Our shared goal, while building on the strong foundation of our award-winning successes, integrates faculty expertise in our renowned Department of English (in GRS) with complementary SOT strengths (in CFA) in acting, directing, design, production, and theatre management. Intensive writing workshops connecting students with professional actors and directors are coupled with classes immersing each student in dramatic literature, theatre history, and practice. During our annual professional season of new works, each student’s personal involvement is required in the theatrical productions. Teaching fellowships in the English department are offered along with full tuition remissions and living stipends during the first two years of study.

Applicants should have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree.

This three-year degree culminates in a production of each student’s thesis play and a potential internship at a chosen theatre.

Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an MFA in Playwriting should possess:

  • The ability to write original dramatic works for the stage.
  • The ability to collaborate with and to assist directors, actors, and other theatre artists in the production of these works.
  • Knowledge and an appreciation of the drama of the past and how these works relate to and can benefit the playwright’s personal journey in dramatic writing.

Course Requirements

A total of 60 credits are required, normally completed over three years. All courses must be completed with a grade of B– or higher.

Eight workshops in playwriting (32 credits)

Two playwriting workshops are taken in each of the first four semesters of study. Seven of these eight workshops are part of a fixed program, taken by all students in a given entering cohort:

  • CAS EN 509 Playwriting 2: Writing Sexualities (fall 2, 4 cr)
  • CAS EN 510 Playwriting 1: Writing of Short Plays (fall 1, 4 cr)
  • CAS EN 517 Drama in Theory and Practice 1: Structure and the Script (fall 1, 4 cr)
  • CAS EN 519 Drama in Theory and Practice 2: Experiments with Character and Form (spring 1, 4 cr)
  • CAS EN 520 Drama in Theory and Practice 3: Adaptation and the Theatre (spring 1, 4 cr)
  • GRS EN 705 Seminar: Writing of Plays 1 (fall 2, 4 cr)
  • GRS EN 706 Seminar: Writing of Plays 2 (spring 2, 4 cr)
  • Elective Writing Workshop (fall 2, 4 cr)

Sixteen (16) credits of dramatic or other literature

These credits must be at the 500 level or above, chosen in consultation with the advisor to form a coherent plan of study that informs the student’s scholarly interests and creative work. Courses may be selected from offerings in the departments of (among others) English, Classical Studies, World Languages & Literatures, Romance Studies, Film & Television, and/or within the School of Theatre.

Four (4) credits of creative process coursework in play production
(most specifically in design and collaboration)

  • CFA TH 624 (spring 2, 2 cr): Scene Study (Collaboration)
  • CFA TH 653 (fall 1, 2 cr): Design Master Class for Graduate Students

Two (2) elective credits

These credits may be earned through classroom work or through a mentored teaching assistantship in the School of Theatre.

Six (6) credits of directed study focused on the writing and production of the student’s thesis play

  • GRS EN 995 Directed Study in Playwriting (spring 2, 4 cr)
  • GRS EN 996 Directed Study in Play Production (fall or spring 3, 2 cr)

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MFA in Playwriting are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a noncredit, graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at another university.


The GRS EN 996 Directed Study in Play Production (see above) represents the full production of each student’s thesis play. Documented by the student’s daily rehearsal journals, thesis productions take place in the third year of study (fall or spring) and require the playwright’s attendance at all rehearsals and performances.