MFA Programs

Graduate Programs in Stage Management

California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts)

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Valencia, CA

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 2-3 Students / Year

  • Internship: 1-2 Semester Long Internships (Any Arts Discipline)

  • Thesis: SM a Large Project (Any Arts Discipline)

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

Carnegie Melon

  • Degree: MFA in Stage and Production Management

  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 1-4 Students / Year

  • Internship: None Required

  • Thesis: 100 PG Research Paper

  • Attends URTAs: No

Columbia University

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: New York, NY

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 5-9 Students / Year

  • Internship: 2 Professional Internships Required

  • Thesis: 40-50 PG Research Paper OR Project

  • AEA Opportunities: 1-2 Students / Year can earn their AEA card via The Young Company production at Classic Stage Company

  • Attends URTAs: No

I think a person attending Columbia should have aspirations to live and work in NYC. It’s not a neccessity, you can learn so much from this program regardless, but Columbia’s program is geared toward commercial theatre in NYC. It’s only a plus for people who want to live here and work here.
— Garrett Rollins, Columbia University Alum

Rutgers University

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: New Brunswick, NJ

  • Duration: 2.5 Years

  • Attends URTAs: No

University of Alabama

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 1 Student / Year

  • Thesis: Capstone Project (designed for specific student)

  • Teaching Opportunities: Yes

  • Tuition: Fully Funded (tuition wavier & monthly stipend)

  • Attends URTAs: No

University of California, Irvine

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Irvine, CA

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 3-4 Students / Year

  • Internship: 1 Ten Week Internship

  • Thesis: 20+ PG Research Paper

  • Teaching Opportunities: Optional

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

University of California, San Diego

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: San Diego, CA

  • Duration: 2 Years, 2 Quarters

  • # of Students: 3-4 Students / Year

  • Internship: None Required

  • Thesis: Major Production & Reflective Essay

  • AEA Opportunities: Students Receive AEA Card by ASMing at La Jolla Playhouse

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

[UCSD] completely shaped my life. I credit it with everything. The connections I made, the knowledge I gained, the professor’s continued guidance has shaped my career.
— Kelly Glasow, UCSD Alum

University of Cincinnati (College - Conservatory of Music)

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Duration: 2 OR 3 Years

  • Internship: 1 Required (Requirement POSSIBLY Waived if Student Has Significant Work Experience Prior to Admittance)

  • Thesis: Major Production AND Research Paper

  • Teaching Opportunities: Yes

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

We have fully produced productions in drama, musical theatre, opera, and dance. We also do a few events, though those are “for the experience” and not really part of the curriculum. I teach people how to stage manage all variety of productions, for example, how one would record blocking and note cueing for dance off a video, as different from blocking for a large opera chorus. I stage manage in all these genres, so am quite acquainted with the differences and similarities, but my philosophy is that we manage people, and people are people no matter what the situation, onstage or at The Gap. Maybe the paperwork is a little different, or maybe the method of cueing is a little different, but people can all be managed effectively with a similar approach.
— Michelle Kay, CCM's Associate Profesor of Stage Management & Chair of Theatre Department

University of Illinois

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Champaign, Illinois

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: Unknown

  • Internship: Unknown

  • Thesis: Unknow

  • Opportunities: Work on theatre, opera, & dance!

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

University of Iowa

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 2-3 Students / Year

  • Internship: None Required

  • Thesis: Major Production OR Research Project

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

University of Missouri, Kansas City

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri

  • Duration: 2.5-3 Years

  • Internship: 1-2 Required

  • Thesis: Portfolio Review

  • Attends URTAs: Yes

Virginia Tech

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • Internship: 1 Semester-Long Internship

  • Attends URTAs: No

Yale University

  • Degree: MFA in Stage Management

  • Location: New Haven, CT

  • Duration: 3 Years

  • # of Students: 3-4 Students / Year

  • Internship: None Required

  • Thesis: "Actors Edition" Prompt Book for Yale Repertory Show

  • AEA Opportunities: Students Receive AEA Card by PSMing at Yale Repertory Theatre

  • Attends URTAs: No

Inside Look Into Stage Management Training: Yale School of Drama by Nicole Marconi

The program really pushes you to work professionally with high-caliber people (from actors, directors, designers, stagehands, etc.). It trains you in the way a teaching hospital does...and it is a safe place to make mistakes because you have great advisors watching over you and guiding you.
— Lee Micklin, Yale University Alum
I haven’t gotten any jobs in New York in the six years since I graduated that hasn’t come from a Yale connection
— Jenna Woods, Yale University Alum

How to Apply

  • Directly Apply to a Specific School via Their Website

  • Attend the URTAs in New York or Chicago where the following schools recruit Stage Managers: CalArts; University of California, Irvine; University of Cincinnati-Conservatory of Music; University of Illinois at Urbana Campaign; University of Iowa; University of Missouri- Kansas City; and Wayne State

Advice and Wisdom

What Advice Do You Have to Someone Considering an MFA in Stage Management?

"It’s not 100% necessary to go to grad school for stage management to be a professional stage manager. That being said, deciding to go to graduate school has forever changed my career and my life. I would not be the stage manager that I am had I not gone too Columbia. So, if you are able to take on the financial burden of grad school and know that you will be able to live with afterwards, I think that it can only be a positive experience. That’s just not how it works, unfortunately. The degree gives you the skills that you can put to use, but the degree itself isn’t the value, it’s what you get from the program." - Garrett Rollins, Columbia University Alum

"Don’t go to graduate school just for connections. It takes too much time and costs too much money for that. You should be interested in being a student AND in making connections. You should have personal fulfillment reasons for attending graduate school." - Jenna Woods, Yale University Alum

"I always see it as two different paths. Let’s say your goal is having a career in NYC. You can either come to NYC right out of college and work your way up the PA chain OR you can go get your Masters, which will get you some of that necessary experience. You have to make sure graduate school is something that you want to do. You are certainly going to come out of it with the experience of debt and you'll need to plan your career trajectory to see if you’re able to pay off the debt. If you have any interest in academia, you should consider getting an MFA, as it’s a terminal degree and it offers a lot more opportunities." - Kelly Glasow, UCSD Alum

"My big piece of advice is sharing your ambitions with everyone. Let people know what you want to do because we’re in a field where people are willing to help each other. People don’t forget that they got a hand up, so they’re willing to give a hand up. Your desires don’t have to always be professional; your desires can be personal. You should be willing to talk about both equally." - Ross Jackson, UCI Alum

"I think you can learn all you need to know about stage management from doing a season of summer stock." - Peter Lawrence, Broadway PSM & 2013 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre Recipient

Articles About Pursuing an MFA in Theatre

Acknowledgements

Thank you to the many MFA program students, graduates, teachers, and faculty that helped me obtain the above information. This list includes, but is not limited to: Jessi Cotter, Kelly Glasow, Ross Jackson, Michelle Kay, Peter Lawrence, Lee Micklin, Garrett Rollins, Tina Shackleford, Ashton Williams, and Jenna Woods