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M.F.A. in Acting

The M.F.A. Acting Program at Southern Methodist University seeks to prepare serious, dedicated artists for a life in the profession. The curriculum combines broad-based and inclusive actor training with rehearsal and performance of classical, contemporary, ensemble-based and self-created works. Our unique relationship with the award winning Dallas Theater Center provides students with the ability to collaborate with artists of national and international stature.

Actors that are able to respond to the changing landscape of our time are actors that are able to grow and sustain a life in the arts. SMU believes that artists must engage with the world around them. They will make work that inspires the audience, creates dialogue with their community and helps shape the new American theatre.

The Course of Study

The First Year focuses on the actor’s use of self under imaginary circumstances. Acting, Voice/Speech, and Movement classes work together to identify and redirect habitual behaviors, release imagination, and structure a foundational technique. Students participate in two faculty-directed Graduate Projects; in addition, mainstage casting begins in the second semester. Starting in their first year, graduate students audition for casting directors from regional theatres, Shakespeare festivals and summer theatres who are brought to campus from across the country.

The Second Year extends the development of technique through immersion in classical texts. Acting Studio focuses on Shakespeare, then moves on to other classical authors. Voice/Speech training expands the actor's receptivity and range for the demands of heightened text. Movement compliments classical text work with period styles, commedia and character mask, and European clown. Finally, the actor’s spirit of play is challenged and developed through In Play and Improvisation modules. In addition to mainstage casting, graduate students create two self-directed pieces- one solo and one ensemble based.

In their Third Year, actors take on the challenges of Ibsen, Chekhov and less realistic playwrights such as Samuel Beckett and Suzan-Lori Parks. Students take part in professional workshops with agents and casting directors who are flown to Dallas from from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. In addition, actors create an Online Showcase, and are flown to New York City to perform a showcase of scenes for agents, casting directors and industry professionals.

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Corporate Communication and Public Affairs

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts




Undergraduate Studies

Graduate Studies


M.F.A. in Acting

M.F.A. in Stage Design

Classes (See Catalog)


Faculty and Staff

Opportunities for Non-Theatre Majors

Student Internships & Collaborations


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