Admissions to the Theatre and Drama MFA have been suspended as of fall 2017. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Funding opportunities for graduate work vary, but tend to be highly competitive. Please contact the department for more information on student financial support.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 75 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 33 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements No other specific grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Design and Technology students must pass two candidacy portfolio examinations in the first year of residency. They must pass two comprehensive-progress, portfolio examinations in both the second and third years of residency.

A research or creative thesis is required for Design and Technology candidates.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required COURSES

Core Program Coursework
Theatre History/Literature/Criticism courses6
Production courses12
Select 6 credits of the following: 16
Script Analysis
The Business of Acting
Special Topics in Theatre and Drama
THEATRE 699 Directed Study6
THEATRE 368 Fundamentals of Directing3
Specialist Coursework (see below)42
Total Credits75

Specialist Coursework


Acting courses12
Movement courses12
Voice courses12
Total Credits42

Costume Design1

Design courses9
Drafting courses3
THEATRE 619 Special Topics in Theatre and Drama (Topic: Period Dress and Décor)6
THEATRE 970 Collaborative Design & Technology Studio 26
Skills (Crafts) courses6
Total Credits42

Lighting Design1

Design courses9
Drafting course3
THEATRE 619 Special Topics in Theatre and Drama (Topic: Period Dress and Décor)6
THEATRE 970 Collaborative Design & Technology Studio 26
Skills courses6
Total Credits42

Scenic Design1

Design courses9
Drafting course3
THEATRE 619 Special Topics in Theatre and Drama (Topic: Period Dress and Décor)6
THEATRE 970 Collaborative Design & Technology Studio 26
Skills courses9
Total Credits42

Theatre Technology1

Technical Design courses12
Drafting course3
Technical Management courses9
THEATRE 970 Collaborative Design & Technology Studio3
Total Credits42

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students may count no more than 18 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, students may count up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students may count up to 15 credits numbered 700 or above.


Each of the MFA Specializations in Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scene Design, and Theatre Technology conducts separate reviews of students each semester by portfolio and/or oral examination. Students may be placed on probation if program faculty determines that they are not meeting the expectations of their specific degree requirements.


A thesis or final creative project must be prepared under the direction and guidance of a major professor.

Committee consists of four members—advisor and three other committee members.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The MFA Specializations in Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scene Design, and Theatre Technology generally follow a three-year timeline and variations from this must be approved by the degree program head.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Any student who feels that they have been treated unfairly by a faculty or staff member has the right to complain about the treatment and to receive a prompt hearing of the grievance, following these grievance procedures. The complaint may concern course grades, classroom treatment, program admission, or other issues. To insure a prompt and fair hearing of any complaint, and to protect both the rights of the student and the person at whom the complaint is addressed, the procedures below are used in the School of Education.

The person whom the complaint is directed against must be an employee of the School of Education. Any student or potential student may use these procedures unless the complaint is covered by other campus rules or contracts. The following steps are available within the School of Education when a student has a grievance:

  1. The student should first talk with the person against whom the grievance is directed. Most issues can be settled at this level. If the complaint is directed against a teaching assistant, and the student is not satisfied, the next step would be to talk to the TA's supervisor, who is usually the course professor. If the complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, the student may continue to step 2.
  2. If the complaint does not involve an academic department, the procedure outlined in Step 4 below should be followed. If the complaint involves an academic department, the student should contact the chair of the department. The chair will attempt to resolve the problem informally. If this cannot be done to the student's satisfaction, the student may submit the grievance to the chair in writing. This must be done within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  3. On receipt of a written complaint, the chair will refer the matter to a departmental committee, which will obtain a written response from the person at whom the complaint is directed. This response shall be shared with the person filing the grievance. The chair will provide a timely written decision to the student on the action taken by the committee.
  4. If either party is not satisfied with the decision of the department, they have five working days from receipt of the decision to contact the dean's office (at the number below), indicating the intention to appeal. If the complaint does not involve an academic department in the school, the student must contact the dean's office within 60 calendar days of the alleged unfair treatment.
  5. In either case, there will be an attempt to resolve the issue informally by the associate dean. If this cannot be done, the complaint can be filed in writing with the dean's office. This must be done within 10 working days of the time the appealing party was notified that informal resolution was unsuccessful.
  6. On receipt of such a written complaint, the associate dean will convene a subcommittee of the school's Equity & Diversity Committee. This subcommittee may ask for additional information from the parties involved and may hold a hearing at which both parties will be asked to speak separately. The subcommittee will then make a written recommendation to the dean of the School of Education who will render a decision. Unless a longer time is negotiated, this written decision shall be made within 20 working days from the date when the grievance was filed with the dean's office.

Questions about these procedures can be directed to the School of Education Dean's Office, 377 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1763.

State law contains additional provisions regarding discrimination and harassment. Wisconsin Statutes 36.12 reads, in part: "No student may be denied admission to, participation in or the benefits of, or be discriminated against in any service, program, course or facility of the system or its institutions or center because of the student's race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, disability, ancestry, age, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status or parental status." In addition, UW–System prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. Students have the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints with the Office of Compliance, 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018,


Qualified candidates are considered for 33% TA positions as the budget allows.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Exhibit exceptional skill and professional competence in theatre practice exemplified by a knowledge and achievement signified by a large body of work.
  2. Applies advanced analytical levels of inquiry and investigation in the creation, performance, production, or communication of theatre practice.
  3. Possesses a broad knowledge of theatre literature as well as visual and cultural history and applies that knowledge to the production process.
  4. Demonstrates the requisite artistic and technical skills to meet professional standards.
  5. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, performances and/or techniques that advance the field.
  6. Articulates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  7. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical and professional conduct.
  8. Collaborates effectively, creatively, and generously through respect for the contributions of others.

Faculty: Associate Professor Dan Lisowski (chair), Professors Patricia Boyette, David Furumoto and Patrick Sims, Associate Professor Gail Brassard, Assistant Professors Shuxing Fan and Colleen Conroy