Master of Fine Arts in Theatre at Sarah Lawrence College



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Sarah Lawrence College’s distinctive two-year MFA in Theatre is interdisciplinary, collaborative, and progressive. One of the few programs of its kind, your faculty will be renowned working artists, curators and organizers mostly based in NYC. Under their guidance, you’ll deepen your practice building new skills, hone your individual aesthetic voice and articulate your research to be able to work as a true theatre artist.

Why pursue your MFA in Theatre at Sarah Lawrence College?

  • Our curriculum crosses the boundaries of design, acting, directing, management, performance, technology, writing, producing, voice, movement, civic engagement, and much more.
  • No two students’ course of study will be the same. Your individual program will be created in consultation with the program director in response to your background and interests.
  • We encourage collaboration and want you to bring your histories, experiences and stories into the ecosystem of the program, sharing in the development of new questions, political urgencies, and social engagement.
  • You’ll graduate from the program with a strong professional network and an understanding of how to situate and advocate for yourself in the field.
  • An emphasis on the development of original work provides you the opportunity to explore theatre-making from diverse creative perspectives, such as puppetry, improvisation, playwriting and collaborative creation.
  • You will benefit from our close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City and connections with theatres and theatre organizations through internships and fieldwork experiences.
  • The Theatre Outreach program also provides opportunities for teaching placements in schools, colleges, senior centers, half-way houses and prisons.
  • We are consistently ranked among the Best College Theatre Programs by the Princeton Review.

Academic Program

Program Overview

The Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Program facilitates students’ development in deepening their artistic practice, building new skill sets, articulating their research and performative goals, and situating and advocating for themselves in the field. Under the guidance of a faculty of working artists, curators, and organizers, the program offers an advanced study of theatre and performance that is interdisciplinary, collaborative, expansive, and rigorous.

The Sarah Lawrence College Theatre MFA Program is focused on deep collaboration, community building, and interdisciplinarity. We support performance and theater artists through a curriculum crossing the boundaries of design, acting, directing, management, performance, technology, writing, producing, voice, movement, civic engagement and much more. Students have the advantage of taking classes within the music and dance programs as well to supplement their practice.

We encourage students to bring their own histories, experiences, and stories into the ecosystem of the program to share in the development of new questions, political urgencies, and social engagement. Together we will research and practice theatre and performance to expand the possibilities of critical togetherness through body, story, and experience. 

Program Requirements

For an MFA in Theatre, students will earn a total of 48 course credits (24 in the first year and 24 in the second). Students are accepted on a full-time basis; exceptions are made only in extraordinary circumstances.

In addition to the required components below, students choose components according to their interests and needs. The goal is to create an interdisciplinary course of study that builds on current skill sets and explores aspects of theatre and performance that are new to them.

Graduate students participate in one or more practicum activities per year. Students take at least one analytical class per year during the graduate program (history, theory, survey, dramaturgy, etc.).


First Year

  • Grad Lab 
  • Contemporary Collaborative Performance 
  • Performance Research
  • Studio (3hrs in-studio/research/documentation) reflected in a weekly process journal.
  • 1 Survey/Lecture Component
  • 1 Practicum (participation in season productions, guest art residencies, and the Downstage season)
  • 3 to 5 Components

Second Year

  • Grad Lab 
  • Practice/Thesis
  • Studio (2hrs in-studio and 4hrs in research/documentation) reflected in a weekly process journal.
  • 1 Survey Class
  • 1 Internship
  • 1 Practicum (participation in season productions, guest art residencies, and the Downstage season)
  • 3 to 5 Components

Theatre and Civic Engagement

The Theatre and Civic Engagement Program offers undergraduate and graduate Theatre students the opportunity to create artistic exchange strategies with our communities in Westchester County and New York City. Founded in 1974 by faculty member emerita Shirley Kaplan, the program was originally titled the Theatre Outreach and is presently led by Theatre and Civic Engagement Program director Allen Lang.

Theatre and Civic Engagement facilitates access and resources for our community, where some schools are underfunded and underperforming with limited or no access to the arts. Other issues facing our community are the effects of poverty, accessible public transportation, affordable housing, gentrification, homelessness, high rates of incarceration, and drug and alcohol abuse. 

Civic Engagement students participate in team-based performance and teaching partnerships in schools, community and senior centers, community colleges, colleges, museums, and libraries. Specific projects have included improvisation, music and movement, playwriting, storytelling, oral histories, puppetry, and foundations of performance and production. Students also take the courses Methods of Civic Engagement, Civic Engagement Community Projects, and on the graduate level, Teaching Artist Pedagogy Conference. Through the program, students learn about building lasting relationships by collaborating with the community while developing original, issue-oriented, dramatic material using music and theatre media. 

Civic Engagement connects creatively with the City of Yonkers by presenting interactive workshops and performances at the annual Yonkers Arts Weekend.  'Experience Yonkers' videos creatively explore Yonkers landmarks such as Untermyer Park and Gardens, The Yonkers Waterfront, Van Der Donck Park, The Beczak Center, and the Lenoir Preserve. Original performances at local libraries, schools, and collaborations with the Hudson River Museum investigate art-making, social justice, and environmental issues. Sarah Lawrence students connect with seniors at the Wartburg in Mount Vernon and at other area senior residences and centers through song.

Lunchbox Theatre, an essential component of Theatre and Civic Engagement, offers a free process-centered theatre curriculum on Saturdays for members of the local community of different age levels, including senior citizens. Lunchbox Theatre began in 1997 as a special workshop for the children of Sarah Lawrence faculty and staff, and has grown to include 80 participants from Yonkers and the surrounding area. Graduate and undergraduate students lead the workshops and participants bring their lunch, facilitating the bond that occurs when people make art together and share food. Many Lunchbox Theatre participants stay with the program for years, honing theatre skills and developing personal expression.

Theatre and Civic Engagement frequently brings guest artists and performers to the program for special events, including an annual performance by youth for Black History Month led by Kwame Johnson’s Youth Theatre Interactions and the Thomas D. Young Greenburgh Community Center. Other guests have included poet, activist, author and performance artist Annie Lanzilotto, theatre educator and director Martin Balmaceda, Artistic Director of Collective Encounters, Sarah Thornton, Aretha Sills, master teacher of the Viola Spolin Technique, and Yonkers Poet Marcus C.John.