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What of the Night Photo: Jim Carmody (2017)What of the Night? (2017). Photo: Jim Carmody.

Acting MFA

The body and mind of the actor are synthesized to serve as an instrument of expression. The graduate actor must depend on their instrument to perform, and the program places great emphasis on the strengthening and tuning of that  instrument. The innate talent of the student is nurtured, coaxed and challenged with individual attention from an extraordinary team of professionals and specialists in  actor training.

Click here to learn more about the grad ACTING PROGRAM >>  

Financial Support

For a more detailed description of the financial support package for MFA students, download the MFA Program's Graduate Student Funding Policy.


Each year, intensive studio work in movement, voice, speech, and singing accesses, expands, and frees the physical body. Acting Process introduces a range of improvisational and rehearsal techniques that help the actor approach onstage events with imagination and a rich emotional life. In the first year, studio classes guide the actor through daily explorations that encourage change and enhance artistic expression. The second year is devoted to the study of classical texts as well as the specific vocal and physical skills required to perform them. In the final year, classes focus on the needs of individual actors as they prepare to enter the professional world.

Click here to download a PDF sample of the MFA Acting Curriculum.


Actors work on classical and contemporary texts as well as new plays with graduate student, faculty, and guest professional directors. Each year the department schedules from 10-15 productions of varying budget levels. Graduate students are given casting priority for all but a few plays. Student produced Cabaret workshop productions occur year-round and provide additional acting opportunities.


All graduate actors serve at least one professional residency with La Jolla Playhouse, ranging from supporting to lead roles alongside professional actors and directors of national and international stature. For many actors this opportunity establishes valuable networking relationships and exposure for future employment.

Research and Other Opportunities

Funds are occasionally available for research, special technique workshops, and travel to auditions and festivals. Students have traveled to New York City and Los Angeles, and as far away as the Netherlands. In addition, in the third year, the entire acting class receives a showcase presentation in both Los Angeles and New York, attended by specially invited groups of film, television, and theatre professionals.


Our adjunct and visiting faculty have included: Anne Bogart, Joseph Chaiken, Robert Egan, Richard Foreman, Andrei Serban, and Robert Woodruff. Emeritus Faculty: Eric Christmas, Mary Corrigan, Luther James, Arthur Wagner. To see a list of our current faculty, with photos and bios, please visit our faculty page.

Check out the Acting MFA Admissions page >>

If you have questions or would like more information about our Graduate programs, contact the Graduate Coordinator at 858-534-1046 or