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a production still from ElektraElektra (2019). Photo: Daniella Toscano.

Directing M.F.A.

The Directing Program develops directors who are creative, impactful leaders of highly collaborative theatrical processes. UCSD Directors create compelling theatrical events in direct dialogue with the contemporary landscape of American theatre. They are strong visionaries who inspire collaborators to do their best work. Directing students balance specific production goals while also seeking discoveries in the unknown. Our curriculum focuses on text analysis, execution of narrative vision, production process, and new play development. With the audience at the center of attention, Directors make sophisticated choices about style and form to create engaging, relevant theatre.

Financial Support

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


The core curriculum of the program, Directing Process, Directing Seminar, and Production, offer students diverse opportunities to hone their skills and deepen their knowledge over the course of three years. Directing Process classes ask Directing MFA students to practice and develop tools to support storytelling through the director/actor relationship, dynamic staging, character relationships, and the execution of narrative vision. Directing Seminar classes explore pivotal historic moments of theatrical style, methods of leadership and collaboration, and rigorous text analysis. Directing curriculum also includes dramaturgy, theater history, design, playwriting, acting, and choreography. In their second and third year, students are invited to take classes outside of the department as long as those classes don’t conflict with the area’s curriculum.


Directing MFA students deepen their focus on collaborative work as visionary leaders in production work as part the department’s season. Half of a UCSD Director’s production work is dedicated to new plays, as part of the Wagner New Play Festival, and half is to season productions selected from directors “pitching” projects. Each director will direct a series of first year projects, a core second year project, and a thesis third year project. First and Second year directors will be invited to direct for the Wagner New Play Festival in the Spring. First year MFA directing students will also assist faculty, student, and guest directors. All productions are held in the Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-theatre complex, and are supported by the professional staff of La Jolla Playhouse. 


Between a director’s second and third year, the Tony award-winning La Jolla Playhouse provides a residency during which student directors typically serve as an Assistant Director with such directors as Tyne Rafaeli, Christopher Ashley, Leigh Silverman, and Anne Kauffman.

Research and Other Opportunities

Directing faculty may also bring MFA directors with them to work as Assistant Directors. Graduate directors have produced shows in New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.


The department's faculty features artists and scholars with national and international profiles whose research and professional work is integral to their work as teachers. Scholars in the department are in the forefront of their respective fields and the work of faculty artists is seen regularly in New York, at major American regional theatres, in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Guest faculty in recent years has included directors Robert Woodruff, Dominique Serrand, Robert O’Hara, and Katie Pearl.

Find out more on the Directing MFA Admissions page >>

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