Skip to main content
a production still from Men on BoatsMen on Boats (2019). Photo: Manuel Rotenberg..

Directing MFA

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, offers students diverse opportunities to hone their skills and deepen their knowledge over the course of three years (8 quarters). Directing Process classes ask Directing MFA students to practice and develop tools to support storytelling through the director/actor relationship, dynamic staging, 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. Productions provide opportunities for you and your collaborators to practice these skills in a context mirroring the profession, the department’s season. Directing curriculum also includes performance study topics, design, playwriting, and acting. In their second and third year, students may 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.  MFA Director’s season productions are selected by directors pitching projects to the Season Planning Committee. Additionally, a significant portion of a UCSD director’s production work is dedicated to new plays, as part of the Wagner New Play Festival each Spring. Throughout their 8 quarters, directors will direct one first year project, a Studio Shakes project, a core project in their second year, and a thesis third year project. First and Second year directors will also be invited to direct for the Wagner New Play Festival in the Spring. Alongside their season work, all directors are invited to propose projects for the Department’s experimental Lab. All productions are held in the Mandell Weiss Center for the Performing Arts, a multi-theatre complex shared with La Jolla Playhouse, and the Arthur Wagner Theatre within Galbraith Hall, and are supported by professional staff.

Learn more about T+D facilities here:


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