M.F.A. in Theatre
Critical thinking, creative problem solving, and bold experimentation form the core of our arts leadership program. We combine coursework with hands-on learning to provide a theoretical framework and practical experience in arts management and advocacy to prepare students for the demands of today’s leadership roles in the arts.
To complete the degree, successful completion of a minimum of 60 credit hours is required. The program is designed to be completed in three years.
Typically the Arts Leadership program accepts 1-3 students each year.
Why choose this program?
- We combine coursework with hands-on learning to provide a theoretical framework and practical experience in arts management and advocacy to prepare students for the demands of today’s leadership roles in the arts.
- All accepted students receive an assistantship and full tuition waiver.
- The MFA in Arts Leadership program is a member of the Association of Arts Administration Educators.
- As part of the plan of study, each graduate student completes a semester-long internship.
- Arts Leadership students have had internships with: Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), Ann Arbor, Michigan, Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, Donmar Warehouse, London, England, Harlem School of the Arts, New York, New York, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York, New York
What You'll Study
To complete the degree, successful completion of a minimum of 60 credit hours is required. The program is designed to be completed in three years. Practical, hands-on projects form the foundation of the program, challenging students to think critically, problem solve, and respond creatively.
Typically, in the first year of the program, students in the Arts Leadership program will be assigned to work 20 hours a week in the Management Office of the School of Performing Arts. The Management Office is responsible for marketing/publicity and front of house duties for School productions. In the second year of the program, an assistantship in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech is possible, providing practical experience in a professional arts center.
Fundamental to the program is the direct connection of theory to practice. To ensure that students in the Arts Leadership program have the opportunity for study and experience in multiple facets of theatre production:
- All students in the M.F.A. program will participate in the Graduate Seminar during their first two years of the program. (See description in “Courses” section below for more details.)
- Students may be assigned assistantships in the management office, costume or scene shop, or students may serve as a graduate teaching assistant in the classroom. (Students are placed “where” needed.)
- Coursework will, when possible, be directly tied to and connected with productions or projects in the School of Performing Arts or arts and cultural organizations in the region.
Our curriculum is designed to provide both practical experience and in-depth exploration through the study of a range of topics relevant to the field today. Courses may be conducted in small groups or one-on-one (independent study). Arts Leadership classes are specifically designed to promote discussion, examination, and hands-on exploration.
"The M.F.A. Arts Leadership Program at Virginia Tech prepared me to start my professional career with confidence. I find myself using various aspects of my education on a daily basis, and I’m able to share resources I gained at VT with my work community. Joining the program was one of the best decisions I made. 'What’s a Hokie? I am.'"
– Anna Wehr, 2021 M.F.A. in Arts Leadership
“My life was changed by the Arts Leadership MFA program in so many ways. Like many students, I began my graduate education thinking I knew where my career path would lead me. The program exposed me to a variety of coursework and field projects which had a significant influence on my career as a fundraiser. Because of these experiences, I feel empowered as a professional and confident in my ability to make real change in the arts sector. Professor Nelson’s unsurpassed dedication to this program enabled me to become the driven and accomplished professional I am today.”
– Caroline Capocelli, 2019 M.F.A. in Arts Leadership
"The arts leadership program presented me with the ability to construct a course of study that included arts management, arts and culture, movement and devised theatre. While attending Virginia Tech I had the opportunity to meet and spend quality time with artists from various disciplines. Such opportunities created a platform for me to grow as an interdisciplinary thinker with an interest in art as both entertainment and a tool for social change. I treasure the relationships established at Virginia Tech during my course of study! I am moving into my post-graduate school life knowing these relationships are part of my future in the field of arts, education and culture. I'm looking forward to launching an ensemble for African Diaspora youth in the Washington Metropolitan within the next year. I know my studies at Virginia Tech have prepared me for this endeavor, and for my longterm life plans of entrepreneurship in the arts."
-Daveisha Gibson, 2017 M.F.A. in Arts Leadership
Each student accepted into the program receives a full tuition scholarship and out-of-state fee waiver. Each student accepted also receives an assistantship of approximately $18,700 for the first academic year, with increasing amounts in the second and third years. To maintain assistantship support, students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours each semester.
The Assistantship Work:
Students in the program will be assigned to work in specific production shops - the scene shop, the costume shop, or the management office. Students in the Arts Leadership program may be assigned to work at the Moss Arts Center (typically in the second year of the program).
Deadline: Jan 15 for consideration for funding
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