What Are the Best MFA Programs in Directing?

Find out national rankings for the country's top MFA programs in directing. Learn about three of the top-rated schools in this field and discover what their programs are like. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of the Best MFA Programs in Directing?

Top directing programs provide multiple opportunities to stage your work, and may help you arrange internships or showcases. They also hire faculty who are accomplished writers, actors, and directors who provide guidance. You might want to look at programs that prepare you for both classical and contemporary work. If you're interested in working in film and/or television, you should look for a school that allows you to do so; many directing programs just focus on theatre.

Three Good MFA Programs in Directing

Brown University in Providence, RI

Brown University was ranked #14 on U.S. News and World Report's list of Best National Universities in 2019. In conjunction with the Tony award-winning Trinity Repertory Theatre, Brown offers a 3-year program leading to a Master of Fine Arts in Directing.

Brown's program seeks to produce theatre professionals who are versatile and can collaborate with others. You'll gain broad theatre experience, not only in directing but in acting and playwriting, through working on projects with your peers in these areas. You'll take classes in dramaturgy, directing, acting and design. Later on, you'll assist with the direction of two main stage productions and direct three productions that will include at least one classical and one new play. You'll also direct a workshop production and your thesis project.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Directing

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) hosts the oldest drama program in the country. Graduates have won Academy, Tony and Emmy Awards. This school was ranked #25 on U.S. News and World Report's 2019 list of Best National Universities.

The John Wells Directing Program in the School of Drama is available to both BFA and MFA students. To be a John Wells Directing Fellow in the 3-year MFA in Directing program, you'll need at least three years of professional directing experience. You'll work in the lab integrating media and video. You'll also be involved in progressively more complex productions, beginning with one-act plays, to be presented within the School of Drama's subscription series.

You'll work collaboratively with playwrights involved in the dramatic writing program. Visiting artists may provide feedback on the four productions you'll develop each year. You'll also direct your thesis project. You'll be able to direct original television projects through a local TV station. The School of Drama arranges showcase presentations in New York City and Los Angeles.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Directing

University of Texas at Austin

UT Austin was also listed on U.S. News and World Report's 2019 list of Best National Universities, at #49. This university's MFA in Directing program, administered through the Department of Theatre and Dance, is a professional training program geared toward theatre professionals who already possess a level of expertise. The program's growing national reputation rests on collaborations with two Equity theatres and the production of independent student work.

The department hosts visiting stage directors, award-winning actors and other professionals. During your 3-year program, you'll develop skills in script analysis and working with actors, writers and designers, and take units of coursework in playwriting, directing, acting and design. You'll also take elective courses outside of the department. In your third year, you'll complete a professional internship and produce a thesis.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Directing

Ten Top MFA in Directing Schools

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Yale University4-year, PrivateNew Haven, CT$42,000
Northwestern University4-year, Private Evanston, IL$55,000
California Institute of the Arts4-year, PrivateValencia, CA$49,000
University of California, San Diego4-year, PublicSan Diego, CA$13,500
University of Iowa4-year, PublicIowa City, IA$11,000
Temple University4-year, PrivatePhiladelphia, PA$17,000
Baylor University4-year, PrivateWaco, TX$34,000
Columbia University4-year, PrivateNew York, NY$48,000
University of Nevada - Las Vegas4-year, PublicLas Vegas, NV$6,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools