Master of Fine Arts in Acting for the Returning Professional

The Master of Fine Arts program in Acting for the Returning Professional provides candidates with substantial performance experience a two-year intensive strategy as preparation for diverse careers in the field, including teaching at the university level. 

The goal of the MFA in Acting for the Returning Professional is to mentor seasoned professional performers who wish to focus on refining and articulating their acting process, while gaining sound pedagogical practice in performance.  The two-year terminal degree provides the candidate a set of core classes centered around a variety of techniques and theories, within a flexible pedagogical laboratory model.  Returning professional students are offered ample opportunity to hone performance and explore teaching skills as they earn their terminal Master of Fine Arts degree in pursuit of employment.

  • Intensive 2 year curriculum in acting, voice & speech, and movement, including a focus on the teaching of performance-related subjects (Acting, Voice and Speech, Movement, Musical Theatre). 
  • Teaching and mentorship opportunities.
  • Performance opportunities within the School of Theatre and Dance.
  • On-site professional summer theatre, Porthouse Theatre, an URTA, AEA tier II theatre with annual audiences of more than 25,000.
  • Teaching assistantships available with full tuition waiver, stipend and subsidized health coverage.
  • The performance faculty is comprised of experienced professional actors, voice and movement specialists, choreographers, producers, and directors who have worked at the top of their profession on Broadway, Off Broadway, National Tours, Top Regional Theatres, Feature Films, Shakespeare Festivals, and International Arts Festivals. 

Admission & Audition Requirements

Admissions for Fall 2020 are now closed; Admissions for Fall 2022 Enrollment Begin in 2021

Individuals seeking admission to the Master of Fine Arts program in Acting for the Returning Professional must audition and complete an interview in addition to applying for graduate admission to Kent State University. The Returning Professional program looks for candidates who possess substantial professional experience that may include, but is not limited to: Broadway credits, major regional and/or international performance credits, film or television credits, awards of national recognition, professional union affiliation, publication in field of expertise, and a significant record of mentoring. This information, meant to give a sense of a candidate's work, can be provided through resume/CV, performance reviews, interviews, awards, etc. 

Apply for Graduate Admission at Kent State


The School of Theatre and Dance will begin accepting applications for the Class of 2024, enrolling in Fall 2022, during the Fall of 2021. Please check back next year for more information. 

At this time we are only accepting auditions via video submission. Please email video submissions to Amy Fritsche at

For more information on audition requirements, see the link below.

Audition Requirements and Instructions

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to qualify to be considered a Returning Professional?

To qualify as a Returning Professional, a candidate must meet or surpass a threshold of documented professional activity. Required evidence in support of admission may include, but is not limited to: Broadway, major regional, and /or international performance credits, film and television credits, awards of national recognition, professional union affiliation, publication in the field of expertise, significant record of mentoring and certifications and/or designations in areas such as acting, voice and speech or stage combat.  The Acting Faculty will evaluate the submitted documentation of professional experience and determine eligibility for the MFA for the Returning Professional program.   

Are you currently accepting candidates?

Recruitment will begin in late Fall 2021 for the next class, to start August 2022.

What courses will I be taking?

Candidates for the MFA for the Returning Professional can expect to take courses in Acting, Voice and Speech, Pedagogy, and Movement during their first year of study. Courses in Acting Styles, Movement, History and Theory, Directing, and Professional Aspects will be taken during the second year of study. Additionally, candidates will take a limited number of electives during Spring semesters and can earn credit for professional internships and/or pedagogical study during Summer terms.

Do MFA for the Returning Professional candidates take classes with undergraduate students?

The required MFA for the Returning Professional curriculum is graduate level only. Currently, MFA Returning Professional candidates do not take courses with undergraduates with the exception of Advanced Directing. 

Are graduate assistantships available?

Yes. Candidates should indicate they wish to be considered for a graduate assistantship. The graduate assistantship package includes includes, a full tuition waiver, stipend, and health insurance co-pay. 

What the duties of a graduate assistant?

Typically the assistantship is fulfilled with teaching assignments. Graduate assistants typically teach 1 to 2 undergraduate classes per semester.

What courses might I teach?

Currently, graduate assistants teach Art of Acting and/or Art of Theatre within the general education curriculum. Opportunities to teach and/or develop other courses are sometimes available.

See course descriptions in Kent State Course Catalog

How long has the MFA in Acting for the Returning Professional program existed?

The Acting program began in 1997.

How is the theatre scene in Northeast Ohio?

Kent, OH is located 40 minutes from downtown Cleveland and 20 minutes from Akron, both of which offer vibrant theatre and arts opportunities. The area is home to two LORT theatres, a number of smaller Equity theatres, and other theatres that provide Equity contracts. The Ohio Film Commission is also active in bringing film and television opportunities to Northeast Ohio.

What is Porthouse Theatre?

Porthouse Theatre, is Kent state University’s URTA, AEA tier II on-site professional summer theatre company with annual audiences of more than 20,000.

What opportunities are there for Returning Professional candidates at Porthouse Theatre?

MFA for the Returning Professional candidates are encouraged, but not required to audition for Porthouse Theatre’s annual seasons. 

For More Information

Courtney Brown
Associate Professor