Deadlines can make you feel like you have all the time in the world and then, suddenly, no time at all. You want to get accepted in your dream MFA in Acting program, but you worry about planning ahead. With this guide, you are right on time to apply to your dream school!
In order to give yourself the best possible preparation for this process, it is good to look at programs about a year and a half to a year before you hope to be actively pursuing your degree. For instance, if you hope to start your MFA in Acting program in the fall of 2024, you should start looking now, in spring and summer of 2023. This gives you the spring and summer to research, late summer and fall to collect, select, and perfect application materials, and winter to submit applications, prepare for auditions, and actually audition! Come spring again, you’ll be accepted! Let’s take a closer look at this timeline below.
RESEARCH YOUR SCHOOLS (Spring and Summer)
There are over 60 MFA in Acting programs across the United States and world; with this many programs, it can be overwhelming to choose! You’ll want to make a smaller list of programs that you particularly resonate with before applying. Perhaps it’s 3 programs, 5 programs, maybe even 10 to 15. Whatever amount suits your capacity is best. Take the spring and early summer to visit MFA program websites, familiarize yourself with their curriculum and style, and ask yourself if the training is right for what you wish to pursue.
Your shortlist should be ready by late summer (around August or September) so you can move on to application preparation.
PREPARE YOUR APPLICATION MATERIALS (Late Summer to Fall)
Once you’ve decided on your shortlist of schools, you will know the specific requests of each program’s application processes. Most schools ask for an online application with items such as undergraduate transcripts, headshots, resumés, letters of recommendation, and an essay about your intentions and goals in pursuing the MFA in Acting. This also gives any mentors you ask to write letters of recommendation ample time to write a truthful and articulate letter rather than having to scramble at the last minute. With more time, you can track down those transcripts, reformat your resume, and be considerate of those whose time and energy you depend upon for these materials. By giving yourself the months of July to October to create, edit, and submit these documents, you are setting yourself up to show the most complete, well-considered version of yourself.
At any point in the process, you can bring on an acting coach, like those that Theater.Academy offers, but the sooner, the better! We recommend starting with your coach around September for a reasonable amount of time to select, workshop, and refine your pieces.
APPLICATION DEADLINE (Late Fall to Early Winter)
Most schools ask you to apply between the months of November to January. For most schools, the online application or audition request deadline is before the actual auditions. The most popular due date for these is January 1, but the earliest is mid-November. To ensure you do not miss your chance to apply for the schools you like, we recommend having your application materials ready to submit by the end of October so that you can submit them as soon as the program’s website allows. Often, the sooner you submit, the better options you have for scheduling your audition. It is best to keep your eye out on your top schools’ websites starting in late October.
While initial videos are not required for most MFA programs, it is an asset to have all of your materials on video for both yourself and your career. As you work on your audition pieces, take some time to get a self-tape copy on hand just in case! You never know when it may benefit you to have. Stay tuned for April, when Theater.Academy’s own self-tape course launches for helpful guidelines.
If you submit your applications as soon as possible, you can spend the winter months (November, December, and January) working with an audition coach to choose and refine your audition materials. Theater.Academy’s own coaches are perfect for this option!
AUDITIONING (Winter to Spring, Jan. to Mar.)
The auditions for the MFA in Acting take place anywhere from January to March and include both initial auditions and callbacks. The most popular audition option is the URTAs, or University Resident Theatre Association auditions, which take place three weeks in January and sometimes the first week in February. Some initial auditions are simply video submissions. After initial auditions, programs may ask for you to come in-person to their campus for callbacks, which can extend this time period through to March. Either way, keeping your materials sharp in the first three months of the year is ideal.
Additionally, be sure to research the pronunciations of plays and playwrights’ names, even if you think you have them right. Your slate is where you make your first impression; make sure it’s well-prepared.
DECIDE ON A PROGRAM (Late Spring)
By early April, most schools have sent out offers and the next cohort of MFA in Acting students is decided upon. A year from when you started, this marks the end of the MFA in Acting audition and application timeline.
All in all, the process of applying for the MFA in Acting can take an entire year. We hope that seeing the seasons written out can help you as you pursue further study in acting!