The Most Affordable MFA in Acting Programs

While the MFA can seem like a costly venture, Theater.Academy is willing to share a little affordability secret with you today. As your resident expert in the MFA in Acting, here are the top ten most affordable MFA in Acting programs.
These programs do not cost to attend and pay for all tuition and living; some even offer additional living stipends on top of paying for your schooling.

1. Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Playhouse’s MFA in Acting
The MFA in Acting at Case Western practically pays you to attend; for their most recent class, they offered free tuition plus an $11,000 stipend for living. Accepting 8 students on alternate years, the program is quite competitive. Once accepted, Case Western pays for the tuition and additional stipend plus healthcare, a residency with Cleveland Playhouse, and an Equity card upon graduation. The latter means one can graduate and immediately submit for acting jobs that pay more equitably as a member of the union.

2. University of San Diego/Old Globe
For yet another regional theater + university collaboration, the University of San Diego and the Old Globe make the MFA more affordable by offering a tuition waiver, a yearly stipend/salary, and the option for first year of non-resident tuition paid (if applicable). This salary is paid through what they call Academic Student Employment (ASE), including research positions, teaching assistantships, and being a reader for classes. This covers tuition, health insurance, and a monthly salary for living expenses. Further financial support can come in the form of a fellowship. For American citizens, the university will pay the first year of tuition and following the student must apply for California residency. You can find out more here.

3. Florida State University/Asolo Repertory Theatre
This class of 12 students affords their education thanks to free tuition plus a subsidy for living expenses. Just like Case Western, all graduates of FSU earn enough Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) points to join Actors Equity Association when they receive their degree. Included within this graduate program is a 6-week venture to London, the cost of which is yet again covered by the university.

4. University of Tennessee – Knoxville
It’s beginning to all sound the same, isn’t it? UT-Knoxville also offers assistantships with full tuition paid as well as an additional stipend for living that totals $16,500 for fulfilling performance and assistantship duties. In later years, additional scholarships are available, which can be appealed to applicants needing to pay off student loan debt from undergraduate without sinking further into debt.

5. Yale University
One of the most well-known affordable MFA programs is at Yale University’s MFA in Acting. All of the MFAs at Yale, from Acting to Dramaturgy, are completely paid for. It resonates with their philosophy that this time should be for refining and exploring your craft, not worrying over paying for it. They want to allow students to focus on the reasons they came in their time in graduate school. According to their website, “Thanks to an extremely generous gift from the David Geffen Foundation in 2021, all full-time students in degree and certificate programs will receive 100 percent tuition support, in perpetuity. In addition to full tuition support, the School also has a need-based financial aid policy to ensure that all qualified students with demonstrated financial need will have the opportunity to attend Yale. Each year, the School awards a substantial amount of financial aid, totaling more than $9 million in 2022–2023.” You can learn more at their website.

6. Brown University
Similar to Yale, the MFA program at Brown University covers the full cost of insurance and offers health insurance to all applicants with additional stipends for living able to be acquired for those needing financial aid. They only offer these stipends, however, to those eligible for financial aid, so it may still cost you a slight bit to attend.

7. Indiana University at Bloomington
This school’s well-rounded graduate and undergraduate program offers a robust learning at an affordable price. They offer a tuition waiver, insurance (medical, vision, dental), the most generous assistantships thus far with $22,000 minimum yearly stipend, and travel grants to engage in study outside the department. Recent grants have been awarded for additional study with Intimacy Directors and Coordinators, The Patsy Rodenberg Academy, Black Acting Methods Studio, Black Arts Institute, Atlantic Acting Summer Intensive, Shakespeare & Co., and many others. Talk about subsidizing learning!

8. UC Irvine
The typical tuition and health insurance are paid for this otherwise pricey California school. If you’re looking to make it over to the West Coast to further your acting career, this can be a more affordable way to move to The Golden State.

All in all, make sure to search for the MFA program that suits your needs. If a financially feasible option is the only way you can accomplish further study in theatre, know that these options (and more!) are available to you. This list is just a start and does not encompass all available and affordable MFA in Acting programs. We encourage you to research further on your own; you may discover the shoe that fits you best in the process! Our MFA coaches here at Theater.Academy can help you search and prepare for the right program for you!

[cp_modal id="cp_id_793d6"] Chat[/cp_modal]