MFA Specialization in Acting



Our intensive three-year MFA training program boasts a strong emphasis in emotional depth, vibrant expressivity, heightened language, and period-style work. Our actors address the emotional needs of the character in the given circumstances with adaptable voices and bodies that are able to respond organically in the moment. The foundation of the acting training is Somatic Meisner work –grounded in the Sanford Meisner sequence and integrating the Williamson Technique and Somatic Experiencing. This is a systematic, sequential training where each lesson unfolds into the next and is rooted in a deep understanding of text and subtext.

We develop and nurture the artistic sensibilities of each actor in a collaborative training environment, while adhering to the highest standards of artistic integrity and rigor. Graduates of the NIU MFA program are professional artists prepared to enter any facet of the industry.

We accept one class of 12-18 actors every three years and each student receives a tuition waiver. A variety of Assistantships are available. Following the second year of training, graduate students have the opportunity study at MXAT, the legendary Moscow Art Theatre in Russia.


Candidates for the specialization in acting are required to audition in person. Every candidate must choose and present two memorized audition pieces, a classical selection in verse and a contemporary piece. One selection must be in the comic mode and one serious. The total time of presentation should not exceed four minutes. The acting candidate is also asked to supply the audition committee with at least one current photograph and a resume. An option of a video tape (VHS) of the audition pieces may be accepted if the candidate lives 500 miles or more from DeKalb and is unable to appear in person. For more information, or to set up an audition, please email

Course Work

Students enrolled in the acting specialization will take a wide variety of courses including the following:

  • Stage Combat Acting Studio: On-Camera
  • Theatre History
  • The Business of Theatre
  • Topics in Theatrical Performance
  • Research Techniques in Theatre Arts
  • Period Style for Actors: Text Analysis
  • Period Style for Actors: Physicality
  • Acting Techniques
  • Advanced Voice and Diction: Freeing the Voice
  • Advanced Voice and Diction: Building the Voice
  • Advanced Voice and Diction: Voice Characterization
  • Advanced Voice and Diction: Stage Speech
  • Advanced Acting: The Actor's Inner Life
  • Advanced Acting: Clarity and Character
  • Advanced Movement: Relaxation and Response
  • Advanced Movement: Expression and the Body
  • Advanced Movement: Specificity
  • Verse Drama


MFA in Acting On-Campus Auditions

January 24, 2019
February 8, 2019

URTA Auditions

University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) - New York
Millennium Hotel, 145 W. 44th St., New york, New York
January 18-21, 2019

University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) - Chicago
Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago, Illinois
January 26-29, 2019

University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) - San Francisco
Acadamey of Art University, 79 New Montgomery St. San Francisco, California
February 1-2, 2019