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. The total time of presentation should not exceed four minutes. The acting candidate is also asked to supply the audition committee with two current headshots and resumes. An option of a video of the audition pieces may be accepted if the candidate lives 500 miles or more from DeKalb and is unable to appear in person. Video submissions may be uploaded to YouTube and sent with a private link, along with a PDF of a current headshot and resume, to the audition committee. Audition dates, times and locations are listed below. 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:

  • Advanced Acting: Somatic Meisner 1: Opening and Connection
  • Advanced Acting: Somatic Meisner 2: Emotional Preparation and Personalization
  • Advanced Acting: Somatic Meisner 3: Relationship and Character
  • Advanced Acting: Somatic Meisner 4: Period Style, Building a Role, and Text/Physicality
  • Advanced Acting: Textual Analysis
  • Advanced Acting: Verse Drama
  • Advanced Acting: On Camera Acting
  • Advanced Movement 1: Relaxation and Response
  • Advanced Movement 2: Expression and the Body
  • Advanced Movement 3: Specificity
  • Advanced Movement 4: Period Style

*Courses in graduate catalog may appear under a different name

  • Advanced Voice and Speech: Freeing the Voice
  • Advanced Voice and Speech: Building the Voice
  • Advanced Voice and Speech: Stage Speech and Dialects
  • Advanced Voice and Speech: Characterization
  • Professional Development: Professional Development for the Actor
  • Professional Development: The Business of the Performing Arts Industry
  • Research Techniques in Theatre Arts
  • Dramatic Literature 1
  • Dramatic Literature 2
  • Dramatic Literature 3
  • Stage Combat



MFA in Acting 2022 Auditions

NIU will be recruiting a new class of MFA in acting graduates in the spring of 2022 for acceptance into the program for the fall of 2022. NIU recruits on campus and at URTA Unified auditions. Audition dates, times and information will be available fall of 2021. NIU also hosts two, on campus, callback weekends. Callback auditions are by invitation only. Further information on callback weekends will be available fall of 2021.