Two students in Macbeth
Master of Fine Arts

About the Program

Make your way into the spotlight with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House’s Master of Fine Arts in Acting program. This highly competitive, tuition-free, three-year training program prepares you for a career in regional theater, touring companies, Broadway and Hollywood alike. You’ll not only get to work with internationally regarded faculty to hone your skills, but you’ll also put those skills into practice along the way at the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House (CPH), located just minutes from our main campus.

What to Expect

Case Western Reserve’s Department of Theater is one of the country’s oldest accredited programs, and our partnership with Cleveland Play House—America’s first regional theater—makes this program a showstopper. Only eight students are accepted every other year, so you'll be in esteemed company.

Start your program learning about your fellow actors—a small cohort with whom you’ll spend most of your time. You'll work collaboratively, with each of you bringing your distinctive strengths to the training program and growing together as an ensemble. You’ll be immersed in the study of performance, from acting styles to training the voice and body to performance history, working alongside professionals in the field for all three years of your program. Each incoming cohort is different, so the curriculum is deep-rooted yet flexible, and performance selections are tailored to fit the ensemble.

Your three years are filled with rigorous training in movement, text, speech, acting, voice, singing, workshops and, of course, public performances. You’ll also spend your third year in residency at Cleveland Play House, performing and understudying in its Mainstage season. CPH not only acts as a place to showcase your talents through performance, but it also hosts classes such as a new play development workshop with visiting professionals. 

Your training culminates in a solo show that best represents your aesthetic and showcases your range.

I have not had a single day of acting work in which I have not somehow accessed the training I received at CWRU/CPH. It’s an integral part of who I am as an actor.

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Beyond the Classroom

Your grand finale is an actors’ showcase in New York City—a chance to demonstrate your acting prowess for agents, managers, casting directors and other industry professionals to launch your career.

In addition to Cleveland Play House and other local theaters, Case Western Reserve is just minutes from the renowned Playhouse Square—the largest performing arts district outside New York City, and our faculty members’ connections can help you when you venture outside of Ohio.

Bonus: If you successfully complete the program, you’ll earn membership to Actors’ Equity Association through your work with Cleveland Play House.

By the Numbers


tuition-free program, plus a living stipend and healthcare


drama program in the world, The Hollywood Reporter


faculty to student ratio


production nominations in educational theatre, Broadway World


largest performing arts center in the U.S. just minutes from campus

Admissions Requirements

Our program thrives when we have students with diverse perspectives and a range of educational, professional and life experiences. We look forward to learning more about you!

Through the application process, we're looking for:

  • Online application, including a letter of intent
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution (either already complete, or will be complete before you enroll)
  • Some acting experience or university training, preferred
  • Current resume/CV and headshot
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • The CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program sees candidates through the University/Resident Theatre Association’s (URTA) National Unified Auditions or by appointment, and requests  two contrasting memorized audition pieces - one contemporary, one Shakespearean verse, as well as a short song.

Contact Us

Donald Carrier
Donald Carrier
Director of the Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program
College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Theater

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