David Geffen School of Drama offers graduate training programs in every theatrical discipline. Please visit our training pages for detailed information about each department's program of study and admission requirements.
Yale University offers a wealth of information on visiting and living in New Haven, as well elements of the student experience.
With consideration of the continued impacts of COVID-19, David Geffen School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre intend to return to in-person learning and production in 2021–2022. In accordance with the most updated public health guidance, modifications—including to the production schedule—may be required. Unless otherwise noted, all sections pertaining to production work in this bulletin refer to a typical production schedule and may be modified by the School for the 2021–2022 academic year.
In service of the School’s mission, the M.F.A. and Certificate in Drama degree programs were temporarily extended by one fully funded year of study for the classes of ’22, ’23, and ’24. The incoming class of ’25 (M.F.A. and Certificate in Drama) in fall 2022 will return to a three-year plan of study. As of the 2021–2022 academic year, the Technical Internship will remain a one-year plan of study.
The contents of this bulletin are subject to change throughout the academic year. Updates will be sent via email and posted to the School’s website as applicable.
The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree is conferred by the President and Fellows of Yale University on students holding a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college who complete with distinction any of the programs of study outlined and who exhibit excellence in their professional practice. Three years in residence is the time required for this work; on rare occasions the faculty of David Geffen School of Drama may reduce the residency requirement, but in no case below a minimum of two years. The M.F.A. is awarded in the following areas of study: Acting, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Playwriting, Stage Management, Technical Design and Production, and Theater Management.
The Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree is conferred by the President and Fellows of Yale University on students who hold the M.F.A. degree in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism and who have completed the M.F.A. qualifying comprehensive examinations and have written a dissertation of distinction on a subject approved by the D.F.A. committee. This committee is comprised of the full-time faculty of the Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism program.
The Certificate in Drama is conferred by the President and Fellows of Yale University on students who do not hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college, but who complete with distinction the three-year program of study in Acting, Design, Directing, Playwriting, Stage Management, or Technical Design and Production. The Certificate in Drama is subject to the same training requirements as that of the M.F.A. degree. Upon written request the certificate will be converted to an M.F.A. degree if a student later satisfactorily completes an accredited bachelor’s degree elsewhere.
The Technical Design and Production program offers one-year internships for those seeking to become professional scenic carpenters, sound engineers, projection engineers, properties supervisors, scenic artists, costumers, or production electricians. David Geffen School of Drama awards a Technical Internship Certificate to interns who complete the internship with distinction.
For more information, visit our Technical Internship page.
Each year, a limited number of scholars are admitted to David Geffen School of Drama as one-year special research fellows. These fellows are usually professionals in the field of theater from abroad who wish to pursue research and audit one or two courses a term within the School. The research and auditing of courses is arranged in consultation with the appropriate program chair and the registrar. There is no fellow status affiliated with the Acting program. Special research fellows are not eligible for financial aid according to federal guidelines; they are required to pay tuition and are not eligible for Yale Health Basic Coverage.
Each year, some students are admitted to David Geffen School of Drama as one-year special students in the programs of Design; Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism; Technical Design and Production; or Theater Management. These students must be in residence on a full-time basis and are not eligible for a degree or certificate. The curriculum for special students is arranged in consultation with the appropriate chair.
Special students may apply for admission to the program of study during their one-year residency in accordance with the program’s application deadline. They must comply with School’s admission requirements and, if admitted, may matriculate as second-year students if they have fulfilled all of their program’s first-year requirements. Special students are not eligible for financial aid according to federal guidelines; they are required to pay tuition and are not eligible for Yale Health Basic Coverage.
Students follow the curriculum of the particular program in which they were admitted. Each program in the School has a sequential series of requirements unique to its discipline and designed to develop an advanced understanding of the student’s course of study and the art of the theater.
Production activity is central to the training in all programs, featuring significant engagement opportunities at the School, Yale Repertory Theatre, and Yale Cabaret each season. These productions afford ample opportunities to present student work to internal and external audiences, complementing classroom instruction and allowing faculty to observe and offer feedback to students regarding their progress in training.
David Geffen School of Drama typically presents six plays in productions for which tickets are sold to the general public. Three of these are selected in consultation with the Directing program; three are new plays from the Playwriting program, produced in repertory at the end of the spring term. Additional productions within the School include the Shakespeare Repertory Projects, new plays from the Playwriting program, and projects selected by the chair of the Acting program.
Yale Repertory Theatre serves as a teaching theater—both an exemplar and laboratory of professional practice—for the School. Each program has established a unique relationship with Yale Rep and challenges students to work at the level of this distinguished professional company. Yale Rep is a member of the League of Resident Theatres and draws talent from around the world. In addition to offering main stage productions and special presentations, Yale Rep connects the educational mission of the School to the community through youth programs including Will Power! and the Dwight/Edgewood Project, which recruits David Geffen School of Drama students each summer to serve as mentors for local middle school students. Yale Rep also partners with Long Wharf Theatre to host the New Haven Regional August Wilson Monologue Competition.
Yale Cabaret provides students an extracurricular outlet for exploration of a wide range of material. With its own student artistic and management leadership, reporting to a board of directors comprising students and faculty, the Cabaret presents work that is entirely student-produced. It is the only area of production at the School where students regularly move out of their primary discipline of study: actors direct, managers act, and playwrights sing.
During the summer, Yale Summer Cabaret is the exploratory theatrical home for David Geffen School of Drama students. Like Yale Cabaret, it is student-run and interdisciplinary. Each season, a new artistic and management team has the opportunity to shape the theater’s vision, while collaborating with an advisory board, local donors, and the greater New Haven community.
Professional theater training in the twenty-first century requires exposures to a variety of subjects and modes of learning that are incompatible with the two-term calendar. The School therefore sets aside one week each year to introduce interdisciplinary material, including workshops focused on professional development and skill building, and, for first-year students, intensive explorations of critical discourse in collaboration and of anti-racist, anti-oppressive perspectives in the theater field. These modular courses strengthen students’ practice throughout their training and prepare them for the ongoing endeavor of learning that is the hallmark of long and productive careers in the arts and related disciplines.
Seminar Week will be temporarily suspended for the 2021–2022 academic year. It has historically been held during the first week of January, with classes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Traditionally, first-year students and technical interns take two multiday workshops as a group (Everyday Justice: Anti-racism as Daily Practice, taught by Carmen Morgan; and Critical Response Process, taught by Liz Lerman), which occupy the majority of the week. Each program determines the requirements and available electives for its second- and third-year students.
Each program assigns its students responsibilities in productions at the School and Yale Repertory Theatre. Programs may change or eliminate assignments for individual students depending upon the needs of the program. Unless otherwise announced, all members of the company and production team on School productions are obligated to strike the show.
All casting is assigned by the chair of Acting and approved by the dean, based on the developmental needs of each student and on the needs of the project. The student director on a project or production prepares a cast breakdown, which is reviewed by the appropriate directing adviser before submission to the Acting chair. Student directors—or, in the case of the Carlotta Festival or Langston Hughes Festival studio productions, the playwright, director, and dramaturg—then meet to discuss the world of the play and share their production ideas with the Acting chair. The casting pool for School productions and projects consists of those acting students who have demonstrated proficiency in collaboration, professional discipline, and reliability. A student’s inability to maintain or display these practices in class, project, or production circumstances may result in the removal of that actor from the casting pool in order to provide them with an opportunity to reacquire, strengthen, or expand these skills. Once cast in a role, the student is required to fulfill that casting obligation.
Understudy assignments at Yale Repertory Theatre are treated seriously because they create a humane environment for actors who are ill or have family emergencies while also advancing artistry and training in the community: learning how to prepare, go on, and support someone who is going on, are key preparations for professional life. Understudies are expected to be available, and in reasonable proximity to the performance venue, for any performance at a moment’s notice. Unless at home or at another posted rehearsal, understudies must inform the stage manager of their location prior to the performance and be reachable by phone. Failure to be available to perform as an understudy is treated as a grave breach of professionalism and may be grounds for dismissal.
Yale Repertory Theatre and David Geffen School of Drama maintain an open rehearsal policy, so that students, interns, faculty, and staff may benefit from observing artistic processes. Nonetheless, a reasonable number of Yale Rep rehearsals may be closed due to needs of any particular company. Similarly, some School rehearsals may be closed, with the permission of the chair of Stage Management—whenever possible—and with notice posted in the daily call online and at the rehearsal hall. Therefore, the best practice for visitors is to reach out in advance to stage management of any production one wishes to visit: such courtesy also reduces the risk of arriving at a rehearsal that has been closed.
Rehearsals are normally scheduled from 4 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, with earlier start times possible on Saturdays. Sunday is normally the day off. With advance notice and approval of the dean, directors of major productions at the School may change the day off from Sunday to Saturday.
The number of rehearsal hours for any given project is set by the Acting and Directing programs. Actors are ordinarily called no more than six hours in one day for rehearsal of a School production. Actors who are double cast cannot participate in Yale Cabaret productions. A director may ordinarily rehearse a major School production no more than eight hours in one day. Directors should cooperate with each other to ensure that actors have reasonable breaks. The final week before the opening of a production is an exception to these rules.
All photographic and recording needs for School productions will follow the rules set forth by the Actors’ Equity Association agreement. Production photographs will be taken by a professional photographer during a designated dress rehearsal. School photo shoots are arranged and archived by the Marketing and Communications Department and coordinated with stage management. Companies will be given at least twenty-four hours’ notice of rehearsal photography. Photo libraries are maintained by the Marketing and Communications Department and are available to students for portfolio purposes throughout the year. For detailed information about the production photography and video-recording policy, please refer to the Production Handbook.
David Geffen School of Drama and Yale Repertory Theatre together maintain an ambitious production calendar. The combination of artistic aspiration and significant scope in production creates vital opportunities for training, both in a student’s own discipline and across disciplines. Such opportunities are made possible, in part, by students’ sharing responsibility for the varieties of work that support the production experience for all.
Work-study reinforces the School’s values by giving all students paid responsibility for participation in artistic, production, and administrative work in accordance with the mission of the School and Yale Repertory Theatre.
Therefore, every student and technical intern in the School (except for special students and special research fellows) is required to fulfill a minimum number of work-study hours. For the 2021–2022 year, we expect all students and interns will work a minimum of 150 assigned work-study hours. The deans, in consultation with the work-study committee and program chairs, set the number of hours devoted to required work-study jobs according to the needs of community. The student labor supervisor makes all required work-study assignments in consultation with each program chair. Students are required to be appropriately dressed for the work-study tasks at hand.
For financial aid implications of the work-study requirement for those receiving financial aid, please refer to the chapter Financial Aid Policy.