Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Admissions Committee looking for?
We admit actors with a strong sense of individuality and real potential for a lifetime of work in the theater, who possess instruments that are expressive and trainable, who are at home with themselves, who have access to their imaginations and emotional lives and who love playing with others.
How many people are accepted each year?
The acting program admits 15-17 people each year.
Is it necessary to have a bachelor's degree in theater or in acting/performance in order to be admitted into the Acting program?
No. An M.F.A. candidate's undergraduate degree can be in any subject. Moreover, an undergraduate degree is not a requirement for admission. Many prospective students audition for and are admitted to the program in the spring of their senior year of college, and others are admitted who have no undergraduate degree. See next question.
Do I need an undergraduate degree to attend Yale School of Drama?
No. Individuals without a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution are eligible to graduate from the acting program at Yale with a Certificate in Drama. Certificate in Drama students and M.F.A. students train together and follow the same course of study. All Certificate candidates must have been out of high school for a minimum of five years by the date of their audition. Except for seniors in college who expect to receive their bachelor’s degree before entering the School of Drama, individuals who do not possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and who have been out of high school for less than five years will not be permitted to audition. Candidates who complete the requirements for the Certificate in Drama and later complete their bachelor’s degree at an institution recognized by Yale University may have their certificate converted to the M.F.A. Degree.
I earned my undergraduate degree in three years from a university outside the United States. Am I still eligible to receive an MFA from Yale?
To be eligible to receive an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama, an applicant must have a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution or the international equivalent. International applicants with a three-year degree from an accredited institution may also be eligible to receive an MFA. If the undergraduate degree you received is not recognized by Yale University, you would be a candidate for a Certificate in Drama. 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.
When is the application deadline for the acting program?
In order to be considered for admission in the fall of 2019, you must submit your application no later than 11:59PM (US Eastern Standard Time) on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Applications and inquiries received after that time will not be considered.
Do I need to have all my required materials together before submitting my application online?
No. In order to initiate the application process, and to self-schedule your audition promptly, you must submit your resumé, your photograph, your statement of purpose, and your application fee by the deadline stated above. Your college transcript (if applying as an M.F.A. candidate) and three letters of recommendation may be submitted at a later date. All application materials should be submitted at least 1 week before the date of your scheduled New Haven audition or at least 2 weeks before the date of your scheduled Chicago or San Francisco audition.
Does Yale offer walk-in auditions?
Yes — in Chicago and San Francisco only. We do not schedule times for walk-in appointments in advance. You should arrive early and be prepared to wait until a slot is available. You must pay the full application fee by cash, traveler’s check or money order and turn in a headshot/resume and a completed application form at the time of your audition. Your supporting materials should be sent in as soon as possible following the audition.
What kind of monologues should I choose to present at my audition?
We want to know who you are! We suggest you choose material you feel strongly about, material that reveals something personal about you and where something important is at stake for the character. We want to see your idea of what acting is, what your sense of purpose in acting is — not someone else’s. Your heart and your individuality are what’s important to us.
Does my classical piece need to come from a Shakespeare play?
Can my modern/contemporary piece come from film or TV, or does it need to be from a play?
Your modern/contemporary piece can be from any source. We have found over time that material written for the stage tends to better serve actors in our audition process. However, you should present the kind of material that speaks to you.
Will I receive feedback or a critique on my audition from the Admissions Committee?
No. Applicants should not request and will not be given feedback on their work, either at the time of their audition or at a later date. If we were to do this for one person, in fairness we should then do this for everyone. Given the large number of people who audition each year, this is neither practical nor possible for us.
What do you want to see in the statement of purpose?
Your statement of purpose can be as personal as you want it to be and should include why you want to be an actor. Your statement will be read only by members of the Audition Committee and we consider your information confidential. Your statement should be no more than 2-3 pages in length.
I’m an international student and English is not my first language. Do I need to take the TOEFL?
If you have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution where English was the primary language of instruction, you do not need to take the TOEFL. Otherwise — yes, you are required to take the TOEFL. For those matriculating during the 2019-2020 academic year, the TOEFL must be completed at least two (2) weeks before the January 2, 2019 application deadline. In addition, the application materials you submit must be in English, and you must demonstrate a fluent command of English during your audition and interview.
Is there a minimum score on the TOEFL required to apply to the Acting program?
I’m an international student and English is not my first language. How well do I need to speak English in order to be admitted into the Acting program?
The Yale School of Drama trains actors who are already fluent in English. English speaking is a vital technical foundation for the training we offer. The nature of our voice, speech, dialect, and text work requires Acting students to be fluent and articulate in spoken English when they enter the program. We have learned over time that when students come into the program without sufficiently expert and nuanced English, they quickly fall behind their peers. This is problematic not only for those individuals, but it can also be counterproductive for the class as an ensemble, as well as for their collaborators in other departments. We have found that actors who do not yet possess the ability to speak fluent English tend to have limited opportunities for advancement in the profession.
I’m an international student and English is not my first language. Am I required to submit a recording for the Optional Pre-Screening for Non-Native Speakers of English in order to schedule an audition?
No. The pre-screening is optional. The reason we offer the assessment of the Optional Pre-Screening for Non-Native Speakers of English is to prevent international applicants from spending a lot of money and time traveling to a US audition site, when we can reasonably predict they will not be admitted. We assume that people who take the time to send us a video care what we think and welcome our prediction as a thoughtful way of protecting them from disappointment. If in our judgement you do not yet possess a command of spoken English that we believe is necessary for an actor to be able to take full advantage of our training, we will recommend that you do not audition. However, you have the option of not following our recommendation — that is, we will not prevent you from auditioning in the U.S. The deadline to submit the optional pre-screening is Saturday, December 1, 2018 in order for the Admissions Committee to review your pre-screening before you submit your application by the January 2, 2019 deadline.
May I audition via video submission or on Skype?
No. You must audition in person for the Admissions Committee. We regret that this requirement presents financial and/or logistical hardships for many applicants. However, there is vital information that the Admissions Committee can gain only by being in the actual physical presence of the actor. It is therefore necessary for us to see each candidate up close in an environment unmediated by technology.
I’m an international student. In order for me to appear at my audition in the USA, I’m required to apply for a B-2 (Tourist) Visa. Would Yale be able to send an invitation letter that I can show at my interview?
Yes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invitation letter to show your local U.S. Embassy/Consulate after you have submitted your application and confirmed your audition date.
May I tour the school/attend classes/speak to a member of the faculty about my interest in the School and questions about the program?
Many productions at the School, Yale Rep, and Yale Cabaret are open to the public. In addition, the School schedules two Visitor Days each fall. This is the only practical and equitable way to respond to the requests of hundreds of applicants and prospective applicants for interaction with current faculty and students, and we encourage you to sign up for this opportunity on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register for the Visitor Days online. Applicants invited to final callback auditions in New Haven will have an opportunity to ask questions in depth, and admitted students may also have chances to attend some classes at the School.
If I don’t receive a callback on the day I audition, does that mean I will not be accepted into the Acting program?
If you are not called back at the end of the hour at your scheduled audition, or if you do not receive a second callback at the end of the morning or at the end of the afternoon of the day you audition, in all likelihood you will not be invited to the final callback in New Haven.
How many times may I audition for the Acting program?
You may audition once per admissions cycle. Candidates are discouraged from auditioning / applying more than three times for the Acting program.
I want to audition again. How can I improve my chances between now and my next audition?
Our short term advice would be to enroll in the best acting class you can find in your area, and keep working on your craft. An MFA program is only one way to further a career, and you may well find that you are able to make significant professional progress through practice and work in front of a talented acting teacher.
What is the arc of training over the three years?
You may download a free copy of the Yale School of Drama Bulletin in .pdf format at http://bulletin.yale.edu/. The Bulletin includes official details on programs of study, course descriptions, degree and major requirements, and additional regulations. Under “Departmental Requirements and Courses of Instruction” you will find a year by year description of the acting curriculum.
Do I need to be an experienced singer to be admitted into the Acting program?