May 19, 2022  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2019-20 [Archived Catalog]

Playwriting - MFA

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Degree Title and Name:  Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting

Program Name and Number:  Playwriting – MF5135

Department/Unit: School of Theater

Delivery Mode:  Athens Campus

Term(s) of Entry:  Fall

Program Overview:  The goal of the Professional Playwriting Program is to cultivate the individual artistic voice and vision of developing playwrights who, by developing new plays that actively engage in the contemporary social, scientific, political, and aesthetic debates of the nation, will become leaders in American Theater and active contributors to American culture.

This program seeks to train playwrights to become artists who, through a conscious and deliberate application of their craft, contribute to the culture by writing plays designed for production. To achieve this, the program trains writers in the practices of professional playwriting and script development with a heavy emphasis on writing plays specifically for performance. The foundation of the training begins with earnest and rigorous study of the theories of narrative structure followed by the application of that theory to develop new plays that effectively synthesize individual artistic voice with individualized narrative structure.

The M.F.A. is earned through the completion of 90 credit hours of course-work over three years. Coursework includes Playwrights Seminar, which is the venue for the study of the theories of dramatic narrative structure; Playwrights Workshop, which is the venue for the application of the theories of narrative structure through the development of full-length work; Playwrights Production, which puts our writers in the theater, writing for production on a weekly basis and is the laboratory for structural and theatrical experimentation; Theater History and Criticism, which focuses on the study of our dramatic literary traditions; and a variety of directed electives designed to enhance areas of research.

Program Learning Outcomes:  Successful Theater M.F.A. students at Ohio University will:

  • Demonstrate heightened skills in professional presentation, collaboration and communication.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of research practices, dramatic literature, theory and history.
  • Apply heightened skills and demonstrate a comprehension of theories and methodologies as they relate to professional practice in playwriting.

Opportunities for Graduates:  While many of our graduates are currently working as freelance writers whose work is being produced by theater companies across the country, many are also working as writers and producers in network and cable television, streaming services, and film.

The program also has a flexible internship policy allowing some students to intern during their third year. Internships are typically arranged with a number of regional theatres or national playwright’s service organizations that specialize in new play development and/or production. These internships provide contacts for graduating students and allow them to participate in the process of professional script development, production, or literary management with established professionals who maintain ongoing relationships with the playwriting faculty.

Link to Program:

MFA Playwriting Blog:

Graduation Requirements:

  1. The program requires 90 semester hours of total credit during three years of full-time graduate study.
  2. Sixty credit hours or 67% of the total credit hours are in studio or workshop courses in the major area. These courses include seminars on:  
  • Theories of narrative structure
  • Story development
  • Plot development
  • Application of narrative theory in the developmental process
  • Writing for performance
  • First-draft rewriting techniques
  • Techniques for rewriting during rehearsals
  • Approaches to critical analysis
  • Application of critical analysis to the new play process
  • Identification and consequently development of artistic voice and vision
  • Best business practices in playwriting including models of playwright collaboration with actors, directors, and designers
  1. Twelve (12) credit hours or 13% of the total credit required is devoted exclusively to studies in Theater History and Criticism. In addition, approaches to critical analysis and application of critical analysis to the new play process are a part of every course in the major area.
  2. The remaining 18 hours may include the development of a screenplay in the second year, and studies in topics outside of the School of Theater that will support and continue to develop the individual students’ artistic point of view. These secondary areas of study, identified in each student’s artistic statement during their first year in the program, commonly focus upon areas of contemporary social, medical, political, scientific, cultural or aesthetic significance that will serve as the basis for artistic exploration in the individual plays developed in the program. These courses are interdisciplinary and are offered by departments typically outside the School of Theater and College of Fine Arts, such as the Scripps College of Communication, the College of Health Sciences and Professions, the Center for International Studies, and the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, among others.

Culminating Experience:  The culminating experience for third-year MFA playwriting students begins with an oral examination based upon their artistic statement that identifies, clarifies, and expands upon the themes, techniques, and artistic goals of their thesis play. The culminating experience ends with the presentation of this thesis play.

Admission Requirements:  Minimum standards for acceptance include a 3.0 GPA for undergraduate work and the submission of two sample manuscripts in dramatic form. Admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s writing sample, resume, goals statement, and recommendations from references. A visit to the University and an interview are strongly encouraged. The GRE is not required for this program.

International Students:  This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

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