Jun 19, 2024  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2020-21 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2020-21 [Archived Catalog]

Playwriting - MFA

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Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting

Playwriting – MF5135

School of Theater
307 Kantner Hall
Ohio University
Athens, Ohio 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Terms 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.

Further Information

Link to Program: https://www.ohio.edu/fine-arts/theater/mfa-playwriting

MFA Playwriting Blog: http://ohioplaywriting.org

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.

Graduation Requirements

The M.F.A. in Playwriting requires a minimum of 90 credit hours completed over three years of full-time graduate study.

Theater and Performance Studies

Advanced Playwriting and/or Internship

Complete a minimum of 18 hours in advanced playwriting courses or a combination of advanced playwriting and internship.

Directed Electives

Complete additional graduate coursework approved by the academic advisor to fulfill any remaining required credit hours. These hours (up to 18) 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. 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.

Other Requirements

Students are required to meet the following milestones:

  • Successful defense of first-year play proposal at the end of the first semester of the first year of study
  • Public presentation of first-year play during Playwrights Festival
  • Successful defense of second-year play proposal at the end of the first-year of study
  • Public presentation of second-year play during Playwrights Festival
  • Successful defense of the thesis play proposal at the end of the second year of study
  • Public presentation of thesis play during Playwrights Festival


Complete a minimum of 8 hours of thesis coursework, including at least 4 hours in each of the following two courses:

Culminating Experience

To meet degree requirements, students must complete and successfully defend both a thesis play and an artistic statement. The oral defense is designed to to assess how goals articulated in the artistic statement are manifested in the thematic, structural, or stylistic elements of the thesis play. The culminating experience ends with the presentation of this thesis play.

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