Programs of Study

A training program is only as good as the people who populate it--those highly committed professionals who have chosen to teach the next generation of theater artists and, in equal measure, the students who have been admitted because of their talent and potential. At Rutgers we choose to celebrate both parts of this equation.

New York City is truly one of the greatest cultural centers in the world, and its proximity to Rutgers is one of the university’s greatest assets. Rutgers New Brunswick campus is only minutes away from a wide variety of exciting theater and other rich cultural activities. Because of this fact, students will have the opportunity to interact with the best working professionals in the business. Guest artists travel to New Brunswick for lectures, workshops and productions. Rutgers students in turn travel to technical/dress rehearsals and special performances in New York City.While this proximity plays an important role in making the profession accessible, the distance is far enough from urban activities to allow for the quiet environment necessary for focused study and practice.

At the heart of Rutgers’ unique 3.5 Program is the age-old notion of a company. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate degree candidate you will function as a company sharing a number of classes and a variety of production experiences together. By being selective about the number of recruits chosen each year, sharing the resources and combining many of our activities, Rutgers Theater Program will strengthen its ability to serve its students. And, the variety of age and background will go even further to strengthen the level of diversity within the Rutgers Program. 

Any serious training program has a shape and an arc to it. Like a play, it is as long or short as it needs to be. Most theater programs are based on a standard four years for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and three years for Master of Fine Arts degree. No matter which degree you are seeking, the Rutgers 3.5 program will provide a total of seven semesters or three and a half years.

We believe that in this amount of time, we can provide a full and complete training plus give students additional experiences that are unique to this program.  B.F.A. students graduate a full semester early saving them that amount of tuition and our M.F.A. students are given the additional time needed to transition into their careers.

At Rutgers we will train your mind and body towards the goal of becoming a theater professional. Whether you are training to be an actor, director, playwright, designer, stage manager or theater technician, you will mostly practice your individual disciplines. We refer to these types of activity as your Core Training. As an actor the emphasis will be on speech and movement along side Meisner, Chekhov techniques and Classical training.  If you are studying design you will be taught essential drafting, construction, draping, and presentation skills. As a playwright you will develop your plays through stage readings, workshops and formal presentations that will help you develop your voice. All of these core training classes will help you to develop techniques in your chosen craft and then practice them in any of Rutgers’ state of the art theater spaces. Our many production opportunities will give you the experience of creating your first stage work. This activity is a combination of fully designed productions as well as more modest student generated projects such as site specific performance and cabaret.

As a company you will also share in a Core Curriculum. This term refers to the courses designed to reinforce or challenge your assumptions about theater and expand your thinking. Some examples of these courses are: Global Theater, the Aesthetics of Space, Clothing and Culture, Theater History, and the 20th Century Avant-Garde. Although highly demanding, these are not typical academic courses. They have a direct and important relationship to your Core Training and to the work we put on our stage.

Whatever your discipline, the core training will give you the tools and techniques to develop your craft and the core curriculum will help you think globally about theater and debate the art-form with other student/artists outside your specific field of study. All of this activity is intensive and requires a great deal of focus. But, challenging yourself in such a full and complex way will deepen your understanding of theater, help contextualize your work and give you a distinct advantage in the world.

Core Training combined with Core Curriculum has been tailored to a company of students serious about becoming well-rounded, culturally aware theater artists.

In your third year, you will travel abroad to Shakespeare’s Globe in London to further develop your classical skills and gain broader perspectives. The Rutgers Theater Department and the Globe Theater Educational Program have a long and well-established partnership that offers our students the opportunity to study with some of the greatest classical talent in the world. With London as your campus you will develop your classical skills in intensive daily classes and explore London’s history through dozens of cultural trips. Designers spend a semester studying at the Globe and are given the opportunity to learn first hand about the period construction of clothing and study in the theaters that have housed great design for centuries. As actors you will be given the rare opportunity of conservatory study abroad for the year. Your culminating experience is to perform a full length Shakespeare play on the world famous Globe stage, reprised in a fully-conceived production at Rutgers. Every student who has had this experience is forever altered and enriched by this part of their training. As Rutgers is the Globe’s flagship program, no other training program but Rutgers is able to offer you this unique experience.

When you return home from Europe you will begin your most intensive phase of training. The .5 semester is a rich and important period that allows you to synthesize your experiences and begin your transition into the profession. As an actor, much of your day will be spent in an extended rehearsal process while the mornings will be devoted to voice-over and camera techniques.  Designers will begin a more in-depth relationship with work that is developed in collaboration with outside directors and/or established companies. The productions will have greater scope than in previous years often collaborating with Music and Dance departments.

At Rutgers we provide one of the most detailed and comprehensive career transitions of any training program in the country. In addition to showcasing our acting students and playwrights or presenting our designers portfolios in New York, Rutgers will actively co-produce professional projects with noted regional and Off-Broadway theaters designed to give our students concrete access to the theater profession. A Rutgers graduate working in the profession is a testament to our efforts in training. We want to give our graduating Rutgers Company the best chance to succeed in the world. We believe that a student’s success is our success.

Choose "undergraduate" or "graduate" to access more information and program details.

Visit our Prospective Student section for audition and deadline information.