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Production shot of the Five College opera

The MFA in Playwriting

The Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting program, offered by the Department of Theatre, provides specialized training to candidates who have demonstrated professional promise in playwriting. The department places great emphasis on collaborative work among designers, performers, directors and writers, offering a unique opportunity for playwrights to have their work nurtured and supported by others who work with it at various levels.

About the Program

  • Collaboration: producing work—creating meaning—together, that we could not produce alone.
  • Pre-professional excellence in playwriting.
  • Utilize beyond-theatrical (liberal arts) disciplines to enrich the scope of each play being.
  • Describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate performative, visual and written texts.
  • Contextualize and interpret diverse theatrical works, practices and traditions.
  • Creative investigation: Engage intuitively, creatively and imaginatively in investigations and research across disciplines.
  • Develop, articulate and defend informed choices and judgments. Write and speak clearly and conceptually about theatre.
  • Apply discipline and process to enhance and increase students’ capacities.


  • THE 512: Advanced Studies in Acting, Speech and Movement (4 credits)
  • THE 513: Advanced Studies in Design (4 credits)
  • THE 515: Advanced Studies in Dramatic Literature, History, Criticism and Playwriting (4 credits)
  • THE 580: Special Studies (4 credits)
  • THE 590: Research and Thesis Production Project (4 credits)
  • THE 590D: Research and Thesis Production Project (full-year course; 4 credits)

Elective graduate course options include all undergraduate theatre courses at the 300 level and above that are taken on a graduate level of achievement, with the recommendation that half be in dramatic literature. Electives may be chosen from acting, directing and design/technical courses. Students are also encouraged to take liberal arts courses outside of the theatre department and in the Five Colleges that are of particular interest to them and may inform their work.


Sixty-four credit hours, including a thesis, and two years of residence are required. In a two-year sequence, a student would have eight required courses in directing, advanced playwriting and dramatic literature and a total of eight electives at the 300 level or above.

To count toward the degree, all work must receive a grade of at least B-minus, but the degree will not be awarded to a student who has no grade above this minimum.

Interested students may consult the graduate adviser, Leonard Berkman, Department of Theatre, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063; 413-585-3206; email:

Theatre in Performance

Smith’s theatre department presents an adventurous mix of plays from a variety of cultures, periods and genres. Opportunities are plentiful for students—majors and non-majors—to audition for and participate in productions at Smith and at the other four colleges.

Performance Calendar


Admission & Aid

Find out more about applying to the program.

Application fee $60
Full academic-year tuition (before award) 
(16 or more credits per semester)
Part-time tuition (fee per credit) $1,910
Health insurance estimate* (coverage beginning August 15) $3,600

*This fee may be waived if you are a U.S. citizen with comparable health insurance that will cover you while in Massachusetts.

The college may offer tuition scholarships for graduate study. Amounts may vary according to circumstances and funds available. Applicants for scholarships must meet the January 15 deadline for submitting all materials for the admission application.

Visit the Tuition & Financial Aid website for financial aid deadlines and information and instructions on how to apply.

Facilities for Theatre

Contact Department of Theatre

Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3201

Administrative Assistant:
Lisa Rizzo

Graduate Adviser:
Leonard Berkman