Musical Theater Collaboration MFA

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts / SCHOOL OF THEATER, FILM AND MEDIA ARTS

Learn more about the Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Collaboration.

About the Program

The George Abbott Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theater Collaboration is designed to prepare candidates for a career in the musical theater industry as collaborating creative team members and as independent artists engaged in the creation of new musical theater works for the commercial and nonprofit sectors, as well as educational programs. The program emphasizes intensive graduate-level craft-based training that includes abundant studio, workshop and production experience opportunities. Rather than the usual isolated pedagogical separation of the various craft and artistic disciplines within the field, the program places primary emphasis on the inherent collaborative nature of this most integrated of performing art forms.

The innovative degree in Musical Theater Collaboration is the only MFA graduate training program in the nation designed to collectively train, mentor and develop new composers, lyricists, directors, choreographers, playwrights and book writers together as a cohort in a comprehensive collaborative program. The broad scope of the program includes a comprehensive overview and history of the field, a deep understanding of the aesthetics of the form, as well as the business side of the industry. The program seeks to mirror the actual field-based creative process of generating new musical theater works, teaching fundamental craft skills and collaboration skills within a world of access to the necessary mentoring and talent resources vital to the process of creating a new musical.

The three-year curriculum includes:

  • A focus primarily on building creative collaboration skills in concert with studies based in students’ respective disciplinary areas of emphasis in Year 1.
  • A continuation of disciplinary studies and division of the cohort into groups of collaboration teams focused on the creation of new music theater thesis pieces in Year 2.
  • Year 3 is the thesis year, with a focus on bringing thesis projects to fruition such that they culminate in a fully realized workshop production. Further, they are presented in New York City in a subsequent industry showcase of excerpts of students’ work for the consideration of an invited roster of field and industry professionals.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 3 years

Campus Location: Main

Full-Time/Part-Time Status: Students complete the degree program as part of a cohort on a full-time basis.

Interdisciplinary Study: The program is interdisciplinary in nature, given that composers and composer/lyricists, directors and director/choreographers, and playwrights and book writers learn and create together.

Accreditation: The Theater Department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

Areas of Specialization: Within the cohort, students concentrate in one of three areas:

  • Composer and Composer/Lyricist (C/CL)
  • Director and Director/Choreographer (D/DC)
  • Playwright and Book Writer (P/BW)

Job Prospects: The program prepares candidates for careers in the musical theater industry or academy as collaborating creative team members and as independent artists engaged in the creation of new musical theater works.

Non-Matriculated Student Policy: Coursework may not be taken on a non-matriculated basis.

Financing Opportunities: Lab, studio and classroom teaching opportunities are available for Teaching Assistants. Duties include assisting in grading papers for survey and literature classes. Assistantships carry a stipend and full tuition remission. Academic Internships are also available in production work, including rehearsal and performance of plays for the theater season.

Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: February 1, 2025

* * APPLICATIONS will next be accepted for FALL 2025 ADMISSION * *

Applications are accepted from applicants through the University/Resident Theatre Association (URTA) audition/interview process as well as local auditions in Philadelphia. Auditions are held every three years (e.g., 2025, 2028, 2031). We visit all three sites: New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco. We also recruit through the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and with several prominent musical theater development companies such as the National Alliance for Musical Theatre (NAMT). After candidates have auditioned and been interviewed, those accepted are notified by letter on or before April 15. Late applications may be considered for admission.

APPLY ONLINE to this graduate program.

Letters of Reference:
Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should be obtained from college/university professors and/or professionals in the field who are familiar with the applicant's work.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration: Applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent and ideally have professional experience in their discipline.

Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline: All applicants must present credentials that are the equivalent of the baccalaureate degree at Temple University.

Statement of Goals: Introduce yourself in approximately 500 words by relaying your relevant experience, values and areas of interest. Proper essay form should be used, but it may be in a personal style.

Standardized Test Scores: No standardized test is used for admission to the MFA in Musical Theater Collaboration program.

Resume: Current resume required.

Interview: Interviews are generally conducted in March and April through URTA, with audition sites in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as locally on the Temple University campus. Applicants called back for an interview are required to bring transcripts, a headshot and a resume.

Other Requirements:

  • Composer and Composer/Lyricist (C/CL): Via Acceptd, submit samples of creative work, portfolio, reviews and/or website.
  • Director and Director/Choreographer (D/DC): Via Acceptd, submit a reel of creative work, production photos, reviews and/or website.
  • Playwright and Book Writer (P/BW): Submit a writing sample that is either one full-length manuscript or two one-act scripts.

Program Requirements

General Program Requirements:
Number of Credits Required Beyond the Baccalaureate: 60

Required Courses:

In Year 1, foundation coursework is taken. In Year 2, thesis project teams are formed and collaboration begins. In Year 3, the thesis projects are completed, presented and showcased for industry.

All students enrolled in a cohort of the Musical Theater Collaboration MFA program take the following core courses together:

Year 1
American Musical Theater
Musical Theater Practicum I
Musical Theater Practicum II
Script and Score Analysis
Year 2
Musical Theater Practicum III
Musical Theater Practicum IV
Year 3
The Business of the Business in Theater

The balance of coursework annually is taken by students in their respective areas of concentration:

Composer and Composer/Lyricist (C/CL) Concentration

Year 1
Composition I
Lyric Seminar I
Lyric Seminar II
Vocal Arranging
Year 2
Special Topics in Music
Composition II
Lyrics/Book Seminar I 1
Lyrics/Book Seminar II 1
Year 3
Music Direction for the Musical Theater Stage

Director and Director/Choreographer (D/DC) Concentration

Year 1
Directing Practicum I
Directing Practicum II
Costume Design II
Scene Design II
Year 2
History of Decor
Projects in Directing I
Directing Practicum III
Directing Practicum IV
Year 3
Directing for the Musical Stage 1
History of Fashion
Projects in Directing II

Playwright and Book Writer (P/BW) Concentration

Year 1
Playwriting I
Playwriting II
Projects in Playwriting
Year 2
Playwriting III
Playwriting IV
Lyrics/Book Seminar I 1
Lyrics/Book Seminar II 1
Year 3
Directing for the Musical Stage 2
Teaching Playwriting
Projects in Playwriting

Culminating Events:
Thesis Project:
The cohort creates a complete new musical culminating in a fully rehearsed workshop production. It is written by MFA candidate composers and composer/lyricists, as well as playwrights and book writers, and directed by MFA candidate directors and director/choreographers.

An industry showcase of students’ selected work is presented in New York City to an invited roster of industry and field professionals. Funded in part by the George and Joy Abbott Center for Musical Theater at Temple University, the showcase consists of a short concert-style presentation featuring selected performed excerpts from the candidates’ body of original work.


Program Web Address:

Department Information:

Musical Theater Collaboration Graduate Admissions

Center for the Performing and Cinematic Arts/School of Theater, Film and Media Arts

2001 N. 13th Street, 127 Presser Hall

Philadelphia, PA 19122-6016


Fax: 215-204-4957

Submission Address for Application Materials:

Department Contacts:


James Short

Recruitment Coordinator

Head of Musical Theater:

Peter Reynolds


Fred Duer