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It is expected that all applicants will have at least two years of professional directing experience, outside of a university setting, to be considered for acceptance into this program.

Application packet

Every applicant must apply formally on-line through the Graduate School. Formal applications for Directing require three letters of recommendation from people who know your work as a student and/or theatre artist. In addition, a digital directing portfolio packet is to be uploaded in the Supplemental Materials section in CollegeNET. The deadline for applications is December 15. Portfolio packets should contain:

  • A one-page statement of purpose, explaining your current goals, career plans, and reasons for selecting theatre as a major field of graduate study.
  • Documentation of theatre work, i.e., reviews, portfolio designs, promotional materials, directing statements, or production photos.
  • Official TOEFL scores for international applicants whose native language is not English. The Educational Testing Service will send official scores directly to Northwestern University’s Graduate School. Use the institutional code 1565.
  • An official transcript (bearing registrar’s signature and/or the institution’s seal) from each post-secondary institution attended, documenting all courses taken (within or outside a degree program), grades received, and degrees earned.

The faculty will review the application packet and let you know if you will be invited to campus for a faculty interview, at which point we ask that you bring a physical copy of your directing portfolio.

The MFA Directing program does not require applicants to submit GRE scores.

Faculty interview

Invited applicants may arrange their faculty interview by contacting the graduate secretary, David Kleineick at or 847-491-3589

International students

  • Certifying English Tests – FAQ’s
  • Students must submit acceptable IELTS or TOEFL scores. The minimum IELTS score for all applicants is 7.0. The minimum TOEFL scores are 80 (internet based), 213 (computer based), and 550 (paper based).
  • International Applicants
  • International students wishing to be considered for teaching assistant appointments during any year of study in the Graduate School, must score at least 50 on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) or 50 on a SPEAK test administered after June 1996. These tests are administered by the Educational Testing Service and given at test centers worldwide.