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Applications are currently not being accepted for American Conservatory Theater’s MFA in Acting program. 

If you're an alum of the MFA program looking for services, please visit our alumni page.

If you’re looking for information about recent alumni from A.C.T.’s MFA program, we're hosting showcase information for the Classes of 2019–2022 through July 2027. This can be found on our showcase archive.

The History of the ATP/MFA Program at A.C.T. 

A.C.T. was founded in 1965 by William Ball. Formed as a resident company in Pittsburgh, the company began looking for a new home within a year. That search led them to a group of Bay Area patrons and supporters who were willing to fund a six-month season—a commitment which quickly grew into a year-round company and strong community partnership. A one-year program, the Advanced Training Program, started in 1970, originally offering college credit. Under the leadership of Conservatory Director Melissa Smith, A.C.T. was offered probationary accreditation for an MFA in 1978. In 2020, Danyon Davis assumed leadership as the Director of the MFA Program. A.C.T. graduated its last class of MFA students in May 2022. 

Through its existence, 1,513 students have gone through the ATP/MFA Program.

The Closing of the MFA Program at A.C.T. 

A.C.T.’s MFA Program was the last freestanding graduate acting training program in the country not affiliated with a university. For more than a decade, the organization has had discussions about balancing the financial feasibility of the Program while also providing students with the highest caliber of training, professional performing opportunities, and support such as scholarships, mental health services, and more.  

The organization determined that in order to thrive, the program must be in partnership with a university as is modeled throughout our field. 

We honor the rich history of this Program that has brought so much to A.C.T. and to the field of acting. We are also enormously grateful to the many teachers, students, artists, actors, donors, patrons, MFA board members, trustee hosts, community members, and administrators who made it possible over these many years. The legacy and spirit of the Program will forever be a part of the tapestry of A.C.T.  

A.C.T.'s Continued Engagement with Training and Education 

While the graduate training program no longer exists, A.C.T. remains steadfastly committed to transformative learning by maintaining its Conservatory, which continues to offer a robust array of theater-based classes and training programs including Studio A.C.T., the Young Conservatory, Summer Training Congress, San Francisco Semester, and institutional Professional Development. These programs help participants discover their inner artistry, while also training the artists who will shape the cultural landscape of our society. Our Education and Community Programs remain in effect as well, bringing theater and arts education curricula to schools and community-based organizations across the Bay Area.  

The Future of Professional Actor Training at A.C.T. 

A.C.T. continues to remain open to reviving the MFA program in partnership with a university. Several conversations are ongoing with potential partners, and A.C.T. is open to beginning new discussions with potential partners that would fit the mission and values of the organization while providing the collaboration necessary to provide a well-supported graduate training program. 

For members of the Actor Training Program and Master of Fine Arts programs during A.C.T.'s accreditation, we are still able to provide transcripts. For more information, click here.

We want to recognize the esteemed group of supporters who served on the MFA Board of Directors this past year:

Norman Abramson
Carlotta Dathe
Danyon Davis

Frannie Fleishhacker
Dianne Hoge
Christopher Hollenbeck
Luba Kipnis
Linda Kurtz
Jennifer Lindsay
Toni Ratner Miller
Mary Ann Munro
Joseph Ratner
Toni Rembe
Abby Sadin Schnair
Anne Shonk