Who We Are Get an Inside Look

Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama produces innovators, practitioners and industry leaders in the arts and entertainment professions who indelibly impact how people experience the world at large.

“Our future as an innovative country depends on ensuring that everyone has access to the arts.” - Michelle Obama


About CMU School of Drama

Founded in 1914, the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University offers a vocationally focused education to theater artists through rigorous conservatory training in all areas of dramatic practice. Students attending the school have the opportunity to integrate into the broader intellectual context of a major research university. The school’s conservatory program within the university is one that prepares students intellectually, artistically and practically to be leaders in their chosen professions, whether it be on stage, in film, television, or within the expanding realm of new media.

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The focus of the school’s undergraduate and graduate programs is to study and create theater and performance work that is constantly connected to an ever-evolving world. Theater as an art form has never been more influenced by technology, by economics and by larger cultural developments than now. As artists, School of Drama graduates must engage with compelling ideas about society, science, history, and culture, as well as from many and varied perspectives. The education they receive at the School of Drama prepares them for that opportunity.


The school’s alumni include innovators and leaders in the theater, television and film professions and related arts/entertainment industries who are actors, directors, dramaturgs, dramatic writers, production designers, crafts persons, technicians, technical managers, producers and imaginative visionaries.

The school has produced countless eminent leaders in their field.  Some of our notable alumni include Steven Bochco, Ted Danson, Sutton Foster, Kent Gash, Charles Haid, Holly Hunter, Cherry Jones, Rob Marshall, John Schaffner, Stephen Schwartz, Laura San Giacomo, Tamara Tunnie, Paula Wagner, John Wells and Patrick Wilson.

Alumni have won Academy Awards®, Tony Awards® and Emmy Awards® for their innovative work in set, costume and lighting design as well as in acting, directing and producing. Notable design graduates include Academy Award-winning costume designer Ann Roth and fabled Broadway lighting designer Jules Fischer.

“I really do owe everything to Carnegie Mellon University,” remarked Ted Danson on the School of Drama’s collaborative culture that promotes both creativity and intellectual curiosity. “It set the tone for my life. I love the process, and I learned to love the process here.”

Recent graduates who have become significant contributors to the national and international arts scenes include: Kyle Beltram, Christian Borle, Matt Bomer, Kristen Merlino, Noah Mitz, Tami Dixon, Josh Gad, Ian Harding, Hunter Herdlicka, Megan Hilty, Joe Manganiello, Marc Masterson, Patina Miller, Rory O'Malley, Cote De Pablo, Billy Porter, Zachary Quinto, Pablo Schreiber, Leigh Silverman, Scott Story and Daniella Topol.

Practicing Art

Young artists are challenged daily in a school committed to ongoing progressive engagement with all forms of theater. The program aims to inspire students to create signature work in their chosen discipline and to celebrate unique voices from diverse cultures. The school also fosters curiosity about the fusion between other art forms and progressive theater practice, including exploring the storytelling and entertainment potential of new technologies.

Theater making is a highly collaborative art form and Carnegie Mellon University is a highly collaborative campus. School of Drama students are taught how to bring their creative skills to theater, film and television as well as how to work with visual artists, musicians, engineers, robot developers, business school students and arts managers.


In addition to regular curriculum coursework, the School of Drama offers students multiple opportunities to learn collaboratively and further develop interests.

The Performance Program enables students to work on all areas of dramatic production including: classic, contemporary, cross-disciplinary and new work projects, in all arenas of dramatic production. And the Visiting Artists Program exposes all students to a wide variety of artistic leaders and performance specialists who build upon the faculty’s broad experience.

Additionally, the Study Abroad Program offers students the opportunity to live and learn in a foreign country and to interact with international artists, teachers and communities.

The school encourages students and faculty to make connections off-campus, within the Pittsburgh region, nationally and internationally. Working with faculty mentors and visiting artists, the students develop a personal connection with a wide variety of arts/entertainment practitioners and companies.

The School of Drama’s eminent facility and staff work out of the Purnell Center for the Arts, the physical center of campus. Students take part in over fifteen productions each year that are accessible to the university and wider Pittsburgh community.

Education Programs

For students interested in a rewarding career as an arts/entertainment professional, the school offers five degree programs at the undergraduate level. For graduate students interested in a higher level of education, the school offers five degree programs:



B.F.A. in Acting or Music Theater
B.F.A. in Design (Costume, Lighting, Scenic and Video & Media Design)
B.F.A. in Directing (The John Wells Directing Program)
B.F.A. in Dramaturgy
B.F.A. in Production Technology & Management
(Technical Direction, Production & Stage Management)
M.F.A. in Costume Production
M.F.A. in Design (Costume, Lighting, Scenic and Video & Media Design)
M.F.A. in Directing (The John Wells Directing Program)
M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing
M.F.A. in Production Technology & Management (Technical Direction, Production & Stage Management)


Research Centers

Many individual research projects are undertaken at the School of Drama in the form of collaborations between faculty and students or faculty among colleges. There are also centers affiliated with the school devoted to interdisciplinary artistic research.

The Center for the Arts in Society is dedicated to energizing research and teaching that links the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with the College of Fine Arts. Various members of the School of Drama are part of the center.

The STUDIO for Creative Inquiry supports experimental and cross-disciplinary work across all arts activities.

The Entertainment Technology Center offers a Master’s of Entertainment Technology, a degree conferred jointly by Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts and School of Computer Science. ETC’s mission is to provide students with the opportunity to become entrepreneurs that combine technology and fine arts to create new processes, tools and visions for storytelling and arts entertainment.