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MFA Arts Leadership

Arts Leadership (MFA)
Student speaking in front of a collection of creative planning boards


The Theatre School’s Arts Leadership program is a two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree that combines full-time employment at the renowned, Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater with full-time coursework at DePaul University. Management, leadership, and cultural decision-making coursework through The Theatre School, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, and other DePaul colleges are​ applied and synthesized through the fellowship at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. This rigorous and nationally distinct program is designed to prepare highly skilled leaders in the complex and sophisticated world of the arts. Two students are selected to enter the program each year.


Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise in the arts and entertainment industry. The program is jointly supervised by veteran theatre producer and full-time DePaul professor, Alan Salzenstein, and Executive Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Kimberly Motes​.​ 

“This program is designed for those who seek a challenge—one that could lead to significant personal and professional rewards. If you have the commitment, motivation, and calling to become one of the next generation of arts leaders, I look forward to having you as a part of the MFA Arts Leadership program.”

Alan Salzenstein

Head of Arts Leadership

The Fellowship​

Regional Tony Award-recipient Chicago Shakespeare Theater​ (CST) produces a bold and innovative year-round season—plays, musicals, world premieres, family productions, and theatrical presentations from around the globe—alongside nationally recognized education programming serving tens of thousands of students, teachers, and lifelong learners each year. Founded in 1986, Chicago's Shakespeare's onstage work has expanded to as many as twenty productions and 650 performances annually. Located on the iconic Navy Pier, the Theater's campus features the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater, The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare, and the Thoma Theater Upstairs. Onstage, in classrooms and neighborhoods across the city, and in venues around the world, Chicago Shakespeare is a multifaceted cultural hub—inviting audiences, artists, and community members to share powerful stories that connect and inspire. 

Arts Leadership students are introduced to the phases of work at CST and assume management positions for specific projects. Students undertake duties including staff management, line production, and strategic development duties in various departments. In doing so, they interact with CST’s constituencies, from patrons and donors to artists and educators. Students acquire functional and operational skills, from Finance to Human Resources, that allow them to administer tasks that keep a theater running smoothly, and helm company-wide programs that require the highest standard of execution and accountability. Front-line involvement in day-to-day operations coupled with access to the CST’s “big picture” planning afford students a bespoke opportunity to develop the skills and vision necessary to lead an arts organization into the future.

The Arts Leadership Fellowship includes a compensation package of a full-time salary and benefits​. In addition to the compensation package, The Theatre School also awards scholarships to Arts Leadership students for both years of the program. 

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is deeply committed to creating and sustaining an organizational culture that values diversity, inclusion, and equity, as well as promoting a safe, supportive, and collaborative work environment. Visit our website to learn more about our IDEA to Action Platform​.

​​​After DePaul: Examples of Alumni Work

Arts Leadership alumni go on to work in a range of high-level management and administrative positions, both in the arts and entertainment industry as well as related fields. Graduate positions include:

  • Executive Director, Huntington Theatre Company (Boston, MA)
  • Executive Director, McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ)
  • Executive Director, Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (Old Saybrook, CT)
  • CEO, Jazz Arts Group of Columbus (Columbus, OH)
  • General Manager, Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Chicago, IL)
  • Managing Director - Strategy and Advancement, Writers Theatre (Glencoe, IL)
  • Director of Philanthropy, Court Theatre (Chicago, IL)
  • Producer/General Manager, Pemberley Productions (UK/USA)
  • Director of Individual Giving, Alliance Theatre (Atlanta, GA)
  • Creative Director, Live Marketing (Chicago, IL)
  • Managing Director, Filament Theatre (Chicago, IL)
  • Managing Director, The Neo-Futurists (Chicago, IL)
  • Director of Marketing and Sales, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)
  • Senior Director - Philanthropic Engagement,​ Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL)
  • Chief Development Officer, Latin School of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
  • Marketing Director, Merz Apothecary (Chicago, IL)
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