DePaul University Theatre School > Conservatory > Graduate Conservatory > Arts Leadership

MFA Arts Leadership

The Theatre School’s graduate Arts Leadership Fellowship is a two-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program that combines full-time employment at Chicago Shakespeare Theater with full-time coursework at DePaul University. This rigorous and nationally distinct program is designed to prepare students to become highly skilled leaders in the complex and sophisticated world of the arts. Through its dual nature, the Arts Leadership program focuses on training in management, leadership, and cultural decision-making while students synthesize that training through their employment at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, one of the most vibrant theatre organizations in the country. This experience is coupled with full-time coursework from The Theatre School and from DePaul University’s highly regarded Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, providing students with the tools to be successful and competitive. Coursework and employment components integrate into a comprehensive and demanding experience.

Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise and receive on-the-job training at one of the nation’s fastest growing theatre companies. The program is jointly supervised by veteran theatre producer and full-time faculty member Alan Salzenstein, and Executive Director of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Criss Henderson.

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) on Navy Pier brings a broad spectrum of theater to Chicago each year, engaging and entertaining visitors from all walks of life. Audiences can enjoy performances in either of two venues: in the Courtyard Theater, inspired by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre, or the intimate, studio theater, Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. The dramatic works of William Shakespeare are at the heart of the company. A high standard for entertainment and storytelling ensures that everyone will find something to enjoy—whether it be traditional classical theater or new classics. Through the World’s Stage Series, CST brings international productions to Chicago audiences, presenting new cultural and artistic experiences.

CST’s quality programming is intended for theatergoers of all ages. For family audiences, CST presents abridged Shakespeare productions and classic musicals. The education outreach program, Team Shakespeare, has reached more than one million students and helps Shakespeare come alive for students and teachers throughout the Midwest.

"The landscape of theater is rapidly changing, but one tenet will remain as true as it is today: the effective leaders of tomorrow must learn through actual practice. Here, you will lead."


Chicago Shakespeare Theater demonstrates an enterprising spirit well suited to the aims of the Arts Leadership Fellowship. Likewise, Arts Leadership students are introduced to all phases of work at CST and assume management positions for specific projects. Students undertake staff management, line production, and strategic development duties in various departments, and in doing so, interact with several of the CST’s constituencies, from patrons to artists to donors. Students administer the routine tasks that keep a theater running smoothly, and helm company-wide programs that require the highest standard of execution and accountability. A front-line involvement in day-to-day operations coupled with access to the CST’s “big picture” planning afford students a unique 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. The total package is generally equal to a tuition remission, prior to taxes. In addition to the compensation package, The Theatre School also awards scholarships to Arts Leadership students for each year of the program.

"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."


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