MFA Acting (PATP)


Ranked Top 10 in the USA and 11th in the World – Hollywood Reporter, 2018, 2017

A top 25 MFA Acting Program in the USA – Backstage, 2018


The Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill is a rigorous three-year Master of Fine Arts program. The program offers advanced training to early-career professionals in acting, includes professional rehearsal and performance practice with PlayMakers Repertory Company; and provides a bridge by which our graduates, with credibility and a significant circle of professional acquaintance, may enter the profession.

We accept 6-8 actors in each class. We accept a new class every other year. We have a new class starting Fall 2021, and again in Fall 2023.

Our next auditions will be in January and February of 2023 in New York City, Chicago, and Chapel Hill. See the “Apply” page on this site for information on applications and auditions.





Why choose UNC for your professional training?

  • Train with master teachers and leading guest professionals
  • Be part of a professional LORT company with meaningful stage experience
  • Work closely with professional guest directors and actors
  • The program invites leading artistic and industry professionals to join us for workshops and master classes
  • Self-motivated projects and Ground Floor productions are selected with you in mind
  • Each actor is given skills, space and agency to create their own work
  • Perform in schools and other locations around the community with the Mobile Shakespeare unit
  • We are committed to Access, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism
  • Participate in a Prestigious New York Showcase and/or Digital Showcase upon graduation
  • Every actor graduates with the option to become a member of Actors Equity Association
  • For many candidates, full or partial competitive stipend and tuition remission

Classes are taught by resident master teachers and distinguished guest faculty within a conservatory structure. We cultivate expansive, versatile and authentic artists with a focus on technical proficiency as well as uniqueness of self. At the conclusion of training, PATP actors are seen by casting professionals and agents in a showcase presentation in New York City and/or given a high-quality personally-crafted digital showcase.

The Program’s affiliation with PlayMakers Repertory Company, an Equity/LORT theatre, provides an ongoing opportunity for training and significant work within a nationally-recognized professional company. Each PATP student will be eligible to become a member of Actors’ Equity Association prior to or at the time of graduation.

PlayMakers is currently led by Producing Artistic Director, Vivienne Benesch. Vivienne was awarded the 2017 Fichandler Award for directing and is an Obie-Award-winning actor who served as Artistic Director of the Chautauqua Theatre Company and Conservatory for ten years, and has regularly taught at Juilliard and NYU in addition to her thriving directing career. Learn about her vision for PlayMakers and its relationship to the PATP in her Letter from the Producing Artistic Director.

A sample of PATP actors’ roles on the PlayMakers mainstage in recent seasons includes: Bigger and Bessie in Native Son, Everybody in Everybody, Tateh in Ragtime, Miranda, Ferdinand and Ariel in The Tempest; Olivia, Orsino, Viola and Aguecheek in Twelfth Night; Demetrius, Lysander, Hermia and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun; Isaac in Disgraced; Cinderella and The Wolf in Into the Woods; Jen and Macy in The Cake; Mayme, George, Mrs. Van Buren and Mr. Marks in Intimate Apparel; Irina, Natasha, Masha and Andre in The Three Sisters; Amalia and Kodaly in She Loves Me; Dez and Shanita in Skeleton Crew; Marianne and Elinor in Sense and Sensibility; among many others.

Recent guest directors at PlayMakers include Tyne Rafaeli, Desdemona Chiang, Dominque Serrand, Lee Sunday Evans, Jesse Austrain, Saheem Ali, Nicole A. Watson, Preston Lane, Mike Donahue, Seret Scott, Libby Appel, Lisa Rothe, Valerie Curtis-Newton, Kirsten Sanderson, Whitney White, David MacCallum, Liesl Tommy, Lee Sunday Evans, Taibi Magar, Zack Fine, Jeffrey Meanza, Colette Robert, Zi Alikhan, Orlando Pabotoy, Andrew Borba, and Patrick Torres.

Ground Floor productions are designed with the actor in mind and chosen for specific PATP actors. They are rehearsed and performed in studios with little-to-no production values, with focus solely on the acting. Recent Ground Floor productions include:

  • The Kritik directed and written by Brenda Withers – written specifically for PATP actors
  • Top Dog Under Dog directed by guest artist Tyler Dombrowkski
  • Beast on the Moon directed by UNC faculty Aubrey Snowden
  • Pavilion directed by guest artist Dana Marks
  • Time Stands Still directed by PlayMakers Producing Associate, Alejandro Rodriguez
  • Real Estate directed by guest artist Talya Klein
  • Good Girls: A Play in Five Fabulous Acts devised by PATP actors with director and guest faculty, Maria Enriquez
  • Measure for Measure, a Mobile Shakespeare production directed by guest artist Katie McGerr
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a Mobile Shakespeare production directed by PlayMakers Artistic Associate Mikey Perlman
  • Macbeth, a Mobile Shakespeare production directed by PATP faculty, Tia James
  • Space Plus Time written and directed by Kevin Vavassuer
  • Mud by Maria Irene Fornes, directed by Ron Menzel
  • References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by Jose Rivera, directed by Aubrey Snowden

Guest Workshops and Master Classes

The PATP’s Course of Study is supplemented by workshops and special classes taught by distinguished guests. Past workshops include:

And other creative artists such as:

In addition to being ranked 7th in the USA and 11th and 23rd in the World by the Hollywood Reporter in 2018, 2017, and 2016 and listed as one of the top 25 MFA Acting Program in the USA by Backstage in 2018, The Program’s stature in the field is marked by the success we have had in placing our actors at the Chautauqua Theatre Company Conservatory and the Gunthrie Experience for Actors in Training, two of the country’s most influential summer programs for early-career professionals.

Recent graduates of the program and some of their work include (we did not have a graduating class in 2018):

  • Myles Bullock ’17 – S.W.A.T., Dead Inside, Criminal Minds, Marvel’s Runaways
  • Ben Curns ’17 – Quantico, Parchman Hour at Virginia Stage, Macbeth at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, Investigation Discovery’s Grave Mysteries and In Pursuit with John Walsh
  • Allison Altman ’17 – Anna Karenina at The Denver Center
  • Schuyler Mastain ’17 – The Sower at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Short Film: The 187 on Shirewood Lane, A Saurian Shudder, Head and Heart, Unconditional, and The Ostrich Farm
  • Arielle Yoder ’16 – First National Tour of The Humans, Law and Order: SVU, The price of Thomas Scott at The Mint, Shrew! at Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival, Soot and Spit at The New Ohio, The Mystery of Love and Sex at Shaker Bridge Theatre
  • Cary Cox ’16 – Standby for Laura in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, Stand-Up Comedy at Dangerfield’s in NYC
  • Caroline Strange ’16 – The Bluest Eye at The Guthrie Theatre, The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Hippodrome, Cinderella and The Diary of Anne Frank at People’s Light Theatre, Othello at The Brick, Meditations on a Magnetic North at The Tank, Beauty and the BeastI Do, I Do!, Steel Magnolias, and Once Upon a Mattress at RedHouse Arts
  • Greg DeCandia ’16 – Assistant Professor at Oklahoma City University
  • Nilan Johnson ’13 – Received a Drama League Artist-in-Residence Award for his play Endangered Species, #BLACKLIVESMATTER, Investigation Discovery’s Most Evil
  • Nathaniel Claridad ’13 – Recently received a Drama League Artist-in-Residence award to direct Endangered SpeciesHere Lies Love at the Public Theater, Awesome 80’s Pro, The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., Imagination Stage, Barrington Stage Company, Cape Fear Regional Theater, Two Rivers Theatre Company, Hangar Theatre, Folger Theatre, and The Kennedy Center.
  • Katie Paxton ’12 – The Blacklist, The Good Wife, Forever, Billy and Billie, Bedroom Farce at The Huntington
  • Josh Tobin ’12 – 4000 Miles at Baltimore Center Stage, Ricki and the Flash, Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
  • John Dreher ’12 – The Slap, Ricki and the Flash
  • DeeDee Batteast ’12 – Associate Professor at Ball State University

Up Next:

Ground Floor Project 

Featuring PATP Actors