The master of fine arts (M.F.A.) degree program in theater arts requires a 3.5-year, full-time residency for actors and designers and a 2.5-year, full-time residency for stage managers and playwrights. Directors are given individualized programs based on background, education, and credits between 2.5 and 3.5 years. The maximum time for completing the degree is five years from the date of matriculation. Students may get special exceptions to this maximum time limit with approval of both the graduate program director and dean. The total number of degree credits varies according to program concentration (no less than 70 credits). The degree program emphasizes artistic performance and development of technical mastery in one of the five major program areas.