MA Program Admission FAQ

MA Program Admission FAQ

What is the primary focus of this AM degree, and what is the difference between a Master of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree?

The Master’s Program in Theater and Performance Studies is a Master of Arts (or, in Latin, “Artium Magister,” AM) degree.  As such, it is focused primarily on the academic study of theater and performance—such as theatre history, dramatic criticism and theory, performance theory, comparative study of performance in global cultures, etc.—and not on practical training in the performing arts.  We do, of course, recognize the importance of practical training for the scholarly study of theater and performance, which is why we require at least one (and up to three) practice-oriented courses.  Most of our students will go on to get a PhD, and many do so with the intent of including directing among their anticipated duties of teaching and publishing in a college or university setting.  Likewise, our students who go on to careers as dramaturgs and literary managers find their academic training helpful in solving problems encountered in arts practice research.  The primary difference between an AM and an MFA degree is thus one of emphasis; while an AM trains scholars, the MFA trains artists—both in the specificities of their craft. 

What are the most important parts of my application?

The most important parts of your application are the statement of purpose and the writing sample(s).  Your statement of purpose should explain your background in theater and performance studies, your research interests, and your academic and professional goals, noting why you think they would be best served by our program.  Your writing sample(s) should demonstrate your ability to think critically and write clearly.  Although you are advised to submit a sample that demonstrates your familiarity with theater and/or performance studies, the topic is less important than the quality of thought that the essay reveals.

What kind of financial aid is available?

In recent years, we have been able to offer 100% tuition remission to all admitted MA students.  Competitive stipends are offered through the Graduate School.  Many eligible students also hold part-time employment positions within the department of Performing Arts.

Do I need to submit scores from the GRE exam?

The MA in Theater and Performance Studies no longer requires applicants to submit scores from the GRE exam.

I am an international student. Is this a problem? Is there a minimum TOEFL score required?

We welcome applications from international scholars, and are proud to have international students currently in our graduate class and numbered among our alumni.  In assessing applications from such students, we defer to the University, which recommends that the score on the internet-based TOEFL exam be no less than 90.  This baseline score helps to ensure that our non-native English-speaking students achieve success in the program, given the rigorous demands of advanced coursework.

I am thinking about applying to the AM Program in Theater and Performance Studies. Should I schedule a trip to campus?

Yes, you’re welcome to visit campus as you consider making an application to our program.  Please contact us in advance and we will arrange for you to meet with faculty in your proposed area of research as well as current students.  Such an opportunity will also allow you sit in on one of our graduate classes.

I have been offered admission to the AM Program in Theater and Performance Studies. Can I come to campus to look around?

Yes, we encourage you to do so, and in fact bring all admitted applicants to campus between the January submission and April decision deadlines.  Typically, these visits occur in late February or early March and feature lectures by leading scholars and/or tickets to a Performing Arts Department (PAD) performance.  For such visits, we cover travel expenses, arrange for informal housing (often with current graduate students), and provide meals while you’re here. 

Still have questions?

If you have questions about the AM program and/or any aspect of the application process, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Paige McGinley.

Email Professor McGinley