Master of Arts or Master of Science in Theatre
The M.A. / M.S. degree program is designed for two populations of students:
- Students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. in Theatre and need a rigorous master's degree program to prepare them for further graduate study.
- Students who know they want to work professionally in theatre but are not yet certain which aspect of theatre best fits their interests.
In the School of Theatre and Dance we maintain a flexible program that allows you to customize your course of study and build a solid foundation for further M.F.A. or Ph.D. studies, for teaching at the community college level, or for other professional careers in theatre, such as dramaturgy and historical research.
Why pursue an M.A. or M.S. degree at Illinois State University?
Your education and related experience at Illinois State University will make you a competitive applicant for Ph.D. programs or entry-level community college teaching positions. In addition to your coursework, you will be encouraged to attend professional conferences and become familiar with the theatre profession nationally. Students in past years have delivered presentations at several professional conferences, including the Mid-America Theatre Conference and regional Popular Culture Association conferences. Alumni of the program have moved on to some of the best Ph.D. programs in theatre in the U.S.
What is the curriculum?
The M.A. or M.S. degree is normally completed in a two-year course of study (four semesters) and culminates in either a written thesis project or a comprehensive examination.
The School of Theatre and Dance curriculum includes advanced courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, and dramatic theory and criticism, as well as acting, directing, and design. Nearly half of the required 36 credit hours are elective courses, allowing students to tailor their curriculum toward their research area or artistic interests.
For specific information, including course offerings and required credit hours, please see the Graduate Catalog. For more general information about graduate study at Illinois State University, including typical time frames for graduation, see Considering Graduate School? on the Illinois State Graduate School’s Web site.
Can I receive financial assistance while attending graduate school?
The School of Theatre and Dance offers a limited number of graduate assistantships to qualified M.A. / M.S. candidates. Assistantships provide you with a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. Full-time assistantships require a 20-hour work-week commitment. Typical assistantships include opportunities to teach major and non-major courses, assist with School of Theatre and Dance marketing and events, and work with theatre faculty as research and conference assistants. The University's Office of Financial Aid has further information about loans and scholarship programs.
Will I be able to teach?
Most M.A. / M.S. students who qualify for an assistantship have the opportunity to teach courses for majors and non-majors, including introductory theatre and dramatic literature courses. Whether you intend to teach at the community college level or pursue a Ph.D. in Theatre, this teaching experience will increase your academic profile and job viability.
Do School of Theatre and Dance graduates move on to other academic programs?
Yes! Recent M.A. / M.S. graduates have been admitted to doctoral programs at Bowling Green State University, City University of New York (CUNY), The Ohio State University, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Kansas, University of Maryland at College Park, University of Oregon, and the University of Pittsburgh.
Illinois State graduates who have gone on to complete their Ph.D. degrees hold teaching positions at such institutions of higher learning as Arizona State University, Lehman College-CUNY, Miami University of Ohio, Rhodes College, Washington and Jefferson University and Western Colorado State University. Other alumni have entered the teaching profession upon completing the M.A. / M.S. program and are teaching theatre at private high schools and community colleges.
Applications and Admission
To apply to the M.A. / M.S. program, first fill out the Graduate Admission Application. When you submit your Graduate Admission Application, you will also be prompted to submit the following materials:
A statement of purpose
A resume or c.v.
One example of scholarly writing
Next, you will need to have three letters of recommendation sent to the following address:
School of Theatre and Dance Graduate Admissions
Campus Box 5700
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-5700
Thank you for making the School of Theatre and Dance’s M.A. / M.S. program in Theatre one of your options as you explore your graduate school opportunities.
If you have further questions about the program and application procedures, please contact the head of the M.A. / M.S. Program in Theatre, Dr. Ann Haugo.