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Graduate Programs

MFA in Acting Pedagogy

The Graduate Program in Acting is a two-year track for candidates with extensive experience and professional credits who wish to pursue a teaching career at the university level.

The mission of the MFA in Acting is to mentor seasoned professional actors, directors, and choreographers who after successful careers in the business wish to focus on teaching performance-related subjects (Acting, Voice & Speech, Movement, Directing) at a university. 

This intensive two-year degree provides the candidate with a set of core classes centered around a variety of acting techniques and theories, within a flexible pedagogical laboratory that allows for exploration in other areas of interest. 

The student is afforded ample opportunity to hone both their performance and teaching skills, as they attain the terminal Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in order to win employment in their chosen specialization. 

Criteria for Admission

Information on Applying and Auditions is available.

Faculty

The Performance Faculty is comprised of vastly experienced, professional actors who have worked at the top of their profession on:

  • Broadway
  • National Tours
  • Off-Broadway
  • Top Regional Theatres
  • Shakespeare Festivals
  • Primetime and Daytime Television
  • Feature Film
  • Cabarets
  • International Arts Festivals

The team of teaching artists includes Golden Globe Award winning actors and Screen Actors Guild Award nominees.

Acting Opportunities & Teaching Assistantships

The MFA in Acting also offers graduate students the opportunity to perform in a repertory-styled acting company - California Repertory Company (Cal Rep). The production repertoire of Cal Rep consists predominantly of highly theatrical work. Both national and international guest artists regularly complement the faculty. Click here to learn more about Production Opportunities for Graduate Students. 

The department offers a financial assistantship to most graduate acting students through teaching. MFA Acting students are required to teach one or two entry level theatre classes each semester to earn their assistantship. The set curriculum has some structure to it but also leaves room for individual flexibility as well. 

If you have any questions please contact the head of Acting, Hugh O’Gorman

Curriculum

The curriculum is structured around a first year of core classes in Acting, Voice & Speech, Movement and pedagogy theory. Additional classes include Dramaturgy, Theory and Practice of Contemporary Theatre, and Aesthetic Theory and Conceptualization. The second year focuses on the individual’s desired area of teaching specialization through a more flexible and idiosyncratic curriculum. 

Actor training covers a variety of approaches to teaching and performance theory, and includes, but is not limited to: the Psycho-Physical work of Michael Chekhov, the fundamentals of Stanislavski’s system, Psychological Realism, Non-Linear Theatre, Ensemble Playing in Repertory, Improvisation, and other technique courses. Voice training is grounded in the work of Catherine Fitzmaurice while the Speech component is centered around the Knight/Thompson approach. Training covers enrichment and expansion of individual vocal skills, use of dialects and accents, and exploration of microphone techniques for radio, film, and voice-over work. Movement training covers body mechanics and nonverbal communication, unarmed and armed combat with safety techniques, movement styles, Commedia Dell’Arte and clown work. 

The flexible curriculum allows students to study with many different teachers and directors and to experience differing approaches and techniques in order to enrich their teaching and performance skills. In addition, each graduate student has the opportunity to teach on the undergraduate level. A MFA Thesis is required and focuses on the candidate’s areas of interest and expertise. 

A committee will review the student's work no later than the end of his/her first year in residence to judge whether the student should continue in the program. In order to obtain full classified status, a committee from the Theatre Arts graduate faculty will evaluate academic progress, individual skill development, and review performance at the end of the student's first full year in residence. 

The MFA degree in Theatre Arts is a terminal degree offering the professional training deemed necessary by major theatre arts schools in the United States for university and college teaching positions as well as professional employment as an actor. 

The MFA curriculum emphasizes full-time professionally oriented study. It requires two years of full-time graduate study and the completion of sixty semester credit hours. In addition to academic and professional studies, internships under professional conditions with California Repertory Company are an integral part of the program.

The curriculum consists of 60 units, comprising both practical and theoretical work.

Information on Applying and Auditions is available. 

Concentration core classes: Take all of the following

  • THEA 517 Repertory Theatre I (2+2)
  • THEA 518 Repertory Theatre II (2+2)
  • THEA 520A Voice (3)
  • THEA 520B Voice (3)
  • THEA 523 Theory/Practice of Contemporary Theatre (3)
  • THEA 524 Dramaturgy (3)
  • THEA 525 Theatrical Critical Theory (3)
  • THEA 530A Acting I (3)
  • THEA 530B Acting I (3)
  • THEA 531A Acting II (3)
  • THEA 531B Acting II (3)
  • THEA 552 Collaborative Studies (3)
  • THEA 564A Movement I (3)
  • THEA 564B Movement I (3)
  • THEA 574 Directing (3)
  • THEA 628 Writing for the Theatre Professional (3)

Take 4 units of:

  • THEA 699 MFA Thesis/Project (1-6)

Take six units from the following:

  • THEA 521A Speech (3), THEA 521B Speech (3), THEA 565A Movement II (3), 565B Movement II (3), THEA 694 Special Studies (3)

Information on Applying and Auditions is available.


MBA / MFA in Theatre Management

The Master of Business Administration/Master of Fine Arts (MBA/MFA) in Theatre Management is a three-year, full time program (including two summer sessions) offered jointly between the Theatre Arts Department and the Graduate School of Business.

One of only a handful of programs in the country, the CSULB MBA/MFA in Theatre Management program prepares professionals in all areas of both administration and business for professional careers in arts management — in performing and exhibiting arts organizations, in arts service organizations, in government, funding agencies, and arts councils. The program prepares students for administrative leadership positions and provides the background essential for advancement in professional management careers. The CSULB MBA/MFA in Theatre Management curriculum emphasizes full-time professionally oriented study of a specific theatre discipline. In addition to academic and professional studies, Graduate Managers work under professional conditions with California Repertory Company (Cal Rep), an integral part of the CSULB Theatre Arts MBA/MFA Program.

The CSULB MBA/MFA Theatre Management program is aligned with a not-for-profit, organizational management approach. Graduate Theatre Managers take courses in principles of nonprofit management, fundraising, strategic planning, producing, marketing, and leadership. Skills and understanding are enhanced through collaboration with the Faculty in the College of Business and by internship opportunities at the Los Angeles-area’s many professional theaters.

Criteria for Admission

The program admits into each class only a select few graduate students. Applicants to the MBA/MFA Theatre Management program must:

  1. have completed a Bachelor's or Master's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA in upper division major courses;
  2. meet university admission requirements;
  3. submit evidence of creative ability and professional intent.
  4. The GMAT or GRE is required for admission into the MBA/MFA Theatre Management program at CSULB. The MBA/MFA option requires a passing score on the GMAT of 500 with a written score above 4 or a GRE score average 156 in Verbal Reasoning and 146 in the Quantitative Reasoning.
  5. Acceptance into the College of Business administration. Further information on MBA admissions is available

When an undergraduate degree has been completed in a program having different requirements than those at CSULB, or in some field other than Theatre Arts, additional preparation and time may be required before the Applicant can be considered for classified status in the degree program. Up to 24 units of credit from an MA degree program may be acceptable after review by the Faculty Evaluation Committee and approval by the Dean.

Information on Applying and Interviews is available.

Graduate Management Practicum and Assistantships

The MFA/MBA management program provides students with the necessary hands-on training and skills acquisition to ensure a viable and cutting edge education for ease of transition into the profession. Our program is designed to afford the student the opportunity to acquire these skills through our individually designed practicum and student assistantships as members of our Cal Rep graduate company. The students work as a management team within the department to facilitate management of our production companies including Cal Rep, University Players, EPIC (Educational Performance in Community), Affinity Series, and Theatre Threshold in addition to special events including our yearly fundraising gala Art a la Carte and Design Exposition. These team assignments offer opportunities to work in multiple areas of Theatre administration including Front of House, Box Office Management, Fundraising, Marketing, Production Management, Company Management, Event Planning, and Grant Development. Successful completion of practical assignments in differing areas is necessary for advancement in the program.

In addition to the core courses in Theatre Management, MBA/MFA Graduate Theatre Managers take an additional 30 units of Business courses including Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Strategic Business Management and operations. Graduate Theatre Managers may elect to take classes in other disciplines depending on their interests and previous experience.

Most students will be offered an assistantship in their area of concentration. Management Students work done as part of the management team assignments includes the work done to receive the assistantship. Assistantships range from $5,000 to $8,000 per academic year.

Internships & Professional Development Opportunities

Our MFA/MBA students actively participate in professional internships. These internships are tailored to the students’ professional goals and have included positions in a variety of areas at Tony Award Winning South Coast Repertory Company, LA’s Center Theatre Group, Gallup, Inc., Ojai Playwright’s Festival, LA Fringe Festival, LA Opera, Pasadena Playhouse and many more.

Curriculum

Business Core 1 (12 units) Take all the following courses:

  • ACCT 500 Financial Accounting (3)
  • FIN 501 Financial Management Concepts (3)
  • MGMT 500 Business Policies/Operations/Organizations (3)
  • MKTG 500 Marketing Concepts (3)

Business Core 2 (21 units) Take all the following courses

  • ACCT 610 Managerial Accounting and Control (3)
  • FIN 600 Seminar in Business Finance (3)
  • HRM 652 Sem in Human Resources Management (3)
  • IS 601 Quantitative Methods for Managerial Decision Making (3)
  • IS 602 Management of Information Systems (3)
  • MGMT 647 Seminar in Management Planning and Control Systems (3)
  • MKTG 661 Seminar in Marketing Policies (3)
  • Business Elective (3 units)

Theatre Core (9 units) Take all the following courses

  • THEA 523 Theory/Practice of Contemporary Theatre (3)
  • THEA 524 Dramaturgy (3)
  • THEA 696 Aesthetic Theory and Conceptualization (3)

Theatre Management (24 units) Take all the following courses:

  • THEA 502 Seminar in Theatre Management I (3)
  • THEA 503 Leadership and the Arts (3)
  • THEA 504 Managing Not-For-Profit Arts Organization (3)
  • THEA 507 Entertainment Law (3)
  • THEA 550 Computer Graphics for Theatre (3)
  • THEA 602 Seminar in Theatre Management II (3)

Theatre Practicum (12 units) Take all the following courses

  • THEA 517 Repertory Theatre I (2)
  • THEA 518 Repertory Theatre II (2)
  • THEA 519 Repertory Theatre III (2)

Culminating Thesis/Project (3 units) Take the following course:

  • THEA 699 MFA Thesis/Project (1-6)

Theatre Electives (6 units)

Information on Applying and Interviews is available.