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M.A. in Theater Arts

A Dream Play
We welcome artists and thinkers who challenge the theory, practice and spectatorship of the performing arts.


The UCSC Department of Theater Arts Graduate Program offers two degrees:

Twelve-month Master of Arts in Theater Arts is a bridge to professional achievements in Arts Management, Choreography, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Performance, Performance Scholarship, Technical Theater, and Stage Management; we place graduates into prestigious terminal degree (MFA and Ph.D.) programs.

Two-year Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts and New Media with an emphasis in theater arts. Within the research group Future Stages, the program focuses on interdisciplinarity and cutting-edge media theory in both seminar and studio work and culminates in a professionally produced full-scale performance.

Students in both programs study with highly engaged faculty, including Builders Association founder Marianne Weems and Michael M. Chemers, author of Ghost Light.


Students combine coursework from Digital Arts and New Media and Theater Arts in a unique environment that exposes students to cutting edge technology and revolutionary ideas. Please note that applications for the M.F.A. are due February 8 (different from Theater Arts M.A. applications). Details on the Digital Arts and New Media website.


Our M.A. program serves as a bridge from undergraduate work to professional work in a range of performance-related fields. It also places students in an excellent position to pursue further graduate academic work, such as an M.F.A. or Ph.D.

The degree does not require students to focus exclusively on one aspect of theater-making. Instead, we encourage students to explore performance from a broad perspective, and then to hone in on one capstone project that will test them to the best of their abilities. These projects have included practice-focused and scholarly-based research in Directing, Performance, Design, Technical Theater and Stage Management, Dramaturgy, and Dramatic Literature.

The Master of Arts degree combines intellectually rigorous coursework with challenging artistic practice. Like our undergraduate curriculum, our graduate program integrates the study of ancient and modern theater texts and practices, and it examines diverse approaches to performance. It encourages collaboration, initiative, and cross-disciplinary thinking.

Coursework for the M.A. in Theater Arts

Students are required to complete 40 units for the M.A. in Theater Arts. This includes three graduate seminars (THEA 290A, THEA 290B, and THEA 290C), for a total of 15 units. These courses are required of all M.A. candidates, regardless of their area of emphasis. Students must also complete THEA 293, a 10-unit Performance Research Project that includes a professional internship project. Students may take this course in any quarter in the academic year, though it is advised that the internship portion be completed during the summer before the regular M.A. program begins. This work will be supervised and assessed by a Theater Arts faculty member.

Students must also complete the 5-unit courses THEA 295 Group Critique, THEA 294 Future Stages, and THEA 299 Capstone Thesis.

In addition, students may elect to take an optional Independent Study (THEA 297) or an undergraduate upper-division or graduate course in another department. These courses must be approved by the Graduate Committee and Graduate Director.

Course descriptions may be viewed in the UCSC General Catalog (graduate-level courses are numbered 200 and higher).

Teaching Assistantships for the M.A. in Theater Arts

There are no teaching requirements for graduate students in the M.A program; however, students are encouraged to act as teaching assistants, as positions are available at UC Santa Cruz. Historically, Theater Arts has offered graduate students between one and three-quarters of teaching assistant (TA) positions. Other fellowships and grants are available to many students; students are encouraged to seek alternative sources of funding if needed. Students may elect to find and undertake a paid internship in a quarter in which they do not receive a TAship. Recommended links: UCSC Financial Aid and Federal Student Aid websites.

To apply to the M.A. in Theater Arts

Applications for the M.A. in Theater Arts program are due by 11:59 pm (PST) on February 1 for admission the following fall. Please note that applications for the M.F.A. are due earlier, on January 15. The online application requires a statement of purpose, transcripts from prior education, a résumé, and three letters of recommendation. International students are required to take the TOEFL or the IESTL. It is critical that all students in the master's program have excellent fluency in both written and spoken English. The application to this program does not require the GRE.

Applicants will be asked to specify a specialization for their capstone project (Arts Management, Choreography, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Performance, Performance Scholarship, Technical Theater, and Stage Management). Applicants must upload files or provide links to their portfolio, video reel, or writing samples based on that subfield specification. All materials must be submitted online.

You may find application instructions at the UCSC Graduate Division.

To be considered for admission to the M.A in Theater Arts, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, or expect conferment by August 1 before the beginning of the master's program in September, and be able to furnish proof to UCSC. Applicants who hold bachelor’s degrees in fields other than theater arts should submit evidence of relevant experience.

Whom may I contact for more information about the M.A. in Theater Arts?

  • Moon Rinaldo: Graduate Program Coordinator, Theater Arts Department
  • Michael M. Chemers, M.F.A., Ph.D.: Director of Graduate Studies, Theater Arts