Art and Scholarship at MU Theatre

Our MA and PhD programs are designed to develop the artist's and scholar's capacity for research, teaching and creative achievement. Students enter an exciting, demanding and highly selective program on the campus of a learning-centered research university ranked as one of the foremost institutions of its kind in the country. More about MU >>

The Master of Arts (MA) Program

Those who apply to the MA program should have completed a bachelor's degree in theatre or a related field. Admission is contingent upon a 3.0 GPA for the last 60 hours of the baccalaureate program and scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination well above the national mean for applicants in the Humanities. Applicants should also submit undergraduate transcripts, a statement of purpose explaining why they are seeking a graduate degree at MU, a writing sample (usually a research paper), and three letters of recommendation.

Each candidate for the MA is required to complete a written exam and an independent project. The project may be a thesis, an original script, or a project in acting, directing, or design.

The Doctoral (PhD) Program

The PhD program in theatre at MU is more than 50 years old. MU is the only institution in the state, and one of fewer than 35 active programs in the nation, that offers the PhD in theatre. This places the department in a unique position not only to fulfill the University's statewide mission, but also to assume a national role.

The doctorate in theatre at MU is intended to prepare students to practice and teach theatre within a liberal arts institution. With the guidance and support of a distinguished faculty of artists/scholars and the resources of one of the largest university libraries in the United States, MU doctoral students develop artistic, research, and pedagogical specializations within the fields of theatre and performance studies. Courses regularly taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants include Acting for Nonmajors, Beginning Playwriting, Voice and Diction, Makeup, Stagecraft, Script Analysis, and Introduction to Theatre. Graduate students regularly participate in MU's mainstage season as actors, directors, playwrights, designers, or dramaturgs.

The success our graduates have attained in professional theatre and in college and university teaching speaks of the effectiveness of the doctoral program in preparing students for the marketplace.

Applicants to the program should hold an MA in Theatre or a related field and should have earned a GPA of 3.0 or better in the last 60 hours of their undergraduate curriculum and a GPA of 3.5 or better in their master's program. Applicants should submit transcripts, a statement of purpose explaining why they are seeking a PhD at MU, three letters of recommendation, and a scholarly writing sample; those interested in the Writing for Performance Program should also submit a sample of creative (dramatic) writing. Scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination should substantially exceed the national average for applicants in theatre.

Accepted applicants take a diagnostic examination during the first year of residence. The Graduate Faculty of the department evaluates the examination and meets with the student to discuss academic and artistic background, career goals and research interests. The program of study emerging from the diagnostic and conferences with a program adviser and the Graduate Studies Committee is tailored to the student's background and research interests.

Doctoral degree requirements include the successful completion of:

  • A course of study designed in consultation with the student's advisory committee
  • Additional course work to satisfy the department's requirements for a doctoral minor and research tools
  • Written and oral comprehensive examinations
  • Completion of a dissertation and oral defense of dissertation