MA in Theatre

Graduate Contact/Event Assistant Sr
Jabarbara Jennings (
129 Fine Arts Building; Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-2021

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Cheryl Black
129 Fine Arts Building; Columbia, MO 65211
(573) 882-0530

Admission Criteria

Deadline: January 15 for the following fall semester admission. We only admit once a year, barring extraordinary circumstances.

  • Minimum TOEFL scores:
Internet-based test (iBT) Paper-based test (PBT)
112 650
  • Minimum GRE scores:
When did you take the GRE? Verbal Quantitative Analytical
Prior to August 1, 2011 600 500 4.0
On or After August 1, 2011 160 146 4.0
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 in the last 60 hours

Probationary admission is possible. The director of graduate studies will advise the student in writing of what must be done to change the probationary admission to regular admission.

Required Application Materials

To the Office of Graduate Studies:

  • All required Graduate Studies documents

To the Theater Program:

  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • GRE score report
  • Statement of purpose
  • Scholarly writing sample

Financial Aid from the Program

Some programs require an extra form or statement from those who wish to be considered for internal assistantships, fellowships or other funding packages. Check the program Web site or ask the program contact for details.

Curriculum Requirements

The degree of Master of Arts in Theatre will be awarded upon completion of the curriculum outlined below with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Completed Undergraduate Curriculum

Most students have completed this course of study before seeking admission to MU. However, applicants holding undergraduate degrees in disciplines other than theatre will be asked to complete those courses, which were not part of their undergraduate curriculum. In some cases professional theatre experience may substitute for certain courses. Twelve courses in the undergraduate curriculum should be distributed as follows:

Basic skills: at least one course in each of the following: voice and articulation, movement for the stage, script analysis, technical theatre;
At least one upper-division course in each of the following: acting, directing, dramatic literature, theatre history;
at least two upper-division courses in technical theatre; and two upper-division theatre electives.

Graduate Curriculum

The student must complete at least 24 graduate hours while in residence as a graduate student at MU. The academic program should be established in consultation with an advisor not later than the end of the first full semester of residence. No more than six semester hours of graduate work may be transferred from another university. The student submits Form M-1, Application for Degree of Master of Arts to the Graduate Studies listing the courses to be taken to complete the graduate curriculum.

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Independent Project

Each candidate for the MA must complete an independent project, which should be specified on the M-1 form as part of the plan of study.

There are three options:

  1. This may be a thesis, for which up to six semester hours of credit in Theatre Research may be earned.
  2. Another option is to write an original performance/play, translate a play/performance, or complete a project in acting, design, adaptation/devising, dramaturgy, solo performance or directing. Credit of up to three semester hours may be earned in a graduate problems course.
  3. A student may create and successfully execute a research project to earn three semester hours in a graduate course in independent research.

Satisfactory Progress: General Guidelines for MA in Theatre

Probationary Status

The following constitute grounds for placing a student on departmental probation:

Earning a grade of C or below in any departmental course taken for graduate credit will result in probationary status. A grade of incomplete in any course will result in probationary status for the subsequent semester. Incomplete grades must be changed to a grade of A or B by the end of the probationary semester (dissertation research incompletes are evaluated as S/U until the dissertation is defended). Failure to comply in a satisfactory manner with all responsibilities related to graduate assistantships. Graduate students in our department are expected to conduct themselves in a manner reflecting the university’s commitment to professional integrity, collegiality, and good citizenship. Students who consistently fail to conduct themselves in this manner may be subject to probation or dismissal. In the case of each student on departmental probation, the director of graduate studies will confer with the advisor (in the case of an MA student), or the members of the program committee (in the case of a PhD student) to determine the grounds for removal of probation, and will communicate this decision to the student.

Annual Review

Each Fall semester the director of graduate studies convenes the Graduate Studies Committee to review the progress and performance of all graduate students.

Each graduate student in residence should meet with his or her advisor within the first two weeks of each semester to determine whether satisfactory progress has been maintained, and the advisor shall report the results of this meeting to the director of graduate studies.

Losing & Regaining Financial Support

Termination of departmental financial support will result if the student is considered to be making unsatisfactory progress and the student’s program may be terminated. Departmental financial support may be restored when the student has made satisfactory progress toward a graduate degree for one semester, has made an A or a B in all incomplete courses, and is judged to be off probation by the director of graduate studies.

Master’s Final Examination

Master’s degree students who have been maintaining satisfactory progress toward a degree for a period of 24 months are expected, barring unusual and extenuating circumstances, to be prepared to write the master’s final examination.

Each candidate for the MA is required to pass a final examination to demonstrate mastery of the fundamental principles of the work included in the course of study. An examining board consisting of at least three members of the faculty shall administer the examination.

In consultation with his or her advisor the student selects four areas for examination from among those listed below:

At least two but no more than three areas may be selected from among:

Theatre History and Historiography
Dramatic Literature and Criticism
Dramatic and Performance Theory
Performance Studies and Writing for Performance

At least one but no more than two areas must be selected from among:

History, Theory or Pedagogy of Acting or Directing
History, Theory or Pedagogy of Dramaturgy
History, Theory or Pedagogy of Theatrical Design
History, Theory or Pedagogy of Performance Studies
History, Theory or Pedagogy of Playwriting/Writing for Performance

Length of Exam

Two hours are allotted for answering the question(s) for each area, making a total of eight hours for the examination.

Notifying the Graduate School of Results

As soon as the performance on the Master’s Final Examination has been evaluated, the student’s advisor informs the Graduate School, using the appropriate M-form.

If one area examination is unsatisfactory, the examining board will give the student an oral examination on that area, with special emphasis on the questions or questions missed. If two area examinations are unsatisfactory, the student is failed.

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