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Master of Arts Degree

The Masters in Theatre at California State University, Northridge offers advanced study in theatre history, literature, criticism, and pedagogy, at the graduate level. The program provides pre-professional training in theatre education, and is designed for students interested in pursuing advanced studies in theatre, or careers in theatre and arts education. 



  • Rigorous seminar courses cover topics related to theatre history, popular culture, applied theatre, dramatic literature, criticism, and contemporary theatre.
  • Teaching Associate positions for eligible students offer training experiences in theatre education and pedagogy.
  • Two state-sponsored tuition waivers for selected TAs.
  • The Theatre Department’s production season gives eligible Masters students opportunities for involvement in shows as researchers, assistant directors, and dramaturgs.
  • Passionate, dedicated faculty with active research publication records, years of experience in professional and educational theatre productions, community arts outreach, Theatre of the Oppressed pedagogy, and devised theatre.
  • Affordable for all students, with afternoon and evening course hours to accommodate work and family schedules.
  • Close proximity to the heart of the entertainment industry enables arts professionals to complete academic training that complements their professional experiences.

Sample course topics offered for graduate credit: Contemporary Theatre, Musical Theatre, Queer Theatre, Theatre and Drama of Asia, Theatrical Theory and Criticism, Irish Drama, Theatre and Drama of Latin America, Race & Ethnicity on the U.S. Stage, Theatre and Drama of Greece & Rome, Interculturalism, Postcolonialism, Adaptation, and the Aesthetics of Applied Theatre.

Theatre Research & Applied Theatre

The MA Theatre program offers unique partnerships with on-campus arts resources, such as the Theatre Department’s award-winning Teenage Drama Workshop (TADW) and CSUN’s Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts.

Eligible MA students can obtain internships in the thriving arts scenes of Los Angeles and surrounding Southern California communities.

Our MA students have presented their research at academic conferences, including the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR), and the Midwest Popular Culture Association (MPCA). 

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Define and evaluate the connections between theatre, entertainment, popular culture, and digital media arts.
  2. Describe and apply the aesthetic, sociological, political, and historical frameworks of global theatre.
  3. 3Analyze and interpret scholarly writing in the areas of world theatre history, literature and criticism.
  4. Critically examine contemporary debates and emerging disciplinary discourses in theatre.
  5. Create and design interdisciplinary applied theatre projects, incorporating audience analysis, dramaturgy, and community engagement.



Prospective students first apply to the Office of Admissions and Records for admission to the University. This must be completed before the departmental process can begin. Requirements for admission to the University are:

a. Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university.

b. Good academic standing at the last institution attended.

c. Undergraduate grade point average of 2.5 or better in the last 60 semester or 90 quarter units.

International students should refer to the International Admissions Criteria for further information. 


  1. An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher.
    Applicants with an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 will be considered, but are required to take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam) and score in the upper 50th percentile in at least one of the three test portions.
  2. A BA degree with a major in Theatre, Drama, or Performance.
    The graduate program in Theatre presupposes strong undergraduate preparation in the theatre (a minimum of 24 upper-division units of coursework). Applicants with significant professional experience in theatre, or academic degrees in another area of the arts or humanities may, with justification, seek to waive this requirement.
  3. Transcripts from all previous degree-granting educational institutions attended.
  4. A writing sample demonstrating your writing and analytical ability.
  5. Two letters of recommendation. 

The department’s standards for admission are higher than those required by the University. The department will determine whether a student meets the additional requirements needed for admittance into the Theatre graduate program. All material must be submitted by the department’s deadline to be considered. Evaluation and selection of applicants are the responsibility of the appropriate Departmental Committee, chaired by the Graduate Coordinator

Requirements for Classification

Graduate students are admitted into the program in two categories: Classified and Conditionally Classified.

Departmental requirements for classification:

  1. University requirements for classified status.
  2. At least a 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses taken in the Theatre MA program.
  3. A passing score on the Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE) or a score of 3 or higher on the GRE-Analytical Exam.
  4. Department evaluation and approval for admission to classified graduate standing.

Students cannot go beyond 12 units of coursework until classified status is achieved.

Conditionally classified students may take graduate classes as they work on fulfilling the GRE and UDWPE conditions required for classified status.

Upper-Division Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE)

Students who have graduated from a California State University (CSU) have fulfilled the WPE requirement. Students who receive a score of 3 or higher on the GRE-Analytical Exam are exempt from this requirement.  All other students must receive a passing score (8) on the WPE to become classified.

The test consists of a 75-minute written essay response to an assigned topic. Including admission and instructions, expect to be in the testing room for up to 1 ½ hours. Register early as space is limited- registration closes when capacity is full, which may be before posted deadline.   For more information:


***The Masters in Theatre is suspending new student admissions as of Spring 2019 for a period of curricular revision. Please check back for announcement of its admissions opening, or contact the department for more information.***

In our two-tiered admission process, you must apply for admission to the university and also to the department.

  1. Application to Cal State University. The attached PDF file, “Graduate Application Guide (.pdf)” is a step-by-step reference that will guide you through the system of applying through the “Cal State Apply” system.You can also refer to the Admissions & Records wesbsite for the required university admission process.
  2. For your Department of Theatre Application, the following materials are required:
    • The Department of Theatre Application Checklist (.pdf)
    • copy of your university application. Print it out as you submit it online.
    • A statement of purpose (approximately 2-3 double-spaced pages). What are your objectives for graduate study? Your statement of purpose should identify the academic, professional, intellectual, and/or career goals that would be served by your enrollment in the program.
    • A writing sample. This writing sample (approximately 5-10 double-spaced pages) should demonstrate your writing and analytical ability. Submission of a paper from an undergraduate course in any discipline of the arts and humanities is acceptable. (Maximum of 10 pages-- please excerpt longer works.)
    • Transcript(s) from all previous degree-granting educational institutions attended. These may be unofficial. Official (sealed) transcripts are required for your university application, sent to California State University, Northridge, Admissions & Records Office.
    • Two letters of recommendation that address your potential for success in your chosen field and/or course of study. Letters of recommendation must be on letterhead, and may be from former teachers, mentors, or supervisors. Letters should be sent under separate cover to the Theatre Department (information listed below).

    All documents may be sent via postal mail or email

    Graduate Coordinator
    Department of Theatre
    California State University, Northridge
    18111 Nordhoff Street
    Northridge, CA  91330-8257

    Applications may be sent via email by incorporating the above documents (items a. through e., not official transcripts and letters of recommendation) in one PDF file. Send it with the subject heading “MA PROGRAM APPLICATION” to: Label your file with your last name and first initial, for example: DiazJ.MA.Application.pdf.


    The requirements for the degree are found in the university catalog.

    Requirements for the M.A. Degree

    Minimum of 30 units of approved courses, distributed as follows:

    1. Required Course (3 units)

    TH 600 Seminar in Research Methods and Bibliography in Theatre (3)

    2. Two courses (6 units) from the following:

    TH 620 Seminar in Theatre History (3)
    TH 621 Seminar in Theatrical Literature (3)
    TH 625 Seminar in Popular Theatre and Entertainment (3)

    3. Two courses (6 units) from the following:

    TH 630 Seminar in Theatre Aesthetics (3)
    TH 640 Seminar in Acting and Directing (3)
    TH 670 Seminar in Child Drama (3)

    4. Choose 12 units from the following:

    TH 695A-Z Theories in Drama and Theatre (3-3-3)
    TH 699 Independent Study (1-3, 1-3)

    600-Level Courses (3, 3)

    600-level courses not selected for credit under sections 2 and 3 above.

    Approved 400- and 500-level Courses (3, 3, 3, 3)

    Approved 400- and 500-level courses not taken for undergraduate credit or for admission to classified graduate status.

    Courses in Related Fields

    With the prior written approval of the student’s permanent graduate advisor, up to 6 units of courses in section 4 may be taken in related fields.

    5. Culminating Experience (3 units)

    TH 698 Thesis or Graduate Project (3)

    Sample Course Topics

    Contemporary Theatre, Musical Theatre, Queer Theatre, Theatre and Drama of Asia, Theatrical Theory and Criticism, Irish Drama, Theatre and Drama of Latin America, Race & Ethnicity on the U.S. Stage, Theatre and Drama of Greece & Rome, Interculturalism, Postcolonialism, Adaptation, and the Aesthetics of Applied Theatre. 


    Our diverse curriculum features accomplished professionals in all areas of theatre arts: theatre history, criticism, arts education, musical theatre, direction, management, and devised theatre.

    An essential component of CSUN’s M.A. program is interaction with faculty. Students work in a variety of settings, assisting faculty as Graduate Assistants, grading, developing research topics for scholarly investigations, and participating in productions.

    Prof. Larry Biederman

    Larry Biederman is known to audiences in Los Angeles for his critically acclaimed productions including Eric Overmyer’s Dark Rapture at the Evidence Room, the World Premiere of Sheila Callaghan’s Crumble at LATC, as well as work at theBlack Dahlia, Theatre of NOTE, and the Road Theatre, with the death metal L.A. premiere of Mickey Birnbaum’s Big Death and Little Death.

    Biederman spent seven seasons at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, on the artistic staff and directing in their M.F.A. program where he was also Associate Director. Bay Area work includes Peter Barnes' Red Noses, named one of the year's 10 best productions, and the acclaimed West Coast premiere of Constance Congdon’s No Mercy, which he directed again for the 24th Street Theatre in L.A.

    Prior to his post at CSUN, Biederman has taught acting and directing, both privately and for many reputable training programs throughout the country, from the Williamstown Theatre Festival to the Old Globe, and locally at Cal State Fullerton where he was Head of Directing.

    More recent projects include Biederman’s innovative staging of Schnitzler’s La Ronde, which moved to the New York International Fringe Festival to great acclaim and performance awards for both actors. In the following year, he directed the World Premiere of Wirehead for the Echo Theater Company (7 LA Weekly Award nominations) and Lillian Hellman’s The Autumn Garden for the Antaeus Company, also recognized critically and with award nominations from multiple entities. That same year, Biederman was the acting coach for the cast of Huge on ABC Family.

    Prof. Matthew Jackson

    Matthew Jackson holds a B.A. in Theatre from UC Riverside and earned his M.F.A. in Drama-Stage Management from UC Irvine.  He has worked all over the Inland Empire, Los Angeles, and Orange County as a stage manager, actor, director, and technician with companies like Bunim-Murray Productions, The Actors' Fund, Orange County School of the Arts, Opera Pacific, and Rose Center Theatre.  Some of Matthew's past stage management projects include Orfeo ed EurydiceTwelfth NightTake Me OutLittle Shop of HorrorsEscape From HappinessThe Women, and Proof, as well as world premieres of several choreographic works. At CSUN he has stage managed Die Fledermaus and Carmen and serves as a mentor to student stage managers on all department productions. He also oversees all of Production Participation for the Department of Theatre. Prior to coming to CSUN, Matthew spent three years as the Assistant Production Manager of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at UC Irvine specializing in music events. He routinely stage manages for two Orange County-based dance companies: The Wooden Floor (most recently at REDCAT in downtown L.A.) and Backhausdance, the latter of which he accompanied to Vernon, BC for their Canadian debut in September of 2013.

     Prof. Ah-Jeong Kim

    Ah-jeong Kim is a Professor of Theatre History in the Department of Theatre at CSUN. Her research focuses on intercultural theatre, Asian theatre, and theatre history. Kim's book, The Metacultural Theatre of Oh Tae-sok (1999) received the 2001 Korean Literature Translation Award in Korea. Over the past 13 years Kim has conducted workshops and given papers in Korea, China, England, and the Netherlands. Most recently, she led symposia and gave lectures at The Soho Experimental Theatre (2003), The British Museum (2004), Theatre Museum (2005), Asia House (2006) in London. In 2006 she worked at the Barbican Centre, Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venue, as dramaturg and translator for the production of Romeo and Juliet by a leading Korean theatre group, Mokhwa Repertory Company under the direction of Oh Tae-sok. She conducted theatre workshops with Master Oh for students at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). 10 of CSUN’s honor students were also in attendance. Her current research project involves a book entitled Shamans in Contemporary Korean Theatre commissioned by Routledge Publishing.

      Prof. J’aime Morrison

    • Ph.D. 2003, New York University
    • M.A. 1993, University College Dublin
    • B.A. 1991, University of California Los Angeles


    CSUN’s MA Theatre graduates secure employment in teaching (higher education and K-12), and arts administration. They also find work in a wide range of fields that value creativity and collaboration, as well as strong research abilities and analytical aptitude.

    CSUN’s MA Theatre graduates have received full scholarships to pursue PhD degrees in Theatre and Drama at institutions including the University of California San Diego/Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, Tufts University, the University of Oregon at Eugene, Ohio State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State University, and Bowling Green State University.

    Our graduates now teach at colleges and universities across the country and beyond, including Athens State University, University of Southern California, California State University, Channel Islands, and the University of Windsor. 

    Student Testimonials

    “Returning to school after twenty years felt daunting and impossible. My professors and fellow students at the CSUN MA Theatre program provided the encouragement, support, and camaraderie I needed to succeed. If it weren’t for the program at CSUN, I would not have attained my dream to teach theatre at the college level.” 

    --Laura Covault, alumni

    “I've always loved theatre, but not until I attended the graduate program at CSUN did I really understand the intricacies that make this art form so great. My professors helped lead me toward research projects that were driven by my own interests and creativity. I honed my research and writing skills, discovered facets of theatre that will inspire my acting for the rest of my life, and graduated with a deeper understanding of how theatre has been used to touch lives and share experiences throughout history.”  

    --Bianca “Binky” Vanderhorst, alumni


    As a Cal State Northridge student, you'll view and manage your academic, financial and personal information using the CSUN student portal called myNorthridge.


    The Department’s Teaching Associate program provides select graduate students with an opportunity to acquire experience as a college instructor for TH 111: Actors and Acting. Selected Teaching Associates may also provide departmental service in one of several co-curricular areas of the department. 

    TA instructor responsibilities includepreparing course materials and assignments in accordance with the course guidelines
, assessing student performance on exams/assignments, keeping accurate records and determining final grades, holding office hours
, participating in training session
s, adhering to all University and Department regulations, policies, and procedures.

    Graduate students may also apply for positions as Graduate Assistants for courses TH 110, TH 310, or TH 325
. Responsibilities include grading papers and assignments
, participating in training sessions
, adhering to all University and Department regulations, policies, and procedures.

    The deadline for 2017-2018 has passed. Application and deadline information can be accessed on the departmental employment page.


    Tuition and Fees

    Financial Aid

    Graduate Project Support Program 

    This program provides funding to graduate students to offset the costs associated with working on a thesis, dissertation, or graduate project. Eligibility is restricted to classified CSUN graduate students in a state supported master’s or doctoral program, with a GPA of 3.25 or above. The maximum award granted is $1,000. Application and information (.pdf)

    Departmental Employment

    Departmental Awards and Prizes (page under construction—check back soon!)



    It is the responsibility of every MA student to meet departmental and university deadlines. The office of Graduate Studies posts all relevant deadlines on their website, as well as a “Steps to Graduate” page.

    Effective communication with your thesis advisor will assist in your timely progression toward a successful culminating project. You should plan to enroll in TH 698 during the semester in which you will complete your Thesis/Graduate Project. You must complete your work on your Thesis/Graduate Project within one semester, or you will need to register for A&R601. The catalog description of TH698 is listed as follows:

     TH698 THESIS OR GRADUATE PROJECT (3) Prerequisites: Classified grad status; approval of appropriate area faculty to form a thesis or graduate project committee; an approved thesis or graduate project committee; and, completion of all additional requirements for the degree. (Credit/No Credit only). 

    You should form your graduate thesis or project committee BEFORE signing up for TH 698. In the semester before taking TH698, you should:

    1. Identify a primary advisor, who will chair your committee.
    2. Receive your advisor and the Graduate Coordinator’s approval on your thesis idea.
    3. Develop your thesis proposal, following the proposal structure outlined in TH600.
    4. Form your thesis committee. 
    5. Hold a thesis proposal defense meeting. Once approved, the committee will complete the ETD’s “Planning Form.”

    The above will shift depending upon a Fall or Spring semester graduation. (If you are graduating in the Fall, work with your primary advisor to find a timeline regarding #3-5 above.)

    Below are the thesis/graduate project deadlines for the 2018-2019 academic year. University deadlines are inflexible; departmental deadlines are flexible on a case-by-case basis. All other deadlines pertaining to drafts and scheduling should be arranged between the student and primary advisor.

    Deadlines for Fall 2018 thesis/graduate project defense:

    Spring 2018 
    May 11

    Deadline to receive Graduate Coordinator’s approval on your thesis idea.

    May 18

    Deadline to form your thesis committee.

    Fall 2018 
    September 14

    Deadline to circulate your proposal to your thesis committee and Graduate Coordinator (pending advisor approval).

    September 21

    Deadline to hold a thesis proposal defense meeting, or request an extension.

    October 1

    Deadline to submit ETD Planning Form (university deadline)

    October 22

    Deadline to submit draft of manuscript to committee advisor for revisions or approval, or to request extension.

    November 5

    Preliminary Formatting for Theses, Dissertation and Graduate Project (university deadline). 

    November 22 

    Deadline to submit revised/approved manuscript to thesis committee members and begin scheduling defense date (pending primary advisor approval).

    December 3

    Deadline to hold final thesis defense.

    December 10

    Thesis/Dissertation/Graduate Project Final Submission (university deadline: signature page due in the Office of Graduate Studies by 5:00 pm)

    Deadlines for Spring 2019 thesis/graduate project defense:

    Fall 2018 
    November 3

    Deadline to receive Graduate Coordinator’s approval on your thesis idea.

    November 10

    Deadline to form your thesis committee.

    November 27

    Deadline to submit your proposal to your thesis committee and Graduate Coordinator (pending primary advisor approval).

    December 17

    Deadline to hold a thesis proposal defense meeting, or request an extension.

    Spring 2019 
    March 1

    Deadline to submit ETD Planning Form (university deadline)

    March 11

    Deadline to submit draft of manuscript to committee advisor for revisions or approval,or to request extention

    March 25

    Deadline to submit revised/approved manuscript to thesis committee members and begin scheduling tentative defense date

    April 5

    Preliminary Formatting for Theses, Dissertation and Graduate Project (university deadline). 

    April 8

    Deadline to hold final thesis defense.

    May 10

    Thesis/Dissertation/Graduate Project Final Submission (university deadline: signature page due in the Office of Graduate Studies by 5:00 pm)


    I’m curious about your M.A. program. Can I schedule a visit and tour?

    Yes! We encourage prospective students to visit for informational meetings, tour our department, and sit in on a seminar course. You are also encouraged to request meetings with any members of our department whose interests and specializations align with yours. Please contact the front office of the Theatre Department during business hours via phone or email to schedule a tour: 818-677-3086 or

    Tours are scheduled on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays between 10am and 3pm,  but alternative times are available.

    What materials do I need to apply?

    Please refer to the “How to Apply” tab above.

    What is the difference between an M.A. and an M.F.A. degree in Theatre?

    The M.F.A. is considered a terminal degree, and is generally 42 units. Our MA is not considered terminal, and requires 30 units. (“Terminal” here means that in this field of the arts, there is no degree higher.) MFA stands for “Masters in Fine Arts,” and generally emphasizes practical training in fields like acting, directing, or writing. The M.A., or Master of Arts, degree is focused on writing and research. However, while it is not the central focus of your degree work there are many opportunities to be involved in productions in our department. 

    CSUN only offers an M.A. in Theatre, but a number of CSU schools, such as Fullerton, LA, and Long Beach have M.F.A. programs. Our M.A. course of study is oriented toward seminar courses and in-depth research—this means it will require a greater number of history, literature, and criticism requirements, with fewer courses centered on the practical study of the craft of acting or performance. You will want to take a look at the program requirements, to see which courses of study are more appealing to you and your interests.

    Why get an M.A. in Theatre?

    Students attend our M.A. program for a variety of reasons. Some are interested in deepening their knowledge of theatre in order to improve their current skill sets. Students often enroll in our M.A. program if they are looking to teach in the arts, or are considering pursuing an advanced degree in Theatre studies (such as a PhD). Others already have other partial careers and have the goal of finding part-time teaching at colleges; still others seek full-time teaching at private K-12 schools, or administrative education positions that might see the MA as an enhancement to their experience. Still others are interested in extending a previous passion for dramatic literature or some aspect of the theatre, and are open to discovering the path that might be the strongest fit with their prior experiences.

    I don’t have a B.A. in Theatre. Can I still apply?

    Yes. A B.A. degree is required, but it can be in a related area of the arts or humanities. For example, if you completed a B.A. in music, English, or Communication Studies, we encourage you to apply, and our Admissions Committee will evaluate your transcripts on its individual merit and academic preparation.

    Is your program part-time or full-time?

    At CSUN, 8 units is considered a full-time load for graduate students, and our courses are 3 units each. We have full-time and part-time students in our M.A. Theatre program. We encourage full-time students to take 9-unit loads, but every student must plan their path through the program in accordance with their scheduling and financial needs.

    Do I need to take the GRE?

    The Theatre MA does not require the GRE unless a student has less than a 3.0 undergraduate cumulative GPA. All students admitted as unclassified students with below a 3.0 undergraduate cumulative GPA must take the GRE.

    For those students who apply to our program and have already taken the GRE, a student who scores a 3 or higher in the Analytical Writing Assessment section of the GRE can have their UDWPE exam requirement waived. 

    Where do I send my transcripts?

    Official transcripts need to be mailed to the CSUN Admissions and Records office. The address is: CSUN - Admissions and Records, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8207

    What are the international student requirements?

    In addition to the other application and admission requirements, international students must take the TOEFL English writing proficiency exam and pass with at least a score of 80, or the IELTS exam with a minimum test score of 6.5. Please contact the international admissions office for more information.

    Who can help me with questions about graduate student policies and procedures including funding, deadlines, and graduating?

    Start here, at the FAQ of Research and Graduate Studies.