***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.***
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
- Define and evaluate the connections between theatre, entertainment, popular culture, and digital media arts.
- Describe and apply the aesthetic, sociological, political, and historical frameworks of global theatre.
- Analyze and interpret scholarly writing in the areas of world theatre history, literature and criticism.
- Critically examine contemporary debates and emerging disciplinary discourses in theatre.
- Create and design interdisciplinary applied theatre projects, incorporating audience analysis, dramaturgy, and community engagement.
MA Theatre Program Admission Requirements
- 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.
- 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.
- Transcripts from all previous degree-granting educational institutions attended.
- A writing sample demonstrating your writing and analytical ability.
- 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
Departmental requirements for classification:
- University requirements for classified status.
- At least a 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses taken in the Theatre MA program.
- A passing score on the Writing Proficiency Exam (UDWPE) or a score of 3 or higher on the GRE-Analytical Exam.
- 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: http://www.csun.edu/testing/upper/
How to Apply
In our two-tiered admission process, you must apply for admission to the university and also to the department.
- 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.
- For your Department of Theatre Application, the following materials are required:
- The Department of Theatre Application Checklist (.pdf)
- A 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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. Label your file with your last name and first initial, for example: DiazJ.MA.Application.pdf.
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.
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 the Black 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.
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 Eurydice, Twelfth Night, Take Me Out, Little Shop of Horrors, Escape From Happiness, The 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.
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.
- Ph.D. 2003, New York University
- M.A. 1993, University College Dublin
- B.A. 1991, University of California Los Angeles
Class Schedules & Registration Information
As a Cal State Northridge student, you'll view and manage your academic, financial and personal information using the CSUN student portal called myNorthridge.
- Registration Calendar
- Class Search
- Registration Guide & FAQ
- How to register
- Add/Drop Policy
- How To Guides for Students
Teaching Associate Program
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 include preparing 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 sessions, 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.
Application Deadline: July 15, 2022. Application and deadline information can be accessed on the departmental employment page.
Tuition, Fees, & Financial Opportunities
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.