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M.A. in Theater Arts

A Dream Play
We offer students the tools to broaden their creative voices and define their paths as working artists and thinkers.


UC Santa Cruz offers a one-year Master of Arts in Theater Arts that prepares students for professional achievements in interactive media and performance, stage design, directing, dramaturgy, performance, and performance scholarship, arts management, choreography, technical theater and stage management. Our M.A. program also places students in an excellent position to pursue further graduate academic work, such as an M.F.A. or Ph.D., and our graduates have a strong track record of being placed into prestigious terminal degree programs.

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 a capstone project that will test them to the best of their abilities. These projects have included practice-focused and scholarly-based research. The degree combines intellectually rigorous coursework with challenging artistic practice. The program integrates diverse approaches to performance, encouraging collaboration and cross-disciplinary thinking.

Students in the program study with highly engaged faculty in the Department of Performance, Play & Design.


Students are required to complete 40 units for the M.A. in Theater Arts. This includes three graduate seminars (THEA 290A Research Methods, THEA 290B Practice of Theory, and THEA 290C Performance Analysis), 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 of 300 hours. It is advised and is typical that the internship portion of the units be completed during the summer before the M.A. program begins. This work will be supervised by a representative in the internship host organization and assessed by a UCSC Theater Arts faculty member. 

Students 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 

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. The online application requires a statement of purpose, transcripts from prior education, a résumé, and three letters of recommendation, a work sample and a writing sample.

The application to this program does not require the GRE.

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. 

  • International students who wish to be considered for Teaching Assistant opportunities must score an 83 overall including a 26 or higher on the Spoken Word portion of the TOEFL iBT or a score of 8 or higher on the Speaking portion of the IELTS Academic test. 
  • Please see additional information on the Graduate Division's Required Test Scores page and Language Requirements page. 

Applicants will be asked to indicate a specialization for their capstone project (Arts Management, Choreography, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Performance, Performance Scholarship, Technical Theater, and Stage Management). All materials must be submitted online.

All application requirements are listed on the Theater Arts M.A. application requirements page on the Graduate Division website. Be sure, also, to see the Application Instructions​ page for additional application requirements, including the Required Supplemental Application Materials section.

The UCSC Theater Arts M.A. program requires a professional internship of 300 hours in the summer prior to entering the program. Students receive 10 units of required credit for this. 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.

All applications will be reviewed by the end of February, then selected applicants will be invited to an online interview with key faculty and a virtual "tour" of the campus facilities in mid-March. Acceptance/denial letters will be sent immediately following the interviews.

Application instructions: UCSC Graduate Division.

For additional information, please email