The Theatre Department offers a Master of Arts degree program intended to ground the student in advanced fundamentals of theatrical theories and practice while accommodating individual interests and strengths. With a broad curriculum that balances both academic and production experiences, the MA program constitutes a period of study and practice en route to professional work, teaching or further advanced degrees.
At Binghamton, students practice theatre in excellent facilities and receive individual guidance in small classes and through close advising. Qualified M.A. degree candidates may have the opportunity to teach a section of an undergraduate course, undertake assistantships in technical theatre or departmental administration, mount productions in the studio theaters, or act, direct, design or write within the department's theatre and dance season.
Concentrations are not required. However, most students find that a concentration provides coherence to their coursework and aids their timely completion of a master’s thesis. We encourage students to indicate a prospective concentration in their application materials by identifying it in their personal statement and supporting materials.
Frequent concentrations in the MA are directing, theory and criticism, acting, and design. Design fields include scenic, lighting, costume, and sound design, and technical direction. In addition, other areas of study can be developed based on student interest and faculty support. In the past, concentrations in dance performance, choreography, playwriting, and stage management have been offered. The Theatre Department is not equipped to support graduate-level concentrations in filmmaking/cinema or musical theatre.
- MA in Theatre
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Graduate students have the opportunity to pursue a directing concentration through rigorous course work and independent study projects. For students without substantive experience in acting, courses in acting technique may be required. Typically a graduate student will be able to pursue a directing concentration by going through three different levels of production. These levels are: In-the-Works, Studio Showcase, and Thesis.
Design assistance is afforded Studio Showcase and Thesis productions when available. Other studio offerings may include directing-class one-act play festivals, class-related original plays, performance art pieces, and student-choreographed dance works.
Students intending to concentrate in directing are encouraged to submit additional materials during the application process.
Theory and Criticism
An internationally recognized faculty leads the instruction of the historical, literary and theoretical aspects of theater. In addition to the core seminars, which are taken by all students, students focusing on Theory and Criticism craft an individualized course of study drawing on course offerings in the Theatre Department (in dramatic literature, dramaturgy, theater history, and critical theory) and in other graduate departments at Binghamton. Students also take advantage of a variety of independent-study opportunities to develop their own scholarly profile, often in preparation for further advanced study.
Students intending to concentrate in theory and criticism are encouraged to submit a sample of critical writing, such as a thesis chapter, term paper, or other analytical piece.
Graduate students interested in an acting concentration pursue coursework and are encouraged to audition for the Mainstage season. The Mainstage Season typically features four faculty-directed productions, including one musical. Casts and crews are composed of undergraduate and graduate students, with occasional guest artists as well. In addition to the Mainstage Season, the department sponsors a flexible and diverse studio season which can include faculty, undergraduate- and/or graduate student-directed productions.
Auditions for all Mainstage productions and most studio productions are held during the first week of classes in each semester for events occurring that term. Typically, auditions consist of presenting a two-minute monologue, fully memorized and well-rehearsed; an audition for a musical includes singing 16 bars of a song of one's choice.
Students intending to concentrate in acting are encouraged to submit an audition as supplementary material; these may be recorded or performed in person at Binghamton University. Visits for auditions are arranged on a case-by-case basis, and no financial assistance can be provided for visiting applicants.
Technical Production and Design
The department offers a specialization in design and technical theater that includes scene, lighting, costume, and sound design, technical direction, and relevant support areas. Interested students have the flexibility to tailor this program to their particular interests whether those interests are in general technical theater or an intense focus on particular design concentrations. First-year students with moderate technical experience would be qualified to work in any of the department's scenic or costume shops and may have the opportunity to work as an assistant designer on one of the many department productions. Second-year students will be able to work hand-in-hand with professors as teaching assistants or (depending on experience) design a department production.
Students intending to concentrate in technical production and design are encouraged to submit a portfolio as supplementary material for their applications.
After You Graduate
Successful completion of creative projects for the MA will help to bestow the competence and confidence professional theater companies require. Students planning to pursue further graduate work will gain a strong foundation for PhD programs, and all students will extend their appreciation for the diverse varieties of theatrical entertainment. Binghamton’s Career Development Center provides additional resources for our graduates, helping them prepare resumes, and learn techniques for betters interviewing and networking.
To be eligible for graduate study, you must:
- Provide a complete set of your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate) transcripts showing one of the following:
- You have earned a bachelor's degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
- You are within one academic year of earning a bachelor’s degree (or its equivalent) from a nationally or regionally accredited college or university
- You are eligible to apply as part of a memorandum of understanding between your current institution and Binghamton University
- Have earned, at minimum, one of the following:
- A 3.0 GPA over your entire undergraduate career
- A 3.0 GPA during your last 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits of your undergraduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
- A 3.0 GPA in a graduate degree, with most courses graded regularly (not as "pass/fail")
- In consideration of the different grading scales used around the world, each academic department evaluates international transcripts to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they demonstrate one of the above requirements.
To apply, you must submit the following materials. For general guidelines for these materials, see the Admission Requirements website.
- Online graduate degree application with graduate degree application fee
- Transcripts from each college or university that you have attended
- Undergraduate major in theatre is not required. Students without sufficient background in theatre studies are required to satisfactorily complete certain undergraduate courses beyond those required for the graduate degree.
- Personal statement of 2 to 3 pages describing your reasons for pursuing graduate study, your career aspirations, your special interests within your field, your prospective concentration, and any unusual features of your background that might need explanation or be of interest to the graduate admissions committee
- Résumé or curriculum vitae
- Three letters of recommendation
- GRE scores not required
- Writing and/or work samples to supplement the application, based on your prospective concentration:
- Acting: A video recording of an audition consisting of 2 one-minute monologues of contrasting style (alternately, you may arrange for an in-person audition)
- Theory and Criticism: Up to 15 pages of analytical, critical writing, such as a portion of a thesis chapter, term or seminar paper, or other written assignment
- Technical Production and Design: An electronic or DVD portfolio of your work, or link to an online portfolio of the same
- Directing: A one-page directing concept for a production the student has or would like to direct AND ONE of the following: an audition as described for acting above; a video recording of a scene directed by the applicant (no more than ten minutes); or a digital copy of a directing promptbook for a production the applicant has directed
- Other: For other prospective concentrations, please contact the Director of the Graduate Program in Theatre before submitting your application to determine the appropriate work sample
International students must also submit the following materials. For more information about these materials, see the International Students section of the Admission Requirements website.
- International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) form
- Supporting financial documentation (such as bank statements, scholarship or sponsor letters, etc.)
- Proof of English proficiency (such as official TOEFL/IELTS/PTE Academic/Duolingo* scores)
- *In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Graduate School at Binghamton University has temporarily approved the use of the Duolingo English Test as proof of English proficiency through the 2023 application cycle.
This information is subject to change. While we make every effort to update these program pages, we recommend that you contact the department with questions about program-specific requirements.
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