The MA and MFA in Theatre: What's the difference?

  • The MA and MFA in Theatre: What's the difference?

    Theatre has been a prevalent art form for centuries, with roots dating back to Ancient Greece. Even though it has changed vastly over time, theatre remains an innovative, popular type of entertainment. This decade, we’ve seen plenty of smash hits, including Hamilton, The Book of Mormon and Dear Evan Hansen, among hundreds of other works that have reflected the timeless quality of one of humankind’s oldest art forms.

    If you are a lover of the performing arts, you might consider getting a master’s degree in theatre. However, you might have seen several types of programs floating around, especially the Master of Arts (MA) and the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre/Drama. Continue reading to learn the differences between the MA and the MFA to figure out which program is best for your skills in the theatre arts.

    MA in Theatre

    A Master of Arts generally takes on a more liberal arts approach to education than the MFA in the same subject area. For example, the MA in Theatre focuses on a broad range of subjects, including acting, directing, dramaturgy, script analysis, education, history and other comprehensive subjects in the theatre arts.

    Plenty of universities offer the MA in Theatre. Here are some great options you might consider in your search:

    MFA in Theatre

    While the MA takes on a broader approach to theatre studies, the MFA allows you to specialize in one area. Some popular MFA tracks include acting, directing, playwriting, design, dramaturgy and stage management. This tailored approach allows theatre artists to hone in on one specific area, improving their craft at an in-depth level.

    Some competitive MFA programs offer residences to accepted students, usually for durations of two or three years. The exact program requirements depend on the specialty you decide to pursue in the theatre arts. Depending on the concentration, students may or may not have to complete a thesis and related internship or work experience.

    Here are some top schools for prospective theatre artists who want to improve their craft:

    Deciding which is right for you

    When it comes down to it, the major factor that determines whether you should pursue a MA in Theatre over an MFA — or vice versa — is the skills you’d like to gain during your advanced studies. If you’d like to zero in on one area of the theatre arts, you may find a MFA to be more beneficial. However, if you’d rather take on a variety of subjects in the dramatic arts, a MA might be the right approach. No matter what path you take, a master’s degree in this area can improve your skills and knowledge, making you the right actor, director, designer or stage manager for the job.

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