MA: Theatre Studies

Interdisciplinary Program in Theatre Studies

The Theatre Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers graduate and undergraduate degrees (BFA, MA + PhD) in the academic study of theatre as a liberal art. Our focus is on the history of theatre and the development of dramatic criticism through the ages and across borders, with particular emphasis on American theatre. Our doctoral program is one of the oldest and most respected in the country and has produced some of the world’s leading scholars, writers, educators, and administrators in the field. Established under the guidance of Barnard Hewitt as a program in Theatre History + Criticism, the Interdisciplinary Program in Theatre Studies strives to produce cutting-edge research and groundbreaking leaders in theatre scholarship.

Iago's Plot RainThe Master of Arts degree in Theatre Studies is an advanced academic program designed to nurture research and critical skills, knowledge, and professional skills for the potential theatre educator, scholar, and theatre professional. The program emphasizes the critical study of theatre history and performance in an interdisciplinary approach. It offers many opportunities for engagement as dramaturgs, directors, and creative artists.

The Master of Arts degree in Theatre Studies may be completed within one year over the course of three semesters. Students must fulfill 32 hours of course work in theatre and related studies. Of these 32, 12 hours must be in courses numbered 500 or higher. Two semesters in residence are required. Internships may be required for those seeking to pursue professional careers.

At least 16 hours of theatre history, literature and theory to be selected from approved courses.

A final portfolio or presentation is required.

At least 8 hours in theatre-related courses such as dramaturgy, acting, directing, design, digital media, museum studies, theatre technology, photography, storytelling, stage management, etc.

Students will be assigned an advisor who will guide them through the program and assist in course selection. Students are encouraged to take courses in such departments as History, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, Cinema Studies, etc. Students also have an opportunity to participate in professional events housed in Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which presents more than 250 performances each season by both national and international artists. (

Admission Requirements

A student who wishes to be considered for admission to graduate work in theatre should present the equivalent of at least nine hours of undergraduate college work in theatre. An undergraduate degree in theatre is not required. The committee on admissions tends to select those applicants showing interest in studying theatre as a cultural expression in a broad intellectual context.

  • Transcripts of all previous college work
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose
  • One original scholarly or critical essay on theatre history or drama
  • A resume of activities in theatrical production
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores in the verbal section (Exceptions are given only to applicants with extensive professional experience)
  • Foreign students must also submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores. In addition, the Test of Written English (TWE) is strongly encouraged for non-native speakers.
  • Applications submitted by March 15 will receive full consideration for funding. For further information, contact Katherine Syer (

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