University of Southern California
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Degree Requirements

Master of Fine Arts

The Master of Fine Arts in theatre allows the choice of an area of emphasis in theatre performance studies including acting, directing, dramatic writing or theatrical design.

Seventy-two units of study at the 400- or 500‑level are required for the acting emphasis, 72 units for the dramatic writing emphasis and 48 units for the directing and theatrical design emphases. Regardless of the emphasis, at least two-thirds of the units must be at the 500 level or higher. In design, instead of a conventional thesis, the M.F.A. student completes a final project in the area of design and defends it orally before the design faculty. A grade point average of 3.0 must be achieved in all graduate work taken in the School of Theatre. Graduate candidates whose undergraduate degrees are in disciplines other than theatre may be required to satisfy undergraduate prerequisites in theatre as determined by School of Theatre faculty.

Curricula for the Master of Fine Arts Degree

Acting EmphasisUnits
THTR 480abPerformance for the Camera2-2
THTR 504The Art of Collaboration and Ensemble2
THTR 512Studies in Dramatic Analysis2
THTR 515abcdeAdvanced Movement10
THTR 520abcdeAdvanced Acting16
THTR 529abTextual Studies for Performance8
THTR 540abcdefAdvanced Voice Diction12
THTR 541Diction and Dialects2
THTR 554Visual and Spacial Relationship2
THTR 571Professional Seminar2
THTR 575Creative Production Projects4
THTR 597Theatre Practicum8

Directing EmphasisUnits
THTR 520abAdvanced Acting8
THTR 525Seminar in Contemporary Theatre4
THTR 528Seminar in Dramatic Analysis4
THTR 555Directing Fundamentals2
THTR 556abDirecting4
THTR 558abDesign for Directors4
THTR 567aStudies in Playwriting4
THTR 591Seminar in Producing Theatre4
THTR 593M.F.A. Project4
Electives by advisement10

Theatrical Design EmphasisUnits
Two courses from:
THTR 550aSeminar in Scene Design3
THTR 552aSeminar in Costume Design3
THTR 553aSeminar in Lighting Design3

Two continuing courses from:
THTR 550bSeminar in Scene Design3
THTR 552bSeminar in Costume Design3
THTR 553bSeminar in Lighting Design3

One remaining course from:
THTR 550aSeminar in Scene Design3
THTR 552aSeminar in Costume Design3
THTR 553aSeminar in Lighting Design3

All of the following:
THTR 407abDrawing and Rendering for the Theatre2-2
THTR 435Advanced Theatrical Drafting3
THTR 493abPeriods and Styles2-2
THTR 593M.F.A. Project4

Two seminars, one of which must be
THTR 528 Seminar in Dramatic Analysis (4)8

400- or 500-level electives by advisement, 5 units of which must be at the 500 level10

Dramatic writing emphasisUnits
CTWR 513Writing the Short Script2
CTWR 514abBasic Dramatic Screenwriting2-2
THTR 486Creating Characters4
THTR 501Poetry and Prose into Drama4
THTR 504The Art of Collaboration and Ensemble2
THTR 510Writing the Short Drama2
THTR 512Studies in Dramatic Analysis2
THTR 525Seminar in Contemporary Theatre4
THTR 529aTextual Studies for Performance4
THTR 554Visual and Spatial Relationship2
THTR 567abStudies in Playwriting4-4
THTR 572Global Dramatic Writing4
THTR 574Dramatic Writing Across Media for the Playwright4
THTR 575Creative Production Projects4
THTR 593M.F.A. Project4
THTR 595abGraduate Playwrights’ Workshop4-4


A minimum of 72 units of graduate course work must be completed prior to the degree being granted. Thesis Requirement: The student is required to complete a thesis portfolio consisting of four theatre projects: (1) a full-length original play, (2) a full-length original play or an adaptation, (3) a full length screenplay, (4) a project that is either a play of any length, or a short subject or feature length script, a set of television speculative scripts (either in three half-hour short form of drama from the same TV program or a set of characters; or one-hour long form) or an interdisciplinary/multimedia project (approved in advance by the dramatic writing faculty.) An oral defense and review by program faculty and the developing portfolio is required when the student has completed two-thirds of the program, generally in the fall term of the student’s third year.