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Handbook Appendices Forms Theatre Scholarships For Theatre Majors, Minors, and Intendeds University Theatre Handbook Table of Contents Theatre Home

C.7.c Finding the where. 

Where to pursue the degree is probably the most difficult decision of all.  Stay near home?  Go someplace “exotic?”  Pay much higher out-of-state tuition?  Be with friends?  Seek a degree from a “prestigious” institution?  Find a place where you can become a generalist?  You had better plan to spend some considerable time investigating the possibilities with even the possibility of the need to visit alternative campuses: the only way you’re really going to get a sense of the people, facilities and atmosphere in which your work can thrive.

Several resources are available to you to begin a search. Check out the catalog collection available in SPU’s career center.  Printed catalogs are still the best means to “browse” through several schools at a sitting.  Increasingly, university Theatre programs have home pages on the WEB and searching there may be more exciting, because most of these presentations are oriented to more than dry recitation of courses offered and degree requirements.

The American Society for Theatre Research publishes an unrated directory of theatre graduate programs; your departmental faculty members may have a copy on hand. This database is also available online.

Send for information from any schools that interest you as soon as you suspect you may be interested.  Your general search should start at least a year in advance.  You may be able to contact faculty in a program, current, or former students via the WEB or e-mail.  There are also theatre list serves on the Internet and a request from you for information will generate many response.

Look for schools that are in good geographic and theatre locations and that offer some financial assistance.  You certainly want to reduce as much as possible the heftiness of loans accumulated during grad school—the prospects of being immediately employed are not that wonderful.  The percentage of people who can support themselves through professional theatre work remains minimal.  You will be ahead of the game if you don't have a lot of loans on you back while climbing the ladder.

Whether or not you are looking for scholarships, you may want take advantage of the national University Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA) auditions, because they provide access to the attention of several different institutional programs at once.  The U/RTA was originally formed to represent the interests of several large institutions, each of which maintains a professional or semi-professional production arm in residence on their campus.  Originally the organization held auditions only to fill professional performance positions, but now it opens auditions to hopeful graduate students desiring to be involved in M.F.A. degrees.  Auditions are held annually in several regional locations around the country.  It can be something of a cattle call, but is a less expensive option than going to several cam­puses individually.

It is important to apply to at least five schools and make an effort to plan to visit them.  As you narrow choices, keep in mind that it's good to have a wide range of schools you want to apply to, rather than just focusing on the top programs that are very competitive.  Look carefully at the curriculum. 

1) Is it rigid or flexible? 

2) Does it have courses you need to strengthen the skills you have and make up for deficiencies?

3) Would some private study in some areas such as dance, voice, etc., benefit you before pursuing a graduate degree? 

4) Are there opportunities for professional internships or working in theatre in a community? 

As a developing artist, you need to look for the balance between theory and practice in any program you research.

So, after gathering all your research material, how do you choose the program and time that's right for you?  Seek out some real live people who themselves have had experience in the difficulties of the decision.  Visiting with your Theatre professors is an important start.  Many of them have contacts nationally and are certainly familiar with your work.  Consult with alumni—names available through your advisor—who can share their search stories with you.  Our alums are great people; like you, but maybe older.  They can be important sounding boards as you think through the avenues you would like to pursue.

And don’t push aside the power of prayer in this search and seizure operation.  These times of decision are the points at which you need to put your faith to work in a very practical way.  It’s the ultimate form of worship: to await the infusing of God’s wisdom into your life’s decisions.

Next Section: D: Scholarships

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