MFA Redux

<p>On the Mt forum as well as the Theatre forum, there is always a lot of discussion about pursuing a MFA after a BA as a worthwhile and for some a more desirable alternative to seeking a BFA. And I, among others, have been a proponent of that path for those for whom it matches their educational goals and priorities. </p>

<p>I've recently had occasion to revisit the notion of a MFA program. My daughter, who is a senior in a BFA program, is working this summer as a T.A. in a 4 week summer pre-college MT program for h.s. students. She has found the experience to be extremely gratifying and it has started her thinking seriously about teaching at the college level as an adjunct to pursuing her career as a performer. We have started looking at MFA programs not only as a way to further her training and education as a performer but also to obtain what conventional wisdom holds is the seminal degree required for teaching at the college level.</p>

<p>What we appear to have discovered is that many, if not most, MFA programs require applicants to demonstrate at least a couple of years of experience in the world of professional theatre and some make it clear they are looking for seasoned and experienced professionals. In my daughter's case, it is her intention anyway to get a couple of years of performing under her belt after graduation, so these requirements are consistent with her timeline. But this has got me to thinking about a couple of things.</p>

<p>First, as a general proposition, how should students in a BA program who contemplate seeking a MFA map out their game plan and timeline. I don't think this has been discussed much in talking about the BA/MFA path.</p>

<p>Second, given the unpredictability of "success" in the world of professional theatre, what is it that MFA programs really expect. Obviously this will vary from school to school but to what extent is a demonstrated professional career necessary to be competitive. In my daughter's case, Temple's MFA program is very attractive for a variety of reasons. It's website, however, makes it seem that it is looking only for performers who are "mid-career" in a performing career that is national in scope. Pretty daunting for someone just a couple of years out from college, let alone for a student right out of school with a BA.</p>

<p>Any thoughts?</p>

<p>Since students coming out of BA, BFA, and BM programs find success in the field post graduation, I think that the path is probably not too significantly different for those coming out of different degree programs. I will most likely vary based upon the individual and their goals and strengths. </p>

<p>In my experience many MFA programs are looking for students who have been actively pursuing their chosen field outside of undergrad for at least a year or two. This can be through more highly paid professional work, internships, un-paid or more lowly paid professional quality work, quality training, participation in self produced work, etc...<br>
Directing MFA programs often seem to look for even a few more years between undergrad and grad school.</p>

<p>There are some students who find success in graduate school admissions right out of undergrad, but it will all depend on the school, what they are looking for, etc...</p>

<p>I think taking a few years off before graduate can be a good thing to help a student clarify what they are looking for in a graduate program, specific course or study, etc...</p>

<p>Most universities are looking for faculty who (in addition to the academic credentials) have active professional careers as well. The experience gained and contacts made working in the profession pre and post graduate school will greatly enhance the applicants CV is applying for college level teaching.</p>

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Most universities are looking for faculty who (in addition to the academic credentials) have active professional careers as well.

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<p>I'd like to reiterate this point made by Kat. Every individual I know who is teaching at the college level has either a) had a good deal of success in the professional world; b) still has an active career in performing/directing, etc., or c) has a PhD. Or some combination. Many have had successful careers onstage, or have had success writing and singing their own music, or as authors, or in non-college level teaching positions, or as artistic director/artistic producer/founder of successful theatre companies. I've always found it more interesting to read faculty bios than it is to read playbill bios. :) Michael, have your D take a look at the faculty pages of several schools. It will give her a good idea of the different paths to theatre academia.</p>

<p>As was mentioned above, the MFA is a terminal degree. For some MFA programs I think it is a priority to admit students who will be ready and have the credentials to teach at the college level post-graduation. Just like the search for an undergraduate program, the important thing is that the applicant has a list that is a match for his or her goals.</p>