M.A. in Theatre Arts Thesis Guidelines

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Eligible M.A. Thesis Projects

Theatre Studies

Theatre Studies students should work with their advisor to shape a substantial and rigorous original research project of at least 60 pages. A Theatre Studies thesis includes a culminating oral defense and potential subsequent revisions.

Dramaturgy

Dramaturgy thesis students must serve as the sole production dramaturg for a School of Theatre & Dance mainstage production. Dramaturgy thesis projects must include (1) substantial research, (2) a seminar-length paper, and (3) a post-production oral presentation to the School of Theatre & Dance faculty.

Directing

Directing thesis students should work with their advisor to select a feasible play. Each directing thesis must include (1) a self-directed, dramaturgical component, (2) a seminar-length paper, and (3) a post-production oral presentation to the School of Theatre & Dance faculty. Productions must take place on campus. To schedule your show, please meet with the production manager at least a full semester in advance. A small budget may be available.

Playwriting, Acting, or Design/Technology projects are not eligible for an MA thesis.

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Important Terminology

The Graduate Coordinators and the Graduate Committee are responsible for administration of the School of Theatre & Dance M.A. They revise courses, approve course substitutions, manage admissions, etc.

Each MA student must choose a primary and a secondary advisor, also known as the primary/first and second readers. While the Graduate Coordinators and members of the Graduate Committee can certainly serve in these roles, M.A. students may also choose other faculty as primary or secondary advisors.

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How and When to Choose Advisors

Choosing a primary advisor is an important part of graduate study. A primary advisor’s role typically includes helping shape a thesis project and writing a recommendation letter. Before asking someone to be your primary advisor, research multiple faculty members’ areas of expertise, and inquire about their availability, style of advising, and expectations.

Though each faculty member has their own advising style, second readers are typically less involved than the primary advisor. Some second readers prefer to approve a prospectus and receive regular updates, while others prefer to review only the finished thesis draft. Consult with your primary advisor before choosing a second reader.

The “Resources” section includes tips on advisor selection and best practices for requesting recommendation letters. Though some tips are specific to the PhD, it will be helpful to review these links before securing your readers. Plan out what you will need to accomplish during your MA to ensure letter writers can discuss your work positively.

  • Two-year MA students should confirm both advisors by the end of year one.
  • 4+1 Scholars Program students should confirm both advisors by the end of their final B.A. year.

Primary advisor (AKA primary/first reader)

Any tenured or tenure-track faculty member in any SFSU unit (not just LCA) can serve as the primary advisor.

  • If you want your primary advisor to be a School of Theatre & Dance faculty member, no approval from the Graduate Committee is necessary.
  • If you want your primary advisor to be a non-School of Theatre & Dance faculty member, you must secure approval from the Graduate Committee BEFORE asking a potential advisor. Schedule all meetings well in advance.
  • If your primary advisor is an approved non-School of Theatre & Dance faculty member, your secondary reader MUST be a School of Theatre & Dance tenured or tenure-track faculty member.

Secondary advisor (AKA second reader)

Any SFSU faculty/staff member in any unit (academic or non-academic) across SFSU can serve as the secondary advisor.

  • If you want your secondary advisor to be a School of Theatre & Dance faculty member, no approval from the Graduate Committee is necessary. Non-tenure-track (lecturer) School of Theatre & Dance faculty members are eligible, as long as they hold the correct degree to qualify.
  • If you want your secondary advisor to be a non-School of Theatre & Dance faculty member, you must secure approval from the Graduate Committee AND your primary advisor BEFORE asking a potential secondary advisor. Schedule all meetings well in advance of deadlines.

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Advancement to Candidacy

After completion of 18 units and prior to the semester of enrolling in your Culminating Experience course you must submit your Advancement To Candidacy (ATC) Form. The ATC form acts as your contract between you, your department, and the university. The ATC lists the specific requirements you must complete before your degree can be awarded. Once the ATC is approved, you are advanced to candidacy and classified standing. The ATC is a permanent record of your completed and planned course work as well as other requirements necessary for you to complete your degree. The ATC form must be approved by Graduate Studies before enrolling in and beginning research for the culminating experience course.

Type and print out the form and obtain the required signatures (graduate advisor and department chair or graduate coordinator). Handwritten forms will not be accepted. Completed forms should be submitted to GradStop, ADM 250.

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Resources

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