FAQs for MFA Theatre Students
How would you characterize the aesthetic/goals of the MFA program?
This degree is for students who desire a professionally oriented education and training in design and technical production, acting, or directing. It is the objective of the department to educate and train highly skilled, motivated individuals for careers in professional theatre (including television and film) or for careers as artist teachers in college or university theatre. Only those who demonstrate an exceptional talent, a high degree of motivation, and a deep commitment to their education and training will be admitted into the program. The highest academic and creative standards will be demanded throughout the program. A positive attitude and a rigid sense of theatre discipline are essential for success in the program.
What are the production opportunities (acting, directing, designing)?
The department mounts 12-15 major productions each year in five venues. Often sold out before opening night, productions run from one to three weeks, providing the opportunity for students to learn the joy and challenge of continuing to develop a production with a paying audience. Graduate actors are guaranteed a role in each semester of residency. Graduate directors direct three fully-realized theatrical productions, and a number of other projects, in our state-of-the-art theatres.
What are the CSUF facilities like?
Clayes Performing Arts Center includes several state-of-the-art theatres, rehearsal rooms, dance studios, sound, makeup, lighting, scenic and costume shops and studios. Our performance spaces include:
Little Theatre (500 seat proscenium)
Young Theatre (250 seat thrust)
Hallberg Theatre (150 seat black box)
Arena Theatre (125 seat flex)
Grand Central Theatre (50 seat intimate flex)
Are internships available?
Yes. CSUF students regularly work at several of Southern California’s leading theatres, film and television studios, including South Coast Repertory, A Noise Within, Mark Taper Forum, NBC, CBS, Paramount Studios, and Shakespeare Orange County, to name a few.
What are CSUF Theatre alumni up to?
Upon obtaining an MFA from Cal State Fullerton, you are part of a family of CSUF alumni that includes critically-acclaimed producers, directors, casting directors, actors, stage managers, screenwriters, designers, technicians, playwrights, etc. Current and recent alumni are working or have worked in the following venues:
Broadway: Wicked, The Drowsy Chaperone, A Chorus Line, The Producers, Homebody/Kabul, Hairspray, Altar Boyz, Momma Mia, Beauty and the Beast, and Les Miserables
International/National Tours: Hamilton, Hairspray, Miss Saigon, Hair, and Camelot
Regional Theatre: Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory
Film: Spiderman 2, Fargo, Beauty and the Beast, Homeward Bound and Men in Black II
TV: Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, 24, Boston Public, General Hospital, LAX, JAG, Criminal Minds, Married with Children, Sleeper Cell, The Following, and The Young and the Restless.
Do I need to have a B.A. in Theatre in order to apply? What are the prerequisites for admission?
Not necessarily. It is required that you have a B.A., B.F.A. or M.A. from an accredited college or university, preferably with a major in theatre; or a degree in a related field and extensive work in technical design and production, acting, or directing. Other prerequisites are: minimum GPA of 3.0 in all upper-division undergraduate work in theatre; minimum GPA of 2.75 for the last half of the undergraduate program is also required; completion of any additional prerequisites which may be required by the Graduate Adviser prior to admission and classification.
Is financial assistance available?
Yes. The department offers a number of scholarships, assistantships, and paid work opportunities in the classroom, scenery shops, library, and production office. CSUF nominates incoming graduate students for out-of-state tuition waivers for student who are not already residents of the State of California, however all students are responsible for in-state tuition and fees. To help offset these costs, MFA candidates may receive either a graduate assistantship or a teaching assistantship, depending on individual qualifications and background. In addition, students may apply for supplementary financial aid, which is administered through the university Office of Financial Aid .
Should I audition and/or interview at CSUF or will CSUF be at the URTA (University/Resident Theatre Association) National Unified Auditions in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco?
Yes. If at all possible, travel to CSUF to audition. Otherwise, attend the URTA auditions in New York or Chicago. If neither of these options is available, we will accept dvd auditions, but this is not recommended.
Representatives will be in attendance in New York and Chicago but not San Francisco.
Do I need to take the GRE before applying to CSUF?
No. You do not need to take the GRE before applying to the MFA program at CSUF. If you are accepted into the program, you will need to satisfy the GWR (Graduate Writing Requirement) within the first year of residency.
How many years does it take to get an MFA at CSUF?
Three. The MFA program at CSUF requires three (3) years of residency. It is not possible to complete the program in less than three years, or to attend part-time.
Can I “double major”?
No. Graduate study in each of the areas of emphasis is extremely demanding. There is only enough time for students to complete their course and production responsibilities, and students do not have time to hold down a job, or fulfill requirements of an additional degree or area of emphasis within the department. Students choose one of the following areas of emphasis: Acting, Directing, or Design and Production.
Do graduate students teach?
All Acting and Directing MFA Candidates teach undergraduate courses each semester (depending on performance) during residency.
Is there a “cut” in the MFA program?
Not necessarily. We don’t plan to dismiss any students from the program, but under some circumstances, we feel that it is necessary. At the end of each semester of the first year, each M.F.A. candidate is evaluated by a faculty committee. The committee, by recommendation to the Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies, has the authority to retain, dismiss, or place candidates on probation. To be retained in the M.F.A. Acting Program, students must prepare an acting demonstration (jury) at the end of their first year of study. The performance faculty will assess each student at this time and determine if the student warrants retention or dismissal from the program based on a set of predetermined criteria. In addition to the acting jury, each student will also be assessed on professionalism, collegiality and progress in coursework and departmental productions.
Is there a graduate showcase for the MFA Actors?
Yes. At the conclusion of graduate study at CSUF, actors are introduced to the profession with a showcase in Los Angeles, fully produced, directed and designed by Cal State Fullerton.
What do I need to do to prepare for an audition?
If you are auditioning at CSUF, prepare two contrasting monologues to show range, one dramatic, one comedic, totaling 3 minutes. If you would like to sing, bring recorded accompaniment and sing 16 bars. Download the Handbook for Actors and Coaches for assistance in preparing your audition.
Can I visit the campus?
Yes! We encourage visits throughout the year. Discover for yourself what we’re all about. Call the Department of Theatre and Dance Office to schedule a visit: (657) 278-5538.
How do I apply to the program?
1. Download and submit the Intent to Apply form along with information requested on the form
2. Formally apply to the University, by submitting the online application and fee through Cal State Apply . The deadline for completing online applications is March 1st for admission the following fall semester; mailed applications also need to be postmarked by March 1st. This deadline may change based upon enrollment projections. Check with the graduate studies office for current information.
Actors: If you would like to audition at CSUF, note that on the form, and then you will receive notification of the time and location of your audition via email. Please Contact David Nevell for futher information.
If you are planning to interview or audition through URTA in New York, Chicago, your audition/interview information is administered through URTA. Contact URTA for more details:
Directors: All students wishing to apply for the MFA Directing program and looking to be granted an interview must send the following:
• Statement of Purpose essay.
• A theatrical résumé (include all experience: directing, acting, design, stage management, etc.).
• Sample photos of past productions. (4 or 5 photos is sufficient). Do not send video.
• Intent to Apply form
• 3 current letters of recommendation: one academic, one from someone very familiar with your work as a director, and one personal.
Please send materials to:
Mark Ramont, Head of Directing
California State University, Fullerton
Department of Theatre and Dance
PO Box 6850
Fullerton, CA 92834
Applicants for Directing may also submit their materials electronically by emailing materials to Mark Ramont. Materials must be formatted as PDF, except sample photos, which may be PDF or JPG.
Please submit COMPLETE files ONLY; applications emailed with missing materials will be returned. Interviews will be scheduled in mid-to-late March, dependent on the availability of the candidate and faculty.