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Do you love Theatre? You’d better, if you choose to pursue graduate study in Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts. During your studies, you’ll gain knowledge of the entire spectrum of what makes theatre happen. You’ll learn, first of all, about theatre history, dramatic literature, great playwrights from the past, and the origins of theatre as we know it. You’ll study Shakespeare and other great writers for the stage. You’ll learn all about where theatre began, and how it got to where it is today—and you’ll gain the skills to make hypotheses about future theatre trends and possibilities.

You’ll also learn how to make theatre happen by taking courses that involve directing, acting, and teaching drama. You’ll learn about all the components of theatrical productions, from costumes to makeup, from stage lighting to scenery. You’ll learn about technological advancements that have taken theatre to new heights. By the end of your studies, your ample knowledge will enable you to design, write, direct—or whatever path you choose to pursue.

While many programs require graduate students to submit a thesis, some programs give the option of a creative thesis—which can include anything from writing a play to directing a theatrical production. In all cases, your studies in Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts will be far from classroom-bound.

Degree Information

There are several degrees related to this field; they go by different names in different programs and vary slightly from one to the next. There is a M.A. in Theatre Production, designed for educators who wish to produce theatre productions in their schools; there is a M.A. in Theatre Arts, covering a broad range of drama concepts from directing to playwriting. Some programs link Dramatics with Communication for a M.A. in Speech Communication and Dramatic Arts. Those programs that offer a Ph.D. generally have a similar range of options. Because of the broad range of possibilities, it’s important to research programs to be sure their emphasis is the emphasis you want.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program

  • What kind of thesis is required? Can you submit a creative thesis?
  • Does the theatre department have a good reputation for performances? Are they involved at all with the local community?
  • What kind of projects do faculty and graduate students work on? Do many of them write plays? Scripts? Are they concerned primarily with directing?
  • What is the department’s main focus, if it has one?
  • What sort of degree options are available? Is it as specific or as general as you’d like?
  • Will you have the opportunity to get involved with on- or off-campus productions?

Career Overview

Students decide to pursue advanced degrees in Drama/Dramatics and Theatre Arts for many reasons, and the field offers many career opportunities. Many Theatre majors embark on careers in Theatre, as directors, actors, stage managers, costume designers, stage technicians, playwrights, script writers, or producers. However, theatre is a competitive field—not everyone can make a living from the stage, and many graduates find that theatre is best pursued as a supplement to another career.

These people may turn instead to a related field, such as theatre criticism, arts administration, or arts education. There are often many opportunities to assist and participate in community and local theatre, though these positions may be on a volunteer basis only. Like any liberal arts field, graduates of Theatre Arts are great communicators, making them good candidates for a number of positions. Public relations, law, and business are just a few of the possibilities.

Career/Licensing Requirements

There are no specific licensing requirements for a career in Theatre Arts.

Salary Information

The starting salary for a creative field like Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts is almost impossible to predict. Some actors struggle for years as waiters and waitresses before getting their big break; some playwrights work in big corporations and work on their plays at night. Pay is often sporadic, and may come from a series of odd jobs. More reliable career paths, such as arts administration or education, offer starting salaries from roughly $25,000 to $40,000.

Related Links

National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, Inc.
The National Association of Dramatic and Speech Arts, Inc. is a professional organization for all Dramatics professionals, including performers, educators, administrators, and students.

United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc.
The United States Institute for Theatre Technology, Inc.’s website offers information on fellowships, student chapters, and awards.


  • Studies In Dramatic Literature

  • Acting Styles

  • Costumes

  • Directing Young Actors

  • Drama In The Classroom

  • Dramatic Theory And Criticism

  • Improvisational Techniques

  • Lighting Techniques

  • Mime And Movement

  • Stage Directing

  • Stage Lighting

  • Stage Makeup

  • Technical Theatre Production Techniques