MFA Acting Programs in California

Mar 26, 2019

Students interested in earning a master's degree in acting while studying in California can choose from a wide range of 3-year programs. Explore the similarities and differences of these programs and learn how to apply.

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Several Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Acting programs are available in California, especially around the Los Angeles area. These programs provide students with hands-on learning and practical experience, and some programs provide funding opportunities. Learn more about a few of the different MFA in Acting programs in the state.

California Schools with MFA Acting Programs

California State University-Los Angeles

California State University-Los Angeles has a unique MFA in Acting in TV, Film, and Theatre program that can be completed in 3 years. Students in the program receive intensive training in movement, voice, and various styles of acting. They also participate in a wide range of performances and productions, the school's Annual Showcase production, and various networking opportunities. The program provides funding opportunities for students through scholarships, graduate assistantships, and teaching assistantship positions.

University of California-Irvine

The University of California-Irvine has a 3-year MFA in Acting program that prepares students for acting for both the camera and the stage. Students are trained in acting, speech, voice, and movement, and courses are primarily held during the day to allow for rehearsals in the evenings. The program requires students to participate in at least 6 performances throughout the program, but most students participate in more performances. The program also offers a unique showcase that is performed in Los Angeles and New York by MFA Acting and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Music Theatre graduates that allows students to network with a wide range of agencies and managers in the field.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers a 3-year MFA in Acting that combines a physical approach to acting with a classical conservatory-style. The program requires multiple courses in advanced acting, movement, and voice diction, as well as multiple theatre practicums. Students in the program receive individual attention and are trained to work in diverse mediums and technologies. The program concludes with a spring showcase in Los Angeles and New York for agents, managers, and casting directors.

California Institute of the Arts

The California Institute of the Arts in Valencia provides an MFA in Acting that can be completed in 3 years. The program trains students in movement and physical expression the first year, moves on to advanced study and camera techniques during the second year, and concludes with career preparation during the final year. Students in the program must pass a Graduation Review before earning their degree. The program also offers a unique concentration in integrated media for students wishing to incorporate the study of technology in their program.

University of California-San Diego

The University of California-San Diego in La Jolla has a 3-year MFA in Acting available that provides students with full financial support. In addition to coursework, the department puts on 10 to 15 productions that graduate students can audition for, as well as a range of student productions. Students in the program are also expected to complete at least 1 residency with La Jolla Playhouse as an externship experience. The final year of the program includes a showcase in Los Angeles and New York that allows students to perform for various professionals in the field.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission to these types of MFA programs is usually competitive, as some programs may only admit around 10 students total. Most of these programs require students to hold a bachelor's degree and include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, resume and/or headshot with the appropriate application. The biggest component in the admission process for these programs is the formal audition, which usually occurs on-campus, but some programs may accept video auditions and/or hold audition tours in multiple locations across the country. Depending on the program, the audition process may include a chance for individual monologues, group exercises, and/or applicants to ask questions about the program.

Students in California can earn their MFA in Acting in 3 years and receive ample amounts of hands-on training. These programs often provide networking and career preparation opportunities.

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