University of Calgary
UofC Navigation

Drama - Graduate

Prospective Students

Drama’s 10 permanent faculty members have a diversity of research interests and practices, maintaining profiles in both the professional and scholarly theatre communities.  MFA students can select to study in one of four specializations: Directing, Design/Technical, Theatre Studies and Playwriting. Each program offers a great deal of flexibility, exciting opportunities and contact with faculty members.  Drama maintains a full production schedule through the skilled technical and teaching contributions of 5 full-time professional staff. Facilities include 3 theatre spaces, full costume, properties and scene shops and the Integrated Arts Media Lab. All MFA students have office space in the School and access to computer facilities.

Overview of Programs

Design and Technical Theatre
Theatre Studies

Apply Online 
The online application for September 2018 will open in October 2017 and the deadline to apply will be January 15, 2018.

Program info PDF
Graduate Calendar
Tuition and Fees

Current Students

As a Graduate Drama student, you will have access to various state of the art performance facilities

An important resource for Graduate students is the Graduate Program Administrator in the Drama Office (CHD 100). She is available to help with you with many of the administrative processes required before, during and after you complete your degree and is always available to ask questions. Email

Library Research Collection  – The Drama and Theatre collections at the U of C libraries rank among the top five in Canada and are an especially great resource for MFA students. There you can find manuscript archives, costume and scene design collections, several important literary collections and over 1,000 slides of the production history of Drama at the U of C.

Grad Student Handbook
Guidelines for Artist Statement
Student Achievements

Master of Fine Arts (Drama)


Admitting one or two students per year, Drama offers individualized instruction and mentoring, leading to a fully-mounted thesis production in the second year of study. Directing students have many opportunities to direct plays; projects are assigned in connection with course work in the first year, and a full-length play will be mounted with technical and design support at the end of the first year.  In addition to the formal expectations, graduate directing students are usually successful at making contacts in the local networks.

The directing program stresses the acquisition of skills necessary to work in a professional manner in academic and professional theatre situations, and carries a heavy emphasis on theatre practice as the core of its various areas of study. The program stresses the interpretation of text and the process that brings text to production. The directorial process is as much a focus of review and critique as is the final product. Students in the program are expected to be able to deal with theoretical issues of textual and performance criticism, and to develop a skill in written expression commensurate with the expectations of an advanced University degree.

Design and Technical Theatre

The graduate design faculty share a view of theatre design which stresses the all-around preparedness of designers and technicians to participate in their increasingly competitive profession. Ours is a holistic approach centered on aesthetic analysis in response to the text, as this prepares our students to participate equally with directors and aspire to the highest levels of their art. The program also focuses on the creative, interactive relationship between designers and directors; we see that relationship as fundamental to both the practice of the art and the relative degree of satisfaction that designers derive from their work.

The degree carries a heavy emphasis on theatre practice in a wide range of venues and budget while focusing on the candidate's individual aesthetic development as well as skill acquisition. The minimum degree program requires four full graduate courses, plus a thesis with an accompanying artist’s statement. The aim of the program is to have the student grow in confidence and sophistication, balancing course work, production work and independent study in areas most beneficial to them.

Theatre Studies

The Master of Fine Arts degree in Theatre Studies is an unusually flexible program, tailored to each student who is admitted. Accordingly, in addition to the formal credentials required for admission, a student must propose a program of study and a possible thesis research area, which is compatible with the research interests and expertise of the graduate faculty.  Possible areas of study lie in the historical and cultural context of theatrical production, the interrelation of types of entertainment, Popular Theatre and the creation of performance collectives, performance theory, and dramaturgy. A Theatre Studies program culminates in a written thesis, which can be based on textual research or on a project. Project-based theses must be accompanied by a written component, which sets out the goals, hypotheses, and processes of the project, and any conclusions to be drawn from it.  The program normally takes two years to complete. A student will take at least four full courses at the graduate level.


In considering a masters in playwriting within the Drama Division there are several principals that apply. The first is that writing - the writing of dramatic work - is an essential component of each year, with the understanding that in attempting to grasp the playwriting form, writing itself will be the most instructive element. This program also encourages a thorough knowledge of dramaturgy - the study of both plays as they exist as written text, as well as plays as they exist in production and performance. Therefore, each year there is a required element of analysis and dramaturgy. Students will be required to act as the dramaturge of one of the Division's Mainstage presentations, as well as observe and research dramaturgy in action at one of the professional new works studios in the area.

The first year would require students to take classes in Methods in Theatre Research, Advanced Script Analysis and Selected Problems in Playwriting. The culmination of the first year would result in a selected project of a one act play. As part of this project, playwriting students would be required to partner with the student directors, and consult with this director as the play was directed and produced. In year two work is expected to continue through the summer so that each graduate student will return in the fall with a detailed scenario of their full length project, which will become their Thesis project along with a submission of a written research paper.

Application and Admission

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Arts requirements, the Division requires:

  • A baccalaureate degree that has clearly included a major emphasis in the study of drama with study at the undergraduate level in the proposed area of specialization. Deficiencies of background may be corrected during a year of study as a qualifying student.
  • A written application including a biographical outline of the applicant’s studies and experience in theatre and a statement of intent outlining proposed projects in the Division.
  • Two letters of reference with reference form completed online, or letters of reference mailed with an official reference form attached to each letter.

Application to each specialization will require submission of additional documents. Please note that Drama is not responsible for return of this documentation. Supporting documents can be submitted online through the Student Centre website once the application has been submitted. If you are having problems uploading the additional documentation online, please email the Graduate Program Administrator at .

  • Directing applicants are to submit a portfolio that might include reviews, photographs and/or video clips of productions directed.
  • Design/Technical applicants must submit portfolio materials of design work, drawing, production photographs, reviews, etc.
  • Theatre Studies applicants must submit samples of scholarly writing.
  • Playwriting applicants must submit samples of dramatic text.

Applications for Admission

The Application Deadline is January 15 for September admission.  January admission may be possible in exceptional circumstances; please contact the Graduate Administrator at  for further information. Students applying must complete the Faculty of Graduate Studies online application.

International Students

Drama welcomes applications from qualified students outside of Canada. Applicants whose first language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam or another exam as listed under the English Language Proficiency requirements. Additionally, international students in Drama are eligible for a partial visa differential reimbursement. For more information please visit the following links:

Financial Support and Scholarships

The course and research demands are heavy, particularly in the first year, and students will require finances to be in place freeing them to focus on their studies. Many students admitted to the program receive financial support from teaching and research scholarships.

In order to be a candidate for financial support, a continuing student should apply for the major awards for which s/he is eligible: the SSHRC fellowships (applications due in October); Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships (applications to Drama mid-February). Incoming students who meet application criteria are invited to apply for the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarships. Please note that many scholarships are only available for full-time students.

For more information on these and other general University awards and scholarship opportunities, please refer to the following links:

Finance Resource QuickLinks

Don’t wait to apply! Most scholarships have a deadline date of February 1st!

In addition to various scholarships and awards, the Division's financial support also includes graduate assistantships teaching (GATs) and non-teaching assistantships (GANTs) funded by the Faculty of Arts, and research scholarships (FGSS) funded by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Assistantships Teaching (GATs) : Teaching and instructional service to an instructor in an undergraduate course.  Stipend amounts are listed in the GSA Collective Agreement and awarded by the Division of Drama.  No more than an average of 12 hours per week of service (including preparation) may be required of teaching assistants.

Graduate Assistantships Non-Teaching (GANTs) : Research service for a faculty member.  Stipend amounts are listed in the GSA Collective Agreement and awarded by the Division of Drama.  No more than an average of 12 hours per week of service (including preparation) may be required of research assistants.

Faculty of Graduate Studies Scholarships (FGSS) : Awarded for research tasks directly related to the student's own research.  Stipends range from $500 to $8,000 per term (four months), funded by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and awarded by the Division of Drama. No teaching or service duties are required of research assistants.

The allocation of GATs, GANTs and FGSS scholarships to students is decided by the Drama Graduate Studies Committee.  As the budget is not known until the end of April or even later, the Division will try to make most allocations on the basis of its minimum expected budget by early May for funding awarded the following fall and winter.

GATs, GANTs and FGSS scholarships are normally tenable at the University of Calgary. The terms are September-December, January-April, and May-August. There is no separate application form for GATs, GANTs or FGSS scholarships.

Funding Statistics

Drama has a policy of providing a minimum of $10,000 per year to MFA students in their first two years of study. In the past three years this funding has ranged between $14,000 and $17,000 yearly, in the form of GATs, GANTs and FGSS scholarships. Several MFA students have been successful in grant and award competitions, with at least one student in each of the past three years receiving a SSHRC fellowship ($17,500) and others receiving the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship (just over $10,000). For more cost information, visit the Graduate Studies Calendar.

Awards in the Faculty of Graduate Studies

The Graduate Scholarship Committee of the University of Calgary awards a number of scholarships and fellowships.  Detailed information on all these awards is available in the  Graduate Studies Awards Database .  The deadline for application for most of these scholarships is February 1.  No graduate student award will be made to anyone other than a full-time student. Please also view the Awards & Scholarships  page on the FGS website.

Leave of Absence

The Faculty of Graduate Studies has procedures in place to enable graduate students to take a leave from program whilst continuing to be registered in their degree.  During the time of the leave, the clock stops in terms of the time limit you have to complete your degree and it resumes at the completion of the leave. Leaves may be considered for medical problems, bereavement, parental or care giving responsibilities, or military service.  Specific policy details can be found in the Graduate Calendar