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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Theatre

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Theatre

Flexibility
The best online master’s degree in theater for flexibility is Regent University, a private Christian university that offers a Master of Arts degree in Theater, with a concentration in either theater ministry or theater studies, via the School of Communication and the Arts. With seven major schools offering an abundance of online degree programs, Regent University knows how to prioritize flexibility and ease of access for students. The Regent University website’s Online Learning page offers an outline of the many benefits of choosing an online education at Regent, along with links to information on why online courses are best-suited to those needing flexible class schedules, as well as internal web resources available only to those registered for Regent online.

Career Support
Graduate students obtaining an online master’s degree in theater at Regent University are given many resources to help guide their career ambitions after completing their course work. According to the University Centers’ information page, students have access to a large number of counseling options, including being advised on pursuing additional training in their field of expertise. RU graduates can also find a section dedicated to career services at the university’s School of Communication and the Arts, highlighting careers in theater and practical application of a theater master’s degree in various industries.

Financial Support
Regent University wins the award for financial support for its online master’s degree in theater. To help understand financial aid options, students have access to a team of financial aid staff, who customize a “package” of financial aid tools specifically for them, including grants, student loans, scholarships, and federal aid. According to RU’s Financial Aid website, Regent features eight military scholarships, and will even offer Dave Ramsey’s Foundations of Personal Finance course for free this fall.

Technology Support
The award for best online master’s degree in theater for technology support is Regent University. Because Regent offers so many courses and degrees in an online learning atmosphere, the IT department has also placed high importance on making a very capable tech support team, and sophisticated web resources, available to its online students. Regent University tech support staff can be easily reached via phone or email, as outlined on the Information Technology help desk page. Among the many IT options, students can also browse the FAQs section, organized by topic, where they can view responses to previous blog posts about IT issues, and sign up for their own email address just for RU online learning portals, so they can easily communicate with others in the virtual classroom.

Student Engagement
Regent University encourages an institution-wide effort to offer top notch resources for student engagement, and its programs have paid off. Regent was ranked 19th on U.S. News and World Report’s list for student engagement and accreditation among the top online graduate programs, and the university even developed a special department, the Office of Community Life, specifically to enhance student engagement and provide leadership opportunities. With this department’s programs, Regent promises to develop a vibrant community life among university students, enrich student learning, and promote character development. For its many efforts, Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for student engagement.

Disability Support
Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for disability support. RU’s website features a wealth of information via the Disability Services department dedicated to providing assistance to anyone in need of special services. Here, students can learn about accessibility and service animal policies, as well as how to request reasonable accommodations and special services, and even find out if they qualify for a special scholarship opportunity, tailored to physically disabled students.

Library and Research Support
Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for library and research support. Among the multitude of services offered on the university’s library website, both the university and law libraries feature fully digitized, searchable catalogues, and additional library and research resources include a full, alphabetical database list, for narrowing down searches, and a “browse by subject” feature, to find publications more easily. Not sure where to start? The online library database has four direct link options to various online catalogues, to help students get started with their library searches.

Learning Support
The award for best online master’s degree in theater for learning support goes to Regent University. Students gave Regent a score of 66%, and the university ranked 78th, on the ranking for Student Services and Technology, according to U.S. News & World Report. As outlined on the Resources and Services: Online Services page, Regent offers unique tools for online learning, such as Blackboard and Wimba, used in tandem as Regent’s virtual classroom community software programs, and Genisys, the student information system database. Students also have their own personalized Regent home page, or portal, and a university-based email account.

Faculty Credentials
At Regent University, the faculty bring inspiration and a vibrant perspective to the learning experience. According to the Regent website, among the professors at the School of Communication and the Arts are: a Fulbright Senior Specialist, Telly and Emmy Award-winning artists, published scholars, and experienced professionals who have worked in major media and entertainment markets across the U.S. and around the world. U.S. News and World Report’s Faculty Credentials and Training rankings report that Regent received a score of 78.7%, and the university ranked 18th on the list. Because of the vast knowledge of its faculty, and award-winning credentials, Regent wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for faculty credentials.

Faculty Accessibility
Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for faculty accessibility, an extremely important part of the online learning experience, since students will likely get to know their professors only in a virtual classroom. As an innovative resource, Regent not only offers highly attentive online professors, but also a fully searchable virtual training database, accessed on the Student Development Resources: Online Training page, that acts as a supplemental tool for many areas of the curriculum, with categories like “Academic Excellence.” This exclusive resource is like a virtual tutor for online students. For the utmost faculty accessibility, Regent prides itself on keeping class sizes small, with an average of 18 students, so that teachers can help inspire a one-on-one learning experience.

Alumni Engagement
Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for alumni engagement because of its invaluable online alumni community, established to serve both alumni and students by providing an opportunity to stay connected with Regent University. RU’s alumni site features a unique mentorship program, with which alumni can choose to either find a mentor, or become a mentor to other RU students. Alumni who join the Regent University Alumni Association can also find information on how to join their local RU alumni chapter, now spanning many major U.S. cities, and ways to give back to their alma mater. Alumni can even download a special app to stay informed of current news and events on their mobile device.

New Online Student Orientation
Regent University wins the award for best online master’s degree in theater for its new online student orientation resources. Among the many resources available on the Regent website is a page for the Graduate Program Preview, a fun and productive experience intentionally structured around personal face time with faculty. Upon enrollment, online students have 24-hour access to the extensive Student Development Resources database, designed to guide students through online training for everything from academics to relationships and spiritual development.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Theatre

Online master’s degree programs in theatre are designed to equip students with the artistic, technical, and industry skills they need to work directly in the performing arts. Students may choose to specialize in an area such as acting, directing, dramatic writing, wardrobe, lighting, or set design. Graduates of this type of program may also seek employment in fine arts administration or teaching. Positions can be found with performing arts companies, secondary schools, or colleges. Those interested in teaching at a four-year college or university may need to pursue a Ph.D. However, some schools, particularly junior and community colleges, will only require a master’s degree.

Online degree programs allow students the flexibility to continue working while earning their degree either full or part time. Since the number of courses a student opts to take each term can vary, the average time to completion for this type of program ranges from one to three years. Other factors, such as the number of credits transferred in or whether or not the student remains continuously enrolled, can also influence time to completion.

Class Curriculum

Master’s degree students studying theatre should expect a mixture of survey, performance, technical, and seminar courses. Courses will typically cover topics such as theatre history, set design, sound and lighting design, makeup, costumes, acting, directing, stage management, playwriting, and dramatic theory and analysis. Some examples of specific courses that may be required in this type of program include:

  • Theatre History. This seminar course will discuss dramatic works with consideration to their placement within a specific historical epoch. Discussion will include comparative study of theatre over several different periods.
  • Theatre Management. This course will cover the management of university, community, and professional theatrical performances. Discussions will include policy making, budgeting, play selection, staff management and organization, attendance building, and funding sources.
  • Dramatic Analysis. Students will explore dramatic structures and analyze scripts with the goal of planning for directing, designing, performing, and reviewing plays.

Theatre students should expect to complete reading assignments, analytical essays, practicum exercises, and performances. Preparatory work, such as costume, set, and lighting design are also a major part of the program, depending on the student’s area of interest. Due to the hands-on nature of theatre and theatre production, even online students will be required to complete part of their course work on campus. At the graduate level, students may be required to complete a master’s thesis or capstone project prior to graduation. This will include research and demonstrate the student’s ability to practically apply the concepts and theories they have learned throughout the program.

Building a Career

Individuals who have earned a master’s degree in theatre should be prepared with the necessary artistic, technical, and industry skills to work directly in performance as actors, directors, set designers, costume designers, lighting and sound technicians, or stage managers, depending on their area of specialization. Other career opportunities may be found in theatre administration or teaching. Most positions will be found with performing arts companies, secondary schools, or colleges and universities. Due to the competitive nature of this field, jobs may be scarce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for actors is only predicted to grow by 4% from 2010 to 2020. This is significantly slower than the 14% growth expected for all occupations. However, the job market for self-enrichment teachers, including drama teachers, is expected to increase by 21% over the projection period. In 2010, the median hourly wage for actors was $17.44. The median hourly wage for self-enrichment teachers was $17.47 that same year. Please note, actual salaries and job availability can be influenced by location, level of experience, education, specific employer, and the general job market.

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