Graduate Programs

Theatre Education & Applied Theatre (MA/MFA)

We know how to create drama.

Learn the art of teaching theatre in our Theatre Education & Applied Theatre (MA/MFA) program.

As one of the largest programs of its kind in the country, we’ll prepare you to create both theatre and learning experiences that transform lives and communities. With two tracks of study, Theatre Teacher Education or Theatre and Community, our courses integrate theory and reflective practice and give you the opportunity to develop skills and expand your knowledge in the art of theatre, the principles of teaching and learning in theatre, and the practices of applied drama and theatre.

When you start an application for our MA/MFA program, you will have the option to choose whether you want to be considered for the MA degree only, or if you would like to be considered for admission to both the MA and MFA degrees. If you enroll into the MA program to start, you will have future opportunities to apply to the MFA, either as a current MA student or alumni.

MA students will have the opportunity to earn Massachusetts initial licensure as a theatre teacher for Pre-K through Grade 12. Students who choose to pursue the MFA will be prepared to teach at the college level.

In addition to teaching theatre at all levels, graduates also go on to:

  • Work as teaching artists or education directors;
  • Pursue further doctoral work in theatre, education, and other related fields; and
  • Use theatre for community-based social justice work as community activists, social workers, recreation leaders, and more.

Quick Facts

MA Program

  • Fall admission only
  • 36 credit hours
  • Courses are offered at nights and evenings to fit your schedule
  • Full-time students usually complete degree in 1–2 years
  • Part-time students usually complete the degree in 2–4.5 years
  • No GRE required

MA/MFA Program

  • Fall admission only
  • 48 credit hours
  • Courses are offered at nights and evenings to fit your schedule
  • Full-time students usually complete degree in 2.5–3 years
  • Part-time students usually complete the degree in 3.5–5 years
  • No GRE required

MFA Program (Current Students & Alumni only)

  • Fall and Spring admission
  • 12 credit hours
  • Courses are offered at nights and evenings to fit your schedule
  • Full-time students usually complete the degree in 1 year
  • No GRE required

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Careers & Connections

Making Connections

After studying at a premier performing arts school in the heart of Boston's theatre community, Emerson Theatre Education graduates are in demand nationwide. Emerson's campus includes: the Tufte Performance and Production Center, the Paramount Center, The Cutler Majestic Theatre, and the Emerson Colonial Theatre. A large majority of our graduates seeking employment as theatre educators find positions within months of completing the program, becoming drama or theatre teachers on the college-level, in public and private schools K-12, directors and producers of community theatre, and coordinators of educational outreach programs.

As you form relationships with professors and peers and delve into your chosen coursework, you will be able to cultivate your talent outside of Emerson. Boston is a dynamic center for the arts, with several renowned museums and cultural organizations around the city providing ample opportunity for experience in the community. Emerson is surrounded by nearly a half-dozen theaters, and Broadway productions make regular stops on their way to and from New York. These theaters, in addition to surrounding schools, museums, and cultural institutions, provide many excellent opportunities for internships and practica.

Graduate Alumni & Employers

Here is a list of companies and agencies at which our graduates have recently worked.

  • American Repertory Theater
  • Andover Public Schools
  • Apollinaire Theatre Company
  • Arlington Center for the Arts
  • Boston Arts Academy Boston
  • Public Schools
  • Brimmer and May School
  • Huntington Theatre Company Company
  • One Seattle Children’s Theater
  • ArtsEmerson
  • Brookline Public Schools
  • Cambridge Public Schools
  • Central Michigan University
  • The Children's Museum
  • Citi Performing Arts Center
  • Wang Theatre
  • Eastern Nazarene College (MA)
  • Huntington Theatre Company
  • Lawrence Public Schools
  • Lexington Public Schools
  • Newton Public Schools
  • North Shore Community College (MA)
  • Plymouth State University (NH)
  • Regis College (MA)
  • Thayer Academy
  • Waltham Public Schools
  • Wellesley Public Schools


As you cultivate your own talent, you will be joined by world-renowned Emerson faculty–distinguished directors, producers, writers, actors, performance artists, and educators with national and international experience. You will be given the chance to work hand-in-hand with these professionals; Emerson faculty members serve not only as your teachers, but as your mentors and peers as well.

Your Graduate Program Director

Bethany Nelson not only teaches her students how to be theater educators, but she also represents the kind of educator her students want to be.

After studying theater education as an undergraduate at Emerson College, Nelson began her career as a drama specialist working in devised theatre with adolescents, then in public schools using drama and theatre as tools for facilitating learning in core subject areas.  After working in urban schools, Nelson discovered the power of drama and theatre to inspire both students and teachers, and to improve learning for struggling students. She says: “Students who had given up on interest in learning came alive in drama; it’s a uniquely powerful tool that can help kids realize themselves as learners.”

Her work since has revolved around this potential. After earning advanced degrees in multicultural education and the arts, Nelson has focused on playmaking and devising as vehicles for facilitating students’ understanding of the dynamics of privilege, and for helping them develop their agency as voices for change. In the classroom or the rehearsal room, she strives to make the theater education program reach beyond schools to empower developing community groups through the vehicle of theatre.

In acknowledgment of her efforts, Nelson received the 2018 Ann Flagg Multicultural Education Award from the American Alliance for Theatre Education. Deeply influenced by graduate school faculty mentors, Nelson is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and to ensuring her students' success.