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University of Pittsburgh    
2018-2019 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 14, 2024
2018-2019 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Performance Pedagogy in Theatre Arts, MFA

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Designed to equip working, professional actors with the tools to expand their employment opportunities in teaching at the college and university level, the MFA in Performance Pedagogy at the University of Pittsburgh offers a dynamic synthesis of teaching, practice, and scholarship.

This program is based on the premise that the professional actor has already gained a level of craft and broad experience that can become the foundation for solid teaching skills. Therefore, emphasis is placed on exploration and strengthening of pedagogical techniques as related to areas of acting and performance training.

Each student is given the mentorship of an experienced teacher of performance and works closely with the mentor to create opportunities for independent studies in pedagogy and curriculum development. Students gain experience applying theory to the practice of teaching acting and performance classes every semester, creating a course, conducting master class workshops, working on production assignments, and coaching or advising undergraduate students as needed. Students are encouraged to develop an area of specialty and to develop other areas of training in order to broaden their knowledge and remain competitive in the academic market.

Degree Requirements

The curriculum for the MFA degree in Performance Pedagogy centers around three focus areas:

1. Pedagogical Study

2. History/Literature/Criticism

3. Other Electives.

Each semester students are expected to carry a 15-credit load in addition to teaching two performance classes. Classroom teaching serves as fulfillment of the student’s work obligation to the university in addition to providing a laboratory for applying the pedagogical ideas under study.

# of courses required (list core courses, etc.)

60 credits are required for the program: 36-39 credits in pedagogy; 15 credits in History, Literature and Criticism; and 3-6 credits in electives.  Core courses include: Techniques in Performance Pedagogy, Course Development, Production Mentorship, and Directed Studies in Pedagogy.

Thesis and Final Examination

The thesis project is the final requirement for the Performance Pedagogy degree. It is comprised of an original, created course plus a substantial written document that serves as a teaching guidebook for other instructors interested in using the thesis topic in the classroom. The thesis document identifies a pedagogical question, investigates that question through research or classroom work, and then identifies conclusions reached.  Thesis documents should be written in such a way that a performance teacher could use the document as a study guide on the topic in question. Thesis documents typically range from 40-80 pages in length and are directly connected to the created course devised by the student.

Thesis planning occurs in the fall semester of the second year. The thesis document must be completed and approved by a two or three person committee selected by the student. An outline of the thesis proposal and the names of the thesis committee are due at the beginning of the final semester. At least one committee member must be from the performance faculty.  All thesis documents require a committee signature page. The student must submit the final document (after committee approval) by the end of April of the graduating year.  Students present an oral defense of the Thesis to their committee.

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