High School, Middle School Educators Head to UH for Master's in Theatre

Time is precious for high school or middle school theater teachers. The hours required to coordinate curriculum and organize school productions leave little room in one's schedule to pursue an advanced degree.

Thanks to the University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance, full-time theater teachers now can earn master's degrees through a unique summer graduate program. The 36-hour non-thesis master's program is the only one of its kind in this region of the United States. The program will graduate its first class of students this year, with 16 students receiving their master's degrees in theatre education.

"These teachers' schedules are extremely demanding, so we're offering this degree during the summer months when they are not in the classroom," said Steven Wallace, director for the School of Theatre & Dance. "Typically, a high school or middle school will use their summers to plan productions for the upcoming school year. They actually will have the opportunity to do that within the context of these master's classes."

In addition to learning from the university's renowned faculty, master's students also will travel to New York, London and selected U.S. cities to view productions and participate in workshops with some of the city's stage professionals. For instance, this year, the students are visiting London to work with and learn from members of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

These master's students are expected to complete 12 hours of coursework during a five-week period and graduate after three summer semesters. Courses will cover topics such as acting, technical theater and design, playwriting, dramaturgy and theater management. After completing all of the required coursework, they will earn a master of arts in theatre.

Only three other institutions in the U.S. offer similar summer master's programs: Roosevelt University, New York University and South Oregon University.

"This is a model program in that it combines the best pedagogical practice with strong university support for art programs in secondary schools,'' said UH Provost John Antel.