Master of Arts in Applied Theatre

Format: On Campus
Application Deadlines
  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline: May 16, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline Extension: June 6, 2024

Master of Arts in Applied Theatre

The MA in Applied Theatre degree program, the first program of its kind in the United States, uses theatre as a medium for education, community development, and the pursuit of social justice. The goal of the program is to educate scholar practitioners to become future leaders in the field of applied theatre. Applied Theatre involves the use of theatre and drama in a wide variety of nontraditional contexts and venues, such as in teaching, the justice system, health care, the political arena, community development, museums, and social service agencies.

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Career Prospects

Graduates of the program are prepared for careers as teaching artists with theatres, museums, hospitals, and other community-based organizations; education directors for cultural organizations; facilitators of youth programs; creative aging artists; health and wellness theatre program specialists; conflict resolution; and activities specialists with development programs, aid agencies, and refugee support programs.

Students in the Program:

  • Practice actor-centered, collaborative approaches to leading creative teams and playbuilding original theatre
  • Study a range of artistic, educational, and social theories that inform progressive practice
  • Collaborate as a member of a student ensemble to support creative risk-taking
  • Progress through carefully sequenced courses with an emphasis on the unity of theory and practice
  • Devise and perform theatre-in-education interventions in New York City schools and community settings 
  • Develop work alongside the renowned CUNY Creative Arts Team
  • Research, implement, document, and evaluate an original applied theatre thesis project.

Curriculum

  • 10 Core Courses (30 Credits)
  • 2 Elective Courses (6 Credits)

Sample Courses

  • Community, Culture, and Diversity
  • Playbuilding
  • Teaching through Theatre
  • Theatre of the Oppressed
  • The Co-intentional Director
  • Creating Meaning Through Community Drama
  • Study abroad: Project Rwanda

Connect with us

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Meet our Faculty


Headshot of Chris Vine
Chris Vine

Academic Director, Professor, MA in Applied Theatre

Headshot of Keline Adams
Keline Adams

Elective Course Instructor, Thesis Advisor, and Independent Study Advisor

Headshot of Daniel Banks
Daniel Banks

Elective Course Instructor and Thesis Advisor, MA in Applied Theatre

Headshot of Kari Berggren Olk
Kari Berggren Olk

Program Assistant

Headshot of Sindy Isabel Castro
Sindy Isabel Castro

Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Jessica Cortez
Jessica Cortez

Elective Course Instructor

Headshot of Jan Cohen-Cruz
Jan Cohen-Cruz

Thesis Advisor and Independent Study Advisor, MA in Applied Theatre

Headshot of Dana Edell
Dana Edell

Thesis Advisor and Former Elective Course Instructor, MA in Applied Theatre

Headshot of Amy S. Green
Amy S. Green

Consortial Faculty Member and Thesis Advisor, MA in Applied Theatre / Chairperson and Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies, John Jay College

Headshot of Norma Harris
Norma Harris

Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Toya Lillard
Toya Lillard

Elective Course Instructor

Headshot of Lindsey Buller Maliekel
Lindsey Buller Maliekel

Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Ah-Keisha McCans
Ah-Keisha McCans

Course Instructor, Thesis Advisor, and Applied Theatre & Racial Justice Conference Planning Team

Photo of Sarah Meister
Sarah Meister

Thesis Advisor & Writing Support Coach

Headshot of Sara Morgulis
Sara Morgulis

Thesis Advisor and Disability Services and Accessibility Consultant

Headshot of Tammie L. Swopes
Tammie L. Swopes

Course Instructor

Headshot of Sherry Teitelbaum
Sherry Teitelbaum

Writing Support Coach and Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Diana B. Waters
Diana B. Waters

Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Helen White
Helen White

Course Instructor and Director of the CAT Youth Theatre

Headshot of H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams
H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams

Adjunct Associate Professor

Headshot of Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Melanie Willingham-Jaggers

Former Course Instructor

Headshot of Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson

Writing Support Coach and Thesis Advisor

Headshot of Lori Ayela Wynters
Lori Ayela Wynters

Thesis Advisor

Admissions Criteria

Applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Applicants are required to write a personal statement, upload a resume, and provide two letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation may be submitted before or after submitting an application. Please note that an individual interview may be necessary.

We encourage applications from people with a variety of undergraduate majors and professional backgrounds. Theatre experience, formal or informal, is expected. Applicants who meet the basic eligibility criteria may be asked to take part in an artistic review.

Students are admitted to the program each fall and can enroll in either a full- or part-time course of study.

Funding Opportunities

In collaboration with the CUNY Creative Arts Team, CUNY SPS and the MA in Applied theatre are proud to offer the Graduate Apprenticeship for Diversity in Applied Theatre. Follow the link for details.

Application Deadlines

  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline: May 16, 2024
  • Fall 2024 Regular Deadline Extension: June 6, 2024
Apply Now

Student/Alumni Profiles

Sindy Castro and Morgan Booker

MA in Applied Theater

S: "I’ve taught for other programs and helped to oversee other programs, but I wanted to figure out what it is I’m interested in doing and how to do it." M: "My favorite moment was in theories, in my group project. Our topic was learning theories based on Lisa Delpit, Jonathan Kozol, and bell hooks. I never thought I’d have fun researching."

Jessica Cortez

MA in Applied Theater

"I decided to double major in theatre [in college] because I saw it as a platform that I could use to talk about those issues, and really dive into social narratives, and express people’s stories that aren’t typically told."

Laura Cabochan

MA in Applied Theatre

"If you have something to say, the program would listen…working beyond cultural barriers is very very interesting to me…here, [I] was different, and ah, it’s okay.”

Denise Hughes

MA in Applied Theatre

"Working with my former students to pursue their goals and dreams finally pushed me to follow through with my own."

Recent News About Master of Arts in Applied Theatre

The cover of the book with Professor White's chapter

The Strangest Year: Theatre in the Time of Covid 19

February 13, 2024

Digital Displacement

Professor Helen White, a faculty member and co-founder of the CUNY MA in Applied Theatre program, published the chapter "The Strangest Year: Theatre in the Time of Covid 19" in the Palgrave Macmillan journal Digital Displacement. This chapter offers a personal reflection on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the devising process of CAT Youth Theatre in 2020 and 2021. First, it introduces CAT Youth Theatre, a community theatre program at CUNY that has been running for over 25 years. Second, it maps the journey undertaken by the youth theatre members through the various phases of the pandemic. Third, it presents the group’s artistic project, The Strangest Year, an unexpected result of feeling displaced from their own space and conventional theatricality.
Dr. Herukhuti's image for his proposed book

Making Revolution Irresistible in Socially Engaged Art

February 13, 2024

Routledge Press

MA in Applied Theatre faculty member H. "Herukhuti" Sharif Williams, PhD, signed a contract with Routledge to co-edit a book about socially engaged art entitled "Making Revolution Irresistible in Socially Engaged Art", to be published in 2025. The editors want to create space through this text for artists/creatives who are invested in challenging hegemony, the status quo, and the prevailing social order using art to share their stories, wisdom, and practices of disruption, resistance, and revolutionary change.
CUNY SPS Applied Theatre alum Brielle Silvestre

"It Feels So Real": The Value of Using Elements of Theatre to Rehearse a Profession

December 28, 2023

Theatre Topics Academic Journal

CUNY SPS Applied Theatre alum Brielle Silvestre (class of '19) published an article in the November Issue of Theatre Topics Academic Journal entitled, "'It Feels So Real': The Value of Using Elements of Theatre to Rehearse a Profession."

In the Valley of Coming Forth - Afrofuturist Play by Herukhuti

November 27, 2023

Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

CUNY SPS MA in Applied Theatre faculty member Dr. H. "Herukhuti" Sharif Williams wrote and produced "In the Valley of Coming Forth", an Afrofuturist, funk, ritual play about a Black woman’s struggle to rescue her kidnapped non-binary child and destroy the system that has torn them apart. The play was co-produced and performed at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving weekend.