Masters in Performing Arts

The glitz and the glamour of the big screen, or the fiery drama of the theatre could be waiting for you if you take a masters in performing arts. Before you make a decision, though, it’s important to know what’s in it for you. What does a masters in performing arts entail exactly? What are the possible career outcomes? We give you the lowdown on everything you need to know about pursuing a masters in performing arts.

What is a Masters In Performing Arts?

An MPA is a blanket term for a graduate degree which is awarded across the many fields of performance, such as:

  • Dance
  • Theatre
  • Music
  • Film

A master's degree program in performing arts generally takes one year full-time or two years part-time and delivery is often divided up between academic pursuits - including performance theory - and technical, hands-on learning.

The aim of the program is to improve your performance and creative skills, as well as enhance your research skills and your theoretical knowledge of contemporary performance practises. It is aimed largely at students who want to establish themselves as an independent artist, academic researcher or practitioner-researcher.

Topics Covered

The exact topics an MPA covers will depend on the subject area you pick, the institution and the specifics of the program. But topics you can expect to study include the following:

  • Body In Performance
  • Spaces
  • Audiences
  • Narrative
  • Collaboration
  • Memory

Programs will typically be flexible regarding your choice of modules. For example, you could choose to develop your current skills or learn new ones by choosing a certain module.

Modules might include:

  • Research
  • Perspectives
  • Performance Making
  • Research Into Performance

It’s important to bear in mind that some programs are more practice-focused than others, just as some are more research-based. Practices you can expect to explore include:

  • Writing
  • Directing
  • Live Art
  • Digital Performance
  • Installation

There will also be either a final performance of a dissertation at the end of the program. Some programs also offer professional placements.

Entry Requirements

Generally, a first or second-class BA degree in a related subject, such as Performing Arts, Drama or Dance is required. However, allowances can be made if you possess relevant industry experience or professional qualifications. You will also need to provide a portfolio of work to support your application.

Some postgraduate degrees in Performing Arts may require students to attend an entrance interview or an audition. To help you understand postgraduate interviews we have put together an article for the top 10 questions that are likely to pop up and the best ways that you can answer them: Top 10 Postgraduate Interview Questions.


There are numerous career options open to you if you take a masters performance art, and certainly not every student enters the course with the sole intention of being a performer. Possible career options include:

  • Performer (stage, television or film)
  • Teacher
  • Theatre Director
  • Business owner (you could, for example, use your new knowledge and experience to found a performance art studio)
  • Community Arts Worker
  • Alternatively, you could go onto further study, such as a Ph.D.

The real life experience gained from this degree will also prove to be invaluable as you build your career.