MFA in Television, Film and Theatre (TVFT)


I. What is this program?

What can I do with an MFA degree?
An MFA is a terminal graduate degree that can be used towards a wide variety of ends. Some students seek the MFA as an intense immersion into their art, skill, or craft, preparing for professional careers in film, television and theatre. Some students pursue the MFA as an advanced degree to secure current positions or for promotions. Some students seek an MFA in order to be qualified for positions at universities and colleges around the world.

How long does it take to finish the MFA degree program?
An MFA program is 3 consecutive years/12 consecutive quarters. In an integrated MFA program such as this one, classes are taken concurrently, and assignments require collaboration with other students.

How large is your program?
Each entering class is generally 45 students, 15 students for each of the three Options.

How is this MFA Different from other MFAs?
This MFA differs from other MFAs in two key areas: 1. Students in each Option will be working across Television, Film and Theatre, and will have a major project in all three areas; and 2. Students in each Option will be working with students in the other Options on many projects. For example, Dramatic Writing Option students will write the scripts performed by Performance/Acting Option students, and produced/directed by Production Option students

II. How do I apply?

Can I enter the program winter, spring, or summer quarter?
No. Applications are accepted for entrance into the Fall quarter only.

Why do I have to apply both to the University and to the MFA program?
Cal State, LA has a 2-step admissions process. One step is the University application, the other step is the MFA application (found on this website—click “Application” tab). The University determines if applicants have met its minimum requirements (for example, 2.5 GPA, graduation from an accredited university) while the MFA program determines if applicants have met its requirements (for example, a 3.0 GPA, writing sample, portfolio, etc.) Applicants must apply to BOTH the University and the MFA. To be accepted in the MFA, you must have applied to both the University and the MFA.

Why do you require such a wide variety of application materials?
The MFA is a highly specialized degree that requires both traditional academic qualifications and performance/creative/artistic acumen. The application materials are required to help demonstrate the student’s preparation (both in terms of skills and artistic maturity) as well as potential for success.

Can I take classes in the program even if I am not a student in the program?
No. You must apply and be accepted into the program.

May I receive graduate program credit for graduate courses taken
at another school?


May I receive graduate program credit for graduate courses taken at CSULA?
In some cases, you may be able to apply elective units, as long as the course is the same course.

Can I get credit for professional experience?

Are there prerequisites?
The MFA is looking for applicants with backgrounds in acting, dramatic writing or production/direction in theatre, film or television.

If I have extensive professional experience may this go towards any prerequisite coursework that I may need before I can be admitted into the MFA?
While we often look to a student’s academic background both for admissions, we may also take into consideration an applicant’s professional background and accomplishments in the option to which they are applying. Each case would have to be evaluated individually to design a program that both meet the rigor of the MFA and the intentions of the student.

III. What do I expect when I am in the program?

Will I be able to work and take classes?
The MFA is a full-time program. In addition to classes there are assignments. Classes take precedent over outside work activities.

Are there Teaching Assistant positions?
Yes, competitive assistantships are available to advanced students.

How many performance opportunities are there in the Performance/Acting Option?
Students have a variety of performance opportunities. In addition to in-class/workshop performance assignments, every year there are as many as 15 theatre/TV/film productions as part of the integrated collaborative model of the program. Students may also audition for productions produced by the Theatre Arts and Dance Department, the Television and Film area of the Department of Communication Studies, and the Music Department.

How many Production and or writing opportunities are there in the Production and Dramatic Writing Options?
Students will have a wide variety of writing and production opportunities. These opportunities include but are not limited to in-class/workshop assignments and exercises, and the formal Option writing & production projects that are included in the integrated collaborative model of the program. Additionally, students may also create a wide array of projects produced under the Directed Study elective in the TVFT program.

What does it mean to be a "classified" graduate student?
Before beginning classes, students meet with their Option Advisor to create a coursework program of study, which is then filed in the Associate Dean’s office. Once this program has been approved by the Option Advisor and the Associate Dean, a student is classified.

What if I receive a grade lower than a C?
A grade of C is allowed in the program; however, any grade below C, including C-, requires that the course be repeated. Please be reminded that a student is required to maintain a 3.0 average at all times.

What is advancement to candidacy?
Advancement to candidacy is an opportunity for faculty to review a student’s academic progress after the completion of at least 16 graduate-level units. Advancement is part of the continuing process of student review. During the advancement review, Option Committees meet with students to review the work completed, discuss the student’s accomplishments or difficulties, and ensure the student is maintaining successful status in order to continue in the program. Advancement in the program is contingent upon approval of the Option Committee.

When should I advance to candidacy?
A student should plan to advance to candidacy after becoming a classified graduate student, having passed the GWAR (Graduate Writing Proficiency Examination/WPE), and having completed 16 or more quarter units with a 3.0 or higher GPA with no outstanding incompletes. The student must attempt to advance before completing 24 units.

What is the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)? I write well--do I still have to take it?
All CSU grad students, including the strongest writers, must meet the Graduate Writing requirement. At Cal State, LA, students fulfill this requirement by taking the WPE (Writing Proficiency Exam). If you have not taken the WPE or a comparable
writing exam during your B.A. or M.A. you will need to take the WPE at Cal State LA.
This should be done within the first quarter of your enrollment in the MFA by enrolling in UNIV-400. Check the Schedule of class, and enroll in a section reserved for graduate students. You will not advance to candidacy until you have passed this exam.

Can the Chair of my required program projects be from outside the TVFTA Program?
No. The Chair of your major project cannot be from outside of the Department of Theatre, Arts and Dance and Television, Film, & Media Studies.