Preparing for Graduate School

Sophia Costanzo On Set

"The Film, Television, and Theatre major prepared me for my MFA in Film and Television Production. My time in FTT gave me both the technical skills I needed to be successful on production sets, as well as the guidance to write and produce films that teach others and change lives."  —Sophia Costanzo '19

Considering graduate school? 

Unsure where to start? Talk to any faculty member whose classes you enjoy or who works in the area you wish to pursue. Or ask the Director of Undergraduate Studies to direct you to appropriate faculty resources. We are all here to help and can give you advice about different graduate school options. Also, it is helpful for faculty to know you will be seeking letters of recommendation.

What kind of graduate program is right for me?

You may want to get an M.F.A. in Acting, Directing, Creative Writing, Game Design, Cinematography, Animation, Sound Design, Lighting Design, Stage Design, Costume Design, or other creative fields. Or, you may be more interested in history, criticism, and theory and therefore want an M.A. or Ph.D. in Film or Television Studies, Theatre, Performance Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, or other related fields.

What if I don't want to study film, television, or theatre?

FTT students acquire skills such as critical analysis, creative problem solving, effective oral and written communication, the ability to create audiovisual material, project management, and marketing. These skills are transferable to numerous fields. Every year, our students go on to successfully complete advanced degrees in many disciplines, including law, business, and education. Additionally, because FTT pairs well with other disciplines such as English, Gender Studies, American Studies, Romance Languages, Africana Studies, History, and more, you may wish to pursue advanced degrees in one of those areas, incorporating your interest in film, television, and theatre into that program.

What can I do to prepare for graduate school?

You have a few options for preparation. Faculty can help you decide the best path for you.

Take Audition Seminar

Offered to seniors in the fall semester only, Audition Seminar helps prepare you for professional training and/or the advanced study of acting, directing, and design. You develop a course of study with your faculty advisor(s) at the beginning of the semester.

Contact Siiri Scott, FTT's Head of Acting and Directing, for more information about Audition Seminar.

Undertake a Senior Thesis

Cassie Corbin headshot web2021

"Researching, writing, and formally presenting a senior thesis was my greatest academic accomplishment of undergrad. I synthesized learnings from classes across all concentrations and ultimately wrote half of a well-revised feature screenplay, outlined the remainder, and analyzed pages of research. My thesis advisor, Chris Becker, pushed me to think outside of the box and challenged me with questions that made my idea come to fruition. I am now working towards my MA in Writing and Publishing at Northwestern and there is no doubt in my mind that completing a senior thesis guided me toward this next step in storytelling." —Cassie Corbin

A creative thesis provides invaluable experience in shaping a complete creative work — such as a play you write or direct, a performance, a screenplay, or a film — working with faculty and collaborators. You will learn essential project management skills as well as honing your creative talents, both of which will serve you in graduate school. A thesis will give you an excellent and polished work to submit to graduate schools as part of your portfolio.

A research thesis affords you valuable experience in doing original research and working closely with a faculty advisor. Because graduate programs require you to do substantial research and writing, writing a senior thesis will give you excellent training in those skills and may also help you decide if graduate school is right for you. A thesis will give you an excellent and sophisticated writing sample to use in your admission application.

Learn more about a doing a senior thesis

Contact Professor Susan Ohmer, director of the Senior Thesis program, with any questions.

Things to consider before you apply

Because grad programs are often a huge investment of both time and money, it is important to consider your end goal and determine whether a graduate degree is the best pathway to it.  While grad schools sometimes offer some combination of teaching and research apprenticeships, tuition remission, and stipends to help cover all or some of the costs, you will want to think carefully about the expense and whether the costs make sense for you. 

If you are considering graduate school, you may want to take a year or more away from school before you apply. But talk to your faculty before you graduate to let them know you are thinking about it and may ask them for recommendations in the future.

For more information about graduate school

Visit the Undergraduate Career Services page on advanced degree planning or talk to our Director of Undergraduate Studies, Michael Kackman.