MFA in Music Direction | Intro

Kiss Me Kate, 2005

Sweeney Todd, 2003

The Bacchae Trilogy, 2009

The WIld Party, 2010

Into the Woods, 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, 2011

Dames at Sea, 2012

As You Like It, 2014

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, 2013

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, 2013


MFA in Music Direction Program:

How to Apply

The MFA in Music Direction trains musicians for a professional life in the theatre as musical directors for theatrical productions. Candidates will not only experience a close mentorship with the Drama Department's faculty musical directors, but their three-year residence will also provide a rich, collaborative experience with other MFA Drama students that represent areas of acting, design and stage management as they work together in artistic teams to create both large and small works of art for the stage.

Areas of training will include the coaching of singing actors, leading both choral and orchestral ensembles, mastering the art of pit conducting, and learning rehearsal techniques needed to mount a production. Analysis of the musical as an art form will include course work in its history and position in American culture.

For more information, please contact Senior Lecturer Dennis Castellano, Head of Music Theatre, at

General Degree Requirements

Normally three years of residence is required. Each candidate must enroll for three courses each quarter for nine quarters, exclusive of summer session.

The normative time to degree for students in the MFA program is three years. Residence is required. The maximum time to degree can be extended to four years only through petition to the Head of the Program for extenuating circumstances. Students who do not complete the degree in four years will be dropped from the program.

During the first year of residence each candidate will prepare, for credit, two graduate projects, in acting, directing, design, music direction, stage management, theatrical research, or a combination of two of these. Satisfactory completion of these projects, as determined by the faculty, is prerequisite to entering the second year of the program.

The required thesis normally consists of directing, designing, musically directing, stage managing, or playing a principle role in a major production, and collecting in essay form the evidences of research, analysis, and judgments which formed a part of the production experience.

Each graduate student is expected to participate in productions throughout residence at UCI.


Graduate musical directors will complete a thesis project that will include supporting documentation.


Select three Projects in Theatre:

DRAMA 199 - One class in each of three areas: Acting, Directing, Sound Design

Complete three courses in singing:

DRAMA 241 – Singing Pedagogy

Complete nine courses in conducting:

DRAMA 242 – Conducting

Complete one course in form and analysis:

DRAMA 243 – Script & Score

Complete three courses in scene study:

DRAMA 246A – Musical Scene Study: Operetta & Early Musical Comedy

DRAMA 246B – Musical Scene Study: Book Musicals & Musical Drama

DRAMA 246C – Musical Scene Study: Sondheim to Contemporary

Complete three quarters in abbreviated musicals:

DRAMA 247 – Musicals Abridged

Complete three courses in American Musical Theatre History:

DRAMA 248A – History of American Musical Theatre: From Colonial America to 1930s

DRAMA 248B - History of American Musical Theatre: 1940s-1960s

DRAMA 248C - History of American Musical Theatre: Sondheim to Contemporary

Complete nine quarters in musical direction projects:

DRAMA 249 – Graduate Musical Direction

Complete two courses in Foundations in Theatre:

DRAMA 251A – Script Analysis

DRAMA 251C – Genres and Theatre Making

Complete one course in orchestration:

MUSIC 136 – Instrumentation

In addition, one Elective course is required. A total of 128 quarter units in graduate or approved upper-division undergraduate courses must be completed with a grade of at least B in each course.