Acting Option

MFA in Acting in TV, Film and Theatre at Cal State LA

LA’s Triple Threat


Located minutes from Downtown Los Angeles, the MFA in Acting in TV, Film and Theatre at Cal State LA is one of the few programs in the country that offers both an intensive, conservatory approach with comprehensive acting, voice and movement training, along with on-going TV, film and theatre courses and performance opportunities. The MFA in Acting program also offers paid positions to students as Graduate Assistants and Teaching Associates.

As part of the California State University system, Cal State LA’s MFA in Acting program is one of the most affordable programs in the country, while having the unique advantage of offering courses and interaction with professionals in the TV, film and theatre industries in Los Angeles.

Faculty teaching-artists and scholars continue to work and present locally, nationally and internationally, ensuring that the training is current and relevant, preparing students for a successful career.

Each year, actors have multiple opportunities to perform onstage in Faculty-directed and Guest-directed productions, in graduate student productions, as well as on-camera in graduate films, web-series and more. Actors also take courses in the Business of Acting, building their own websites, putting together reels and learning how to stay relevant and visible with the latest Social Media tools.

The new TV & Film building includes state-of-the-art technology including a sound stage with green screen and motion capture, record and mix rooms, and editing lab. 

Program Description

The MFA in Performance at Cal State L.A. is a unique program. It is the only California State University campus to offer a three-pronged program for actors that includes training and performance opportunities in theatre, film and TV. And, it is the only program in Los Angeles, the hub of the entertainment industry, to offer affordable professionally geared training that leads to a MFA degree.

The faculty are experienced professionals who are dedicated to teaching while simultaneously continuing to work in the industry. The location of the campus, minutes from Downtown Los Angeles, and the multiple collaborations between the program and the professional community, ensure many opportunities to gain professional experience and to network.

It is critical to apply to schools that offer what YOU are looking for.  Look back at your own training, experience, and then ask, “What do I want to learn? What skills do I want to develop? What are my ‘weaknesses’ and what are my ‘strengths’? And then, ask: does this program offer the courses, instruction and challenges that I am looking for?

What does the MFA in Performance at Cal State LA offer?

Intensive Training:

  • A progression of acting training from the fundamentals up through various styles and mediums (theatre, film, TV). Grounded in the approaches of Uta Hagen with additional tools from Meisner, Mamet, Viewpoints and more, the training is geared towards practical application, while simultaneously helping each actor grow individually.
  • A progression of movement training, including dance, commedia d’ell arte, stage combat, Grotowski physical training and more.
  • A progression of voice training including Linklater, Fitzmourice, Roy Hart and fundamentals of singing.

Practical Experience:

  • on-going opportunities to audition/perform in Department productions directed by faculty, professional guest artists and students
  • on-going opportunities to perform in graduate and undergraduate films and online webisodes
  • on-going opportunities to create/perform your own work and productions
  • on-going opportunities to collaborate with the MFA students in the Writing and Production programs, getting faculty guidance in real-world situations, gaining practical experience and building relationships with your future network.

Teaching Assistantships:

            Teaching Assistantships vary according to the area. These are paid positions. Students apply as the positions become available. Some positions require prior training. Examples of current positions include:

  • Assist faculty to teach a large undergraduate General Education course
  • Assist faculty on related production activities
  • Train and then teach undergraduate acting courses
  • Offer a Special Topics course in a field in which you are already certified

We also offer a variety of Work Study opportunities for students, usually related to our Department’s production activities.

Making the decision to apply to graduate school is a complicated and life-changing decision. Dedicating three years of your life to study, work hard and grow can be grueling, exhausting and challenging. Below is a link to a wonderful site that poses the many important questions and issues you should reflect on as you enter this process.