The above Ad will no longer appear after you Sign Up for Free!

Distance learning MFA

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by peacefulone61, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. peacefulone61

    peacefulone61 Active Member

    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    17
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Somerset Ma
    I was wondering if anyone knew of a MFA program in design/production or technical direction that can been done mostly through online. The closest program is about two plus hours away from me and moving is not an option at this point.

    I have a MA in theater education with an emphasis on technical direction which was fine but my job requirements are changing and have been strongly recommended in having a MFA.
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,371
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Your in Boston? BU has a great grad program...

    Where are you working where you are being told this? What are they actually looking for you to have? MFA programs are more of a conservatory education. They expect you to be there 100% of the time. You can't work side jobs through it. You can't learn what you need to learn without being in the trenches doing the work. An online MFA would not be worth the paper its printed on.
     
  3. peacefulone61

    peacefulone61 Active Member

    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    17
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Somerset Ma
    I am an hour and a half south of Boston almost in souther Rhode Island.

    I have worked as a tech director in an educational setting both private high schools and in college

    Currently they want me to have a relevant "terminal degree" and as far as I know an MFA is the best option.
     
  4. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,371
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    You already have a masters in education... that is a terminal degree, right?

    An MFA is not something you can get doing just summer coursework and a few evening classes like most degrees working teachers get. You will have to take 3 years off and go back to school.

    When I taught high school they were going to make me start a masters degree in at least 5 years to hit the next pay bracket. I planned on just getting a masters in theatre doing summer work. An MFA was not even in the picture due to me having to quit working while doing that.
     
  5. peacefulone61

    peacefulone61 Active Member

    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    17
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Somerset Ma
    The masters is considered an advanced degree a terminal degree as it has been explained to me is a three letter option. Bfa MFA Ph.D.
     
  6. josh88

    josh88 Remarkably Tired. Premium Member Fight Leukemia

    Messages:
    1,748
    Likes Received:
    342
    Location:
    Warwick, Rhode Island
    There are a couple of options in rhode island if they're any closer, though Footer's point is still a problem. There's just no way to do the amount of work needed to teach AND get the MFA. Explain that because of the hands on nature of it that unless they're giving you the time and money to do it, they can't reasonably ask that of you. Can I ask what town you're in?
     
  7. peacefulone61

    peacefulone61 Active Member

    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    17
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Somerset Ma
    Fall River
     
  8. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,371
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Go get an MBA from University of Pheonix....

    Are you currently teaching at the collegiate level? I could see them requiring you to have an MFA if you are tenure track. At the secondary level an MFA is so overkill its not even funny. The MA can be a pretty simple degree that I can see them calling non-terminal.

    With that though I would call around to a university or two and see what they can do for you. Odds are you can use your MA hours and build off of that. You might end up and an MFA in art... and that MFA might not be worth much more then being able to say "I have an MFA".

    I remember having this discussion when I taught with my colleagues. Two of the people I worked with at legit acting MFA'a from well regarded schools. One had an MFA in some bastardized program she forced the local university to develop. The school district didn't care what weight the degree carried, only that it existed.
     
  9. peacefulone61

    peacefulone61 Active Member

    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    17
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Somerset Ma
    I work as a TD in a local college and oversee one class a semester working in the shop for a grade. But the bulk of my work is building the sets maintaining the space and supervising events in the space.
     
  10. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,371
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Community College? State? Private? The 4-year "mini-ivy league" school in my town has a theatre department full of people without MFA's and they get by just fine. State schools will have different requirements.

    If getting a degree online is an option I really assume they are just looking for the piece of paper. Sit with them, figure out what they are after, and go from there. What does "strongly recommended" mean. Do you have 1 year to get this degree? Are they going to not renew your contract? Do they understand what they are actually asking you to do? MFA's don't grow on trees.

    I think your pretty much stuck if they are going to require this. I would probably weigh the cost of losing the job vs the cost of getting a degree. If you always want to teach at the collegiate level then you will need that MFA, no question about it. If teaching is just the thing you are doing now, get out of there or ask for your job to be re-built so you don't have to get the degree. In the world of adjuncts that college's have become they should be able to look the other way. I would also ask what percentage your salary will increase if you get the degree and weigh that too.
     
  11. TechD_Joel

    TechD_Joel Member

    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have been in the same boat for some time. I lost a job at a private liberal arts college, partly because I didn't have an MFA. (Never mind that it started as a staff position and then they realized that they needed someone to teach tech classes for degree requirements but were too cheap to hire any additional instructors...I'm not bitter.) I managed to get at job at a high school, but would love to get back to the higher ed arena. I can't do that without the MFA.

    It seems to me the idea that a tech MFA cant be done online, or over the summer is an antiquated construct. The reality is, institutions want cheap labor in the form of MFA students (which is why online is out). Ok, fine. Why is summer not an option? There are hundreds of schools that have summer acting or rep theatre programs.

    I get the argument to just get a piece of paper, but I WANT to learn more about tech.

    If you find a summer program, let me know, Ill be there with you!
     
  12. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    1,083
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    I have a friend who had an MA, and a lot of experience, and I believe earned an MFA from Tulane with just one semester in residence. I'm just suggesting that there may be opportunities to earn an MFA without a long residency as a student, but you will have to find it through persistence, networking, etc. It wont be advertised is my guess, and a creditable one might not allow no residency.

    And I was teaching full time at a college while technically a full time third year grad student, commuting once every two weeks for a day at Yale. Granted, I'd been in residence for three years previous. Got to know the pilots of Bar Harbor Airlines very well - since they changed hats from taking tickets, carrying baggage, and flying the plane. Even gave me coffee from their own thermos since I was often only passenger on a 9 seater.

    Just show up at a few schools of your choice and try to have a conversation with the faculty person in charge of your area, and broach the idea. Be prepared to paint a great picture of experience. Try to figure out how you might help (like recommending your undergraduates look at this graduate school.) It will be a challenge but don't give up.
     
  13. Colin

    Colin Active Member

    Messages:
    159
    Likes Received:
    32
    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Eastern Massachusetts
    I've only worked for one college program, but applied and interviewed at plenty and have taken part in a couple of outside reviews for accreditation (most recently last spring) and MFAs in a TD/design position have never been a serious issue regardless of teaching load. A host of faculty, department chairs and provosts at some of the most respected programs in New England don't care about it when push comes to shove, and invariably prioritize MFA hiring in other areas first.

    So, I would figure out if it is both possible and worthwhile to get the degree, and if the answer is no then I would assemble research of comparable and more developed programs to present to your administration the fact that it isn't worth pushing someone out of the job because they don't have an MFA. I'm happy to be one of your data points (I do have an MFA, but not in this field, and I didn't have it when originally hired).

    Thinking about the worth of getting the degree, consider cost of the debt (and your credit taking a bit of a hit for it) against the pay increase (hopefully there would be one!). Consider that, once you look around at other institutions, your MFA might actually price you out of as many jobs as it gets you. Make sure you're in a secure position and that you're okay with working for a not-for-profit for a decade to qualify for public service loan forgiveness.

    Schools are worried about accreditation, and more than that they're worried about their standing within their peer group of schools and the next tier up which they aspire to. You should be able to show them they have nothing to worry about, and could save everyone a headache by just planning to, if anything, convert your position to an MFA tenure track whenever you decide to leave. The path of least resistance often wins even without other supporting arguments. Interviewing and hiring a new position is expensive and disruptive. Assuming the additional annual expense of a new MFA position is expensive too, and money any college I've ever met would rather spend on more revenue-producing fields of study.
     
  14. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    3,819
    Likes Received:
    1,083
    Occupation:
    Theatre Consultant
    Location:
    Oak Park, IL (708)983-5792
    The colleges where I looked at positions - 35+ years ago - all seemed to greatly respect the MFA degree. I would be interested to see a list of colleges and universities and the degrees of their tech and design faculty.

    Interesting.
     
  15. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

    Messages:
    9,371
    Likes Received:
    1,769
    Location:
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    My view has always been if you want to be involved in teaching higher ed you must have an MFA. To me, it has always been the #1 reason to pursue the piece of paper. Many colleges have "resident artists" that allow you to get around the MFA but that rarely leads to a tenure track position... and most of those types of slots turn over often.
     

Share This Page