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TD graduate program w/o undergrad degree?

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Corey Tobin, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Corey Tobin

    Corey Tobin Member

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    Hey everyone! I'm new to CB and am very happy to be surrounded by such a wealth of pro knowledge.

    I'm a working professional that has been touring for 15 years in many capacities - rigging, audio, carpentry, automation and PM. I am currently working as a touring automation tech, carpenter and rigger. Recently, the position of TD for touring productions has been offered and I am very much interested. The position would eventually be off-the-road which interests me very much but also brings up some holes in my experience.

    For some early education background, I have a vocational certification in audio engineering and I have never been involved in a theatrical program at a university. Since completing my audio program, I have been touring professionally, taking courses and completing certifications as needed or wanted.

    A friend in academia mentioned to me that there are graduate programs available for people in my situation where their experience in the industry can allow for acceptance/admission to graduate programs w/o an undergraduate degree. My friend is going to recommend some programs to me but I wanted to put this out into the CB community in the meantime. My hope is that some fellow professionals have either been in my shoes or have relative knowledge on this subject. My understanding is that being a non-touring TD would require getting my drafting skills up and becoming more familiar with building materials, for a start. I have taken a course on Lynda.com in AutoCAD which was very helpful as a first step.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to read! Stay safe out there!
     
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  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I don't know of any degree programs that would give you a masters degree without a bachelors degree. I'm sure it could be done, but it won't be easy. There is also a lot more that goes into a legit theatre degree that has nothing to do with the physical part of putting on a show. Play analysis, design theory, theatre history, and a bunch of other BS classes all play into making you a "theater professional". Many academics are going to want to see this stuff in your history and expect you to know it. You don't want to be at your first production meeting and have someone bring up some weird Beckett reference that you don't get...

    Why do you even want a masters degree? Master degrees in theater are really only useful if you want to teach or you want to work for a LORT house. Most professional level shops don't care...
     
  3. Corey Tobin

    Corey Tobin Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Fooster. It's not necessarily that I want a masters degree, my thinking is that I need further education (drafting, materials knowledge, etc.) to at least meet some standards of what is required of a TD. It's great that you bring up that question because I am not sure in the slightest that I even want to go back to school. A 2-3 year program is most certainly not possible while endeavoring into this particular position, at least not as I can see right now, and my TD doesn't seem to need that in my background. I do, however, want to increase my proficiency as someone that can lead/build productions and be a voice on design teams, whether it be working as a resident at a theatre or, and maybe more appropriately for me, as a TD for touring productions. My goal is to not have to be on the road full time anymore but still be involved in productions and this seems like a good fit. Perhaps I should be looking into something that focuses more on drafting than anything else? Maybe an in-depth course that leads to a certification? It seems to be one of the most important things that would be required of me.
     
  4. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Well, perhaps not for you, but the Yale Schol of Drama has a certificate ptogram. Exact same courses, requirements, and opportunities as the MFA program, just you dont have a degree. Opens lots of doors but may not suit your tastes.
     
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  5. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Might be a lot of money for the MFA that ultimately isn’t worth the trouble, excepting training in areas where you dont have any knowledge or experience.

    I do applaud your desire to further expand your knowledge and would recommend looking at the BA program at City Tech in Brooklyn.

    Among some of the many very talented teachers is John Huntington, who wrote the bookShow Networks and Control Systems.”. Tech in general has a bunch of faculty whom unlike many colleges, have a working faculty.

    Here’s a link to the course offerings.


    http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/entertainment/course-listing.aspx
     
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  6. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    You might checkbout Yales intern certificate program. One year, take the same MFA, classes, network, and some matriculate into the 3 year program.
     
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  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Have you actually built scenery before? Can you weld? Have you run a CnC? Can you cut stringers? There is a lot that goes into that that starts from the drawing board. You really need to know your shop practices. You learn that by working in a shop. Its the one real advantage to an undergrad education..... lots of time in a shop with cheap/free labor and the ability to screw up a lot. The best TD's are ones who have done just about everything on the shop floor and can draw the way you build. You already know the best way to load in a show and have everything come in cleanly.... and that is HUGE. But, you also need to learn how to physically build stuff to tour. Its a different part of the craft. You also need to learn structual design and all that fun stuff.

    The Yale certificate program would be one excellent way to go. The BA at city tech is another. Either way, there is a lot to learn to transition that is not exactly easy to pick up on the job.
     
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  8. chawalang

    chawalang Active Member

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    I am currently in grad school and I can tell you the main reason I went back to school is so that I could teach when I eventually don't want to work in the entertainment industry anymore. My experience prior to grad school was Broadway tours, cruise ships, corporate trade shows and managing roadhouses. To further myself I needed to learn different types of management styles and creating documentation, I.E drafting that I had not had a chance to do in my career. I can relate, the nomadic way of life can get tiresome after a while. You may want to look at a strong undergraduate program, an MFA doesn't really sound what you are looking for. It also depends what kind of work you want to do when you are done, being in a certain city where you can start networking while in school makes things very easy once your done. For example if you want to work in the film industry when you are done it would make sense to look at a school on the west coast.

    The only program I knew of that would let a TD in without an undergrad degree no longer exists. The University of Delaware's Theatre program did that, given it wasn't the norm but they did it from time to time, I toured with a guy who got his MFA from there. Other than that you need to realize that before the department can even accept you there are certain criteria the college of graduate affairs needs to have satisfied first. Given, I have seen that get trumped due to an applicant having a lot of really good real world experience and an exceptional portfolio. I have even seen that happen with a student who didn't have an undergrad degree in theatre. Another friend of mine went to grad school as a TD and he had an undergrad degree in vocal performance. As far as not having a degree at all, I have never herd of an academic department being able to let that slide as far as getting a student admitted. In my opinion any grad program that is worthwhile will want you to have an undergraduate degree, they want to know that you are capable of a certain amount of critical thinking, math skills and the ability to communicate verbally and with the written word. I think people tend to overlook that as a TD or any kind of technical manager half the battle of being effective is being able to think your way out of a pickle and to communicate well. Also, they will want to know you understand research methodology, not just for your academic heavy classes but also so that you can do that in the real world for technical management applications.

    Also realize that a lot of TD programs for better or worse are still based on a regional theatre model. They are mainly scenic based, there are a few I know of where if you wanted to branch out into the technology area of audio, lighting or projections it is possible but there aren't a plethora of them currently. Also a lot of the good ones will have a focus on scenic automation and the math that goes underneath structural design and mechanical design.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.

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