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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Dramatic Arts

USC offering free tuition to MFA students in dramatic writing, acting programs

By Marissa Wenzke

Students attending the University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts in the department's acting and writing programs will be able to earn their Masters in Fine Arts degrees without paying a penny in tuition.

Beginning in the 2024-25 academic year, the university is slashing all tuition costs for the top-ranked MFA program, which has consistently landed in The Hollywood Reporter's Top 25 Drama Schools in the Nation. Both incoming graduate students and those already enrolled and attending the three-year programs will be able to earn their degrees for free. 

"The decision comes at a pivotal moment for the entertainment industry, as actors and writers navigate tightening competition for opportunities in film and TV," a statement from the university reads. "USC is committed to ensuring that talented individuals from diverse backgrounds have access to a world-class education without financial constraints."

USC said it hopes to "more competitively recruit extraordinarily gifted creatives" by removing any financial barriers that might block such students from attending. The programs are fairly competitive as they comprise just 35 students.

Along with coursework, USC's School of Dramatic Arts also offers students and recent alumni more practical resources and training as they enter the field including coaching services for auditions, production of self-tapes, guidance on headshots and seminars with leading industry professionals

In March, the school opened its new Dramatic Arts Building, a five-story, nearly 40,000-square foot facility that's a renovation of a historic building at the corner of Jefferson and Hoover. It features two new performance venues including a 110-seat theater and a smaller cabaret space as well as vocal practice rooms, rehearsal spaces and an audio design lab.

Actress Connie Britton, known for her roles in Friday Night Lights, Spin City and American Horror Story, is a member of the school's Board of Councilors and applauded the decision to go tuition-free. In a statement from USC, she said it will allow for the telling of "diverse stories from varied backgrounds regardless of financial means."

"We're letting the storytellers and performers of tomorrow know that we believe in them and the power of their dreams," Britton said. 

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams