Mary decided to pursue her master’s degree in theatre arts at the University of California in Los Angeles. At the Starbird Memorial Lecture in 1988, Mary said, “I’m getting my master’s degree. I figured I have my Bachelor of Arts; the University was generous enough to give me an honorary Doctor of Arts; I might as well get the one in the middle.”
One of her projects in 1969-1970 was to produce a theater performance, which meant planning the entire production including lighting, furniture, costumes, casting, music, rehearsals, budget, tickets, and promotional plans. She chose the production "One World at a Time" by Richard Stockton. The Mary Wickes Papers include her stage plans and costume drawings for the production.
While Mary completed all her coursework at UCLA, she never finished her dissertation of the Saint Louis Municipal Opera (the Muny).