Theatre and Drama B.A.

The Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offers a Theatre and Drama B.A. degree to students who wish to study acting, directing, theatre history, dramatic literature, stage management, and theatre design and technology. When pursuing a major in Theatre and Drama you work with faculty who are top theatre practitioners and scholars, having worked both professionally and within a university setting.

The major combines both classroom study and hands-on experience. Students choose a concentration in one of the following areas:

  • Dramatic Literature, Theatre History, and Dramatic Theory
  • Acting, Directing, Movement, and Voice and Speech
  • Scenic Design, Stagecraft, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Sound Design, and Stage Management
  • Playwriting

The Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance also offers a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre and a B.F.A. in Dance, as well as two undergraduate minors for students majoring in other subjects: a minor in Theatre and Drama, and a minor in Dance. Theatre and Drama majors may also minor in Dance, but only one class may count towards both the major and minor.

Coursework

Getting started

Your starting point with the THTR major is the 100-level series of core classes: THTR-T 100 Introduction to Theatre, THTR-T 121 Acting I, and THTR-T 125 Performance as Art and Design.

Tracks and concentrations

Your introductory classes will prepare you for and help you select one of four Theatre and Drama concentrations:

  • Dramatic Literature, Theatre History, and Dramatic Theory
  • Acting, Directing, Movement, and Voice and Speech
  • Scenic Design, Stagecraft, Lighting Design, Costume Design, Sound Design, and Stage Management
  • Playwriting

While students pursuing the degree must take at least three classes in one concentration, they often take additional elective credits in different concentrations. We encourage you to explore multiple aspects of theatre.

Upper level coursework

The degree requires core coursework at the 300-level in theatre design/technology, directing, and theatre history. You also take at least one upper-level course in your chosen concentration (and many students opt to take more).

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest through additional majors, minors, or certificates offered by the College of Arts and Sciences or other schools at IU Bloomington.

For Theatre and Drama students, popular second majors are Media School majors, English, Spanish, Psychology, and History. Theatre and Drama students also often pursue the Arts Administration certificate.

The most common minors are Media School minors, English, Spanish, Music, Dance, Gender Studies, Arts Management, and Business. Check your bulletin for information about these credentials.

Consult the academic advisor to discuss your areas of interest and potential ways to complement your coursework in the Theatre and Drama degree.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Theatre and Drama, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how your courses help you work toward your goals.

Honors

Researching and writing a departmental honors thesis offers high-achieving students a way to deepen their command of an area of interest. Students considering an honors thesis are encouraged to develop and refine their research interests early in their study, selecting courses that will provide a strong foundation for their thesis.

Many of students choose projects with both an academic and creative component (for instance, a research paper and staging of a play or musical). Completing an honors thesis is a particularly good exercise if you are considering graduate school. Talk to your academic advisor about your ideas, potential faculty supervisors, and the steps required to begin your thesis.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Each year, Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance awards an array of departmental scholarships.

Other options for scholarships and awards include:

Students should also visit the Office of Scholarships for additional university and non-university alternatives.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skillswhile making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internshipsas early as their freshman year.

Theatre and Drama majors have pursued internships with both arts organizations and other types of non-profit organizations and media companies. Previous Theatre and Drama students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you’ll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Foreign language study allows Theatre and Drama majors to communicate with members of different cultures, to read and perform international theatrical works, and to travel overseas. Languages popular with our students are Spanish, French, Italian, and American Sign Language.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Theatre and Drama students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following programs:

  • Acting and Directing in Great Britain Summer Program
  • Canterbury AY or Semester Program
  • Costume and Character in London Theatre Summer Program
  • London-IES Semester Program

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance faculty and your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

University Players is a student-run theatre organization at Indiana University dedicated to providing further opportunities in the areas of theatrical performance, production, management, and educational outreach to undergraduate students of all majors and backgrounds.

The departmental Student Advisory Board serves as a liaison between students and faculty, and supports and sponsors a number of events throughout the year, including our annual Drama Prom.

Indiana Student Cinema Guild unites film producers, directors, writers, actors, and more.

Students with a passion for improvisational or sketch comedy may be interested in such performance troupes as Midnight Snack, Awkward Silence, University tWits, and All Sorts of Trouble for the Boy in the Bubble.

The Jacobs School of Music sponsors a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles in which Theatre and Drama students regularly participate.

Through the African American Arts Institute, students may participate in the African American Dance Ensemble, African American Choral Ensemble, and IU Soul Revue.

The Performing Arts Community in Read Residence Hall brings together students interested in theatre, music, and dance. Students attend movies, operas, and theatrical productions, and annually travel to artistic hubs in the United States.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement and auditions in theatre, drama, and dance, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skilld. The organizations below can help you connect with the theatre community at IU, local arts organizations in Bloomington, and more:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved at the local or national level may be interested in the following professional organizations:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Theatre and Drama major provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. Through the major you will:

  • Gain a knowledge of and appreciation for theatre history and theatre's social-cultural influence and impact worldwide
  • Experience theatre both academically and experientially, across a variety of disciplines and within your chosen specialization
  • Enhance your understanding of the way in which theatre's many facets interrelate, from the vantage points of performance, directing, dramaturgy, design/technology, stage management, and production
  • Become an educated reader and audience member, capable of engagement with and reflection upon dramatic texts and theatrical productions
  • Build collaborative and organizational abilities
  • Develop skills for critical thinking and reading, and for research and writing
  • Hone oral and written communication and public speaking proficiency

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with the Arts & Humanities career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests.These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

The job market

While it is true that employment in theatre and drama can be inconsistent or competitive, Theatre and Drama majors develop strong skill sets that make them great candidates for careers in a number of different fields. In particular, Theatre and Drama majors cultivate strong verbal and written communication, teamwork skills, and public-speaking abilities.

Students with a Theatre and Drama degree utilize these skills in a number of environments and take their education in many directions. 

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors, such as the performing and fine arts, education, and non-profit and corporate sectors.

Theatre and Drama graduates become professional actors, directors, designers, stage managers, arts administrators, talent agents, teachers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, marketing specialists, and sales directors.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Theatre and Drama faculty, the academic advisor, the career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Many Theatre and Drama students audition for summer stock theatres and regional companies that offer short-term contracts. Other students have utilized their transferrable skills to work in education for organizations like Teach for America. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

In addition to awarding fellowships and grants, some arts organizations offer retreats and colonies that allow artists to work creatively free of charge for a specified period of time. Most states in the U.S. also have statewide and local arts councils that may offer grants and fellowships. You can find a listing of these organizations through the National Endowment for the Arts.

Some examples of fellowship and grant opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

Students who graduate with a Theatre and Drama B.A. may wish to pursue a variety of graduate degrees. Many choose to earn a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in acting, directing, or production design, or a Master of Arts (M.A.) or doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in theatre history and performance studies. Some students pursue advanced degrees in arts administration, business, law, or education.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate degrees in theatre or arts administration have gone into careers teaching at the university level, managing or directing theatre companies, performing professionally, and working in many other fields.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Catch up on alumni paths through Stages, the official newsletter of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni.. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Interest in reading and analyzing dramatic texts
  • Desire for practical experience in multiple facets of theatrical production
  • Wish to study theatre history and learn about theatre's place in the cultures of various countries
  • Passion for attending, discussing, and critiquing theatrical performances
  • Collaborative and creative spirit
  • Strong organizational and time-management skills

Learn more

Contact the Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
thtradv@iu.edu