Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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General Information

Degree Programs

The School of Theatre offers professional and academic degrees at the Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts levels as well as a Master of Arts in Applied Theatre Arts. USC offers two degree programs to undergraduate students interested in the study of theatre arts. The professional degree programs, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Acting, Design/Technical Direction, and Stage Management, offer a conservatory approach to training for students committed to pursuing careers in the professional theatre, film and television industries. The Bachelor of Arts degree program (B.A.) incorporates a broad, general education in addition to a thorough study of drama. The Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies provides students with a broad understanding of the various disciplines. The School of Theatre also offers minor programs in applied theatre arts, theatre, dance, musical theatre, performing arts studies and playwriting.

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree is ideal for students who want a broad education in addition to production and performance experience. The degree is offered in cooperation with the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Acting: The B.F.A. acting degree is a four-year professional training program with opportunities for performances beginning with the sophomore year. The program comprises an integrated sequence of training in acting, voice and body movement, based on the belief that an actor’s emotional and imaginative abilities cannot be released without control over vocal and physical resources. This training is combined with course work in critical and historical studies, stagecraft, technical theatre, scenic design, costume and lighting. An audition is required for admission. The B.F.A. acting program is highly competitive.

Design/Technical Direction: The B.F.A. program in design/technical production offers two areas of study: design — incorporating study in scenic, lighting and costume design; and technical production — incorporating the study of theatrical design with training in the professional skills needed to execute stage designs. An interview is required for admission.

Sound Design: The B.F.A. program in sound design offers the student a combination of technical, management and design training in sound design. The student is also introduced to sound recording and mixing through a series of courses offered by the USC Thornton School of Music. Students begin using this training as early as the second semester of the second year of enrollment. The skills acquired in the classroom are further explored through sound design assignments on School of Theatre public productions in each subsequent semester of the student’s program. Students in the sound design program build and design the sound component for the majority of the School of Theatre’s productions under the supervision of a professional staff of designers and theatre technicians. An interview is required for admission.

Stage Management: The B.F.A. program in stage management offers the student a combination of technical, management and design training. Students begin using this training as early as the first year of enrollment. The skills acquired in the classroom are further explored through stage management assignments in each year of the student’s program. An interview is required for admission.

Students in the design/technical production and stage management programs design, build and stage manage the majority of the School of Theatre’s productions under the supervision of a professional staff of designers and theatre technicians.

Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies

The Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies is an interdisciplinary degree offered jointly by the School of Theatre, the School of Architecture, the School of Cinematic Arts, the Roski School of Fine Arts, the Thornton School of Music, and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Minor Programs

Theatre This general minor in theatre invites students to explore the many facets of this exciting field. Students have the opportunity to take a variety of classes in acting, applied theatre arts, applied theatre arts/education, playwriting, literature, stage management, directing, costume design and production. The curriculum is very flexible and encourages students to develop a primary interest for upper-division course work. All minor students are eligible to participate in performance and production projects.

Dance The dance minor is designed to present undergraduate students with a focus on the discipline of dance as an educational tool for studies and research. The dance program has a variety of courses in dance technique, dance history and philosophy, choreography, production and performance. This minor will offer each student a unique interdisciplinary experience; it is compatible with a variety of majors designated by the students. Student choreography, performances and productions include work with international dances and dances in the Southern California/Los Angeles region.

Applied Theatre Arts The minor in applied theatre arts addresses the theory and practice of applying theatre arts in non-traditional settings with emphases that include education, therapy and social change.

Musical Theatre The minor in musical theatre, interdisciplinary in nature, is a 27-unit program incorporating the study of acting, dance or movement, vocal arts and related musical subjects presented in association with the Thornton School of Music.

Performing Arts Studies The minor in performing arts provides an interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature and aesthetics of the performing arts. It combines the disciplines of cinema-television, dance, music and theatre. The minor is a unique course of study that looks at how the performing arts contribute to a culturally literate society.

Playwriting The minor in playwriting presents undergraduate students who are not theatre majors with a concentration in the discipline of playwriting as a means for broadening and deepening expression using the literary and performing arts. This minor offers a foundation for extended expression in dramatic writing and creative writing genres in general.

Master of Fine Arts

The Master of Fine Arts with a major in theatre requires 48-64 units of course work at the 400 or 500 level. The areas of emphasis include acting, theatrical design, dramatic writing and directing. These programs provide a high level of practical experience. To ensure this, the number of students accepted in each area of emphasis is strictly limited. An interview is required for admission.

Master of Arts, Applied Theatre Arts

The Master of Arts in Applied Theatre Arts explores the intersection of theatre arts and cultural fieldwork, encompassing the fields of theatre and therapy, theatre in education and theatre for social change/community-based theatre. Practitioners of applied theatre arts supplement their work as classroom teachers, therapists, social workers, case managers, community organizers and social activists.

Dance Program

The school offers dance classes for all university students at the beginning, intermediate and advanced level, including ballet, jazz and modern. Additional offerings in tap and choreography are also available. A minor is also offered in dance.

Auditions and Entrance to the Degree Programs

Admission to the various degree programs is granted through the university’s regular admission procedures in conjunction with the School of Theatre supplementary application procedure. See the Admission section of this catalogue, undergraduate here and graduate here .

Admission to the B.A. program is determined by academic record, experience in theatre, and information required on the USC application for admission and the School of Theatre supplementary application. Students applying for the B.A. program must contact the School of Theatre directly to obtain the theatre supplementary application. However, no audition is required.

In addition to submitting a USC application for admission, a theatre supplementary application and an in-person audition are required for the B.F.A. and M.F.A. programs. Auditions are held during January and February. Applicants should contact the School of Theatre directly to obtain supplementary application materials and to arrange for their audition.

The acting audition requires two monologues: one contemporary and one classical (preferably verse).

Auditions and interviews for all programs are held in major cities around the country including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.

Students wishing to transfer from a community college or another four-year college or university into the Bachelor of Fine Arts curriculum must present training equivalent to their level of transfer or be prepared to take remedial work in acting, voice, movement, dramatic literature and stagecraft.

Admission to the B.F.A. and M.F.A. Design/Technical Direction, Stage Management and Sound Design programs is based on a personal interview and/or review of a portfolio. In addition, the student must submit a USC application for admission and a theatre supplementary application.

Applicants for the design programs must present a portfolio of their work at the time of their interview with the design faculty.

Interviews are held beginning in January for the following fall semester.

Admission to full graduate standing will be granted after the satisfactory completion of one semester. A satisfactory test score on the Graduate Record Examinations and a satisfactory grade point average are also required.

Application materials and details about audition dates and locations may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, School of Theatre, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0791, (213) 740-1286.

International Study

In conjunction with Sarah Lawrence College and the British American Drama Academy, USC students have the opportunity to study theatre in London. For additional information, see International Study Options.