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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Theater and Dance

(formerly Dramatic Art and Dance)
Department of Theater and Dance
Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
Theater and Dance-West, Building 223
Telephone: (805) 893-3241
Department Chair: Irwin Appel
Vice Chair and Director of Dance: Christina McCarthy

Undergraduate Program


Students in the Bachelor of Arts program in theater choose a concentration in one of the following areas: design, directing, playwriting, theater and performance studies or theater and community. Students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts, complete a rigorous conservatory style actor-training program. The aim of the department is to provide a comprehensive undergraduate education in theater based on core requirements, which include practical experience in the theater arts (acting, theater technology, and production) and coursework in dramatic theory and literature. An undergraduate major in theater may lead to specialized creative work in the profession, to graduate work in preparation for teaching and research, or to other careers within or beyond the arts and entertainment industry.

Bachelor of Arts–Theater (Requirements - PDF)

  • Design Concentration-- The design concentration offers a specialization for students who want intensive and practical training in areas of design and production. Objectives include preparation of students as theater artists for work in professional theater or entry into an M.F.A. program.  Students in this area will select courses in scenic, lighting, and costume design. Students will supplement these courses with related electives concentrating in technical areas of production and design, including drawing, graphics, rendering, stage crafts, construction, history, and stage management.
  • Directing Concentration-- The directing concentration is a structured and specialized area of study within the B.A. program, and is intended to provide serious experience of the director’s function in today’s theater. It offers a sound preparation for an M.F.A. in directing, or for a professional career in the field, which may include directing on various educational levels, including secondary school and college, as well as community and regional theater.
  • Playwriting Concentration–The playwriting concentration is based on a series of courses that require students to practice playwriting, and includes public readings, visiting lecturers, and periodic departmental productions of original scripts. All courses require permission of the instructor, and further work in this area might include additional courses in dramatic literature, creative writing, theater arts, and a position as dramaturg on a departmental production.
  • Theater and Performance Studies Concentration--The theater and performance studies concentration will allow students to achieve broad education in theater as it has been practiced in different historical periods and in various parts of the globe. Students will have the opportunity to engage in the critical, historical, and theoretical aspects of theater. Their studies will culminate in an upper-division seminar, taken in their senior year.
  • Theater and Community Concentration-- The concentration in Theater and Community will allow students to practice their performance skills both on the campus and in the Santa Barbara communities. Students will visit schools and community organizations where they will both perform plays specially written for school audiences or work with school children to develop their own plays.  Their performances will often address matters of burning interest to the community and the experience will lead them to understand and practice theatre as a means of uniting the community.

Bachelor of Fine Arts–Theater–Acting Emphasis (Requirements - PDF)

The acting emphasis is a highly selective three-year program beginning in the sophomore year. An audition is required either at the end of the freshman year or the beginning of the sophomore year for acceptance into the B.F.A. program. The program combines rigorous classical training with individual expression and creativity and is geared toward preparation for entry into the professional theater industry and/or Master of Fine Arts/conservatory programs. A more comprehensive description of the philosophy and policies of the B.F.A. acting emphasis is available from the department. Each quarter, the acting faculty using such criteria as talent, commitment, sustained growth, and evaluation of professional potential determines continuation in the program. Transfer students are highly encouraged to audition for the B.F.A. program, and if accepted, enter into the first year of the program, regardless of class standing with the university. All interested students may request information from the department office or website.

Theater Minor

Explore the performance, historical, cultural and theoretical aspects of Theater. Students can participate in a variety of practical courses including acting, directing, playwriting, design and production. Students achieve a broad education in theater as it has been practiced in different historical periods and in various part of the globe.

Theater Minor–Production & Design

Gain practical training in areas of production and design. Students participate in a variety of practical courses including costume, lighting, and scenic design and stage management. Explore production and design elements including drawing, graphics, rendering, scene painting, stagecraft, construction, and history.


The curriculum for both degree tracks emphasizes performance and choreography. The B.A. option is a broadly based liberal arts degree that allows time for students to take courses in areas other than dance and prepares students for careers in areas such as dance therapy, administration, history, or education. The B.F.A. is a specialized degree, designed for students who wish to pursue a professional career in the field of dance. Graduates from either of the degree programs can also pursue advanced degrees.

Dance majors are admitted into the program by audition. Dance majors must take daily technique classes (a minimum of eight per week divided between modern and ballet) and fulfill the minimum proficiency requirement in technique for graduation. Students receive quarterly evaluations from dance faculty on their progress in the major. Seniors in the B.A. degree program may reduce their course load in technique once the minimum proficiency is met. B.F.A. candidates, selected by audition during the sophomore year, complete a senior capstone project in choreography and a fourth year of advanced technique. A select number of advanced B.A. and B.F.A. students are chosen for the UCSB Dance Company. The company tours statewide, nationally and internationally, with up to 25 performances each year, including the American College Dance Festival Association’s gala concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. These experiences prepare dancers for work in the professional world. The department also hosts a resident professional dance company, Santa Barbara Dance Theater. Additional program and audition details may be obtained on the department website at

Bachelor of Arts–Dance (Requirements - PDF)

Note: Technical ability and theoretical knowledge must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the dance faculty before entrance to upper-division study. Students must contact the dance faculty for program planning advice, in order to insure the best possible sequence of study.

Bachelor of Fine Arts–Dance (Requirements - PDF)

Note: Entry into the B.F.A. program is by audition in the sophomore year for currently enrolled Dance majors, and by audition at the beginning of the junior year for transfer students. Assessment of a B.F.A. student’s progress is made on a quarterly basis. Students who appear unable to complete the B.F.A. program requirements will transition into the less specialized B.A. degree program, providing they have maintained the standards for that degree.