Major Requirements

The Barnard College Theatre major, which offers the Columbia College major in Drama and Theatre Arts, takes an integrative approach to theatre and performance studies, engaging the complex interaction between creation and critique.  The major program at once develops a keen sense of the practices of acting, directing, design, and playwriting, while introducing students to the dynamic range of world performance traditions.

In the program, students engage theatre and performance through a wide range of courses:  in acting, directing, design, and in the intellectual and critical traditions of theatre studies.  The major program then encourages specialization in more advanced courses.  The major culminates in an ambitious senior project, an intellectual inquiry based in performance or scholarship, which can take the form of a written thesis based on original research, or on original creative work in acting, directing, design, or playwriting.

New Majors

Students are drawn to the Barnard Theatre/Columbia Drama and Theatre Arts major at various points in their careers at Barnard and Columbia: some students enter knowing that they will major in Theatre, some discover it later. While it is quite possible to begin fulfilling major requirements as a junior, you will have the most flexibility in the major (especially if you're planning study abroad) and be able to take greatest advantage of the opportunity to specialize in your chosen thesis area if you plan ahead.

Students considering majoring in Theatre should consider taking three or four of the required classes in your first two years of study: Western Theatre Traditions: Classic to Romantic, Western Theatre Traditions: Modern and/or a course fulfilling the "world theatre" requirement, and at least one class in acting, design, directing, or playwriting (preferably in the area you might choose as your areas of specialization). Students thinking about a research focus might consider an additional dramatic literature class early in their studies; students thinking about an acting or design focus, for example, might consider additional classes in those areas in the second or third year of study.

Students declare the major in the spring semester of the sophomore year. The major requirements are spelled out below, and the process for choosing a thesis area as well: all Theatre/Drama and Theatre Arts majors do a thesis as a capstone to their work in the degree. If you would like more information about the major, please feel free to contact any full-time faculty member (see Faculty pages). Barnard students must make an appointment or come by the office of the Department Chair to have the major-declaration form signed, and will have a major adviser from the Department faculty; Columbia students are encouraged to meet with members of the faculty to discuss the degree; Patricia Denison, Drama and Theatre Director of Undergraduate Studies, serves as formal adviser for Columbia students. All majors should introduce themselves to Mike Cavalier, the Theatre Administrator in 507 Milbank Hall: he will add you to the departmental listserv, and help you to keep up to date in important information about your study in the Department.

Major Requirements

Download the Theatre major self-audit form

Students intending to major in Theatre should consult with the Department Chair in their sophomore year or earlier to plan a program: this consultation is required for Barnard students and strongly recommended for Columbia students. Twelve courses and one senior thesis (in Performance or in Research) are required as follows:

Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies

Three courses in world theatre and performance histories: THTR V 3150 and 3151, and one of the following: THTR V 3000 OR 3155 OR 3156.

One course in drama, theatre, and performance theories: THTR V 3165 OR THTR V 3166 OR ENTA W 3702

One course in Shakespeare

Two courses in dramatic literature, theatre studies, and/or performance studies, taken in the Theatre Department or in another department with advisor's approval. One course must be a seminar. A list of courses fulfilling this requirement is here; other courses must be approved by Theatre department chair.

THTR V 3150 and THTR V 3151 must be taken at Barnard; transfer or study-abroad credit not accepted.


Theatre practice

One course in theatre design: THTR V 3132, 3133, 3134, 3135, 3136, 3510, 4001; 3203 may be counted if not counted toward Directing.
One course in acting: THTR V 2007, 3004, 3005
One course in directing: THTR V 3200, 3201; 3203 may be counted if not counted toward Design.
Concentration: all majors must take an additional 2 courses in the field of the senior thesis: acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, playwriting, or research. See below.

Senior Thesis

THTR V 3997 Senior Thesis: Performance (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, or playwriting)
Prior to completing the Senior Thesis: Performance, majors must take an additional two courses in the field of the thesis (acting, design, directing, playwriting). For theses in Dramaturgy, students take two courses in drama, theatre, or performance research; these courses may be drawn from courses in dramatic literature, theatre studies, and global performance traditions offered in the Theatre department, or from dramatic literature courses offered in other departments with adviser's approval. Dramaturgy concentrators may substitute one course in playwriting for one of these two courses. Students taking a Solo Performance thesis are required to have taken the Solo Performance course prior to the thesis semester (spring), among the three required courses in acting. For theses in Directing, students must also take the Dramaturgy course prior to the thesis semester (spring); this course counts as 1 of the 2 required courses in dramatic literature, theatre studies and/or performance studies.
THTR V 3998 Senior Thesis: Research 
Prior to completing the Senior Thesis: Research, majors must take an additional two courses in drama, theatre, or performance research; these courses may be drawn from courses in dramatic literature, theatre studies, and global performance traditions offered in the Theatre department, or from dramatic literature courses offered in other departments with adviser's approval. These courses should be discussed with the student's major advisor, as well as with the sponsor of the thesis.

Production Crew

Theatre majors planning on completing a Senior Thesis in Performance (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, solo performance) are required to complete a pre-production crew assignment and a backstage crew assignment prior to their final semester; to be in the strongest position for the thesis, ideally these assignments are completed during the junior year.  Please see the section on Production Crew for more information.

Studio Courses

Please note that for Barnard students there is a limit on studio courses. Theatre majors may take 24 studio points in Theatre and an additional six in another discipline for a total of 30 studio points. Theatre Department studio courses are THTR V 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2120, 3004, 3005, 3006, 3122-29, 3172-79.

Graduate Courses

Only under special circumstances, and with the permission of the instructor, can undergraduates take graduate classes.

Policy on No Exemption from General Education Requirements through Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate Credits

Students entering Barnard College in fall 2016 and thereafter will receive points of credit for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) credit, but these credits will not exempt students from Barnard General Education Requirements (GERs). Further information may be found on the Registrar's website.