The Department of Theatre at Barnard College offers the Theatre major to all Barnard College, Columbia College, and Columbia General Studies undergraduate students. At Columbia, the major is labeled “Drama and Theatre Arts,” but all students pursue the same set of major requirements, largely through the Theatre faculty at Barnard. (The Department also offers a Theatre minor, currently available only to Barnard students; it may be approved for Columbia students during the 2023-24 academic year.)
The study of drama, theatre, and performance incorporates wide and interdisciplinary ways of doing: acting, directing, design, writing, critique. Lecture/seminar coursework in the Theatre major emphasizes the critical, theoretical, and practical perspectives essential to understanding drama, theatre, and performance as instruments of artistic and cultural work, work that has transpired both historically and globally. This critical discipline is complemented in praxis courses, which shape a critical encounter with the disciplines of creative work in acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, and playwriting. Theatre majors, and all students in Theatre classes, learn to produce critical work across different creative platforms (lecture, seminar, studio), and to explore the interdisciplinary interfaces that define theatre and performance themselves. All courses, whether seminars or studios, articulate a diverse range of approaches to inquiry, and a diverse range of objects of inquiry as well.
See here for a detailed breakdown of concentrations offered within the major and their respective requirements.
Twelve courses, one senior thesis (in Performance or in Research), and one-two production courses are required as follows:
All majors take two required lecture courses:
THTR UN 3150 and 3151: Critical Histories of Drama, Theatre, and Performance 1 and 2
All majors take two required praxis courses, each in a different field, chosen from:
THTR UN 3004 Acting I, THTR UN 3200 Directing I, THTR UN 3203 Collaboration, any Playwriting course in the THTR UN 3300 series, any Design course in the THTR UN 3400 series, THTR UN3210 Dramaturgy, THTR UN2120 Technical Theatre, or THTR 2421 Stage Management
All majors take eight additional courses in drama studies, theatre studies, and performance studies (lecture/seminars) and theatre praxis (studio courses).
Maximum of 5 courses in drama studies, theatre studies, performance studies OR Maximum of 5 courses in praxis fields (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, stage and production management): 5 studies/3 praxis; 4 studies/4praxis; 3 studies/5 praxis.
a. praxis/studio courses may be taken in a single discipline or any combination of disciplines; Dramaturgy is a praxis/studies course.
b. one praxis/studio course may be taken in another department if relevant to the Senior Thesis with the prior approval of the Chair (i.e., figure drawing for a design student)
c. drama studies, theatre studies, performance studies lectures/seminars are taken in the Department of Theatre in the THTR UN 3100 series; ENTA, ENTH, CPLS, and Shakespeare courses are typically approved for the “studies” requirement; other courses require the prior approval of the Chair
d. at least three courses must be in the field of the Senior Thesis and be completed prior to graduation (may be taken simultaneously with the Senior Thesis). See below.
e. note that the courses required for casts in production (THTR UN2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026) do not count toward the major requirements
All majors must complete a Senior Thesis
All students must have 3 classes in the field of the Senior Thesis prior to graduation (may be taken simultaneously with the Senior Thesis).
THTR UN 3997 Senior Thesis: Performance (acting, solo performance, design, directing, dramaturgy, or playwriting)
Senior Thesis in Performance: Acting—3 acting classes. Acting thesis show may be assigned for either fall or spring semester of senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Solo Performance—Acting II: Solo Performance and 2 other acting classes. Solo Performance show is assigned to spring senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Design—3 design classes; one relevant class from another department may be substituted with approval. Design thesis show may be assigned to either fall or spring of senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Directing—3 directing classes; Directing II must be taken no later than junior year; Advanced Directing taken fall senior year. Senior Thesis in Directing show is assigned to spring senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Dramaturgy—the Dramaturgy seminar, and either two “studies” classes or one “studies” class and one playwriting class. Dramaturgy theses are paired with Directing theses, and are assigned to the spring senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Playwriting—3 playwriting classes, including one or both THTR UN 3300 Playwriting Workshop and THTR UN 3301 Playwriting Lab offered in the Theatre Department, and/or one or both playwriting classes offered in the English department (ENGL BC 3113 and 3114). In all cases at least one of the playwriting courses offered for the Thesis must be taken in the Barnard Theatre department. Senior Thesis in Playwriting play reading is assigned to the spring of the senior year.
Senior Thesis in Performance: Stage and Production Management—3 classes, including THTR UN2421 Stage Management, and two additional courses drawn from the Design sequence (THTR UN34XX) and THTR UN2120 Technical Theatre
THTR UN 3998 Senior Thesis: Research
Senior Thesis in Research requires 3 courses in drama studies, theatre studies, performance studies; additional coursework in the specific area of the thesis may be recommended. Senior Thesis in research may be undertaken either fall or spring semester of the senior year, in consultation with faculty member advising the thesis.
All majors must take 1 or 2 Production Crew assignments
Theatre majors 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. Theatre majors who stage manage a production are required to complete only one production assignment. Please see the section on Production Crew for more information.
Please note that Barnard College puts a limit on studio courses for all Barnard students. Theatre majors may take 24 studio points in Theatre and an additional six in another discipline for a total of 30 studio points; if courses are split between different studio disciplines in Theatre (say, 24 acting, 6 design) then students may take 30 studio points. Courses in the Acting series (3000-3099), courses in the Design series (3400-3499), and course numbers for the cast of Department productions (2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026) are counted toward the studio limit. Barnard students may count more than 24 points only if the additional points are in excess of the points needed to graduate (122). A student with 27 studio credits needs a total of 127 credits. Columbia College and GS majors do not have a studio limit.
Only under special circumstances, and with the permission of the instructor, can undergraduates take graduate classes. Courses in the School of the Arts Theatre division—the MFA program—are specifically not available to undergraduate students.
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.
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 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 all four of the required classes in the first two years of study—Critical Histories of Drama, Theatre, and Performance 1 and 2—and at least one praxis/studio class, such as Acting I, Directing I, or a playwriting, design class, or technical theatre and management class. Students thinking about a research focus might consider an additional drama studies, theatre studies, performance studies class early in their studies; students thinking about an acting or design focus, for example, might consider additional classes in those areas.
Barnard students may declare the major during the first or second year; Columbia majors declare the major the spring semester of the second year. Barnard students declare the major through the Slate portal; Columbia students declare through their Columbia advisors. All students declaring the major must submit the departmental major declaration Google Form linked above. You will not be considered for a senior thesis of your choice if this form is not submitted.
All Theatre/Drama and Theatre Arts majors do a thesis as a capstone to their work in the degree; applications for the thesis are made in January of the junior year. If you would like more information about the major, please feel free to contact any full-time faculty member (see Faculty pages). All majors and potential majors should introduce themselves to Kate Purdum, the Theatre Administrator, in 333C Milbank Hall. She 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 Graphic See here for a visual representation of major requirements.
- Theatre Major Audit Sheet Check that you have taken courses that fulfill all areas of the major.
- Theatre Major Declaration Form Must be submitted by 1 April of the second (sophomore) year of study. Transfer students with junior standing must submit immediately.
- Barnard Major Declaration Form via Slate Must be submitted by 1 April of second (sophomore) year of study; may be submitted earlier. Transfer students with junior standing must submit immediately.
- Senior Thesis Application Application for senior thesis fields (acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, solo performance, research) is due in January of the junior year (after 5th semester; 3 semesters remaining); students must be declared majors, and have taken formal coursework in the department in the potential field(s) of the senior thesis.