BFA–Theatre, Scene Design major

The Design & Production programs prepare talented and committed students for careers in the professional world of theatre and related entertainment media. The program curriculum stresses the development of a student as a theatre artist, focusing on collaboration, imagination, intellect, communication skills, and oral critique, as well as professional behavior.

During each year of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program, courses in design, production, graphic skills, management, and dramatic literature follow a carefully integrated sequence of class exercises and production opportunities. The committed students who pursue the BFA degree in Design, Production, or Management at Boston University discover who they are, what they do well, and what they are capable of doing. They learn to be collaborative theatre artists who work productively under the stresses of the theatrical profession and, most importantly, they learn to integrate design, production, and management skills with their own personal sensibility.

The Scene Design program aims to develop a complete theatre artist by fostering a passion for theatre, storytelling, design, and the collaborative process. Through their required coursework and production assignments, Scene Design students will:

  1. Demonstrate a rich understanding of Scenic Design as an art form and its development since the classical period.
  2. Demonstrate the development of critical and analytical thinking for the collaborative process of making a piece of theatre.
  3. Demonstrate the development of an understanding for purpose and reason for making a piece of theatre.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to explore the emotional and psychological power of a space and how to mine these qualities in the making of a piece of theatre.
  5. Communicate conceptual ideas through a facility with the different mediums and tools available to the scenic designer.
  6. Model a professional and artful attitude toward work process, communication, and collaboration with fellow members of the creative team.
  7. Demonstrate the proficiency in the skills necessary to be a working Scene Designer, including, but not limited to, hand drafting, scenic painting, drawing, and an understanding of the history of period styles and décor, with an acknowledgement of the broad range of creative work to which scenic design can contribute to the artful creation of theatre.

All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Scene Design will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Aesthetic & Historical Interpretation, as well as some of the requirements in Communication; Diversity, Civic Engagement, & Global Citizenship; and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

Program of Study

(minimum of 130 credits)

First Year

All freshmen Design, Production, and Stage Management students are admitted to the Theatre Design, Production, and Management core curriculum. The freshman core is designed to provide an appropriate context for faculty evaluations of each student’s strengths, interests, and potential for success in the upper years of training. At the end of the freshman year, each student declares a major. This decision is reviewed by all members of the School of Theatre faculty before a student is officially enrolled in their major. 

The Theatre Design, Production & Management core provides a foundation for all future study in design (lighting, scenery, costume, or sound), production (technical or costume), stage management, or theatre arts, design & production. By acquiring a base of artistic and technical skills, students begin to explore the breadth and depth of what it means to be a professional theatre artist today.

Please see the Freshman Core section for complete distribution guidelines. 

The foundational methods class for scene design majors in the Core is CFA TH 170 Methods of Construction–Scenery. Should students elect not to take this course as part of the Theatre Design, Production, and Management core, they will be required to take this course in the spring of their sophomore year. 

The foundational drafting class for scene design majors in the Core is CFA TH 164 Drafting 2. Should students elect not to take this course as part of the Theatre Design, Production, and Management core, they will be required to take this course in the spring of their sophomore year.

Second Year 1st 2nd
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 297 & 298 Production^ 2+ 2+
CFA TH 263 & 264 Scene Design 1 & 2 3 3
CFA TH 265 & 266 Scene Painting 1 & 2 2 2
CFA TH 275 Costume Design 1 3
CFA TH 361 & 362 Drafting 3 & 4 1 1
Drama Literature elective* 3
CFA TH 177 & 178 Figure Drawing 1 1
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
Total 17± 17±
Third Year
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 397 & 398 Production^ 2+ 2+
CFA TH 363 & 364 Scene Design 3 & 4 3 3
CFA TH 283 Lighting Design 1 3
CFA TH 177 & 178 Figure Drawing 1 1
CFA TH 563 & 564 Drawing for Designers 1 & 2 1 1
CFA TH 355 & 356 History of Period Styles 1 & 2 2 2
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
Total 17± 14±
Fourth Year
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
CFA TH 553 & 554 Colloquium 1 1
CFA TH 497 & 498 Production^ 2+ 2+
CFA TH 365 & 366 Scene Painting 3 & 4 2 2
CFA TH 177 Figure Drawing 1
Directing elective* 2
Art History elective* 4 4
Drama Literature elective* 3
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4
Total 16± 12±

^Production classes in the core are 2 credits each, as assignments are closely monitored to help students acclimate to the workload in the program. Thereafter production classes are variable credit, depending on the artistic assignment. Production assignments are made by the faculty based on individual student assessment and can be viewed in three stages of the production process:

  • Pre-production: The preparatory work before the rehearsal and build process begins.
  • Production: The rehearsal and build process through opening performance.
  • Performance: The run of the production in front of an audience.

Typically, credits will be awarded as follows:

  • Participation in one stage of the design & production process = 1 credit
  • Participation in two stages of the design & production process = 2 credits
  • Participation in three stages of the design & production process = 3 credits

Credits listed are the fewest a student can earn in a given semester.

*Students select Art History, Directing, and Drama Literature electives in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor. Courses from which a student may select include but are not limited to:

Art History

  • CAS AH 111 Introduction to Art History 1: Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • CAS AH 112 Introduction to Art History 2: Renaissance to Today
  • CAS AH 215 Arts of Africa
  • CAS AH 220 Islamic Art
  • CAS AH 233 Art of Greece
  • CAS AH 234 The Art of Rome
  • CAS AH 240 Medieval Art
  • CAS AH 284 Arts in America
  • CAS AH 333 Classical Art
  • CAS AH 377 American Furniture
  • CAS AH 391 Twentieth Century Art to 1940
  • CAS AH 392 Twentieth Century Art 1940 to 1980
  • CFA TH 455 History of Period Styles 3
  • CFA TH 456 History of Period Styles 4

Directing

  • CFA TH 240 Beginning Directing
  • CFA TH 453 Undergraduate Masterclass
  • CFA TH 454 Undergraduate Masterclass 

Drama Literature

  • CFA TH 201 Dramatic Literature: 1850–1950
  • CFA TH 202 Dramatic Literature: 1950–1990
  • CFA TH 401 Dramaturgical Methods and Investigations
  • CFA TH 402 Contemporary Dramatic Literature: 1990–Present
  • CAS EN 355 Modern Drama 1
  • CAS EN 356 Modern Drama 2
  • CAS EN 363 Shakespeare 1
  • CAS EN 364 Shakespeare 2
  • CAS LR 355 Chekhov: The Stories & Plays (in English Translation)

Students electing to take courses to fulfill their Art History, Directing, and Drama Literature electives that are not listed above require the approval of their faculty advisor.

± Total credits per semester vary according to the courses selected. Credits listed are the fewest a student could earn. All BFA–Theatre students with a scene design major must earn at least 130 credits to graduate.