BFA in Theatre Arts—Performance

The Theatre Arts–Performance major offers in-depth and integrated training for students seeking a broad and holistic approach to the art form, allowing students to deeply explore a wider range of areas of interest, including but not limited to acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, and producing. This program will best serve a student who demonstrates the maturity to create an interdisciplinary program that will allow for more flexibility and movement within the art form, as well as possible outside academic pursuits. The program curriculum stresses the development of a student as a full theatre artist, focusing on collaboration, imagination, intellect, communication skills, technical skills, and oral critique, as well as professional behavior and opportunities. Training includes a rigorous curriculum, rehearsal & performance opportunities, and collaboration with professionals through our Professional Theatre Initiative. Students are regularly mentored by working professional faculty and advisors through studio classwork, hands-on, in-process Rehearsal & Performance advising, and end-of-semester conferences.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the Theatre Arts–Performance major will:

  • Demonstrate a high level of technical and interpretive theatre making skills sufficient to obtain professional positions in the performing arts.
  • Demonstrate spoken and written critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills in an arts-based discipline.
  • Demonstrate an ability to enrich creative storytelling and take artistic risks.
  • Demonstrate an awareness and ability to engage with diverse communities as a theatre artist.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Theatre Arts–Performance will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Aesthetic Exploration & Historical Consciousness, 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, cocurricular experiences.

Program of Study (minimum of 130 credits)

First Year

All first-year performance students are admitted to the Theatre Performance core curriculum. The first-year theatre 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 first 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 Performance core provides a foundation for all future study in the Acting or Theatre Arts performance major. Through improvisation, scene study, ensemble work, and exercise, students begin the journey toward the free, integrated, and transformable expression of the voice, body, intellect, imagination, and emotion.

Please see the Theatre Core section for complete distribution guidelines for the first year.

Second Year 1st 2nd
CFA TH 201 Dramatic Lit 1850–1950 3
CFA TH 202 Dramatic Lit 1950–1990 3
Management elective 2
CFA TH 248 Rehearsal and Performance 1 2
Theatre Ensemble elective 3
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
Design elective 2
Performance elective 3 3
Total credits 15 14
Third Year
Theatre Ensemble elective 3
CFA TH 347 Rehearsal and Performance 2 2
Dramatic Literature elective 3
Theatre elective 2
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4
General elective 4
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0
Study Abroad or other coursework† 16
Total credits 18 16
Fourth Year
CFA TH 427 Theatre Ensemble 4: Thesis Development 2
CFA TH 428 Senior Thesis 3
CFA TH 447 & 448 Rehearsal and Performance 3/4 2 1
CFA TH 568s Internship (to register summer term 1)/CFA TH 569 Internship Reflection (fall) 0/1
Dramatic Literature elective 3
Theatre elective 3 3
General/Theatre elective 4 2
BU Hub requirement(s) outside the major 4 4
CFA TH 099 Matinee 0 0
Total credits 18 13

Elective Guidelines

Theatre Ensemble

The 6.0 Theatre Ensemble credits may be fulfilled from the following courses:

  • CFA TH 227 (Theatre Ensemble 2: Autobiography) – Fall, 3.0 credits
  • CFA TH 228 (Theatre Ensemble 2: Adaptation) – Spring, 3.0 credits
  • CFA TH 327 (Theatre Ensemble 3: Acting/Directing Lab) – Fall, 3.0 credits

Students must select from the three courses listed above in their sophomore/junior years, or another course in consultation with and with approval from their academic advisor.

NOTE: CFA TH 427 (Theatre Ensemble 4: Thesis Development) does not count toward the required 6.0 Theatre Ensemble credits.

Dramatic Literature

Students are required to fulfill 6.0 credits of Dramatic Literature electives through a combination of courses, including but not limited to the following:

  • 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)
  • CFA TH 401 Dramaturgical Methods & Investigations
  • CFA TH 402 Contemporary Dramatic Literature: 1990–Present
  • CFA TH 440 Experiencing London Theatre (abroad)
  • CFA TH 505 Dramatic Criticism 1
  • CFA TH 506 Dramatic Criticism 2
  • CFA TH 508 Contemporary British Theatre (abroad)
  • CFA TH 555 History of Theatre 1
  • CFA TH 556 History of Theatre 2

Students select Performance, Design, Management, Theatre, and General electives in consultation with their faculty mentor and academic advisor. Courses from which a student may select include but are not limited to:

  • CFA TH 211 Voice & Speech 2: Introduction to IPA
  • CFA TH 212 Voice & Speech 2: Dialects
  • CFA TH 217 Music Theatre Performance Skills I: Letting the Speaking Voice Sing
  • CFA TH 218 Music Theatre Performance Skills II: Applying Stanislavski Principles
  • CFA TH 223 Fundamentals of Acting: A Physical Approach
  • CFA TH 224 Fundamentals of Acting: Narrative and Imagery
  • CFA TH 317 Music Theatre Performance Skills III: Scene Study
  • CFA TH 323 Advanced Physical Approach to Acting
  • CFA TH 419 Music Theatre Performance Lab
  • CFA TH 425 Acting Shakespeare
  • CFA TH 426 Classical Techniques in Contemporary Acting
  • CFA TH 429 Understanding the Camera
  • CFA TH 507 Advanced Study in Stage Violence
  • CFA TH 151 Introduction to Design 1
  • CFA TH 152 Introduction to Design 2
  • CFA TH 167 Drawing & Painting Lab 1
  • CFA TH 168 Drawing & Painting Lab 2
  • CFA TH 177 Figure Drawing
  • CFA TH 178 Figure Drawing
  • CFA TH 485 Choreography and Design: Experiments in Movement and Light
  • CFA FA 510 Arts Leaders Forum
  • CFA FA 520 Career Development for Artists
  • CFA FA 560 Creative Economy & Social Impact
  • CFA TH 194 Introduction to Stage Management
  • CFA TH 495 Production Management
  • CFA TH 594 Theatre Management
  • QST SI 250 Ideas to Impact
  • QST SM 101 Introduction to Management

Students may select any course offered by the College of Fine Arts School of Theatre (CFA TH) to fulfill their theatre electives, depending on the student’s specific artistic interests and trajectory. These will be selected in consultation with the student’s faculty mentor and academic advisor.


General electives will comprise a combination of theatre courses and non-theatre courses offered by Boston University, depending on the student’s specific artistic and academic interests and trajectory. These will be selected in consultation with the student’s faculty mentor and academic advisor.

Students electing to take courses to fulfill their electives that are not listed above require the approval of their academic advisor and completion of a course substitution form.

Matinee Guidelines

Students must be enrolled in CFA TH 099 Matinee every semester in which they are in residence on campus at Boston University. Students are not required to take Matinee in a study abroad semester.

Internship Guidelines

Students must register in the summer term (CFA TH 568s) for a 0.0 credit, unpaid, off-campus internship with an established, professional arts organizations (or member of the Professional Theatre Initiative) or an approved on-campus internship experience with a member of the Boston University faculty or staff.

Before applying for internship credit, the student should check with their academic advisor to determine whether the proposed experience and/or host organization qualifies, and submit their contract.

Upon completion, students should then register for a 1.0 credit Internship Reflection experience (CFA TH 569) in the fall, handing in all required materials (journal, final reflection paper, essential forms). Details are updated on the CFA website.

†Study Abroad

In this semester, students will complete up to 16 credits of additional coursework toward their degree, including major requirements, minor requirements, and/or the BU Hub. These credits may be fulfilled through a Study Abroad experience or elective coursework inside or outside the major.

Concentration in Music Theatre

(open to BFA Acting and BFA Theatre Arts/Performance majors)

The Music Theatre concentration at the Boston University School of Theatre is a 4-course, 12-credit sequence available to students in the BFA Acting or BFA Theatre Arts–Performance degree beginning in the sophomore year. An audition with concentration faculty is required at the end of the first-year core to declare the concentration.

This concentration is designed to enhance a student’s preparedness in the genre of music theatre, to expand the student’s skill sets within the genre, as well as to encourage students to reimagine and create new future possibilities for the music theatre genre and to prepare them to become leaders in the field. For those who wish to pursue acting or music theatre as a career, or who wish to apply to graduate programs in this field, this concentration will serve as verification of their skill level and commitment to the field of study.

Students in the Music Theatre concentration are encouraged to take private voice lessons through the School of Music and additional dance and movement classes through the Dance Department at the BU Physical Education, Recreation & Dance Department.

Required courses:

  • CFA TH 217 Music Theatre Performance Skills I: Letting the Speaking Voice Sing (3 cr)
  • CFA TH 218 Music Theatre Performance Skills II: Applying Stanislavski Principles (3 cr)
  • CFA TH 317 Music Theatre Performance Skills III: Scene Study (3 cr)
  • CFA TH 419 Music Theatre Performance Lab (3 cr)