The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies’ undergraduate and graduate programs rank among the top in the country.
About the program
Our award-winning faculty is comprised of active professionals with proven expertise across the full range of dramatic disciplines including acting, playwriting, design, media, technical theater, movement, voice, costume and production design. Our alumni transition to a rich variety of career pathways and have been recognized for their work on Broadway, film and television. Graduates have performed with Beyoncé, produced and directed Glee Live, served as President of Paramount Pictures and worked as Vice President of Casting at 21st Century Fox.
Located in the greater Washington, D.C. area, we offer students unparalleled opportunities for engagement with professional opportunities throughout the region, as well as in New York City and Los Angeles. Our curriculum is focused on student engagement and professional development through partnerships with internationally renowned institutions such as Arena Stage, Ford's Theatre, The Kennedy Center and Woolly Mammoth.
Discover the passion we have for our scholarship and craft
Students in the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies have opportunities to experiment, explore and experience—challenging themselves to reach beyond traditional boundaries.
Some factors that make our program stand out:
- Residence in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, a multi-million dollar, dual-purpose, state-of-the-art facility, which also houses the School of Music and Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library;
- Award-winning faculty, including several Helen Hayes Award winners, a Tony Award winner, an Emmy winner and a winner of the Barnard Hewitt Award for an outstanding theater history book;
- Our diverse student body, comprised of talented actors, designers, production workers and more;
- The atmosphere of a small college within the setting of a large research university;
- Location in the nation’s fastest growing arts regions and national epicenter for research;
- Professional affiliations with outstanding Washington, D.C. regional theater companies.
How to Apply: visit UMD Admissions to learn more about applying to the university.
The B.A. theatre program embraces the liberal arts character of the University of Maryland and, by choice, we are not a limited enrollment major. There is no audition, portfolio presentation or interview requirement to declare the theatre major.
Melissa Blanco Borelli
Associate Professor, Theatre Scholarship and Performance Studies
Associate director of the International Program for Creative Collaboration and Research (IPCCR), School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
2810 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742
Professor, Dance/Theatre Design and Production
Head of MFA in Design, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Head of Design, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
2739 The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center
College Park MD, 20742
Students at TDPS gain hands on experience from an award-winning faculty that work nationally and internationally in the business and provide professional connections for students to the top theatres in the D.C. metro area, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. Their expertise includes acting, directing voice, movement, stage management, playwriting, musical theatre, puppetry, dramaturgy and multimedia, costume, set and lighting design.
How to declare the theatre major
First, take a look at the curriculum requirements for the theatre major. Also take a look at the ARHU website for academic planning at the College of Arts and Humanities.
The B.A. theatre degree is not a limited enrollment program and thus any University of Maryland student may declare theatre as a major or double major. An audition, review or interview is not required. The theatre major requires 55 credits of coursework, with 28 of those credits at the 300/400 level. This is a considerable amount of varied and complex work. Adding theatre as a double or triple major should not be done without considerable thought as to the impact on your ability to graduate in a timely fashion. The theatre major has mandatory advising every semester; advising blocks will not be lifted without the required advising session.
All students must create an academic plan that integrates major requirements, general education and ARHU requirements. Your B.A. theatre advisor will give you a packet of information to assist you with this task. Transfer students should ask their college advisor if they fall under the theatre academic plan for general education.
A theatre major or double major may be declared in any semester that you are registered at the University of Maryland. Freshmen must successfully complete their first semester at UMD before adding a double major. Students who are not currently registered and are candidates for re-enrollment must contact the Registrar's Office to re-enroll before declaring theatre as a major. It is strongly suggested that students be in good academic standing when changing majors or adding a second major. Your theatre advisor may suggest registering for a class on a trial basis before actually declaring the major.
Entry-level theatre courses require the student to be a major, so declaring in the time period before pre-registration begins is advisable. Waiting to declare after the pre-registration period is over will result in theatre courses being full and you will have to wait for another semester to begin coursework. Meeting college benchmarks at 30-60-90 credits is mandatory; students who do not fulfill these requirements may be asked to select another major.
- An appointment must be made; declaring a major cannot be handled on a walk-in basis. Contact Susan Miller, the coordinator of student services and academic advisor, at email@example.com.
- Review this page carefully, especially the curriculum requirements.
- At the advising meeting, paperwork will be filled out and signed.
- Turn in the Academic Plan Degree Requirement Checklist Form to a College of Arts and Humanities advisor. Call (301) 405-2108 to schedule an appointment.
Director of Undergraduate Studies<
Coordinator of Student Services and Advisor
In the theatre major, mandatory advising each semester provides students with the opportunity to build a relationship with their advisor for the purpose of gaining assistance in planning their educational career, learning the skills needed for academic success and learning how to access the variety of resources and services available to them on the University of Maryland campus.
For more general information about undergraduate requirements, fees and registration, see UMD's Undergraduate Catalog.
The theatre program includes a series of “foundation” courses to help students build a stronger, more uniform knowledge base, and to better prepare for upper-level course work. In addition, the curriculum introduces students to faculty-taught upper level courses sooner, allows students to take co-requisite courses their first year and emphasizes upper-level course work in specialty areas.
B.A. theatre students are required to complete:
- 49 credit hours of coursework
- 28 credit hours must be at the 300-400 level
No grade less than C- may be applied toward the major (including supporting courses). In addition, no course for the major may be taken as pass/fail or audit (including supporting courses).
- 30 credit benchmark: THET 222, 223 and either THET 116 or TDPS 201
- 60 credit benchmark: TDPS 201, THET 116, THET 222, THET 223, 2 THET 479 courses, 12 credits from a combination of area menus and supporting courses
- 90 credit benchmark: 3 TDPS 479 courses, 27 credits of area menu and supporting courses
Students who do not meet benchmarks may be asked to leave the major. A course time conflict outside of TDPS is not an acceptable excuse for not meeting your benchmark.
In the listing below, all courses are three credits unless otherwise noted. Prerequisites are listed in the undergraduate catalog or the schedule of classes on www.testudo.umd.edu. Courses listed in the area menu are ones that are regularly offered, but not necessarily each semester. Other courses, which satisfy the requirement, will be announced as they are offered. Please note that some courses require prerequisites and auditions.
- TDPS 201 – “Introduction to Technical Production"
- THET 116 – “Fundamentals of Theatrical Design"
- THET 222 – “Foundations of Acting and Performance"
- THET 223 – “Text and Context in Western Theatre"
- TDPS 479 – “Production Practicum” (1 credit). Four total credits required (positions must be completed in three different areas. For many positions, TDPS 201 is a prerequisite).
Area menu courses provide advanced training in three areas: performance, design/production and history/theory. Students select courses from each area as delineated below. Students must audition and/or complete prerequisites for some courses.
Courses marked with an asterisk (*) require auditions. Students may only audition twice for any course requiring an audition for enrollment. Many courses have prerequisites. Please check Testudo online for registration information.
- THET 210 – “Movement for Actors"
- THET 285 – “The Art of Communication and Presentation"
- *THET 310 – “Voice for the Actor I"
- *THET 324 – “Acting: Character Development"
- *THET 325 – “Acting: The Acting Process Part I"
- THET 330 – “Play Directing I" [prerequisite, all six fundamentals courses]
- *THET 360 – “Voice Archetypes"
- *THET362 – “Alexander Technique"
- *THET 411 – “Voice for the Actor II"
- *THET 420 – :Acting IV: Language and the Actor"
- *THET 424 – “Movement II: Advanced Studies in Movement for the Actor"
- *THET 425 – “Acting: The Acting Process Part II"
- THET 430 – “Play Directing II"
- *THET 451 – “Musical Theatre Workshop I"
- *THET 452 – “Musical Theatre Workshop II"
Many courses have prerequisites—see Testudo online for registration information.
- THET 273 – “Theatre Graphics I"
- THET 274 – “Introduction to Stage Management"
- THET 282 – “Stage Makeup"
- THET 284 – “Stage Costume Construction I"
- THET 371 – “Scenic Design I"
- THET 372 – “Stage Property Design"
- THET 373 – “Rendering for the Theatre I"
- THET 377 – “Lighting Design I"
- THET 380 – “Sound Design"
- THET 383 – “Costume Design I"
- THET 384 – “Costume Construction II"
- THET 435 – “Advanced Costume Construction"
- THET 457 – “Advanced Lighting Technology"
- THET 465 – “History of Fashion” (not a theatre history course)
- THET 470 – “Advanced Stagecraft"
- THET 471 – “Design Studio in Scenery"
- THET 472 – “Scene Painting I"
- THET 473 – “Rendering for the Theatre II"
- THET 474 – “Stage Management"
- THET 475 – “History of Art, Architecture, and Décor"
- THET 477 – “Design Studio in Lighting"
- THET 481 – “Theatre Graphics II"
- THET 482 – “Scene Painting II"
- THET 483 – “Design Studio in Costume"
- THET 390 - “Theatre History I “
- THET 391 - “Theatre History II”
Choose one course among the following:
- THET 408 – “Seminar: Theory and Performance Studies “
- THET 488 – “Special Topics in Theatre History before 1800” [THET 223 required; one 200/300 level theatre history course is recommended]
- THET 489 – “Special Topics in Theatre History from 1800 to the Present” [THET 223 required; one 200/300 level theatre history course is recommended]
- THET 498 – “Seminar: Theatre History”
These courses are not regularly offered and undergraduates need to take the 400-level version not the 600-level graduate course version.
For supporting courses, 12 credits must be THET courses and 15 credits must be upper level (300/400). Supporting course credits may come from the list below OR from any of the courses listed in the performance, design/production or history/theory menus OR any combination of the four menus (performance, design/production, history/theory and supporting courses). Students may petition to their advisor for other suitable courses to count towards this requirement. When selecting supporting courses, remember that sufficient upper level (300/400) courses must be taken—a student will only be able to take one or two at 100-200/level. Remember that courses in other departments may not be offered every semester or even every year. For course prerequisites, contact the department that is offering the course or check Testudo.
- ARTH 200 – “Art of the Western World to 1300”
- ARTH 201 – “Art of the Western World after 1300”
- ARTH 250 – “African ArtARTH 275 - Pre-Columbian Art”
- ARTH 290 – “Art of Asia”
- ARTT 100 – “Two Dimensional Art Fundamentals”
- ARTT 110 – “Elements of Drawing”
- ARTT 150 – “Introduction to Art Theory”
- ARTT 200 – “Three Dimensional Art Fundamentals”
- ARTT 334 – “Elements of Sculpture”
- ARTT 353 – “Elements of Photography”
- ARTT 354 – “Elements of Computer Graphics”
- CLAS 374 – “Greek Tragedy in Translation
- CLAS 375 – Ancient Comedy”
- DANC 200 – “Introduction to Dance”
- DANC 283 – “Foundations of Dance History”
- DANC 310 – “Dance Lighting”
- DANC Performance [up to 3 courses total may be used with permission of advisor]
- ENGL 205 – “Introduction to Shakespeare”
- ENGL 244 – “Introduction to Drama”
- ENGL 304 – “Major Works of Shakespeare”
- ENGL 305 – “Shakespeare & Contemporaries”
- ENGL 403 – “Shakespeare: The Early Works”
- ENGL 404 – “Shakespeare: The Later Works”
- ENGL 434 – “American Drama”
- ENGL 450 – “Renaissance Drama”
- ENGL 451 – “Renaissance Drama”
- ENGL 454 – “Modern Drama”
- LATN 301 – “Plautus”
- LATN 302 – “Ovid”
- MUSC 480 through 485
- MUSC Performance (up to 3 courses total may be used with permission of advisor)
- SPAN 424 – “Drama of the Sixteenth Century”
- SPAN 436 – “Spanish Baroque Drama”
- SPAN 437 – “Spanish Drama of the Seventeenth Century”
- SPAN 456 – “Nineteenth Century Drama & Poetry”
- SPAN 462 – “Twentieth Century Drama”
- SPAN 473 – “Latino Drama”
- THET 286/386 – “Experiential Learning” (up to 6 credits may be used)
- THET 429 – “Actors Studio” (up to 6 credits may be used)
- THET 479 – “Theatre Practicum” (up to 4 credits above the requirement in the Foundation Series)
- THET 499/399/299 – “Independent Study” (up to 6 credits may be used)
TDPS offers performance opportunities for all theatre students, ranging from informal workshops to fully mounted productions on campus. Theatre majors also have many opportunities to participate in master classes and workshops with visiting artists, sponsored by the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
Scholarships and Awards
Creative and Performing Arts Scholarships (CAPA)
Equivalent to full in-state tuition and mandatory fees, the B.A. theatre program awards CAPAs to outstanding undergraduate majors for academic excellence and exceptional performance or design/production skills. For qualifying students, these scholarships may be renewed up to eight semesters. Scholarships are awarded to fall incoming theatre majors at the Scholarship Audition Day held in the previous spring semester. All students who have applied to the University of Maryland as a declared theatre may participate.
Audition Date: Friday, December 18, 2020, 12:00PM
Applications Due: Wednesday, December 4, 2020 for Fall 2021 applicants
*Auditions will be virtual
For more information about the audition and the online application, visit this page.
Submit a complete application packet by Wednesday, December 4, 2020.
TDPS Scholarship Award Funds
When financial circumstances allow, the school provides additional scholarships and other educational opportunities for current theatre and dance majors. These are merit-based awards granted to dedicated majors based on the strength of their application.
Internships and professional partnerships
Academic internships allow students to explore potential career fields, develop career related skills and abilities, observe professionals and network with relevant contacts. TDPS supports a variety of internships at the local, national and international levels. The vibrant Washington, D.C. theater community supports many such opportunities and students are encouraged to take advantage of them. Many performance students receive their first important theater credits as members of the National Players, a pre-professional touring company in partnership with the Olney Theatre Center. Other internship possibilities include: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Round House Theatre, Arena Stage, Imagination Stage, the Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company In Baltimore, possibilities include Everyman Theatre, Center Stage and Theatre Project. The school is also home to the Shakespeare Globe Center Research Archive, providing an opportunity for students to serve as interns on campus or in London at the new Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
In 2004, the former UMD Department of Theatre and the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company joined forces to create Woolly/UM, a unique partnership based on a common mission: to forge the future of American theater through the University of Maryland's extraordinary work in developing young theater artists and Woolly Mammoth's nationally recognized efforts in the development and production of new plays. Additional collaborations include collaborative ventures with the African Continuum Theatre Company Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Olney Theatre, Round House Theatre and a co-production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with The National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts performed in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, as well as various venues in China. More recently, the University of Maryland partnered with the Kennedy Center’s 25th anniversary New Visions/New Voices festival. Playwrights and producers from South Africa, Korea and India collaborated with TDPS students on plays written for audiences around the globe. Readings of these new theatrical works were held at UMD, followed by an intensive development period at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with professional actors and directors.
Scholarly ventures include collaborations with UMD’s David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora, as well as the UMD Center for Renaissance and Baroque Studies and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Off campus, we have had collaborative efforts with the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Study abroad and campus programs
Study abroad can be a uniquely transforming experience—one we highly recommend! Most popular is the Maryland in London program, where students live and learn in one of the most exciting cities in the world for theater. Theatre majors have also studied in Italy, France, Spain, Africa and Australia, among other countries. For more information see the Education Abroad website.
Opportunities at the University of Maryland:
Get involved! There are many theater-related student organizations on campus. Whether your interests lie in sketch comedy, organizing social events, putting together a play reading workshop or producing and performing, there is a student group for you. Visit our student organizations page for more information.
See above for a list of degree requirements and a sample academic plan for the B.A. in theatre.
No, we do not require an audition to declare the theatre major. We do require auditions/interviews for theatre performance classes, and upper level dance technique classes, Main Stage productions and the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) award.
Yes! Many of our students choose to double major. Students are welcome to double major in any other major offered at UMD. Popular double majors include communication, kinesiology, computer science, english, biological sciences, government and politics, business, psychology, etc.
We do not offer a minor in dance or theatre.
Yes! All UMD students are welcome to audition for TDPS productions, get involved with student groups and take some TDPS classes.
Contact/visit us: Theatre and dance prospective student meetings and tours
Tours of the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center are offered most weekdays, Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., by appointment. Please note: prospective student tours will not be available during the first two weeks of the fall and spring semesters.
To schedule a prospective student visit, please contact undergraduate academic advisor Susan Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the prospective student’s full name, email address, phone number, date(s) of interest and interest in B.A. in Theatre or B.A. in Dance.
Interested in visiting the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies? Discover TDPS Day is held each year over Columbus Day weekend. Observe our classes and rehearsals, tour our beautiful spaces at The Clarice and ask our current students your questions about life as a theatre or dance major at a panel discussion.
"My Maryland Information Sessions" for prospective undergraduates and "Terrapin Tours" of the UMD campus are offered most weekdays through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. For details, call 1-800-422-5867 or consult the Visiting UMD webpage.
Visits to Local High Schools
If you are a high school dance director in the Maryland, D.C. or Northern Virginia area, you may request a visit to your school by contacting undergraduate academic advisor Susan Miller at email@example.com.
The University of Maryland can be reached by air (Washington Dulles, Baltimore Washington International and Reagan Washington National), train (Metrorail, MARC and Amtrak) and automobile. Once in the Washington area, College Park is easily accessible by Metro and Shuttle-UM will take you to the campus. For driving directions to the campus call (301) 314-MAPS. Visits to the campus can also be arranged through the Visitor's Center.