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Columbia University Course/Program Name
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National :01 Jan 
International :01 Jan 

BA Theatre

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

3 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

46040 USD
46040 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Department of Theatre
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600

World University Ranking

About this course

The purpose of the university is inquiry: situated at the intersection of the arts and humanities, in a world theatrical capital, the Barnard and Columbia undergraduate theatre program engages the disciplines of drama, theatre, and performance studies as a distinctive mode of intellectual and artistic inquiry. Majors take foundational coursework in the literary, cultural, and embodied traditions of western and nonwestern performance as well as in the practices of acting, directing, design, and playwriting. All majors then specialize in a specific area and undertake advanced thesis work, leading either to a formal essay of original research, or to an artistic project (in acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, or solo performance) that combines the practices of research and artistic creation. While Barnard and Columbia students fulfill the overall graduation requirements of their respective institutions, major requirements for the Barnard Major in Theatre/Columbia Major in Drama and Theatre Arts are identical, and the majority of required coursework is offered through the Barnard College Department of Theatre. Barnard and Columbia students receive their degrees from their respective colleges of Columbia University. 

The Department's season of productions in the Minor Latham Playhouse and the Glicker-Milstein Black Box Theatre is a crucible of investigation: the place where professional directors and designers collaborate with undergraduates, using a wide range of classic and contemporary plays and performance practices to shape insights unique to theatrical inquiry today. Whether it's Shakespeare or Soyinka or Caryl Churchill, or the directing, solo performance, and playwriting theses in the Senior Thesis Festival, Department of Theatre productions are both a learning process and a scene of encounter, where perceptions are shaped for the attention and creative response of a larger public.
Making, thinking about, and writing about performance are an essential part of undergraduate education. For this reason, courses offered in the Barnard Department of Theatre and casting for its stage productions are open to all Barnard and Columbia undergraduate students, and Theatre courses engage productively with Barnard's Foundations and with Columbia's Core Curriculum. In recent years, graduates have written plays for Broadway and beyond; have begun careers as actors, directors, dramaturges, designers; and have gained admission to the most competitive MFA programs in the arts. They have also been successful in pursuing non-artistic careers, including admission to demanding Ph.D. programs in literature, theatre, and performance studies.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be well-prepared for a college like Barnard, it is important to think about the academic community you are hoping to join. Barnard's general education requirements cover a wide range of subjects: literature, the social sciences, language and the arts, lab sciences, and quantitative areas. For this reason, you should acquire a strong foundation in high school, taking courses from the core academic subjects: math, science, English, history, and foreign language. Do your best to take the most rigorous classes available to you in which you can do your best work. For transfer students, our recommendations are similar. Take courses that are recommended to fulfill general requirements in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. If an area is a relative weakness, continue taking that subject while pursuing advanced coursework in areas of relative strength. Remember, we hope to see how you might contribute to our intellectual community, and your choices tell us what kind of a student you will be.

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Course Modules

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 theatre and performance histories in the first two years of study: Western Theatre Traditions: Classic to Romantic, and Western Theatre Traditions: Modern, and either Theatre Traditions in a Global Context, Traditional Indian Theatre, or Modern Asian Performance. If you are considering the major, you should also take 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.

Barnard students may declare the major during the first or second year; Columbia majors declare the major in the spring semester of the second 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

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:


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

One course in drama, theatre, and performance theories: THTR UN 3165 OR THTR UN 3166 OR ENTA UN 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 UN 3150 and THTR UN 3151 must be taken at Barnard; transfer or study-abroad credit not accepted.

One course in theatre design: THTR UN 3132, 3133, 3134, 3135, 3136, 3510, 4001; 3203 may be counted if not counted toward Directing.
One course in acting: THTR UN 3004, 3005, 3007
One course in directing: THTR UN 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.
THTR UN 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. For theses in Playwriting, students take two courses in dramatic literature, theatre studies, performance studies AND at least two courses in playwriting. 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 UN 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.

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.


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 UN 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2120, 3004, 3005, 3006, 3122-29, 3172-79.


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

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How to Apply

Submit all supporting materials

  • Request that all official high school and college transcripts be sent to Barnard College along with your high school's profile. Your guidance counselor will also need to submit the School Report.
  • Submit official standardized testing. For more information, please view
  • Submit Teacher Evaluation forms. We require letters from two teachers that taught you in core academic subjects (English, foreign language, history [social science], mathematics, or science) in your final two years of secondary school.
  • Your counselor will submit the mid-year report with your first semester senior grades by March 1st via the common application.
  • Submit TOEFL or IELTS (if applicable). In addition to SAT/ACT requirements, TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for students whose primary language is not English and who have not been enrolled in a school where English is the primary medium of instruction for four consecutive years

Optional Supplemental Materials

  • Students may choose to complete an on-campus or off-campus interview. For information on how and when to schedule an interview, please visit our admissions interview page. 
  • Students may choose to submit supplementary portfolios (art—including film, photo, drawing, painting, sculpture—music, dance, theatre, or creative writing) for review via Slideroom. 
    Please note: Supplementary material will not be reviewed by Barnard faculty, and unfortunately, during high volume periods, we cannot guarantee it will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee. 

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