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University of Pennsylvania Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :05 Jan 
International :05 Jan 

BA Theater Arts

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

4 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

51424 USD
51424 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
School of Arts and Science
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
SAT (avg)1600
ACT (avg)32

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About this course

The Theatre Arts program focuses on all intellectual and creative aspects of theatre and performance studies. The courses link academic approaches to the theatre, dramatic literature, theory, history and criticism to theoretical and perceptual aspects of performance (playwriting, acting, directing and design). Advanced students are encouraged to do senior theses—often an acting, design or directing project. Theatre arts graduates often move into careers in theatre scholarship, criticism or arts management or go on to professional training in major graduate conservatories.

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Eligibility Criteria

Eng lang – On the TOEFL-iBT exam (Internet-Based Test), competitive applicants tend to have a composite score of 100 and above (the exam is scaled from 0-120, with 120 being a perfect score) with demonstrated consistency on each section of the exam (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). On the Paper- Based TOEFL, Penn tends to admit students with a score of 600 and above (the exam is scaled from 310 to 677, with 677 being a perfect score).

  • IELTS - 7.0
  • GRE - 307
  • GMAT - 732



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Course Modules

The Theatre Arts major is designed to provide students with a broad-based education in theatre. The major consists of thirteen courses—seven required classes and six electives—and one production practicum. Students will graduate with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in Theatre Arts upon completion of the major.

Theatre Arts as a Double Major

Many students at Penn choose to double major. For theatre students, English, cinema studies, and communications are popular choices, in part because many classes “double-count,” meaning one class will fulfill a requirement for two majors (acting, playwriting, and courses in dramatic literature are only a few of many examples).

Other theatre students successfully pursue a second major outside of the arts. Theatre  majors have “doubled” with fields such as biology, anthropology, economics, French, and sociology--some majors are even enrolled in Wharton or the School of Engineering. With planning and hard work, almost any combination is possible.

Declaring the Major
Students wishing to declare a major or minor in Theatre Arts should schedule an appointment with the director of the Theatre Arts Program, Dr. Marcia Ferguson (marciaf@sas.upenn.edu).

In addition to becoming officially “declared,” the program director can help students plan their semesters, providing information about when courses are offered and in what sequence they should be taken to best fulfill the major requirements.

Following the meeting with the program director, those wishing to declare should then visit Kevin Chun, Theatre Arts administrative assistant to complete major declaration and email Eric Baratta(eabATsas.upenn.edu), Theatre Arts associate director, to be placed on the majors' complementary ticket list and be placed on the majors/minors email listserv. All declared Theatre Arts majors and minors recieve complementary tickets to Theatre Arts productions.

Required Courses

  • Theatre Arts 101. Theatre, History, Culture I (Classical Greece to European Enlightenment).
  • Theatre Arts 102. Theatre, History, Culture II (Romantics, Realists and Revolutionaries).
  • Theatre Arts 120. Introduction to Acting.
  • Theatre Arts 121. Introduction to Directing.
  • Theatre Arts 125. The Play: Structure, Style, Meaning.
  • Theatre Arts 130. Introduction to Stage Design.
  • Theatre Arts “Advanced Topics.” One Seminar drawn from the Theatre Arts 270-279 series.

Students may fulfill the remaining six course requirements with any Theatre Arts elective. These may be classes offered directly by the Theatre Arts Program; they might also be classes offered by other departments or programs, such as English, Cinema Studies, Classical Studies, Gender and Society, etc., if explicitly cross-listed with the designation “THAR” (for Theatre Arts).

Theatre Arts 350, Rehearsal and Performance, is a special class that consists of participation in a faculty-directed production. Students may enroll as actors, directors, designers, or dramaturgs (enrollment is by audition or permission). Theatre Arts 350 may be taken more than once to fulfill elective credits. If a student is invited to undertake a Senior Honors Thesis, the thesis will be registered as Theatre Arts 299, an independent study elective.

Practicum Requirement
Each major will be required to work on one Theatre Arts production to complete the Theatre Arts major. This requirement does not bear a credit and is in addition to the fourteen classes; the practicum is also separate from any production work that might be required for other classes, including Theatre Arts 130 and Theatre Arts 350. (Working on a production for THAR 130 or THAR 350 does not fulfill the practicum requirement for the major.) Students may register for the practicum by contacting the Theatre Arts Creative Coordinator.

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How to Apply

 Required Materials-

  • Common Application & Penn Writing Supplement
  • Official High School Transcript
  • School Report
  • Counselor Recommendation
  • Academic Teacher Evaluations (2)
  • Early Decision Agreement
  • Mid-Year Report
  • Final Report

Home School Applicant Guidelines
Penn welcomes and encourages applications from a growing number of Home School students. We enjoy getting to know academically talented and often courageous pioneers who chart non-conventional academic paths. As part of Penn’s holistic evaluation process, home school applicants are asked to review the Application Tips below and to complete all sections of the Common Application and Penn Writing Supplement.

More information is better… In the Secondary School Report and elsewhere in your Penn application, please share your motivations for choosing a rigorous home school journey.  Why did you or your family seek home schooling as an option for your education?  Describe your curriculum in detail and tell us how you, your family or oversight group have organized your pursuit of knowledge across core academic disciplines including humanities, math, social and natural sciences, and foreign languages.  How has being home schooled helped you grow intellectually and personally or enhanced your opportunities for learning?  The aim is to help the admissions committee understand how you have worked to “demonstrate mastery” and “distinguish excellence” across the curriculum.  Anything you or your academic supervisor can do to explain and contextualize your educational circumstances can only be helpful in the Penn admissions process.

Application Tips

  • It is partcularly important for each home school applicant to submit a consolidated transcript that pulls together and organizes all academic work. If the name of a course isn't clear or needs further explanation, include a brief course description. Course listings, grading/rating scales, syllabi, lab work, reading lists, textbooks or historical/current information help to enhance our understanding of your academic program.
  • Standardized test scores in subjects you wish to showcase may provide objective evidence and support for grades and ratings.
  • Recommendations and viewpoints provided by instructors from outside of your home provide objective evaluations and lend additional context to your academic work.
  • The Secondary School Report may be completed by a high school guidance counselor, homeschool program coordinator, curriculum advisor, or family and may include motivations for home schooling, description of curricula, etc.

International Application Guidelines
Prior to the expected date of entrance at Penn, an international applicant should have completed a program of secondary education that would enable the student to enter a university in his or her own country (e.g., A-levels, Abitur). 

Because Penn's admissions decisions are made prior to the announcement of the results of many national examinations (such as the A-levels or the French Baccalaureate), applicants are expected to be enrolled in programs preparing them for these examinations. Applicants must also request that their schools send Penn predictions of external examination results in addition to the school marks. 

Where national examinations are required for admission to a pre-university program (e.g., GCSE, SPM, HKCE, WASC, O-levels, or India's "Std X" examination), students should have received high marks on these examinations and should present certified copies of the examination results with their applications to Penn. 

We are also interested in learning about your non-scholarly interests, community service, and extracurricular activities (while recognizing that patterns for non-academic involvement vary from country to country). 

 TOEFL Examination
Penn's school code is 2926.

A strong command of the English language is necessary for successful study at Penn. Applicants whose families do not speak English at home, or applicants who have not attended a high school or secondary school where the primary language of instruction is English, are asked to take the TOEFL, the Test of English as a Foreign Language, administered by the Educational Testing Service. Non-native English speakers who are attending English-speaking schools are also encouraged to take the TOEFL. In general, it is good practice for all applicants who have English as a second language to take the TOEFL.

To register, visit TOEFL's website. Results should be forwarded directly to the Penn Office of Admissions.

Prospective applicants should register for TOEFL two-to-three months before the test administration date.

Be sure to designate Penn as a recipient university each time you register. If you are in your final year and are testing in October or later, we recommend that you do not use Score Choice. If you have taken the test but did not designate Penn as a score recipient, please do so afterwards. Send Penn an unofficial copy of your scores as well.

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