A degree in theatre and drama from the University of Wisconsin–Madison can open doors to a wide range of careers. Our alumni are successful in theatre, film, television, gaming, production management, development, design, education, and all aspects of the entertainment industry. Our faculty are active theatre professionals who bring current and practical knowledge into the classrooms and productions. Our department is well known for the individual attention, mentoring, and commitment we give our students.

Through mainstage, open-stage, and student produced works, the Department of Theatre and Drama provides students with excellent opportunities to apply skills and techniques learned in the classroom in fully staged productions.

Majors will complete a bachelor of science degree in theatre and drama through the School of Education. Students may informally select areas of emphasis such as design, stage management, directing, acting, or theatre technology.  Students whose primary interest is acting may pursue the Acting Specialist option. An audition is required prior to acceptance to the option, and is held each spring semester. Students should see the department advisor for more information on the Acting Specialist option.

Nonmajors who wish to extend their familiarity with theatre in theory and practice are encouraged to enroll in department courses and participate in productions. The department has hosted students from many disciplines—such as law, business, medicine, art, dance, science and social work—who wish to develop effective communication skills, enhance problem-solving abilities, and cultivate visual acumen.

Program Admission Overview

New freshmen and off-campus transfers are admitted directly to the B.S.–Theatre and Drama degree program. The program currently admits on-campus students to begin in the fall, spring, and summer.

Entering the School of Education

New and Current UW–Madison Students

Incoming freshmen and transfer students enter directly into the B.S.–Theatre and Drama program upon admission to UW–Madison. All other on-campus students should complete and submit an application, as well as transcripts from all other colleges or universities attended, to Education Academic Services, Room 139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, at any time during the academic year. Applications cannot be processed without a complete academic record. (A transfer credit evaluation cannot be accepted in place of a transcript.) The program application must be signed by the Department of Theatre and Drama academic advisor.

Prospective Transfer Students

Applicants not already enrolled on the UW–Madison campus must be admissible to the university to enroll in a School of Education program. Admission to UW–Madison requires a separate application and admission process. See UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment for application information. Prospective transfer students are strongly encouraged to meet with the Department of Theatre and Drama academic advisor before coming to campus. Coursework taken at another institution may need to be evaluated by the department academic advisor or a faculty member in the Department of Theatre and Drama. Prospective transfer students are strongly advised to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.


Prospective applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are strongly encouraged to meet with an Education Academic Services advisor in advance of their application. Consultations with advisors are available in person or via telephone; to schedule, call 608-262-1651.

Applicants who already hold an undergraduate degree are admitted to the School of Education as either an Education Special student or a second degree student, depending on their interests and academic background. Admission as an Education Special student indicates that the student has an interest in pursuing certification in a subject area studied during the initial degree; another degree is not awarded for this "certification only" coursework. Second degree students are seeking a second, unrelated degree from the School of Education, which may, or may not, include teacher certification. Candidates for limited enrollment programs must meet all admission eligibility requirements for the program and must compete with the eligible applicants for program admission. More information is available here.

Application and Admission

While new freshmen and off-campus transfers are admitted directly to the B.S.–Theatre and Drama degree program, all other current UW–Madison students seeking to enter the B.S.–Theatre and Drama program must apply for admission to the program. Requirements and selection criteria may be modified from one application/admission period to the next. Potential applicants should consult the School of Education's Apply to a Program page for updates to eligibility requirements prior to submitting an application.

Criteria for Admission

Eligibility for admission consideration to B.S.–Theatre and Drama:

  • Cumulative grade-point average on all transferable college-level coursework of at least a 2.50 (on a 4.00 scale).1
  • Cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 based on UW–Madison campus coursework, as modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule (detailed below).
  • Filing of all required paperwork and other application materials, including program application and transcripts. Application must be signed by the Department of Theatre and Drama academic advisor.

 A comprehensive cumulative GPA of all college-level, transferrable coursework attempted on both the UW–Madison campus coursework and coursework taken at any other colleges or universities may be calculated for the exclusive purpose of establishing an applicant’s eligibility for consideration. Both the comprehensive cumulative GPA and the comprehensive cumulative GPA based on a student’s last 60 credits may be calculated. See Last 60 Credits Rule (detailed below). If admitted, students must earn the minimum cumulative GPA for UW–Madison coursework established by their program and the School of Education each semester after admission.

Last 60 Credits Rule

Two grade point averages will be calculated to determine candidates' eligibility to programs. GPAs will be calculated using

  • all transferable college level coursework attempted, and
  • the last 60 credits attempted.

The higher GPA of these two will be used for purposes of determining eligibility. If fewer than 60 credits have been attempted, all credits will be used to calculate the GPA. Graded graduate coursework will also be used in all GPA calculations. ("Attempted" coursework indicates coursework for which a grade has been earned.) More information on this rule is available here.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

Program Structure

The bachelor of science (B.S.) degree program in theatre and drama has three primary components:

  • Liberal studies courses expose students to a broad range of academic disciplines. The university-wide General Education requirements also encourage this breadth of study.
  • Major requirements permit in-depth studies of theatre and drama.
  • Additional electives to reach the minimum of 120 degree credits. These credits allow students to pursue individual areas of interest, such as a second major or additional theatre and drama credits. Many B.S.–Theatre and Drama students complete an additional major from the College of Letters & Science. Some use this major to complement their theatre preparation, while others select majors that reflect interests completely unrelated to theatre.

School of Education Liberal Studies Requirements

All students are required to complete a minimum of 40 credits of Liberal Studies coursework. This requirement provides an opportunity to do some academic exploration beyond the scope of the major. Students take courses in areas of particular interest and also have an opportunity to sample the wide selection of courses offered across the university. Coursework is required in humanities, social studies, science, and cultural and historical studies. Some elective coursework is also needed to reach the required number of credits.

The School of Education’s Liberal Studies Requirements automatically satisfy most of the University General Education Requirements outlined above, including ethnic studies, humanities/literature, social studies, and science. Students pursuing most School of Education degree programs may also complete Communication Part B, Quantitative Reasoning Part A, and Quantitative Reasoning Part B through courses required by their degree program. If a student cannot complete a General Education Requirement within the curriculum of their chosen School of Education program, academic advisors can offer suggestions for courses that meet the requirement and augment the student’s primary area of study.

A basic outline of the liberal studies is included below. Students must consult the detailed version of the requirements for information about course selection and approved course options.

Humanities, 9 credits

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Literature
  • Fine Arts
  • Humanities Electives

Social Studies (Social Science)

All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits. Teacher certification programs, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology; Exercise and Movement Science have unique requirements in this category.


All students must complete a minimum of 9 credits to include:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Laboratory Science
  • Science Electives

Cultural and Historical Studies

All students must complete three requirements (9 credits) met by separate courses. Any of these courses can also be used to meet the Humanities or Social Studies (Social Sciences) requirements if it has the relevant breadth designation.

  • Ethnic Studies
  • U.S./European History
  • Global Perspectives

Complete Liberal Studies Electives to total 40 Credits.

Major Requirements

Complete at least 40 major credits, distributed as indicated below. At least 15 credits of upper-level major coursework (courses designated intermediate or advanced) must be taken in residence with a minimum 2.5 grade point average.

Acting, 3 credits

THEATRE 150 Acting I: Introduction to Acting3

Theatre History, 12 credits

THEATRE/​ENGL  120 Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature 13-4
THEATRE 224 History of Theatrical Production3
THEATRE 324 Traditions in Dramatic Literature3
THEATRE 424 Contemporary World Theatre and Dramatic Literature3

The 4-credit option of ENGL/​THEATRE  120 satisfies the General Education Communication Part B requirement.

Production, 8 credits

THEATRE 160 Technical Theatre Fundamentals3
THEATRE 161 Backstage Laboratory I2
THEATRE 162 Theatre Production Laboratory1
Select one of the following:2-6
Backstage Laboratory II
and Backstage Laboratory III
Theatre for Young Audiences: Production

Design, Directing, and Drama in Education, 3 credits

Select one of the following: 1
THEATRE 363 Principles and Practice of Stage Costume Design3-4
THEATRE/​ART  366 Stage Lighting I3-4
THEATRE/​ART  372 Set Design I3
THEATRE 368 Fundamentals of Directing3
THEATRE/​CURRIC/​SLAVIC  362 Drama for Teaching and Learning3

Additional courses from this list may be used as elective credits.


Select any Theatre and Drama department courses, to total 40 credits. Majors are urged to consult the department academic advisor in selecting courses, especially when building an emphasis in any one area.

Requirements for the Acting Specialist Option

Theatre and drama majors with a primary interest in acting may audition for the Acting Specialist option. This is a highly structured program of study, best begun as early as possible in the student's career. Specific courses are required in acting, voice, movement, directing, technical production, and dramatic literature and theatre history. Admission is by audition only; auditions are held at the midpoint of each spring semester prior to enrollment for fall classes. Students must be enrolled in or have successfully completed THEATRE 250 Fundamentals of Acting before admission to the program. Students who qualify for the Acting Specialist option are expected to audition for University Theatre productions.

Production, 7 credits

THEATRE 160 Technical Theatre Fundamentals3
THEATRE 161 Backstage Laboratory I2
THEATRE 162 Theatre Production Laboratory1
Select one of the following:1-6
Backstage Laboratory II
Backstage Laboratory III
Theatre for Young Audiences: Production

Theatre History, 12 credits

THEATRE/​ENGL  120 Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature 13-4
THEATRE 224 History of Theatrical Production3
THEATRE 324 Traditions in Dramatic Literature3
THEATRE 424 Contemporary World Theatre and Dramatic Literature3

The 4-credit option of THEATRE/​ENGL  120 Introduction to Theatre and Dramatic Literature satisfies the General Education Communication Part B requirement. 

Voice, Movement and Acting, 18 credits

THEATRE 140 Voice1 Effective Communication3
THEATRE 240 Intermediate Voice Training3
THEATRE 250 Fundamentals of Acting3
THEATRE 350 Acting Realism3
Select one of the following Movement courses:3
Fundamentals of Movement for the Stage
Fundamentals of Asian Stage Discipline
Select one of the following Styles courses:3
Musical Performance for the Actor
Acting Styles
Acting Shakespeare
Advanced Scene Study
Advanced Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness

Directing and Education, 3 credits

Select one of the following:3
Introduction to Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness
Drama for Teaching and Learning
Fundamentals of Directing
Introduction to Stage Management

Honors in the Major

Students may earn Honors in Theatre and Drama by satisfying both the requirements for the major and these additional requirements:

  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in major courses numbered 300 and above, and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
  • Complete elective credits in the theatre and drama major, distributed as follows: 3 credits of 300 level or above, 6 credits of 400 level or above, and 6 credits of 500 level or above.
  • In addition, complete a two-semester senior honors thesis, THEATRE 681 Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits) and THEATRE 682 Senior Honors Thesis (3 credits), for a total of 6 credits.
  • Complete 3 credits from the Integrated Liberal Studies (ILS) Program.

Students should be aware that course offerings are influenced by a number of factors, (e.g., current staffing, number of majors), and some courses are not offered on a regular basis. Students should consult with the department’s academic advisor regarding course selection and other ways to maximize the Honors in the Major experience.

GPA and Other Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

Based on UW–Madison coursework.

  • 2.5 minimum cumulative grade point average. This may be modified by the Last 60 Credits Rule.
  • 2.5 cumulative major grade point average.
  • 2.5 cumulative grade point average in all upper-level major coursework (“upper-level” is defined as all “intermediate” and “advanced” coursework).
  • Major Residency: Students must complete at least 15 credits of upper-level (intermediate and advanced) major coursework in residence on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Senior Residency: Degree candidates must complete their last 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, excluding retroactive credits and credits granted by examination.
  • Total credits: A minimum of 120 credits are required for graduation in the B.S.–Theatre and Drama degree program.

Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)

At UW–Madison, a DARS report is used to document a student's progress toward the completion of their degree. This degree audit identifies the requirements that have already been completed, and also those that remain unsatisfied. A DARS report can offer suggestions about appropriate courses that may be taken to meet specific requirements and can assist in the academic planning process. 

Students can access DARS reports through their Student Center in My UW–Madison. Go to the Academics tab and find DARS on the dropdown menu.

DARS also has a "what-if" function. This feature makes it possible to request a DARS report as if pursuing another program or major on campus. It is an excellent tool if considering a new or additional area of study. School of Education students in a pre-professional classification such as Pre-Elementary (PRE) should request a "what if" DARS report of their professional program of interest.

DARS is not intended to replace student contact with academic advisers. It creates more time in an advising appointment to discuss course options, research opportunities, graduate school, or issues of personal interest or concern to students.

DARS is the document of record, i.e., certifying document of degree completion, for program areas in the School of Education.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to evaluate the art and craft of theatre both critically and conceptually.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to analyze a script for the basic elements of plot, character, theme, language, rhythm, mood and elements of production.
  3. Demonstrate through research and practice, knowledge of theatrical history and literature from ancient Greek to present.
  4. Demonstrate competency in one or more areas of theatre specialization.
  5. Demonstrate the practical knowledge and the professional skills required to pursue entry-level professional work and/or advanced studies in theatre.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to creatively and generously collaborate as theatre artists.

Theatre and Drama Departmental Advising

Prospective off-campus and on-campus B.S.–Theatre and Drama students will meet with department academic advisor Jim Stauffer, Department of Theatre and Drama, 6004 Vilas Communications Hall, 821 University Ave, (main office) 608-263-2329, Students are also strongly encouraged to confer with an Education Academic Services advisor on a regular basis, see below.

General School of Education Advising

All undergraduate students in the School of Education are served by three offices devoted to academic and/or career advising. Each student in the School of Education is assigned at least one advisor and is encouraged to meet with the advisor on a regular basis. Students will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor when admitted to the professional component of their degree program. Departmental advisors provide more in-depth knowledge of the major and of courses offered by the department.

Undergraduate Advising and Academic Dean's Office—Education Academic Services (EAS)

139 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall; 608-262-1651

Education Academic Services (EAS) is the undergraduate dean's office for students in the School of Education. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; take exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise current and prospective students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate field placements; facilitate the program admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Students should meet with an advisor during their first semester on campus (if not before) and are encouraged to meet with an advisor at least once a semester. This is particularly important during the freshman and sophomore years. Appointments may be arranged by calling or visiting the office.

EAS advisors answer questions and provide guidance to current and prospective students. They consult with and refer students to faculty members and departmental advisors. Once a student is admitted to a professional program within the School of Education, he or she will also be assigned a faculty or staff advisor. Advising then becomes a partnership, with EAS and OURR advisors continuing to help students with course selection, degree progress monitoring, academic difficulties, and interpretation of policies and procedures.

Program advisors help students select and plan a program of study in the major, negotiate issues within the department, and, in the case of certification programs, follow the students' progress through their professional courses. These divisions are flexible, and students are encouraged to consult with all advisors who can help with a situation or answer a question.

OURR: Office of Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention (Student Diversity Programs)

105 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-8427 or 608-262-1651

The UW–Madison School of Education is committed to promoting equity and increasing diversity in its programs. OURR staff work collaboratively with Education Academic Services and campus and community partners to support underrepresented students interested in majors in the School of Education.

OURR staff perform outreach, recruitment, and advising on behalf of the School. OURR staff also support current students with their personal and professional growth, their transition from high school to college, financial aid, and career exploration.  

OURR works to build a network of students and graduates who may strengthen, transform, and lead their communities through education, service, and other contributions. Students are invited to visit OURR staff at 105 Education Building—stop in, or call one of the numbers listed above to set up an appointment.

School of Education Career Center

L107 Education Building, 1000 Bascom Mall, 608-262-1755

Need assistance with any of the following? 

  • Exploring career options linked to School of Education majors
  • Seeking a major that incorporates individual passions, interests, and values that will help one reach specific career goals
  • Researching graduate schools and preparing application materials
  • Beginning a job search and learning where to start and what to do
  • Seeking assistance with developing a résumé, a cover letter, or interviewing skills
  • Networking and connecting with potential employers

The Career Center provides resources and individual consultations to assist students in reaching their career goals.  A plethora of resources can be found on the Career Center website:

  • Explore career possibilities for specific majors in Investigate Career Options. This section of the website provides tools for clarifying a student’s personal criteria for success, linking specific career options to majors, and identifying steps for career/major selection.  It includes strategies for making the most of a student’s academic and student experience.
  • Confirm major and career decisions.  Gain hands-on experience in the career field of study.  Assess the perceptions of selected career and major options for accuracy.  Develop professional and soft skills.  The Test Drive and Confirm Career Choice section provides strategies for acquiring real-world experience.
  • Preparation is critical for entering one’s next career phase.  Learn about graduate school requirements and the application process.  Develop promotional materials for employers and/or graduate schools and obtain feedback and suggestions for enhancing them.  Acquire materials that support one’s applications.  The Prepare and Connect section provides offers additional details.
  • Implement helps students plan for the future.  Attend recruiting events.  Apply for graduate school or for job opportunities.  Practice interviewing skills.  Interview.  Negotiate job and graduate school offers.

Personalized career assistance is available through individual appointments with consultants in the Career Center.  To schedule an appointment visit,

Informational workshops and career-related events are conducted each semester.  The schedule of these events can be found on the center’s website.

The Career Center coordinates teacher recruitment fairs each fall and spring semester and collaborates with career centers across campus to provide campus-wide career fairs at the beginning of each semester. 

Information about faculty, staff, and other contributors to the Department of Theatre and Drama can be found on the department's website.

Information about scholarships, academic and career advising, study abroad opportunities, student diversity services, and other resources for students in the School of Education can be found on the school's Resources page.