Undergraduate Program

Three factors create an outstanding academic program:

  1. the faculty must be excellent artists and scholars and also excellent teachers;
  2. classes must be both rigorous and exciting;
  3. and students must be talented and dedicated to learning.

At Iowa you will find all of these factors.

Iowa’s Undergraduate Program offers ~75 courses and presents ~25 productions a year. We offer special opportunities for you to study in London, and a chance to take plays into schools throughout Iowa. We also offer you an opportunity to be members of a community dedicated to creativity and collaboration.

10 ways being a theatre major help you succeed

  1. Improvisation
  2. Project management
  3. Working with a limited budget
  4. Dealing with very different human beings
  5. Understanding the human condition
  6. Doing whatever needs to be done
  7. Hard work
  8. Making difficult choices
  9. Presentation skills
  10. Doing the best you can with what you’ve got

Read what blogger Tom Vanderwell says about being a Theatre Major.

What's so special about the Iowa Theatre Experience?

Check out a video with interviews with 6 Iowa Students.


BA Program Overview

The Bachelor of Arts program in Theatre Arts welcomes all students enrolled at the University of Iowa. No audition is required.  Whether you see yourself as a professional artist or as someone who simply enjoys theatre, you will find a home with us.

Requirements & Courses

A Second Major
Plan of Study
Certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship
Arts Learning Community
Minor in Theatre Arts
Theatre Technology Opportunities at Iowa
Auditions & Working Backstage
Performance & Production Opportunities for Non-Majors
Community Engagement
Apply Today

Why Study Theatre at Iowa

Join a Special Community

Once you are a Theatre Arts major most of your classes will be small— typically no more than sixteen students. You will study with experienced faculty members who care deeply about students. If you want extra help on a class project or on a production, or if you want advice and guidance, you will find it from the faculty and from your fellow students. You will be part of an outstanding group of students—creative and supportive, willing to take risks, and always ready to help each other. We invite you to join us.



Prepare for Success in Today’s World

The National Association of Colleges and Employers recently listed the top 10 skills employers look for in college graduates:

  • Communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Teamwork skills
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Computer skills
  • Technical skills

There is no better way to learn most of these skills than by participating in theatre. In classes and productions, you work together on creative projects. You have a powerful incentive to work hard – a performance before an audience. You analyze the many demands of your project – writing, acting, directing, and designing – and find ways to achieve not only your own goals but the those of the entire team. Sometimes you are required to lead, other times to follow. You must be creative and personal, and must genuinely engage their audience. The skills you develop are those needed in jobs across the entire economy. 

Blogger Tom Vanderwell gives his own 10 ways being a theatre major prepared him for success.  Read his blog.

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Alice in Wonderland

The University of Iowa's unique and embracing approach to all aspects of the theatre arts is essential for any young artist eager to find a place in the profession. At Iowa I had the opportunity to wear many hats. I wore the hat of the Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, Writer, Actor, and Director in my studies and my extra-curriculars. This openness is what inspired me. The ability to learn and practice in more than one discipline during your time at Iowa is a pearl to be had by any driven student who needs both the classroom and the rehearsal room to learn. 

Søren Olsen, BA ‘11

Prepare for a Career

At Iowa there are dozens of theatre courses and ~25 productions a year. As a major, all these are open to you. All majors take a range of fundamental classes. Beyond that, you have many roads to follow...see below.

Acting & Directing

  • Acting 1
  • Acting 2
  • Acting with Verse
  • Psycho-Physical Acting
  • Acting for the Camera
  • Advanced Acting
  • Voice
  • Voice 2
  • Movement
  • Stage Combat
  • Clown
  • Mask
  • Directing
  • Projects in Directing
  • Social Outreach
  • Singing for Actors
  • And more…

Go to Acting & Directing Road Maps

The University of Iowa is a gem for undergraduate designers.  What you will find at Iowa is a healthy and friendly relationship between undergraduates, graduates and faculty that is both challenging and encouraging.  The strength of Iowa’s playwriting program offers a unique opportunity for every student, regardless of discipline, to start at the ground breaking of numerous new plays and collaborate with some of the most creative and passionate artists in the country.

Kristin Browning Campbell, BA ‘11

Design & Technology

  • Elements of Design
  • Scene Design 1, 2, 3
  • Costume Design 1, 2, 3
  • Lighting Design 1, 2, 3
  • Technology for the Entertainment Industry
  • Theatre Technology
  • Entertainment Design
  • Sound Design
  • Computer Visualization
  • Web Design
  • Period Styles
  • Scenic Art
  • Costume Craft
  • Stage Makeup
  • Stage Management
  • And more…

Go to Design Road Map

Playwriting & Dramatic Literature

  • Playwriting 1, 2
  • Advanced Playwriting
  • Undergraduate Playwrights Workshop
  • History of Theatre and Drama 1, 2
  • The Collaborative Process
  • Dramatic Theory
  • Dramas of the Spirit
  • Shakespeare
  • Arts in Performance
  • London Theatre Study
  • Cultural Diversity and Identity
  • African American Drama 1, 2
  • Sex and Gender in Performance
  • Dramaturgy
  • And more than a dozen courses in dramatic literature

Go to Dramatic Literature & Playwriting Road Maps

Stage Management and Arts Management

  • Stage Management
  • Stage Management: Special Topics 1, 2
  • Production Management
  • Introduction to Arts Management
  • New Ventures in the Arts
  • Arts Leadership Seminar
  • Directing
  • Elements of Design
  • Lighting Design 1, 2, 3
  • Sound Design
  • Web Design
  • Technology for the Entertainment Industry
  • Theatre Technology
  • Grant Writing in the Arts
  • And more…

Go to Stage Management Road Map

Take a Second Major

Because degree requirements for Theatre Arts degree leave time to take a wide range of elective courses, many students choose to complete a second major as well. Popular second majors include:

  • Art and Art History
  • Business
  • Cinema
  • Communication Studies
  • Dance
  • English
  • Journalism
  • Music
  • Psychology
  • Education (with teacher’s credential)

Theatre students have completed second majors in almost every discipline in Liberal Arts and Sciences, from Mathematics to Music, from Biology to Physics. Such an education provides not only the framework for two different career paths, it offers a broad set of skills that may lead to ventures and possibilities you never considered before college.

Get a Certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship

Theatre students can benefit enormously by learning business skills offered through the Certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship program. Here are a few of the courses that are offered in that program:

  • Introduction to Arts Management
  • New Ventures in the Arts
  • Arts Leadership Seminar
  • Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Entrepreneurial Marketing
  • Grant Writing in the Arts

All Theatre Arts majors are eligible to participate in this program. You may take individual courses or work toward a Certificate. Business skills, in tandem with a Theatre education, can help you with your career as an artist, open up opportunities in arts administration, and make you a valuable employee in almost any organization.

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Chinese Raincoat

Apply for Scholarships

The department offers a wide range of scholarships to incoming and continuing undergraduate students. They range in support from several hundred dollars to full in-state tuition and more. See our list of Undergraduate Scholarships.

Live in the Arts Learning Community

First and second year Theatre Arts students may choose to share a residence hall with students studying music, dance, the visual arts and film. Arts Learning Community

Get Excellent Advising

The faculty and staff are happy to talk with you and advise you about classes. Simply come to the main office or see any faculty member during office hours.

It’s Easy to Declare Theatre As Your Major

If you are a prospective student you may declare Theatre Arts as your major on your admissions application.  Once you are enrolled at the University, you may declare Theatre your major by going to the Office of Academic Programs and Services, 120 Schaeffer Hall. Students who wish to major in more than one department are welcome to declare Theatre Arts as one of their choices.

Minor in Theatre Arts

If you would like to take several courses in Theatre but do not choose to major in the department, you may want to be a Minor. The Minor allows you to participate in the department’s special permission process and take undergraduate courses for which you have completed the prerequisites. You will be included on a list of students who can participate in the department’s special permission process. More information...

Theatre Technology Opportunities at Iowa

The facilitation and implementation of design work created at the University of Iowa in the Division of Performing Arts.


  • Mentoring from full time professional staff from across the nation now working at Iowa. Disciplines include: scenic construction, rigging, scenic art, electrics, properties, sound, costume crafts, and digital projection.
  • Ability to work in several venues on campus serving performances in Theatre, Opera, Dance, & Music
  • Potential employment in a desired area of interest while attending the university.

Specific Course Offerings

  • Introduction to Theatrical Technology
  • Technology for the Entertainment Industry
  • Electrics Technology
  • Props Construction
  • Construction Technology for New Works

Auditions & Working Backstage

All students and community members are invited to audition for productions. Auditions are normally held the end of the first week of school in the fall, in early November, and in early March. You are also invited to work backstage on all non-mainstage productions and, with permission, on mainstage productions.

More information about getting involved in Theatre Arts!