Questions about academic training at Iowa
Questions about our facilities and productions at Iowa


Why choose Iowa for Theatre Arts?
There are 4 good reasons to consider the University of Iowa.

  1. The theatre faculty is outstanding. Every person is committed to students and to working with you individually; most have active professional careers outside of Iowa, helping you to find potential internships and employment opportunities after you graduate.
  2. Iowa has outstanding facilities and lots of opportunities to get hands-on experience with our state of the art equipment.
  3. The University is deeply committed to the arts. There are outstanding programs in music, dance, visual arts, writing and film, and you can double major or take classes in each of them. At Iowa, you will join a community of students and faculty who have created a positive, supportive learning environment.
  4. Students get hands-on training at Iowa. Our undergraduate students are cast in all of our productions, many students design or stage manage for our gallery and mainstage seasons. If it is training in the classroom and in productions, Iowa is an outstanding choice.

I like theatre but I don’t know if I want to do it professionally. Should I major in theatre arts?
You should certainly consider it. At Iowa, theatre arts studies prepare you to enter the world as an intelligent, curious, creative human being – all positive attributes when you enter the workforce after Iowa. Like most humanities majors, it’s meant to teach you about yourself and the world around you. Paired with General Education requirements, it prepares you to enter dozens of professions.

Do I have to audition/interview to be a theatre major?
No. When you are accepted to the University of Iowa, you can add theatre as your major right away.

Does the Department of Theatre Arts offer scholarships?
The department offers scholarships available for both incoming first-year students and current students.  More information about scholarship opportunities

Can I take classes in theatre if I’m not a theatre arts major?
Yes. There are many electives courses available to non-majors; many of them will also count towards General Education requirements in Historical Perspectives, Literary, Visual and Performing Arts, and Values, Society and Diversity.

What professions might I enter with a theatre arts major?
The theatre itself, of course, is one. Many of our graduates go on to careers in acting, directing, writing, designing and producing. Others go into film, television or another arts disciple. Still others become teachers, using their training in theatre arts with their work in literature, history, and music. This major prepares you to excel in a wide range of other fields, especially those that place a premium on innovation, collaboration and communication. Recent graduates have gone into careers in law, business, medicine, journalism, and many others. 

What do most students do the year after they graduate?
Many students will move to a larger city like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles to audition, take classes and start making connections. Others will take intern or apprentice positions at regional theatres or arts organizations. Others will go straight to graduate school for further training.  There are many ways to jump start your career in theatre.

What kind of training will I get at Iowa?
You’ll get a broad-based, liberal arts education from an excellent Big Ten University paired with in-depth one-on-one training from faculty and with resources that you would typically find in a conversatory setting. It’s the best of both worlds. 

If I’m already committed to the theatre, would I be better off to go to a conversatory or enter a BFA program?
That all depends on you and how you want to begin your theatre education. Conservatories and BFA programs train students to enter the profession directly. Your coursework will be primarily made up of theatre arts courses and rehearsals. At Iowa, you’ll spend time exploring theatre but also other subjects like literature, science and languages – subjects we consider important to a well-educated theatre artist. We believe it is the best type of background because it offers young artists a great deal to draw on as they grow in their craft and ultimately more wholly prepares you to enter the profession.

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How many productions are presented each year?
There are about 25 shows in our Mainstage and Non-Mainstage seasons. We open a show almost every weekend during the academic year.  See our Mainstage Season.

How much are tickets?
Student tickets are $5 for Mainstage productions and free for Non-Mainstage productions.  We want you to be able to see as much as possible while you’re here. 

How do auditions work?
The department holds four general auditions each year – once during the first week of school for the shows in the fall semester, once in November for the spring semester shows, and twice in the spring for the New Play Festival and for the Summer Partnership in the Arts. There are also auditions for smaller productions, like the Ten-Minute Play Festival, throughout the year. More information about auditions

How do I find out about upcoming auditions?
You’ll want to join our department listserv (simply send an email to listserv@list.uiowa.edu, leave the subject line blank and in the body of the email, type: Subscribe Theatre [first name][last name]).  We send 2-3 emails a week with upcoming auditions and opportunities, both for opportunities in the department and within the community. You should also become familiar with our Callboard – this has lots of important information and announcements regarding the department.

Do you produce musicals?
Every year we produce a big musical.  Recent musicals include American Idiot, Fun Home, Sunday in the Park with George, Rome Sweet Rome, Spring Awakening, Urinetown, and Reefer Madness. We offer a Music/Theatre Double Major as well as a Concentration in Music Theatre.  More information about Musical Theatre

Will I get to be involved in productions as a first-year student?
Absolutely. You can be as involved as you want to be. Auditions are held the first week of school. If you are cast, rehearsals may start as early as the third week of the semester. Students are needed to produce Gallery shows throughout the year – directing, designing, and working backstage, among other things. The Ten-Minute Play Festival in the spring is always a highlight for our undergrads. 

Do you have improv at Iowa?
Many students who enjoyed improv in high school will find a home with one of Iowa's student organizations. Paperback Rhino is a traditional, audition-only improv troupe, loosely affiliated with the department.

What are the theatres like?
We have 3. The biggest, E.C. Mabie Theatre, is a 450-seat proscenium house built in the 1930’s. David Thayer Theatre is a black box theatre that seats 150-225. Alan MacVey Theatre is a workshop theatre that seats 144. One of our classrooms, often used for workshops and readings, it seats about 50. All of the theatres are equipped with state-of-the-art lighting and sound. Photos and more information about theatres

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A Scene from FEMINAAL


How big is the department?
There are about 180 undergraduate majors, 40 graduate students and 70 minors.

Is it possible to do a double major?
Absolutely. About 75% of our undergraduates major in another discipline like English, cinema, communication studies, music, dance, art and psychology, among others. Most of our students find that, with a little planning, the double major can be completed in four years.

What courses will I take?
Theatre Arts majors are required to take 14 courses (36 semester hours) in theatre; there are many options depending on your area of interest. Majors take Acting 1, Theatre Technology, Script Analysis, 2 semesters of Theatre History, 1 course in dramatic literature, 1 course in theatre design, 4 theatre arts electives, and 3 semester hours of production work. See the listing of all required and elective courses.

How big are the classes?
Most theatre courses are small, about 16-20 students. You’ll get lots of individual attention from our theatre faculty, who teach all the courses for theatre majors.

More Information

Department of Theatre Arts
University of Iowa
200 North Riverside Drive
Iowa City, IA  52242-1705