Undergraduate ProgramsLearning Objectives

Shared Learning Objectives in the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Fine Arts

All our undergraduate programs, B.A. and B.F.A. alike, share the following learning objectives:

  • Building knowledge and appreciation of the dramatic arts, dramatic literature, and performance in their cultural, historical, and interdisciplinary contexts with special proficiency in at least one area of theatrical endeavor.
  • Exercising the interdependence of artistic practice and intellectual knowledge.
  • Understanding the dramatic arts as a collaborative art form with social impact.
  • Enhancing the students’ ability to handle a range of analytical, research, and practical methodologies in critical studies, playwriting, performance, design, and production.
  • Fostering knowledge and respect for the diversity of artists and artistic styles in the dramatic arts.
  • Developing awareness of contemporary developments and controversies within the field.
  • Promoting application of what has been learned through opportunities for performance, production, internships, and independent study under the supervision of faculty mentors.

The Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts

The Bachelor of Arts in Dramatic Arts, which is offered in cooperation with the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, incorporates a liberal arts education with a thorough study of the dramatic arts. In addition to the above shared objectives, the B.A. is distinctive as a program that:

  • Encourages students to take initiative and develop independent thinking through wide flexibility in curricular choice.
  • Permits a deeper understanding of a selected area of the dramatic arts through emphases in the curriculum.
  • Broadens the overall educational experience through opportunities to pursue a minor or double major in another field.
  • Encourages students to take advantage of the USC Overseas Program options.

The Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts

The VPAS degree, housed in the School of Dramatic Arts, offers students the chance to build a degree across multiple USC Schools. Learning objectives:

  • Builds knowledge and appreciation of six diverse art forms (architecture, fine arts, cinema, dance, music and theatre) in their cultural, historic and interdisciplinary contexts.
  • Deepens the student’s appreciation of the historic role of the arts in society.
  • Develops the ability to handle a range of analytical and research methodologies in critical studies.
  • Encourages the student to take initiative and develop independent thinking through flexibility in curricular choice.
  • Broadens the overall educational experience through opportunities to pursue a minor or a double major in another field.

Shared Learning Objectives in the Bachelor of Fine Arts

The B.F.A. degree represents pre-professional study that provides a highly structured, conservatory approach to training and emphasizes practical experience within the educational framework of the university.

In addition to the shared objectives articulated above, SDA’s six BFA programs also share the following pedagogical aims:

  • Provide concentrated training in the essential technical skills and working vocabularies of a specific area of the dramatic arts in order to enable students to realize their professional and artistic goals and to have a significant impact on the global entertainment industries.
  • Hone the ability to read and analyze a dramatic work in terms of the production and/or performance needs in the specific area of study.
  • Introduce students to the work of key practitioners and theorists in their specific areas of study.
  • Develop the students’ unique voices as artists.
  • Understand marketing needs, career opportunities, and professional challenges in their areas of study.

In addition to the shared objectives articulated above, each B.F.A. program is distinctive in its own right. Below are those objectives that set each of these programs apart.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media

Graduating students develop actors’ artistry and craft through the integrative study of acting, voice and movement in an intensive laboratory and production environment that includes the following distinctive learning objectives:

  • Obtain a working knowledge of the collaborative relationships between the actor, text, dramatic arts event and the audience in a range of social contexts, historical periods, performance styles and cultures.
  • Acquire a practical understanding of the processes of rehearsing and performing, in live venues, filmed/recorded arenas and in new media.
  • Apply their developing craft to performances in productions that are mounted in the School’s performing venues.
  • Begin the process of professional development leading to a career in the dramatic arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre

Graduating students develop actors’ artistry and craft through the integrative study of acting, voice and dance in an intensive laboratory and production environment that includes the following distinctive learning objectives:

  • Obtain a working knowledge of the collaborative relationships between the actor, text, theatre event and the audience in a range of social contexts, historical periods, performance styles and cultures.
  •  Gain the professional-level proficiency in skills pertinent to a career in the musical theatre profession. These include a wide range of skills and styles in; dance technique, vocal technique, acting technique, and writing and critical analysis. With a focus on how diverse techniques intersect with one another in the musical theatre.
  •  Acquire a practical understanding of the processes of rehearsing, performing, in live and filmed/recorded media.
  • Apply their developing physical, vocal and emotional skills to performances in productions that are mounted in the School’s performing venues.
  •  Students will gain well-rounded and in-depth exposure to the past, present and proposed future of the musical theatre and theatre genres via close historical, literary study and the application to performance within the contemporary musical theatre.
  • Show a fundamental proficiency in the current technology and understanding of the materials, methods and techniques utilized both in the shops and onstage.
  • Gain the practical ability to see their designs come to life from concept through realization by collaborating on current productions fully supported by the School of Dramatic Arts.
  • Develop a portfolio that enables the graduate to showcase his/her abilities while reflecting the individual personality of the designer. The portfolio should enable the designer to obtain work in their selected field or to gain admittance into graduate school for further studies.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design

Graduating students of the B.F.A. in Design are trained to become future dramatic arts designers, visionaries, and collaborators who will perform their jobs with the strength and grace to obtain the highest quality of storytelling in the next generation of professional theatrical media. They will:

  • Effectively communicate design ideas both orally and visually through sketching, rendering, drafting, model-building and digital media.
  • Show a fundamental proficiency in the current technology and understanding of the materials, methods and techniques utilized both in the shops and onstage.
  • Gain the practical ability to see their designs come to life from concept through realization by collaborating on current productions fully supported by the School of Dramatic Arts.
  • Develop a portfolio that enables the graduate to showcase his/her abilities while reflecting the individual personality of the designer. The portfolio should enable the designer to obtain work in their selected field or to gain admittance into graduate school for further studies.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management

Graduating students of the B.F.A. in Stage Management are trained to become a collaborative partner and manager of all details of a dramatic arts production from inception through closing, and should aspire to proficiency in:

  • General understanding of design and implementation for all dramatic arts production areas including scenery, lighting, sound, video, costumes, and properties.
  • Ability to manage schedules, communication, and organization of space, people, materials and time needed to realize a theatrical production.
  • Practical understanding of the relations between a stage manager and all artistic staff (designers and technicians) and the ability to facilitate communication among the members of the staff in day-to-day and emergency situations.
  • Ability to collaborate with directors and actors throughout the rehearsal process, to support the creative life of rehearsals, and to maintain a production after the director’s departure.
  • Reading and interpreting production paperwork and drawings: schedules, scenic ground plans, sections, and elevations, light plots, and magic sheets; costume renderings and plots; and sound plots. Practical familiarity with computer programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel.
  • Creating a working production prompt book which accurately records all production details from actor movement to tracking of props, scenery, costumes and placement of all ephemeral design cues.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Technical Direction

Graduating students of the B.F.A. in Technical Direction are trained to become an artisan/manager charged with directing the implementation of the technical aspects of a theatrical production, and should aspire to proficiency in:

  • Basic knowledge of equipment, materials and techniques commonly used in the disciplines of theatrical scenery, lighting, costuming, sound, and projection with emphasis on safe and proper use, and awareness of emerging technologies, and substantial proficiency in implementation of at least two disciplines.
  • Skill in managerial functions required in the technical operations of a theatre, including supervision of personnel, scheduling of facilities and personnel, budget development, materials and equipment acquisition, record keeping, and maintenance of equipment and facilities.
  • Basic familiarity with the history of art, architecture, and décor, and its effect on the visual elements of scenery, properties, lighting, sound, and costumes.
  • Ability to translate designer plans, renderings, models, and/or sketches into realized production elements and to develop and communicate technological solutions via technical drafting sketching, and structural analysis, both by hand and with appropriate computer software.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sound Design

Graduating students of the B.F.A. in Sound Design are trained to become future theatrical sound designers, visionaries, and collaborators who will perform their jobs with the strength and grace to obtain the highest quality of storytelling in the next generation of professional theatrical media. BFA Sound Designers will effectively communicate design ideas both orally and visually through audio content creation, technical drawing and schematics, and integration of show control and live audio mixing in a performance environment. Graduates will:

  • Show a fundamental proficiency in the current technology and understanding of the materials, methods and techniques utilized both in the shops and onstage.
  • Gain the practical ability to see their designs come to life from concept through realization by collaborating on current productions fully supported by the School of Dramatic Arts.
  • Learn the skills necessary to work in either dramatic production, musical theatre, or both.
  • Develop a portfolio that enables the graduate to showcase his/her abilities while reflecting the individual personality of the designer. The portfolio should enable the designer to obtain work in their selected field or to gain admittance into graduate school for further studies.

Develop an understanding and proficiency in each position on the theatrical sound design team; Design, Associate Design, and Production Engineering.