Undergraduate ProgramsLearning Objectives

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

All our undergraduate programs, BA and BFA alike, share the following learning objectives:

  • Build 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.
  • Exercise the interdependence of artistic practice and intellectual knowledge.
  • Understand the dramatic arts as a collaborative art form with social impact.
  • Enhance students’ ability to handle a range of analytical, research, and practical methodologies in critical studies, playwriting, performance, design, and production.
  • Foster knowledge and respect for the diversity of artists and artistic styles in the dramatic arts.
  • Expand awareness of contemporary developments and controversies within the field.
  • Promote the 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 Theatre

The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre, which is offered in cooperation with the USC Dana and David Dornsife 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 BA is distinctive as a program that:

  • Encourage students to take initiative and develop independent thinking through wide flexibility in curricular choice.
  • Permit a deeper understanding of a selected area of the dramatic arts through emphases in the curriculum.
  • Broaden the overall educational experience through opportunities to pursue a minor or double major in another field.
  • Encourage 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 USC School of Dramatic Arts, offers students the chance to build a degree across multiple USC Schools. Learning objectives:

  • Build knowledge and appreciation of six diverse art forms (architecture, fine arts, cinema, dance, music and theatre) in their cultural, historic and interdisciplinary contexts.
  • Deepen students’ appreciation of the historic role of the arts in society.
  • Develop the ability to handle a range of analytical and research methodologies in critical studies.
  • Encourage students to take initiative and develop independent thinking through flexibility in curricular choice.
  • Broaden 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 BFA 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 to enable students in realizing 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 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 BFA program is distinctive in its own right. Below are those objectives that set each of these programs apart.

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

Graduating students develop an actor’s 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 that leads to a career in the dramatic arts.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design

Graduating students of the BFA in Design program 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 to realization by collaborating on current productions fully supported by the USC School of Dramatic Arts.
  • Develop a portfolio that enables the graduate to showcase their abilities while reflecting the individual personality of the designer. The portfolio should enable the designer to obtain work in their selected field.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre

Graduating students develop actor’s 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, dramatic arts 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, vocal and acting techniques; and writing and critical analysis. With a focus on how diverse techniques intersect with one another in musical theatre.
  • Acquire a practical understanding of the processes of rehearsing, performing, and 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 musical theatre and theatre genres via close historical, literary study and the application to performance within the contemporary musical theatre.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sound Design

Graduating students of the BFA in Sound Design program 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 be able to effectively communicate design ideas both orally and visually through audio content creation, technical drawing and schematics, and the 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 on stage.
  • Gain the practical ability to see their designs come to life from concept through to realization by collaborating on current productions fully supported by the USC 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 their abilities while reflecting the individual personality of the designer. The portfolio should enable the designer to obtain work in their selected field.
  • Develop an understanding and proficiency in each position on the theatrical sound design team; Design, Associate Design, and Production Engineering.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management

Graduating students of the BFA in Stage Management program are trained to become a collaborative partner and manager of all the 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.
  • 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 that would enable the stage manager to obtain work in their selected field.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Technical Direction

Graduating students of the BFA in Technical Direction program 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’s 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.