What is Theater?

UCSB’s Department of Theater and Dance provides both a strong academic program and an active performance program. The department typically presents five main stage dramas annually, two dance concerts, student directed one-acts, a New Works Festival, and performance tours. The department’s academic offerings range from theater history to dramatic literature to criticism.

The Department of Theater and Dance offers two degrees on the undergraduate level: a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater, and the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater. Both degrees provide a strong background in theater arts and dramatic literature and ample opportunities for participation in play production and workshop activities in three campus theaters. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is designed to prepare professionally oriented students for a career in theater. Students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program pursue an emphasis in acting. The Bachelor of Arts in Theater offers students the opportunity to pursue a concentration in Design, Directing, Playwriting, Theater and Community or Theater and Performance Studies.

Students in the B.A. program in theater will choose a concentration in one of the following areas: design, directing, playwriting, theater and community, or theater and performance studies.

  • Design

    The design concentration offers fundamental coursework and practical experience for students interested in theater design and production.  Students will select courses in design history, stage management, and scenic, lighting, and costume design, supplemented with our practicum series and assignments in department productions.

  • Directing

    The directing concentration is a structured and specialized area of study within the B.A. program, and is intended to provide serious experience of the director’s function in today’s theater.  The program will culminate with a production of Undergraduate Directed One-Acts.  The concentration offers sound preparation for an M.F.A. in directing.

  • Playwriting

    The playwriting concentration is based on a series of courses that require students to practice playwriting, and includes public readings, visiting lecturers, and periodic departmental productions of original scripts. All courses require permission of the instructor, and further work in this area might include additional courses in theater studies, creative writing, and theater arts.

  • Theater & Community

    The concentration in Theater and Community will allow students to practice their performance skills in both the campus and the Santa Barbara communities. Students will visit schools and community organizations where they will both perform plays specially written for school audiences and work with school children to develop their own plays.  Their performances will often address matters of compelling interest to the community and the experience will lead them to understand and practice theatre as a means of uniting the community

  • Theater & Performance Studies

    The theater and performance studies concentration will allow students to achieve broad education in theater as it has been practiced in different historical periods and in various parts of the globe. Students will have the opportunity to study the critical, historical, and theoretical aspects of theater. They will also engage in practical courses in theater and participate in departmental and class productions.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Theater?

Theater is an art. The theater students have a love for drama, acting, and the production of theater in general. Not all majors need to be drawn toward acting, however. There are many other aspects of theater in which to specialize: lighting, staging, writing, for instance. Here, they will learn of every aspect about the theater industry as well as specific aspects of it such as what goes on behind the scenes, how actors become proficient in their craft, and in general how everything works together in a quality theatrical production.


What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings:

History of the Theater
Physical Expression: Voice and Movement
Survey of Dramatic Literature
Oral Interpretation
Survey of Film History

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Music majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fields.  Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Make-up Artist
Scene Designer
Stage Manager
Talent Agent
Troupe Manager
Drama Critic
Stand Up Comedy
Voice Over Work
Acting Coach
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
See what UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.


Graduate and Professional Schools

A Ph.D. in Theatre?
Article discussing some of the considerations for potential students

National Association of Schools of Theatre
Press submit at the bottom of the page to get all schools in the United States
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Experience Search Strategies

In the entertainment industry, actors rely on for real-time casting and audition information, acting advice, job listings, and entertainment news. From production listings of Hollywood films to auditions for Broadway theatre productions, is an invaluable actors' resource.
Casting and Job Listings
A free job listing service for all behind-the-scenes jobs in the live entertainment industry.

Entertainment Jobs, Internships and Career Information in the Entertainment Industry. Hundreds of entertainment jobs and internships available. Click on the Job List to search the latest listings.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section 
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers By Majors and Diversity.

Professional Associations

California Educational Theatre Association
For those interested in teaching theatre

American Association of Community Theater
The American Association of Community Theater (AACT) is the national voice of Community Theater, representing the interests of its members and over 7,000 theaters across the U.S. and with the Armed Services overseas.

American Society for Theatre Research
The American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theatre and performance, both historical and contemporary.

UCSB Resources

UCSB Department of Theater & Dance
The Department of Theater and Dance provides a thriving forum for the study of dance, theater, and other types of performance.

UCSB Library - Theater
This Davidson Library guide is designed to help you find resources for the study of theater and the performing arts.

UCSB General Catalog

UCSB Office of Student Life

UCSB Minors