USC School of Dramatic Arts production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park with George, performed in Spring 2019. Photo by Nicholas Gingold/Capture Imaging.
One of the premier dramatic arts schools in the United States, the USC School of Dramatic Arts uniquely blends artistic training in a conservatory environment with outstanding faculty and the full academic experience found only within a major research university. This close-knit, supportive environment offers students the freedom to explore their artistic passions. Through programs of the highest caliber, as well as initiatives that provide access to professional experience, students are prepared for leadership in every facet of dramatic arts.
The school also attracts a wide range of guest speakers and lecturers, including some of the most distinguished talents from stage, screen and television. The location of the campus, literally in the center of the entertainment industry, makes the USC School of Dramatic Arts distinctive among colleges and universities in the United States.
Graduates of the school work professionally in all aspects of the entertainment industry. The school’s faculty are dynamic teachers who are also artists working at the highest level of their profession.
The breadth of learning opportunities offered at the school prepares students for the spectrum of careers in the dramatic arts. The School of Dramatic Arts strives to instill confidence, integrity, excellence and artistic sensitivity into each of its students — traits that are essential to success in any field.
Drama Center 104
FAX: (213) 740-8888
Elizabeth M. Daley, PhD, Interim Dean
Lori Ray Fisher, MA, Vice Dean
Anita Dashiell-Sparks, MFA, Associate Dean
Oliver Mayer, MFA, Associate Dean
Stephanie Shroyer, MFA, Associate Dean
Distinguished Professor: Velina Hasu Houston, PhD
Professors: Sharon M. Carnicke, PhD; Meiling Cheng, DFA; Oliver Mayer, MFA
Associate Professors: Luis Alfaro; Takeshi Kata, MFA; Oliver Mayer, MFA; Sibyl Wickersheimer, MFA
Assistant Professors: Alexandra Billings, MFA; Elizabeth Harper, MFA
Professors of Theatre Practice: Andrei Belgrader, MFA; Brent Blair, PhD; Kate Burton (Master Artist), MFA; Joseph Hacker, MFA; Duncan Mahoney; Kenneth Noel Mitchell; Natsuko Ohama; Stephanie Shroyer, MFA
Associate Professors of Theatre Practice: Philip G. Allen; Paula Cizmar; Elsbeth M. Collins; Anita Dashiell-Sparks, MFA; John DeMita, MFA; Kathleen Dunn-Muzingo, MFA; Melinda C. Finberg, PhD; Laura Flanagan, MFA; Christina Haatainen-Jones; Mary-Joan Negro; David Warshofsky, MFA
Assistant Professors of Theatre Practice: Scott Faris; Rena Heinrich; Dan Shaner; Christopher Shaw, MFA; Zachary Steel; Lauren Murphy Yeoman, MFA
Adjunct/Part-Time Faculty of Theatre Practice: Bayo Akinfemi; Emily Alpren, MFA; Boni Alvarez, MFA; Susan Angelo; Robert Bailey; Christopher Bange; Kay Bess; Ahmed Best; Tom Buderwitz; Anne Burk, MFA; Frank Catalano, MPW; Andi Chapman, MFA; Guillermo Cienfuegos; Tiffany Cole; Julián Conde, MFA; Samuel Craven-Griffiths; Tim Dang; Gregg T. Daniel, MFA; Nancy Cheryll Davis; Debra De Liso, MFA; Gary Domasin; Kirstin Eggers; Christine Estabrook; Khanisha Foster; Parmer Fuller, PhD; Terry Gordon, MFA; Jenny Guthrie; Murry Hepner; Paul Hungerford; Lisa James; R. Steven Johnson; Edgar Landa; Michael Laskin, MFA; Paul Lazarus; Jay Lee; Vicki Lewis; Jack Lovick, MFA; Babette Markus; Marya Mazor; Kevin McCorkle; Brighde Mullins, MFA; Patrick Murphy; Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, MFA; Jeremiah O’Brian, MFA; Se Oh; Cara Phipps; Kaitlyn Pietras; Larry Powell; Brett Ryback; Gabriella Santinelli; Sim Sarna; Judith Shelton; Armin Shimerman; Joey Skinner; Ashley Steed; Jason Thompson; Rodney To; Paul Urcioli; Kelly Ward; KcWayland; Julie Welch; Stephen Zuckerman
Courtesy Joint Appointments: Thomas G. Cummings, PhD; Larry E. Greiner, PhD (Emeritus); Bruce Smith, PhD
Emeritus Professors: Don Llewellyn, MFA; Eve Roberts, MFA; Andy Robinson; Robert R. Scales, PhD; Eric Trules; James Wilson, MFA
The School of Dramatic Arts offers professional and academic degrees at the Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts levels. USC offers two degree programs to undergraduate students interested in the study of theatre arts. The professional degree programs, the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Acting Stage, Screen and New Media; Design; Musical Theatre; Sound Design; Stage Management; and Technical Direction, offer a conservatory approach to training for students committed to pursuing careers in the professional theatre, film and television industries. The Bachelor of Arts degree program (BA) incorporates a broad, general education in addition to a thorough study of drama. The Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies provides students with a broad understanding of the various disciplines. The School of Dramatic Arts also offers minor programs in theatre, musical theatre, performing arts studies, performing leadership, performing social change, comedy (performance) and playwriting.
Bachelor of Arts
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree is ideal for students who want a broad education in addition to production and performance experience. The degree is offered in cooperation with the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Acting for Stage, Screen and New Media: The BFA acting degree is a four-year professional training program that connects the foundation of classical theatre with innovative training for the contemporary performing artist, including on-camera techniques, voice over, motion capture, the digital landscape for actors and much more. An emphasis on professional development and networking culminates this groundbreaking new degree offering in the heart of Hollywood, which promises to be the standard-bearer for the next generation of acting programs. An audition is required for admission. The BFA acting program is highly competitive.
Design: The BFA program in design incorporates study in scenic, lighting and costume design. An interview is required for admission.
Musical Theatre: The BFA program in musical theatre is a four-year, professional training program focusing on providing students with the foundational skills needed to be healthy and expressive artists.
Sound Design: The BFA program in sound design offers the student a combination of technical, management and design training in sound design. The student is also introduced to sound recording and mixing through a series of courses offered by the USC Thornton School of Music. Students begin using this training as early as the second semester of the second year of enrollment. The skills acquired in the classroom are further explored through sound design assignments on School of Dramatic Arts public productions in each subsequent semester of the student’s program. Students in the sound design program build and design the sound component for the majority of the School of Dramatic Arts’ productions under the supervision of a professional staff of designers and theatre technicians. An interview is required for admission.
Stage Management: The BFA program in stage management offers the student a combination of technical, management and design training. Students begin using this training as early as the first year of enrollment. The skills acquired in the classroom are further explored through stage management assignments in each year of the student’s program. An interview is required for admission.
Technical Direction: The BFA program in technical direction incorporates the study of theatrical design with training in the professional skills needed to execute stage designs. An interview is required for admission.
Students in the design, stage management, and technical direction programs design, stage manage, and build the majority of the School of Dramatic Arts’ productions under the supervision of a professional staff of designers and theatre technicians.
Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies
The Bachelor of Arts in Visual and Performing Arts Studies is an interdisciplinary degree offered jointly by the School of Dramatic Arts, the School of Architecture, the School of Cinematic Arts, the Roski School of Art and Design, the Thornton School of Music, and the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
Theatre: This general minor in theatre invites students to explore the many facets of this exciting field. Students have the opportunity to take a variety of classes in acting, applied theatre arts, applied theatre arts/education, playwriting, literature, stage management, directing, costume design and production. The curriculum is very flexible and encourages students to develop a primary interest for upper-division course work. All minor students are eligible to participate in performance and production projects.
Comedy: The minor in comedy (performance) is a 20-unit minor that focuses on the theory and practice of comedy-making from the performer’s perspective. Beginning with a foundation in the history of comic performance, and supplemented by courses in the fundamentals of acting and performance, the progression of the minor offers students a comprehensive theoretical and experiential education in the many differing disciplines of comedy.
Musical Theatre: The minor in musical theatre, interdisciplinary in nature, is a 27-unit program incorporating the study of acting, dance or movement, vocal arts and related musical subjects presented in association with the USC Thornton School of Music .
Performing Arts Studies: The minor in performing arts provides an interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature and aesthetics of the performing arts. It combines the disciplines of cinematic arts, dance, music and theatre. The minor is a unique course of study that looks at how the performing arts contribute to a culturally literate society.
Performing Leadership: The minor in performing leadership is the study and practice of embodied communication, collaboration and storytelling, creating pathways to authentic, dimensional, empathic leadership.
Performing Social Change: This minor creates opportunities for exploration of social change through performance and theatrical practice.
Playwriting: The minor in playwriting presents undergraduate students who are not theatre majors with a concentration in the discipline of playwriting as a means for broadening and deepening expression using the literary and performing arts. This minor offers a foundation for extended expression in dramatic writing and creative writing genres in general.
Master of Fine Arts
The Master of Fine Arts with a major in theatre requires 48–64 units of course work at the 400 or 500 level. The areas of emphasis include acting, theatrical design, dramatic writing and directing. These programs provide a high level of practical experience. To ensure this, the number of students accepted in each area of emphasis is strictly limited. An interview is required for admission.
Master of Arts, Applied Theatre Arts
The Master of Arts in Applied Theatre Arts explores the intersection of theatre arts and cultural fieldwork, encompassing the fields of theatre and therapy, theatre in education and theatre for social change/community-based theatre. Practitioners of applied theatre arts supplement their work as classroom teachers, therapists, social workers, case managers, community organizers and social activists.
Auditions and Entrance to the Degree Programs
Admission to the various degree programs is granted through the university’s regular admission procedures in conjunction with the School of Dramatic Arts supplementary application procedure. See the Admission section of this catalogue, Undergraduate and Graduate.
Admission to the BA program is determined by academic record, experience in theatre, and information required on the USC application for admission and the School of Dramatic Arts supplementary application. Students applying for the BA program must contact the School of Dramatic Arts directly to obtain the supplementary application.
In addition to submitting a USC application for admission, a dramatic arts supplementary application and an inperson audition are required for the BFA and MFA programs. Auditions are held during January and February. Applicants should contact the School of Dramatic Arts directly to obtain supplementary application materials and to arrange for their audition.
The acting audition requires two monologues: one contemporary and one classical (preferably verse).
Auditions and interviews for all programs are held in major cities around the country including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
Students wishing to transfer from a community college or another four-year college or university into the Bachelor of Fine Arts curriculum must present training equivalent to their level of transfer or be prepared to take remedial work in acting, voice, movement, dramatic literature and stagecraft.
Admission to the BFA Design/Technical Direction, Stage Management and Sound Design and MFA programs is based on a personal interview and/or review of a portfolio. In addition, the student must submit a USC application for admission and a dramatic arts supplementary application.
Applicants for the design programs must present a portfolio of their work at the time of their interview with the design faculty.
Interviews are held beginning in January for the following fall semester.
Admission to full graduate standing will be granted after the satisfactory completion of one semester. A satisfactory test score on the Graduate Record Examinations and a satisfactory grade point average are also required.
Application materials and details about audition dates and locations may be obtained from the Office of Admissions and Recruitment, School of Dramatic Arts, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0791, (213) 740-1286.
In conjunction with Sarah Lawrence College and the British American Drama Academy, USC students have the opportunity to study theatre in London. For additional information, see International Study Options .