Feb 27, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

USC School of Dramatic Arts

USC School of Dramatic Arts students (l to r) Maya Reyna, Ginger Gordon and Kalani Sloane in the SDA production of

USC School of Dramatic Arts students (left to right) Maya Reyna, Ginger Gordon and Kalani Sloane in the SDA production of “Body of Faith” by Luis Alfaro. Photo by Craig Schwartz.


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
(213) 740-1286
FAX: (213) 740-8888
Email: sdainfo@usc.edu


Emily Roxworthy, PhD, Dean

Lori Ray Fisher, MA, Vice Dean


Elsbeth M. Collins, AB, Chair Division of Performance

Anita Dashiell-Sparks, MFA, Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Vice Chair Division of Performance

Rena Heinrich, PhD, Chair Division of Dramatic Writing and Critical Studies

Takeshi Kata, MFA, Chair Division of Design

Oliver Mayer, MFA, Associate Dean of Faculty, Associate Dean of Strategic Initiatives

Michele Shay, MFA, Chair Division of Performance


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: Philip G. Allen; Brent Blair, PhD; Kate Burton, MFA; Elsbeth M. Collins, AB; Anita Dashiell-Sparks, MFA; Joseph Hacker, MFA; Duncan Mahoney; Kenneth Noel Mitchell; Natsuko Ohama; Michele Shay, MFA; Stephanie Shroyer, MFA

Associate Professors of Theatre Practice: Paula Cizmar; John DeMita, MFA; Kathleen Dunn-Muzingo, MFA; Melinda C. Finberg, PhD; Laura Flanagan, MFA; David Warshofsky, MFA

Assistant Professors of Theatre Practice: Bayo Akinfemi, MFA; Kirstin Eggers; Scott Faris; Stevie Johnson, MFA; Rena M. Heinrich, PhD; Dan Shaner; Zachary Steel; Rodney To

Adjunct/Part-Time Faculty: Emily Alpren, MFA; Boni B. Alvarez, MFA; Robert Bailey; Christopher Bange; Ahmed Best, MFA; Denise Blasor; Tom Buderwitz; Frank Catalano, MPW; Esther Chae, MFA; Ann Closs-Farley; Tiffany Cole; Julián Juaquín Conde, MFA; Jeff Crockett; Tim Dang; Gregg T. Daniel, MFA; Debra De Liso, MFA; Gary Domasin; Josh Epstein; Wayne Federman; Laurie Fisher; Terry Gordon, MFA; Jenny Guthrie; MaryAnn Hu; Paul Hungerford; Nicholas Hussong, MFA; Edgar Landa; Jay Lee; Vicki Lewis; Jennifer Lin; Babette Markus; Kevin McCorkle, Matthew Montgomery, MFA; Patrick Murphy; Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, MFA; Jeremiah O’Brian, MFA; Stephanie Petagno; Larry Powell; Kosta Potamianos; Andy Robinson; Abdul Hamid Royal; Brett Ryback; Pablo Santiago; Gabriella Santinelli; Sim Sarna; Kenneth Sawyer; Judith Shelton; Camille Thornton-Alson; Paul Urcioli; Sabina Zuniga Varela, MFA; Sabra Williams; Stephen Zuckerman

Emeritus Faculty: Don Llewellyn, Eve Roberts, Andy Robinson, Eric Trules, James Wilson

General Information

Degree Programs

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 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.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Acting, Stage and Screen: The BFA degree is a four-year, 132-unit, professional training program offering a vital and contemporary approach to the study of acting. The program comprises an integrated sequence of training in acting, voice, movement, camera, the Web, voice-over, games, and includes multiple opportunities for performance on stage, and screen. An audition is required for admission. The BFA in Acting for Stage and Screen program is unique and 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.

Minor Programs

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 (MFA) 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 offered through the USC School of Dramatic Arts is granted through the university’s regular admission procedures in conjunction with the school’s supplementary application process. See the Admission  section of this catalogue, Undergraduate and Graduate.

Admission to the BA in Theatre program is determined by academic record, expressed interest in theatre, and information required on the USC application for admission and the USC School of Dramatic Arts supplementary application. The supplementary application is accessible through the school’s website.

In addition to submitting a USC application for admission and a dramatic arts supplementary application, an audition is required from applicants to the BFA in Acting, Stage and Screen, the BFA in Musical Theatre and the MFA in Acting. Applicants to our MFA in Dramatic Writing will be expected to provide a writing supplement. For the latest details on the audition process and requirements, please visit the school’s website. Please note that the BA emphasis programs and the BA in Visual and Performing Arts Studies major are only available to current USC students. If you’re interested in any of these major options, please connect with your academic adviser once you’re at USC.

Students wishing to transfer from a community college or another four-year college or university into any of our Bachelor of Fine Arts programs must follow the same application and audition process as first-year applicants. If admitted to a Bachelor of Fine Arts program, it is possible that transfer applicants will begin the curriculum as first-year students.

Applicants to any of the Bachelor of Fine Arts production programs (Design, Sound Design, Stage Management, Technical Direction) must also participate in a portfolio review with our production faculty. For the latest details on the portfolio review process and requirements, please visit the school’s website.

More information on the admissions process and requirements may be obtained through the school’s website or by contacting the Office of Admissions and Student Services, School of Dramatic Arts, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0791 or via email at sdainfo@usc.edu.

International Study

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 .


Bachelor’s Degree


Master’s Degree


Dramatic Arts

Dramatic Arts Expanded

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