Theater Degree

Theater Degree Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

About the Theater Degree

Develop your talents with top professors in PennWest California's comprehensive theater program.

PennWest California prides itself on the long tradition of its theater program, where undergraduate students are paired with top scholar-artisans who have devoted their lives to performance and theater. Our theater degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and is designed to give you a balanced mix of pre-professional training, performance and a classic liberal arts education.

PennWest California has the distinction of being an Educational Affiliate with Estill Voice International. Our performance curriculum includes Estill Voice Training, which is studied by professional performers, including many Broadway and recording artists. EVT encourages those who seek vocal versatility to explore the full range of expression in the human voice, but not at the expense of vocal well-being. Today's professional theater can be quite vocally rigorous and requires artists with tremendous versatility and good vocal health. As a student of theater or musical theater at PennWest California, you'll learn through Estill the tools for a sustained career as a performing artist.

Discover how a bachelor's degree can make you a more well-rounded artisan.

  • Develop a solid foundation in all aspects of performance.
  • Grow your critical thinking skills by analyzing texts, music, literature and historical trends.
  • Explore applied laboratory courses, workshops and full productions that allow you to learn hands-on.


A Thriving Arts Community: Our professors are not only accomplished scholars, they are also passionate artists with long histories as professional artisans. PennWest California performances, clubs and social gatherings foster a strong community, emphasizing teamwork, collaboration and discipline.

A Balanced Approach: As a PennWest California theater undergraduate, you'll receive a rigorous education in both craft and art, with a firm foundation in the liberal arts.

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The mean annual wage for post-secondary drama and theater teachers. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.)
Total revenue, per season, from Broadway shows in New York alone.
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Degree Benefits

PennWest California's accredited theater degree program provides undergraduates with the opportunity to:

  • Utilize excellent facilities such as our theaters, fully equipped scene and costume shops, and design lab.
  • Apply for internships or prepare for auditions and interviews with expert guidance.
  • Study a wide range of coursework in classes small enough to assure personal attention.
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Graduate Outcomes


Recent career projections suggest that the field of acting is growing slightly faster than most industries, with electronic media contributing greatly to that trend. Drama and theater teachers are especially in demand, with job vacancies increasing by more than 36% since 2004. PennWest California alumni perform as actors, singers, dancers and stage managers in productions all around the country, including film and TV. The theater program also has produced many fine theater teachers and professors.

Theater Bachelor's Degree
theater degree

Performance Opportunities

Theater majors have the opportunity to perform in a vibrant season that typically includes musical theater, drama or comedy shows, and dance on campus, with off-campus internships and theater opportunities available around the region.

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theater degree

Course Variety

PennWest California has a wide range of course offerings within the theater program. Along with the many classes provided in each discipline within the art - performance, theater history, dramatic literature, design, technology or stage management - professors are willing to tailor their offerings to provide individualized learning opportunities.

A neon performance by PennWest California theater students.

What Can I Do with a Theater Degree?

Meet PennWest California theater alumna Michelle Sesco '98. She has been a dresser for Broadway's Groundhog Day and the assistant wardrobe supervisor for Jersey Boys, the Musical, one of the longest-running shows on Broadway. She has worked on 10 other Broadway shows and more than 30 off-Broadway shows in New York City. Sesco says PennWest California helped her succeed because "there is more to theater than acting, directing, dancing or designing … [so] a well-rounded skill set is invaluable."

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Theater Bachelor's Degree Courses

PennWest California's theater bachelor's degree is designed to wed theory with practice as students study myriad aspects of theater under the guidance of passionate scholar-artists.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
Any Mathematics or Quantitative Literacy Course
Health and Wellness
HSC 315  First Aid and Personal Safety (recommended)  OR  Any Course on Menu
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
Any Natural Sciences Course
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • General Education Options Courses (three courses)
Required Core Courses 27
THE 131  Fundamentals of Acting 3
THE 141  Stagecraft I 3
THE 150  Introduction to Theatrical Design 3
THE 302  History of Theatre I 3
THE 304  World Drama  OR  THE 306  Modern Drama  OR  ENG 425  Shakespeare   3
THE 312  History of Theatre II 3
THE 320  Fundamentals of Directing 3
THE 450  Practicum: Senior Thesis 3
DAN 131  Foundations of Dance 3
Theatre Electives (select three courses) 9
Theatre Practicum Electives 
Additional Electives/Minor 38
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any 3-credit Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): THE 312 Theatre History II AND Select from: THE 304, THE 306 or ENG 425
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): Any Laboratory Course

Program Notes: Minimum GPA 2.0; Minimum credits 120. At least 42 credits (14 courses) must be advanced courses.


  • Musical Theater Concentration 
    The concentration in Musical Theater is designed for committed performers who seek to strengthen their performance technique, after completing a comprehensive liberals arts core. PennWest California's musical theater concentration degree provides professional training and performance opportunities along with comprehensive liberal arts courses.
  • Design and Entertainment Technology Concentration
    PennWest California offers this prescribed degree for committed artisans who possess an interested in the more specialized areas of entertainment technology or design.


  • General Theater Minor
  • Theater History Minor
  • Musical Theater Minor
  • Dance Minor
  • Technical Theater Minor
  • Acting Minor

Additional Resources

Top 10 Reasons To Get A Theater Degree

What Can You Do With a Musical Theater Concentration

Performance Opportunities At PennWest California