Performing Arts

The Department of Performing Arts offers majors in American Musical Culture and in Theater & Performance Studies.

Integrated Writing Requirement for DPA’s Majors

Both of DPA’s distinctive interdisciplinary majors—American Musical Culture and Theater & Performance Studies—understand writing as integral. Students fulfill their Integrated Writing Requirement by virtue of completing each major. See further details regarding Music’s requirement at:<>. For Theater’s Integrated Writing pathway, see <>.

Major in American Musical Culture

A major in American Musical Culture consists of ten music courses and one senior capstone project. Designed for students interested in American Studies, arts management, cultural criticism, entertainment law, media studies, music business, music journalism or musicology/ethnomusicology, the program offers a range of classes in music history, theory, recording arts, and performance. Requirements for the degree include: Writing About Music (MUSC-161); two music theory courses (MUSC-141 and an additional course that falls within course number range MUSC-240–275 or MUSC-340–375); at least three of the four core courses in music (MUSC-114, 115, 116, 117), which cover the department’s general areas of music history distribution (Western European Tradition, Multicultural Traditions, Jazz and Popular Music); three upper-level courses in music history and culture or music theory; and one course credit based on four semesters in MUSC-100 Music Performance. Students are limited to a total of 4 performance credit hours (MUSC 100), which are bundled to form a single 3-credit course. After this requirement is completed, they can continue to participate in a performance ensemble by signing up for the zero credit option (MUSC-101). To complete the Senior Capstone Project, students may choose between a research project (i.e., a thesis, documentary, or lecture recital) or an intensive semester/summer internship related to their academic interests (e.g.,  NPR, The Kennedy Center, Rolling Stone Magazine, Sirius/XM Radio, Voice of America, Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, The Washington Post, NBC, William Morris Entertainment, Sony Music).  Students must submit a proposal for the Senior Capstone Project to their music advisor and/or the Director of the Music Program before beginning the project and no later than October 1 of their senior year.

Potential majors are advised to take Writing About Music (MUSC-161), at least one of the core courses (MUSC-114, 115, 116 or 117) during the first two years, and Diatonic Harmony (MUSC-141) since these are prerequisites for most upper-level courses. Note: The Pre-requesite for MUSC-141 is Elements of Music (MUSC-041). MUSC-041 does not count towards the major. Students with previous training in Music Theory may waive the MUSC-041 pre-requisite upon successful completion of a placement exam, administered by the instructor of MUSC-041/141 during the first week of classes fall and spring semesters.

The integrated writing requirement for the degree in American Musical Culture is fulfilled by MUSC 161 Writing about Music as well as through final writing projects (research papers, music compositions/arrangements, radio/film scripts and/or music journalism essays) in various upper-level courses.

Major in Theater & Performance Studies

A major in Theater & Performance Studies consists of twelve courses that combine critical and creative inquiry, including a single-credit senior colloquium. Designed for students interested in theater and performance, social justice, cultural criticism, arts management, American and world cultures, and education, this distinctive major offers special studio/seminars in adaptation and performance, devising new work, interdisciplinary learning about culture, politics and identity through the lens of performance research, and via playwriting, direction, cross-cultural ensemble, solo performance, and design and multimedia production. Requirements for the degree include: three core methods courses of Acting I (TPST-120), Play Analysis (TPST-130) and Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST-200); either Cross-Cultural Performance Studies or World Theater History (TPST-105 or TPST-240); one of our gateway courses in technical theater or design, such as Design, Costume Design, Production Techniques, or Stage Management (TPST-170, or TPST-173, or TPST-160, or TPST-165/265); five additional electives—including two at the intermediate level (TPST-201 and higher), at least two others at the advanced level (TPST-300 or higher), and one elective at any level, including from preapproved study abroad, immersive Performance Labs (TPST 191-3) tied to our Home Season or cognate courses taught by our Associated Faculty; and our one-credit Senior Majors Colloquium (TPST-410). All majors also take 3 credit hours of TPST 091-093 in the Production Practicum series, including one for runcrew, across different semesters, which bundle to create a single 3-credit course.

High-achieving junior majors may apply via formal proposal to pursue an honors senior thesis project, a competitive opportunity that culminates their specific trajectory and that can manifest as a creative research project, a scholarly thesis, or a community-based project.  

Potential majors are advised to take Play Analysis (TPST 130) during their first two years and at least one other gateway course. Those seeking to pursue an honors thesis project are advised to have completed at least half of their degree by January of the junior year.  

The integrated writing requirement for the degree in Theater and Performance Studies is embedded across the major as outlined at .

Required Courses for the Major

American Musical Culture

(30 credit hours; 10 courses, plus the Senior Capstone Project)

  • Writing about Music (MUSC-161)
  • 2 music theory courses: Diatonic Harmony (MUSC-141) and a second course numbered 240–275 or 340–375
  • 3 of the 4 core courses in music history and culture (MUSC-114 Western European Tradition, MUSC-115 Music in a Multicultural World, MUSC-116 Jazz History, MUSC-117 Rock History)
  • 3 upper-level courses, numbered 200 or higher, in music history and culture (220–239, 260–269, 320–339, 360–369, 420–439) or music theory/composition (240–275, 340–375, 440–459)
  • 1 course credit based on 4 semesters in MUSC-100 Music Performance
  • Senior Capstone Project

Note: One course may be fulfilled by cognate courses in other fields or study abroad, if approved by the Director of the Music Program.

Theater & Performance Studies

(34 credit hours; 12 courses including TPST 410)

  • 3 Core Methods Courses: Acting I (TPST-120), Play Analysis (TPST-130) & Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST-200)
  • 1 of Cross-Cultural Performance Studies (TPST-105) or World Theater History (TPST-240)
  • 1 Technical Theater or Design Class (TPST-160 or 170 or 173 or 165/265)
  • 2 Intermediate elective courses 201 or higher
  • 2 Advanced elective courses selected from 300–499
  • 1 elective course at any level
  • TPST-410 Majors Colloquium (1 credit)
  • 3 Credit Hours of TPST-091-093 Production Practicum sequence 

The Production Practicum sequence begins with TPST 091, a series of skills-based workshops taught by production faculty/staff, followed in future semesters by two semesters of TPST 093 (or for two credits, TPST 092 in one, by approval) for faculty-mentored tech labs tied to TPST’s Home Season in the Davis Center. This includes one runcrew assignment (a more immersive commitment for 3-4 weeks) and one semester of three lab hours weekly in the Scene, Costume, or Props Shop, as assigned by TPST Staff and Faculty, based on placement forms distributed the first day of semester.

Note about Credit and Enrollment for Participation in TPST Productions: Students participating as cast members or in another sustained way throughout the rehearsal process (dramaturge, stage manager, designer, assistant director, etc.), must enroll for the course assigned to that production in either the zero or 1 or 2-credit option (TPST-190, 191 or, at times 192). Students who accumulate three of these credits can bundle them into a single full course to count toward the TPST major. Students may continue to pursue the 1-credit option for productions but they can only be bundled once.

Note: Two courses may be fulfilled via transfer credits, study abroad, or cognate courses, if approved by the Program Director.

Note for Honors/Thesis Projects: To qualify for honors in TPST, a student must complete the honors program, which includes a thesis project (scholarly, creative or community-based). To apply, majors must have a 3.5 GPA in TPST courses taken at Georgetown by January of their junior year and have taken at least five TPST courses at GU, most at the 200-level or above. (Transfer students and those who have studied abroad may petition the TPST Program Director for an exception.) In the early spring of their junior year, students submit a detailed project proposal following guidelines available in the department; faculty select the strongest proposals, approving only those scholarly, creative and community-based projects anchored in original research and TPST methodologies. The committee carefully considers student preparedness to carry out the specific project. The Thesis Workshop course is typically required in addition to students' registration in a three-credit directed study overseen by their lead advisor to assure intensive, sustained focus; this normally transpires across two semesters. The deadline for each project is set with the primary thesis advisor, depending on the nature of the project (eg., scholarly written or creative production), however all must be fully completed by April 15 to be considered for honors. Only those projects unanimously assessed as honors quality by the three-person faculty committee appointed by the DUS receive honors. In very rare cases the faculty committee recommends distinction.

Minor Programs: Music, Theater & Performance Studies, and Performing Arts

DPA offers three minors. The requirements for a minor in Music or Theater & Performance Studies include a combination of scholarly and creative courses. The Performing Arts minor is designed for students working across various genres of the performing arts. The Performing Arts minor includes three three-credit courses in any one of three disciplines (TPST, Music, or Dance) and three additional courses from any other area/s in the department, including Public Speaking. Four 1-credit Music or Dance performance credits or three 1-credit Theater performance credits may be bundled into a single 3-credit course upon request by the student to her dean.   

It is possible to major in one discipline and to major or minor in another single discipline within the department. However, it is not permitted to combine an American Musical Culture or Theater & Performance Studies major with a Performing Arts minor unless the minor draws exclusively from other DPA disciplines than the major. For any minor, at least four courses must be taken within the department.

Required Courses for the Minor

(18 credit hours; 6 music courses)

  • Diatonic Harmony (MUSC-141)
  • 1 course in musicology (music history and culture), numbered 110 or higher (MUSC 114–117, 220–275, 320–375, 420–439)
  • 4 additional course credits in music, which may include one course credit based on 4 terms in MUSC-100 Music Performance, but may not include MUSC-041 Elements of Music
  • Note: One course may be fulfilled by cognate courses in other fields or study abroad, if approved by Program Director.
Theater & Performance Studies

(19 credit hours; 6 courses plus TPST 091)

  • Play Analysis (TPST-130)
  • 1 of 4 Methods Courses, selected from TPST-105, TPST-170, TPST-200, TPST-240
  • 2 courses at any level
  • 2 courses, 200 or higher
  • Production Practicum: Workshop (TPST 091), a single credit course

Note: Up to two courses may be fulfilled by cognate courses in other fields or study abroad, if approved by TPST DUS.

Note: As for the major, TPST-191 (Performance Lab) courses may be bundled to make a single three-credit course toward the minor.

Performing Arts

(18 credit hours; 6 courses in Performing Arts)

  • 3 courses in any one of three disciplines (Theater, Music, or Dance).
  • 3 courses from any other areas in the department (Music, Theater, Dance or Public Speaking), which may include one 3-credit course based on 4 terms in MUSC-100 Music performance, 3 terms of TPST-191, or 4 terms in ARTD-100 Dance Performance.
  • Note: Students may not take more than three courses in any one discipline for this minor.

(For course listings for Music and Theater see