Performing Arts

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

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, the program offers a range of classes in music history, theory, recording arts, and performance. Requirements for the degree include: Writing About the Performing Arts (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. They may take a zero credit option to continue participating in a performance ensemble. To complete the Senior Capstone Project, students may choose between a research project (i.e., a thesis, documentary, or lecture recital) or a semester/summer internship related to their academic interests (e.g., The Kennedy Center, Rolling Stone Magazine, NPR, Sirius/XM Radio, Voice of America, Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, The Washington Post).

Potential majors are advised to take Writing About the Performing Arts (MUSC-161), Diatonic Harmony (MUSC-141) and at least one of the three core courses during the first two years, since these are prerequisites for most 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 1-credit production practicum taken during three semesters a declared major is in residence. Designed for students interested in theater and performance, social justice, cultural criticism and production, arts management, American and world cultures, and education, this distinctive major offers special strengths in adaptation and performance, developing and devising new work, interdisciplinary learning about culture, politics and identity through the lens of performance research, community-based theater, playwriting, stage direction, cross-cultural ensemble, solo performance, design and multimedia production. Requirements for the degree include: the three core methods courses of Acting I (TPST-120), Play Analysis (TPST-130) and Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST-200); one of Cross-Cultural Performance Studies or World Theater History (TPST-105 or TPST-240); one of Intro Design, Costume Design, Production Techniques, or World Theater History (TPST-160, or TPST-170, or TPST-173, or TPST-165/265); TPST-410, our one-credit Senior Majors Colloquium taken in the final year; five additional electives of which two must be at the intermediate level or higher (TPST-200 and higher), at least two others of which must be at the advanced level (TPST-300 or higher), and one of which may be at any level and may be fulfilled by a preapproved study abroad or cognate course taught by an Associate TPST faculty member or a MUSC faculty member; and 3 credit hours of the TPST-091 Production Practicum, including one for runcrew, which bundle to create a single 3-credit course.

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 o f their degree by January of the junior year.

Required Courses for the Major

American Musical Culture

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

  • Writing About the Performing Arts (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 History of Rock)
  • 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 Program Director.

Theater & Performance Studies

(34 credit hours; 12 courses including production practicum)

  • 3 Core Methods Courses: Acting I (TPST-120), Play Analysis (TPST-130) & Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST-200)
  • 1 of Crosscultural Performance (TPST-105) or World Theater History (TPST-240)
  • 1 Technical Theater or Design Class (TPST-160 or 170 or 173)
  • 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 Production Practicum

The Production Practicum consists of faculty-mentored coursework as part of the TPST Program’s Home Season in the Davis Center, to be assigned collectively by TPST faculty and staff, with some consideration for student requests. Over the course of each major, every effort will be made to create a broad balance across production areas (including scenery/carpentry, lighting/electrics, costumes, props, sound, digital technology), run crew, and, at times, administration/publicity.

Note about Credit and Enrollment for Participation in TPST Productions: Students participating as cast members or in another sustained way throughout the rehearsal process (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). Majors must have a 3.5 GPA in TPST courses taken at Georgetown by the middle of their junior year to apply, 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 will carefullly consider student readiness to carry out the proposed 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-which 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 Undergraduate Director receive honors. In very rare cases the faculty committee recommends distinction.

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

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 (Theater, Music, or Dance) and three additional courses from any other areas in the department, including Public Speaking. Four 1-credit Music 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.  Only one course bundle may be counted toward the Performing Arts Minor.

It is possible to major in one discipline and 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. 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 production practicum)

  • 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
  • 1-credit hour of Production Practicum lab (TPST-091)

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

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