Performing Arts

The Department of Performing Arts (DPA) offers A.B. degrees in American Musical Culture and in Theater & Performance Studies and minors in Music, Theater & Performance Studies, and Performing Arts.

Major in American Musical Culture

A major in American Musical Culture consists of 11 music courses and a senior capstone project. Designed for students interested in American Studies, arts management, cultural criticism, composition, entertainment law, media studies, music business, music journalism, musicology/ethnomusicology, and sacred music, the program offers a range of classes in music history, theory, composition, recording arts, and performance.

There are three tracks to the major: Musicology/Ethnomusicology (designed to prepare students for graduate school), Music & Media Studies (designed to prepare students for a career in the music industry), and Sacred Music (designed to prepare students for graduate school and/or a career in diverse music ministries). The three tracks require 11 courses/33 credits, plus the senior capstone project.

Students are expected to choose a track when declaring the major. Potential majors are advised during their first two years to take two entry-level courses, which can include Writing About Music (MUSC 161); one of the four core courses in music history and culture (MUSC 114, 115, 116, and 117); or Elements of Music: Theory I (MUSC 041) and/or Advanced Harmony: Theory II (MUSC 141), as these are prerequisites for many upper-level courses. Students with a score of 5 on the AP Exam in Music Theory will receive credit for MUSC 041 and are directed to take MUSC 141.

The integrated writing requirement for the degree in American Musical Culture is fulfilled by Writing about Music (MUSC 161) 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.

All students majoring in American Musical Culture must complete the following requirements:

  • Writing about Music (MUSC 161)
  • Elements of Music: Theory I (MUSC 041)
  • Advanced Harmony: Theory II (MUSC 141)
  • Senior Capstone Project

Required Courses for the Track in Musicology/Ethnomusicology

  • 3 core courses in music history and culture (Western European Tradition (MUSC 114), Music in a Multicultural World (MUSC 115), Jazz History (MUSC 116), Rock History (MUSC 117))
  • 1 additional music theory course (240-244, 329, 340-344)
  • 3 upper-level courses, numbered 200 or higher, in music history and culture, music theory/composition, and/or music journalism (MUSC 200-249, 260-280, 328-337, 351, 361, 410, 460)
  • 4 semesters of Music Performance (MUSC 100)*
  • Senior Capstone Project (e.g. thesis, documentary, composition project, or lecture recital)**

*one-credit course based on four semesters in Music Performance (MUSC 100) (students are limited to a total of four performance credit hours). 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 following the Musicology/Ethnomusicology track may choose between a senior research project (i.e., a thesis or documentary), a composition project, or a lecture recital. 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.

Required Courses for the Track in Music & Media Studies

  • Recording Arts I (MUSC 250)
  • 2 core courses in music history and culture (Western European Tradition (MUSC 114), Music in a Multicultural World (MUSC 115), Jazz History (MUSC 116), Rock History (MUSC 117)
  • 3 upper-level courses, numbered 200 or higher, in music history and culture, music theory/composition, and/or music journalism (MUSC 200-249, 260-280, 328-337, 351, 361, 410, 460)
  • 1 additional course in Recording Arts/Music Journalism or Music Performance
    • Recording Arts course (MUSC 350 or 361) or
    • 4 semesters of Music Performance (MUSC 100)*
  • Music Industry Seminar (MUSC 461)
  • Senior Capstone Project (e.g. recording arts project, documentary, or intensive internship)**

*One-credit course based on Music Performance (MUSC 100) (students are limited to a total of 4 performance credit hours). 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 following the Music and Media Studies track may choose between a Recording Arts project, documentary, 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 the Director of the Music Program before beginning the project and no later than October 1 of their senior year.

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

Required Courses for the Track in Sacred Music

  • 1 core music history class: Music in Western European Culture; (MUSC 114) or Music in a Multicultural World (MUSC 115)
  • 1 seminar in Sacred Music Traditions (MUSC 245)
  • 1 course in Liturgical Direction and Performance Practices (MUSC 246)
  • 2 upper level courses numbered 300 or higher in History, Culture, Theory or Recording Arts (MUSC 301, 328-337, 350, 351, 361, 410, 460)
  • 2 semesters of Independent Tutorials (MUSC 303 and MUSC 304)
  • 4 semesters of MUSC 100 (1 credit each)*
  • Senior Capstone Project (internship, musical service design, or a research project)**

*one-credit course based on four semesters in Music Performance (MUSC 100) (students are limited to a total of four performance credit hours). 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 following the Sacred Music track may choose between an internship related to music ministry, an intensive research project with a faculty advisor resulting in a thesis, or a project that involves designing and programming a musical service for a specific faith tradition. For this third option, the student will plan, rehearse, and perform a complete musical service that includes appropriate selections. Students must submit a proposal for the Senior Capstone Project to the Director of the Music Program before beginning the project and no later than October 1 of their senior year. 


Major in Theater & Performance Studies

A major in Theater & Performance Studies consists of courses that combine critical and creative inquiry and is designed for students interested in not only developing skills in theater and performance, but in an interdisciplinary exploration of how these art forms matter in the world. This distinctive degree program engages with theater and performance as it intersects with social justice, cultural and global politics, criticism, American and world cultures, arts management, education, and more. The TPST Program offers studio/seminar courses in acting, directing, playwriting, design, technical theatre, and stage management, as well as coursework and production opportunities that emphasize adaptation and performance, devising and developing new work; cross-cultural performance and world theatre history; performance and politics; community-based performance; interdisciplinary learning about culture, race, gender, and identity; active engagement with our TPST home production season in the Davis Performing Arts Center, and a variety of special topics that offer diverse opportunities for undergraduate research.

Requirements for the degree include 31 total credits (nine 3-credit courses, 1-credit Senior Colloquium, and 3 credits in Production).

Requirements for the A.B. in Theater & Performance Studies

31 credit hours including:

  • 2 Core Methods Courses (Must take at least 2 out of 3; additional can be counted as an elective)
    • Play Analysis (TPST 130)
    • Improvisation for Social Change (TPST 125)
    • Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST 200)
  • 1 Comparative Studies course (Must take at least 1 out of 3; additional can be counted as an elective)
    • Cross-Cultural Performance Studies (TPST 105)
    • World Theater History (TPST 240)
  • 18 Elective Credit Hours within TPST, including:
    • At least 3 credit hours of Technical Theater or Design courses
    • At least 6 credit hours of Intermediate elective courses (TPST 201 or higher)
    • At least 3 additional credits hours of Advanced elective courses (TPST 301 or higher)
  • TPST 410 Majors Colloquium (1 credit)
  • At least 3 credit hours of TPST 100 Production Practicum sequence in 3 different sections (scene shop, costume, run crew, etc.)

Requirements for the TPST degree were revised by the Faculty in Spring of 2020. Any students who were already enrolled in Spring of 2020 who prefer to apply the previous requirements may do so. 

The TPST 100 Production Practicum sequence is a series of skills-based workshop courses taught by production faculty and staff in the areas of scenery, costumes, and run-crew for productions tied to TPST’s Home Season in the Davis Center. Stage management for the Home Season can also be an option and typically counts for two credit hours.

Note about Credit and Enrollment for Creative Participation in TPST Productions: Students participating as cast members or in another sustained creative way across the rehearsal process (e.g., dramaturg, stage manager, designer, assistant director, etc.), must enroll for the course assigned to that production (TPST 190-193). A maximum of six credit hours of the TPST 190-193 sequence may be applied toward the major, though additional credit hours can still be earned.  

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 a thesis project are advised to have completed at least half of their degree by January of their junior year.

Up to two courses toward the major may be fulfilled via transfer credits, study abroad, or cognate courses, if approved by the Program Director.

High-achieving junior majors may apply via formal proposal to pursue an honors senior thesis project, a competitive opportunity that can manifest as a creative research project culminating in a public performance, a scholarly thesis, or a community-based project. 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, including courses 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 spring of their junior year, students submit a detailed project proposal following guidelines available from the Program Director.  Faculty selects 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. The final deadline for each project is set with the primary thesis advisor, depending on the nature of the project (e.g., scholarly, artistic production, or community-based).


Integrated Writing Requirement for DPA 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 and Theater and Performance Studies’ Integrated Writing pathways here and here.


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, including Theater and Performance Studies, Music, Dance and Public Speaking. The Performing Arts minor includes three 3-credit courses in any one of these four disciplines and three additional courses from any other area/s in the department. 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. Performing Arts Minors concentrating in TPST, Music or Dance can count up to two total bundles toward the degree (either each bundling from a different performing arts field or, if approved by the Program Director, two in the same field.)

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.

Requirements for the Minor in Music

18 credit hours; 6 music courses

  • 2 music theory courses: Elements of Music: Theory I (MUSC 041) and Advanced Harmony: Theory II (MUSC 141)
  • 1 course in music history and culture numbered 110 or higher (MUSC 114–117, 220–239, 245-249, 260-270, 328, 330-334, 410)
  • 3 additional courses in music, which may include one course credit based on four enrollments in MUSC 100 -Music Performance​

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

Requirements for the Minor in Theater & Performance Studies

19 credit hours including:

  • Core Methods Courses (At least 1 out of 3 courses)
    • Play Analysis (TPST 105), Improvisation for Social Change (TPST 125), Adaptation and Performance of Literature (TPST 200)
  • Comparative Studies course (At least 1 out of 2 courses)
    • Cross-Cultural Performance Studies (TPST 105)
    • World Theater History (TPST 240)
  • At least one credit hour of TPST 100 Production Practicum sequence (scene shop, costume, run crew, etc.)
  • At least 12 Elective course hours within TPST including:
    • At least 6 credit hours of Intermediate elective courses (TPST 201 or higher)

Requirements for the TPST degree were revised by the Faculty in Spring of 2020. Any students who were already enrolled in Spring of 2020 who prefer to apply the previous requirements may do so.

Up to one course may be fulfilled via transfer credits, study abroad, or cognate courses, if approved by the Program Director.

A maximum of three credit hours of the TPST 190-193 sequence (for participation in TPST productions) may be applied toward the major, though additional credit hours can still be earned.

Requirements for the Minor in Performing Arts

18 credit hours; 6 courses in Performing Arts

  • 3 courses in any one of four disciplines (Theater, Music, Dance, or Public Speaking), which may include one bundled 3-credit performance course based on 4 terms of MUSC 100, 4 terms in DANC 100, or 3 credits in the TPST 190-193 sequence (for participation in TPST productions).
  • 3 courses from any other areas in the department, which may include one 3-credit course based on 4 terms in MUSC 100 Music performance, 4 terms in DANC 100 Dance Performance, or 3 credits in the TPST 190-193 sequence.
  • Performing Arts Minors with a primary concentration in Dance may bundle four terms of DANC 102 technique classes (eg in Ballet or Modern) for one 3-credit course in addition to a course bundle for four enrollments in DANC 100. Only Minors concentrating in Dance may do two bundles in Dance.
  • Note: Students may not apply more than three courses in any one discipline toward this minor.

For course listings for Music and Theater see the Schedule of Classes