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The Theatre major is a school within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The School of Theatre and Dance offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre.  A Theatre minor, as well as, Teacher Licensure in Theatre is also offered through the school.  The JMU Theatre Program combines the best attributes of a liberal arts education with professional training. It is directed specifically toward undergraduate students.

There are four basic emphasis areas in the theatre major: 1) Performance 2) Design and Theatre Technology 3) Theatre Studies and 4) Theatre Education. Students most interested in performance present an audition, those directed toward design and theatre technology present a portfolio for review, and those interested in theatre studies (including theatre history, dramaturgy, theatre criticism, playwriting, directing, and management) and theatre education (teacher licensure) present a portfolio of examples and records of their work. In addition to performance elements, students in theatre study theatre history, aesthetics, performance theory, and dramatic theory and literature. Students are also encouraged to participate in production activities and can gain credit through the theatre practicum courses. There are numerous opportunities to direct, design and perform.  The School of Theatre and Dance also offers majors in Dance and Musical Theatre, and a minor in Dance. 

More About the Field 

The Theatre major has a liberal arts orientation, but offers significant pre-professional training. The undergraduate focus means that undergraduates act the parts, construct the sets, design and direct in the Studio Theatre, and fulfill the responsibilities for running each production. Students are exposed to the following opportunities: appreciation of great works of theatre by viewing productions, training to work within a group toward a defined goal, and training for a professional career or training sufficient for graduate level work.


Students have many opportunities to be involved with productions because the School of Theatre and Dance sponsors several major productions a year in its main stage season, plus numerous productions in the Studio Theatre. The program also sponsors a summer children's theatre.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Some common combinations are Art, Art History, Communication Studies, Creative Writing, Cultural Communications, English, Film Studies, History, Jazz Studies, Media Arts and Design, Modern Foreign Languages, Music, Nonprofit Studies, Special Education Non-Teaching, Psychology and Women Gender Studies.

Characteristics of Successful Students

A strong work ethic, an appreciation of the arts in general and their place in society, strong collaborative skills, a positive outlook and ability to promote themselves as artists and create employment opportunities for themselves.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Artistic Director
  • Arts Administrator
  • Arts Media Critic
  • Business Manager
  • Casting Director
  • Children’s Theatre Director
  • Booking Agent
  • Broadway Theatre Performer
  • Convention Director
  • Costume Designer
  • Cruise Director
  • Drama Coach
  • Drama Critic
  • Drama Teacher
  • Dress Designer
  • Film / TV Actor
  • Film Production Assistant
  • Fundraiser
  • Lighting Technician
  • Make-up Artist
  • Marketing Director
  • Movie Double
  • Movie Dubber
  • Museum Curator
  • Music Theatre Actor
  • Narrator
  • Playwright
  • Production Manager
  • Puppeteer
  • Radio TV Announcer
  • Stage Director
  • Stage Manager
  • Stage Set Designer
  • Storyteller
  • Stunt Person
  • Theatre Actor
  • Theatre Manager
  • Theatre Photographer
  • Theatrical Agent
  • Theme Park Entertainer
  • Tour Guide
  • Tour Manager
  • Wedding Consultant
Who Employs Graduates?

Advertising Firms, Amusement and Theme Parks, Children's Theatres, College/Universities, Commercial Theatres, Community Theatres, Cruise Ships, Industrial Shows, Media, Newspapers & Magazines, Not-for-Profit Theatres, Primary and Secondary Schools, Public Relations Firms, Radio Stations, Regional Theatres, Show Groups, Television & Motion Picture Studios, and Touring Companies.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Practicums are required in the theatre curriculum through main stage and summer productions. Theatre faculty assist students in finding and procuring internships throughout the USA in the various areas of theatre.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Producers and Directors
Art, Drama and Music Teachers, Postsecondary

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to

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