Bachelor's Degree in Theatre at GVSU

No Audition is Necessary to be a Theatre Major or Minor


Grand Valley State University is a four-year liberal arts school with an average enrollment of more than 24,000 students. We're located on the banks of the Grand River in the village of Allendale, minutes away from Michigan's second largest city of Grand Rapids.

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Whether your interests lie in theatre, music, the multidisciplinary arts area, or in some combination of these, GVSU has a lot to offer. We're the fastest- growing university in the state, and our graduates have found their degrees useful as general liberal arts experiences, or as preparation for advanced study and work in post-graduate professional training programs. No auditions are necessary for students to enter the Theatre program at GVSU, your course choice will determine your major and minor.

GVSU is unique among Michigan's schools for several reasons important to drama students. First and foremost, we have the lowest student-to-faculty ratio of any state university. This means that all our theatre classes are taught by  faculty who are readily available for consultation, academic advising, and independent studies or projects. In addition, our program is entirely undergraduate, which means that GVSU can guarantee that students won't be crowded out by grad students. On the contrary, they'll receive hands-on experience with equipment, facilities, and opportunities for performance & production from the very first semester they arrive. Finally, GVSU offers well respected overseas programs and theatre-related career specialty programs that are critical for success in today's entertainment industry: film & television, advertising, and public relations to name a few.

GVSU Theatre students can participate in many organizations in and outside the Theatre program such as ReACT!, Bard-To-Go, Performance Studio Series, Greenshow, GV Shakespeare Festival, Alpha Psi Omega, S.T.A.G.E., Opera Theatre, Spotlight Productions, Student Senate, and many other opportunities to enhance your education.

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Of special interest to theatre students is the range of area cultural activities of which the University is a part. Grand Rapids, Michigan's fastest-growing city with a population of more than 700,000, boasts professional organizations such as Opera Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, The Grand Rapids Symphony, Broadway Grand Rapids, Dog Story Theatre, arts museums and galleries, two improv companies and numerous community theatres which perform year-round to more than 80,000 people.


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Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Theatre

Why Theatre?

There is no weakness in having a theatre background. There is only strength. Here are just a few skills that a theatre degree gives in business (author unknown):

  • Advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills: taking a script and translating it into a finished production is a colossal exercise in critical thinking. You have to make tremendous inferences and intellectual leaps, and you have to have a keen eye for subtle clues.
  • You’re calm in a crisis: You’ve been on stage when someone dropped a line and you have to improvise to keep the show moving with a smile on your face, in front an audience. Your mic died in the middle of a big solo musical number. You just sang louder and didn’t skip a beat.
  • You understand deadlines: Opening night is non-negotiable.
  • You have an eye on audience perception: You know what will sell tickets and what will not. This is a very transferrable skill, and lots of theatre people underestimate this, because they think of theatre as an ART, and not as business. Theatre is frequently one of the few academic departments on campus that teaches selling to the public.
  • You’re courageous: If you can sing “Oklahoma” in front for 1,200, you can do anything!
  • You’re resourceful: Producing any show on a budget teaches how to get a lot of value from minimal resources and to stay on budget.
  • You’re a team player: there are truly no small roles, only small actors. The show will fail without everyone giving their best, and even a brilliant performance by a star can be undermined by a poor supporting cast. Working together teaches you how to leave your ego at the door and how to collaborate.
  • You’ve versatile: You can probably sing, act, and dance. But you can also run a sewing machine, a table saw, rewired lighting fixtures, did a sound check, use a paint brush and you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty for the benefit of the show.
  • You’re flexible: You’ve worked with some directors who inspired you. Others left you flat, but you did the work anyway. Same goes with your fellow actors, designers and stagehands. Some were amazing and supportive, some were horrible and demoralizing. You’ve worked with them all and learned something from every one of them.

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The major in theatre prepares students for careers that require skills in communications, creativity, and problem-solving, or for careers in the entertainment industry. It provides professional orientation and background within a broad liberal arts framework. Students may use the major as a preparation for graduate or professional work; the required courses provide basic training in essential theatre areas, and students planning to pursue more advanced work should take well-chosen electives in areas designed to increase specific skills.

All majors are required to participate in productions sponsored by the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance; academic credit is given for all such involvement. Also, students may pursue internships with professional theatres, locally, regionally or nationally, as managers, publicists, technicians, and production assistants.

Versatility in a number of areas is the single most important factor in obtaining work. Grand Valley theatre students have successfully completed programs in graduate schools and professional conservatories. They have found work in schools and recreation departments, repertory theatre companies, modern dance companies, and arts organizations as performers, technicians, teachers, designers, directors, and administrators. The combination of critical and problem-solving communications skills with the self-confidence and responsibility coming from performance experience provides excellent training for many non-entertainment fields. A complete list of placement and careers of recent theatre graduates is available upon request.

Requirements for a Major in Theatre

B.A. and B.S. Cognates

All undergraduate programs offer both the B.A. degree and the B.S. degree. All students selecting majors in the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance must choose either the B.A. cognate or the B.S. cognate that is intended for a particular undergraduate program.

B.A. Cognate

The B.A. degree requires a third-semester proficiency in a foreign language of the students choice.

The B.S. cognate for the Theatre Program is:

Theatre Core Credits: 33

Two of the following

Electives Credits: 9-11

Capstone Credits: 3

Suggested Order of Coursework for a Major in Theatre

A general theatre curriculum (check specific major requirements with your advisor) working toward a B.S. or B.A. degree.

Freshman Year

General Education Foundations* - ENG 212 and Historical Perspectives

*CTH 161 fulfills the general education Foundations Arts category and is required for the theatre major.

Sophomore Year

General Education Foundations* - Mathematical Sciences and Physical Sciences. Begin foreign language sequence or B.S. Cognate.

*CTH 161 fulfills the general education Foundations Arts category and is required for the theatre major.

Junior and Senior Year

General Education Foundations* - Life Sciences and Social Sciences, general education World Perspectives and U.S. Diversity, general education Themes.

*CTH 161 fulfills the general education Foundations Arts category and is required for the theatre major.

Theatre majors should register for either COM 498 Senior Project or CTH 490 Internship during their senior year.

Page last modified October 29, 2018