Department of Performing Arts
Fall 2016 Degree Changes
Emerson College Performing Arts Fall 2016 Degree Changes
Beginning with prospective students applying to start at Emerson in the fall of the 2016-2017 Academic Year, the Emerson College Department of Performing Arts will enact the following changes to its degree offerings.
The first changes are simply shifts in the names of the degrees that will transform all of our majors into BFA programs as follows:
- BFA Musical Theatre, BFA Theatre Design/Technology, and BFA Stage & Production Management will remain the same.
- BA Theatre Education will change to BFA Theatre Education.
- BA Theatre Education: Acting will change to BFA Theatre Education and Performance.
- BA Theatre Studies will change to BFA Theatre.
- BA Theatre Studies: Acting will change to BFA Theatre and Performance.
- BFA Acting will be unchanged in name and structure but the application timing will be adjusted as explained in the "Structural Changes" section.
After several years of studying how our students use their credits, looking at how college degrees in the theatre are named and defined nationally, and considering what prospective students want from us, we came to a series of conclusions:
- There is no consistent national standard that defines degree names - "BA" vs. "BFA."
- Our BA programs are/were comparable in Performing Arts credits to many BFA programs.
- Generally, people consider a BFA a degree for a practitioner, and that is how we all define ourselves. Dramaturges, directors, arts administrators, teachers, etc. are practitioners of the theatre just as designers, stage managers, and performers are, and we feel that our new degree names reflect more accurately what students do in our majors. The names of the majors now more accurately reflect our beliefs.
- Although we still firmly believe that the letters on a degree - BFA or BA – mean very little when discussing the aptitude of a student or the quality of a program, High School applicants and college students overwhelmingly prefer BFA degrees, and changing our language is easier than changing their minds.
The second set of changes are adjustments to how some of our programs are structured as follows:
- BFA Musical Theatre and BFA Stage & Production Management are unchanged.
- BFA Theatre Design/Technology will be unchanged but will gain an additional degree option. Our new BFA Stage and Screen Design/Technology will be housed in Performing Arts and jointly taught between Performing Arts (48 credits) and Visual and Media Arts (24 credits). Students interested in this program will apply and begin in the BFA Theatre Design/Technology and then move into this new degree during their Sophomore Year if they so choose. We feel that this interdisciplinary partnership mirrors professional practice, reflects the interests of many of our Design/Technology students, and takes advantage of our relationship with a nationally recognized program for film.
- BFA Theatre Education will add 12 Performing Arts credits to its requirements (56 credits total), formally reflecting what students in this major do with their curricular time.
- BFA Theatre Education and Performance will add 24 Performing Arts credits to its requirements (68 credits total), formally reflecting what students in this major do with their curricular time.
- BFA Theatre will add 12 Performing Arts credits to its requirements (56 credits total) and, beyond the Performing Arts core that all PA students take, will require a second core of Performing Arts classes (20 credits) in addition to a Performing Arts Concentration (16 credits). We feel that this change adds more structure to the program while still offering ample curricular freedom.
- BFA Theatre and Performance will add 12 Performing Arts credits to its requirements (56 credits total) and require 4 advanced Performing Arts classes, 2 of which must be (but all 4 could be) advanced acting classes.
- BFA Acting will be a "by-audition" degree option accessed from the BFA Theatre and Performance program. High School actors interested in studying at Emerson will apply & audition for the BFA Theatre and Performance, go through the two-year Actor Training Core and will then, if they wish, audition for our BFA Acting degree during their Sophomore year. This change allows acting students to come to Emerson for a performance-based BFA program, focus on training for the first two years, and then determine their path instead of having to make that decision while filling out the Common Application.
These changes have been years in the making and we're excited to bring them to fruition. We feel that they better align us with our values while offering students the programs and degrees that they want.
For a more visual representation of these changes, please look at the following pdf.
If you are a current student or graduate looking for information about degrees not listed on this site, please refer to the course catalogues.