Theatre & Dance Advising Guide

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The Department of Theatre & Dance

What is Theatre & Dance?

Theatre and Dance are both collaborative art forms that use live performers to present the human experience, both real and imagined, before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. These performing arts also form the basis for modern film and television.

 

Career Opportunities in Theatre & Dance

Persons who graduate with a degree in theatre are found in just about all walks of life. Most people might assume that the theatre profession is limited to actors who specialize in performing on stage, on television, or in films. The truth is, there are many, many professional positions that involve theatre expertise, including designers, stage managers, technicians, audience education specialists, electricians, box office managers, marketing and development personnel, and arts administrators. As well, these positions are not just found in regional, summer stock, and other theatre venues, people with expertise in theatre are sought after in theme parks, museums, schools and educational institutions, digital media companies, and throughout the entertainment industry.

Students in theatre learn to meet deadlines, to work with diverse groups of people toward a common goal, to analyze situations, to identify alternatives and then make the best choices, to accept responsibility for decisions, to communicate facts and feelings effectively, to understand others, and to think on their feet. Many graduates use the skills learned in the major to go into other areas, such as the law, education, and politics.

 

Salary Trends in Theatre & Dance

Theatre and Dance are both very competitive fields, and compensation rates range from entry-level minimum wage positions, to Hollywood star salaries that can be counted in the millions. 

Unlike more vocationally-oriented majors, such as majors in business, engineering, or the health professions, A&S majors tend to study a greater range of topics outside of their immediate major area. This greater breadth provides an interdisciplinary perspective that complements the more linear education in the student’s major area. 

As a result, A&S are majors compatible with a wide-range of career options. A large 2012 survey of employers found that 81% of employers will consider any degree, so most employers do not require a specific degree. So A&S majors typically find post-graduate employment at rates comparable to more vocationally-specific degrees, Furthermore, longitudinal studies which have followed college graduates over time have shown that Arts and Sciences graduates' rates of salary growth often exceed those of more vocationally-specific majors. For example, a 2010 longitudinal survey of college majors after graduation found that:

“Occupationally specific degrees are beneficial at the point of entry into the labor market but have the lowest growth in occupational status over time. Students earning credentials focusing on general skills, in contrast, begin in jobs with low occupational status but subsequently report the greatest growth.

Another longitudinal study concluded that:

"Employment across educational fields is almost identical for individuals aged 35-44, and beyond age 45, humanities graduates actually have higher rates of employment than those in other fields. After age 45, humanities and social science majors’ salaries overtake those of counterparts in other fields."

Finally, A&S majors have on average the highest rates of increase from starting to mid-career salary, with Math, Philosophy, International Studies, Physics, Political Science, Chemistry, and Journalism all scoring in the top 10 among all majors in rate of salary growth to mid-career.

 

High School Preparation

In addition to any theatre or dance courses offered in high school, potential majors with a broad range of liberal study courses (e.g. English, history, psychology, etc.) will be well-suited for entry to college and university theatre programs.

 

How to Major in Theatre & Dance

Though it is possible to change one’s major after starting university, the most efficient path for a potential major includes declaring their Theatre and Dance major upon enrolling in university. Advisors will help incoming students identify and register for the appropriate courses from their first semester onward.

 

Theatre & Dance Highlights

Students have opportunities to hone their communication skills and learn the theories behind communication success.  Learning how to communicate well in various situations can be fascinating.

 

Study Abroad Opportunities

Include a bi-annual study abroad offering, involving summer study in places such as London, Ireland, Scotland, etc.

Studying abroad is an exciting and meaningful experience that will contribute to your academic and personal development.  Participating on a study abroad program can be one of the most profound decisions of your college life, and can lead to many new and interesting opportunities.  It can help develop your critical thinking skills, sense of independence, and confidence.  When you depart on your study abroad program, you will go with excitement, trepidation, and uncertainty about the world and your place in it.  When you return home, your deep connection and affection for your host culture will be overwhelming, and will only be matched by a newfound respect and appreciation for your home.

Study abroad is the opportunity for USA students to spend time in a different country while earning credit towards your degree through taking classes, interning, volunteering, and more.  There are many different types of study abroad available to you at USA. They include faculty-led programs, international exchange programs, and direct-enroll and affiliate programs. 

Students on faculty-led programs will travel as a group led by USA professors and take classes in various locations. All courses taken on these programs are USA courses and offer USA credits that will apply to your degree. International Exchange programs are partnerships with specific universities around the world with which USA has a special, reciprocal relationship. Students enroll directly at the host university, and students from the host university attend USA. USA affiliate programs allow students to enroll at a partner university or program through a third-party provider. GPA requirements vary by program.

You should think of the Study Abroad Office as a one-stop shop for information related to your study abroad experience. The Study Abroad (http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/) team is excited to assist you as you navigate through the process of choosing a program, and will help you from the advising stage until you return from your program.  You can get started by coming to meet with an advisor during Walk-In Advising hours. During an advising session, you can gain general information about the many programs available, how the application process works at USA and general guidance on where to begin.

Be sure to visit the OIE Study Abroad website at http://www.southalabama.edu/studyabroad/ to begin your research.  The website contains information on how to get started, financing your program, and a comprehensive list of pre-approved study abroad programs and partners. While researching a passport or visa programs, consider the following: eligibility requirements, location, course offerings, and costs.  You should also meet with your faculty advisor for assistance in selecting a program based on courses related to your degree.

Studying abroad can be one of the highlights of your university career, giving you wonderful and challenging experiences that will allow you to grow both academically and professionally. Where will you study abroad?

 

Academic Plan

Following an academic plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years. 

To see a sample academic plan for this major, please click here.  Degree plans provide only a suggested schedule; make sure to meet with your academic advisor to find the actual schedule that is right for you.

For additional degree information, visit the undergraduate bulletin.

 

For More Information

For more information on this program, contact Theatre & Dance Department Chair, Dr. Lars Tatom, at (251) 460-6305, or by email at: tatom@southalabama.edu.

You can find us on campus at: 

The Department of Theatre & Dance
Laidlaw Performing Arts Center
5751 USA Drive S.
Mobile, AL 36688

Department website