Majors & Programs

Undergraduate Theatre Education and Performance (BFA)

Inspire classrooms and communities by harnessing the experience of live stage performance.

About the Undergraduate Theatre Education and Performance Major

More than 100 years ago, Emerson College was among the first colleges to teach theater arts for young audiences. Today, our undergraduate Theatre Education and Performance BFA program integrates theater arts and education in classrooms, communities, and onstage. 

Housed in the Department of Performing Arts in the School of the Arts, the program’s foundation is in the liberal arts. Upon this, you build your proficiency in acting—mastering the fundamentals of dramatic arts in our two-year Actor Training Core. All performance majors at Emerson go through this intense experience, training together to understand themselves in their work.

Our students and faculty believe in the transformative power of theater. Employing the experience of stage performance in the classroom can be a revelation—and the start of a lifelong commitment to enlivening young minds and shaping society’s future.

Theatre Education and Performance has provided me with such important information and perspective on our education systems and structures under an arts lens. On top of that, I have been able to continue my practice of being a performer, allowing me to become more of a well-rounded educator and artist.

Real-World Experience as a Performer and Educator

Theatre Education and Performance majors have ample opportunity to gain real-world learning experience. Here are a few examples:

  • Emerson Stage is the producing organization within the Department of Performing Arts. Its nine-show season offers more than 120 opportunities for actors, 100 positions for design staff, 70 for production staff, and another 70 for theater management staff and 30 artistic staff—all reserved exclusively for Performing Arts students.
  • Students have the opportunity to hone their skills for the camera by acting in student films produced on real working sets on campus and on location through our Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department. 
  • Our campus is home to a vibrant student theater scene with 30 student performance organizations, including Emerson Shakespeare Society, RareWorks Theatre Company, Musical Theatre Against the Grain, and Emerson Urban Dance Theatre.
  • As the professional presentation and production organization of the Office of the Arts at Emerson College, ArtsEmerson brings industry-leading theater and film from all over the world to the heart of downtown Boston. Through master classes, brown bag lunches, networking events, discounted tickets, and free student rush, ArtsEmerson gives students the chance to learn from cutting-edge artists.

Careers for Theatre Education and Performance Majors

Our Theatre Education and Performance graduates pursue careers in professional theater, community outreach, and the classroom. Graduates who pass the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure will have met all the requirements of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education–approved program, leading to initial licensure as a teacher of theatre at all levels (pre-K to 12+). Examples of careers include:

  • Children’s Theater Manager
  • Drama Teacher
  • Drama Therapist
  • Educational Outreach Coordinator

Notable Performing Arts Alumni

  • Christopher Brindley, Theatre Arts Teacher and Director, Department Head of Performing Arts, Framingham Public Schools; Vice President, Executive Council Member, Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild
  • Marisa McIlrath Jones, Associate Director of Education and Practical Learning, Huntington Theatre Company
  • Sam Simahk, actor, Carousel (Broadway), Into the Woods (touring), The King and I (touring)
  • Angie Zomer, Director of Extended Day and Assistant Director of Summer Camp, The Chestnut Hill School

Through exciting hands-on processes like playmaking and studying best practices in multicultural education, we learn how to best create safe and successful learning environments for our future drama classrooms. We explore the use of theater as a tool for social and emotional growth, among others, but, most importantly, how teaching drama is simply empathy building.