Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance: Directing
Designed for students to learn the craft of directing stage productions; the function of a director; and the relationships between a director and designers, stage managers, and actors. Small cohorts allow for individualized educational approaches from devoted faculty who expertly guide and encourage students to achieve their greatest potential.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance: Directing requires a minimum of 122 credits: coursework is 65% within SMTD and 35% within the liberal arts. SMTD coursework to include: Directing Acting Theatre History Technical Theatre Production Practicum Movement and Voice Stage Combat Playwriting Directing Project Studio Liberal Arts coursework to include: Freshman Writing, Shakespeare’s plays, Upper-level writing, foreign language or tested proficiency, and academic electives from across the U-M
The program culminates with a Senior Directing Thesis.
SMTD offers a wide variety of courses across all disciplines.
Degree requirements and term-by-term layout for current students.
The BFA: Directing Experience
Alumni provide a strong network across the country in a variety of performing arts organizations and adjacent fields. From Broadway to Disney World, from the Spoleto Festival to Jacob’s Pillow, and from cruise ships to regional theatres, Wolverines can be found “in the wings” creating and supporting live performance in every venue imaginable.
Visiting artists interact with students as resident teaching artists in the classroom and as guest designers and stage managers on MainStage season creative teams. They zoom in to chat with students at our weekly seminar or as guests in our classes providing a strong connection to current industry practices.
For some students, they want to live and breathe all things theatre! For others, there is flexibility to participate in other extra-curricular activities U-M offers, including varsity or intra-mural sports, Greek life, marching band or glee club.
How to Prepare Your Portfolio
We want to get to know YOU! Show work that demonstrates your curiosity, creativity, artistry, organization, flexibility, or storytelling skills.
In the end, remember we are interviewing you, not your portfolio.
Performance, Production, and Engagement Opportunities
Students in the Department of Theatre & Drama have a wide range of opportunities available to them outside of the classroom, both on and off the stage–depending on your major.
The Department of Theatre & Drama, in collaboration with University Productions (the producing arm of SMTD), presents four to five fully-mounted mainstage shows each year, with casts comprised entirely of acting majors.
Extracurricular performance opportunities are also available through a variety of student-run groups, as well as local professional theatres.
Design & Production Opportunities
Theatre Design & Production and BTA majors work as stage managers, dramaturgs, shop assistants, and technicians for each mainstage production, and advanced D&P students may be selected to design costumes, sets, or lighting for these productions. Theatre students from all majors also crew for the School of Music, Theatre & Dance opera, musical theatre, and dance productions.
Additional design & production opportunities are available though campus groups, as well as local theaters like Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.
The BTA program supports students’ professional development from the very first semester, connecting them with mentors pursuing rewarding and impactful careers in the theatre and adjacent fields. A centerpiece of the program is the BTA Immersion Trip, when students visit a major city to see shows, visit theatres, and participate in Q&As and speed-networking sessions with professionals.
BTA students also participate with community organizations like the Prison Creative Arts Project through LSA.
Interarts students have several opportunities available to them in their joint relationship with Stamps School of Art & Design, including The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series, a one-credit class that takes place once a week at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor.
The Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series brings respected leaders and innovators from a broad spectrum of creative fields to Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater for weekly in-person events — and to your screen of choice with the support of our partners, Detroit Public Television and PBS Books.
The Performing Arts Management & Entrepreneurship Minor
The SMTD minor in Performing Arts Management and Entrepreneurship (PAME) invites exceptional students to add arts management and entrepreneurship training to their academic portfolio. Such training is intended to amplify the careers of students engaged with the performing arts through knowledge, skills, and hands-on experiences to increase and broaden the impact of their creative talents.
The student run theatre organization Basement Arts presents a variety of work – from late night stand-up, to new work, to plays – completely produced by students.
A number of our faculty and students work with the local professional theatres, Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, Michigan, and The Encore Musical Theatre Company in nearby Dexter, Michigan.
In addition, students often work with community and high school theatres in the area, or with the local community theatre, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.