Bachelor of Theatre Arts
The Bachelor of Theatre Arts (BTA) program gives independent-thinking, entrepreneurial theatre-makers and arts managers the ability to create a course of study supporting their unique interests. The program’s flexibility and interdisciplinarity makes the BTA particularly attractive to undergraduates wishing to pursue a minor or second major at the university. BTA students complete coursework and hands-on learning experiences in a wide range of areas, including performing arts management, playwriting, global theatre and ethnic studies, theatre and social change, practice-as-research, education, and stage management.
The BTA provides flexibility for students who are interested in developing a minor area of study or pursuing a second major. In consultation with the program advisor, students may customize the program to fit personal academic or career goals.
In their own words
I chose the BTA program for its diverse theatre experience that allows me to choose my own adventure in my overall theatre education without limiting myself to only performing, directing, designing, etc.. I enrolled into U-M planning to pursue my degree in business administration and the flexibility of the degree program makes it possible for me to pursue these two degrees at once.
The thing I value most about the BTA program is the flexibility it offers me to lean into the parts of theatre that I am most passionate about as well as explore new areas that I am not as familiar with. Because our program allows us a lot of freedom of how we want to build our theatre education, I have learned a lot about being independent and self-sufficient. I think this is why so many BTA students have leadership positions in student organizations. This is not to say that we don’t have advisors and faculty members to help us when we get stuck, because we do, but I appreciate learning how to make my own path. When I first got to Michigan, I was slightly intimidated by SMTD, but being in the BTA and learning to advocate for myself and put myself out there for new opportunities has given me a lot more confidence in myself and my abilities.
Want to learn about the Bachelor of Theatre Arts (BTA) program from the student perspective? Listen to BTbAbes, a podcast created by and for BTA students! Hear current BTAs talk about designing their own curriculum, pursuing dual degrees at the university, participating in student organizations, transitioning to graduate study or careers after graduation, and more. Conceived, produced, and hosted by Sam Aupperlee ’24, Cortez Hill ’24, Jill Pierangeli ’24, and Paulina Titterington ’24.
Episode 1: An introduction to your hosts, the wonderful BTbAbes, and an overview of the BTA program and why we love it!
Episode 2: A discussion with the lovely Emily Erlich ’21 about stage management and student theatre organizations, followed by a wonderful conversation with MacKenzie Mollison ’22 about performance opportunities in student orgs!
Episode 3: Diving into the BTA as a dual degree option! An interview with Kaitlyn Tom ’22 discussing what it’s like to be a junior BTA double-majoring in Communications, followed by a discussion with Dylan Genouw ’21 about being both a BTA and STEM major!
Because the BTA program serves students with wide-ranging interests, auditions and prescreening interviews are not required. Applicants must submit a Statement of Purpose and several writing samples as outlined by the department via the Artistic Portfolio.
The Bachelor of Theatre Arts requires a minimum of 120 credits: roughly half of the coursework must be within SMTD; the other half may be taken in other schools at U-M. BTA students take a core of theatre courses and also a significant number of elective courses from a broad range of theatre offerings, such as Playwriting, Global Theatre and Ethnic Studies, Performing Arts Management, African American Drama, History of Decor, Theatre and Incarceration, Latina/o Theatre for Social Change, Solo Performance, and Multicultural Acting.
SMTD offers a wide variety of courses across all disciplines.
Degree requirements and term-by-term layout for current students.
The BTA 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.
Guest Artists & Masterclasses
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.
BTA students immerse themselves in real-world applications of their studies through the Immersive Learning requirement. Students fulfill this requirement through study abroad, internships, fieldwork, the Prison Creative Arts Project, and other community-engagement work.
BTA students also work in our professional production shops, supporting the mainstage season through a series of credit bearing production practicums.
The BTA provides flexibility for students who are interested in developing a minor area of study or pursuing a second major. In consultation with the program advisor, students may customize the program to fit personal academic or career goals. SMTD coursework to include: Acting Design Script Analysis Theatre History, Literature, Criticism Technical Theatre Stage Management Professional Development (BTA Forum) Immersive Learning (internship, fieldwork, study abroad, or equivalent) Liberal arts coursework to include: First-Year Writing, Upper-level writing, Race &; Ethnicity elective, and academic electives from across the U-M.
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.