Theatre Arts program

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Dim the lights. Step on stage. Begin your future.

Discover your future in theatre whether performing, directing, designing, managing or working behind the scenes. Theater students also gain skills that transfer to a wide range of professions beyond the stage.

UWL's Theatre Arts program is nationally-recognized with multiple honors from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Competition. It is also named one of the best college theater programs in the U.S., according to OnStage Blog.

Students receive one-on-one attention from faculty, gain a tremendous amount of production experience, and join a positive, collaborative and artistically-stimulating environment. 

Theater arts definition

Theater arts involves using live performers to present a story — real or imagined — in front of an audience. Theater Arts is a broad field with many avenues to pursue whether on stage or behind the scenes. UWL's Theatre Arts curriculum allows concentrations in six areas:

  • General theatre studies
  • Design/technical
  • Performance
  • Musical theatre
  • Stage management
  • Arts administration

The UWL Theatre Department allows you the ability to create opportunities for yourself. Whether it was an interest in the scene shop, an internship at a local theater or the desire to be a dramaturg for a play, the professors always responded to me with, 'What can we do to help make it happen?'

Kelsey Norton

Theater jobs

Theater Arts is great training to build career skills such as creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, meeting strict deadlines, and more. All of these skills are fully transferrable to nearly any career within or outside of theater.

Graduating students will also leave with experience that opens doors to graduate school and careers within the theater world. Careers in theater include, but are not limited, to


  • Actor
  • Technical, artistic or music director
  • Business or box office manager
  • Choreographer
  • Lighting, sound, costume or special effects designer
  • Costume shop supervisor or technician
  • Drama coach
  • Dramaturge
  • Director
  • Make-up artist
  • Master carpenter or electrician
  • Playwright
  • Producer
  • Production, house or stage manager
  • Pyrotechnician
  • Scenic designer or painter
  • Stage crew
  • Theatre consultant, critic or instructor

What distinguishes UWL's Theatre Arts program?

National recognition

UWL Theatre Arts students and productions have been nationally recognized for excellence and professionalism by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Faculty and students have been recognized for their production work in the American College Theater Festival (ACTF) Irene Ryan Competition, as well as design/tech/management certificates of merit.

Top program in Wisconsin

A national theater blog placed UWL's Theatre Arts Department as the best theater program in Wisconsin in a listing of top programs in all 50 states. OnStage editors say identifying top college programs begins with finding those doing “amazing things and giving their students fantastic preparation for their various industries.”

Classroom learning + practical, production experience

In UWL's program the performance stage is a natural extension of the classroom where students can demonstrate, refine and expand the skills they have learned. Students gain a well-rounded education with an emphasis on the collaborative and creative process. Additional hands-on experience is also available through classroom projects, senior recitals and designs, undergraduate research grant-funded productions, and other student laboratory productions.

Hands-on involvement in productions

UWL students work on six, fully-produced shows each academic year. Students are involved from the start of their academic career whether as backstage crew, technicians, designers, stage managers, performers or front of house staff. Through involvement, students are able to gain a network of peers in the department. Participation in theater productions is open to all UWL students regardless of major.

One-on-one student attention

The student-to-faculty ratio in the program is smaller than many comparable programs, allowing for more individualized attention. Each student receives regular feedback on their progress and development as a student and artist. Department faculty and staff know who students are and how they’re performing academically and artistically. 

Global perspective

The Theatre Arts Department provides a diverse and global perspective by teaching coursework in a cultural context from various cultures/geographic regions around the world, maintaining non-traditional casting whenever possible, and linking with other organizations to provide culturally-rich programming. Students in the program have had opportunities to study and travel to Vietnam, London, Russia, Spain, Italy, India and more.

Reputable faculty and guest artists

UWL Theatre faculty have a wide range of professional experiences including designing for the American University in Cairo, Egypt; performing with the Boston Lyric Opera; technical direction for the Great River Shakespeare Festival; directing and performing for The Alternative Truth Project; authoring The Stage Manager’s Tool Kit; and leading study abroad opportunities in London. The department also frequently brings guest artists to campus from professional and educational theater.

Choose your path

Students can choose to major in one theatre emphasis area while minoring in another thus enhancing their educational opportunities and professional marketability. Note: Musical Theatre is the only emphasis area offered as a major only; no minor is available.

Areas of study

Theatre Arts

Arts Administration Emphasis

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Design/Technical Emphasis

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

General Emphasis

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Musical Theatre Emphasis

MUndergrad major

Performance Emphasis

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Stage Management Emphasis

MUndergrad major mUndergrad minor

Sample courses