Courses and Requirements


The drama curriculum focuses on the study of world theater and literatures from the Greeks through the 21st century as well as hands-on theater making through the art of collaboration. We teach dynamic courses in acting, directing, dramaturgy, design, and playwriting. Our aim is to introduce students to the theoretical and practical dimensions of theater through the encounter of a variety of genres and cultures and to encourage students to generate new work through collective creation.

Drama 102 and 103 give prospective majors a basic understanding of topics ranging from the art of collaboration to theatrical communication, design and technical elements, and essential skills of stagecraft.

Drama 200 allows students to participate directly in departmental productions and thus apply the more theoretical knowledge they obtained in 102 and 103.

In the sophomore year, all majors complete a full-year course on the sources of world drama and begin more intensive study of one or more theatrical skills. This coursework prepares sophomores for more advanced study of both the history and theory of drama and the practical aspects of production.

During the junior and senior years, majors must complete at least two 300-level courses which further develop their understanding of drama and performance studies and their ability to think critically and write effectively about the history and theory of drama. Normally, majors will also continue to participate in departmental productions and to develop their theatrical skills through courses ranging from Drama 302 (Problems in Design) to 382 (Acting for the Camera). Course instructors, as well as those involved in play productions, constantly evaluate students’ progress in developing the theatrical skills explored in each course.

Most senior majors enroll in Drama 390 (Senior Project in Drama). In this course, the student undertakes and completes, with close faculty supervision, a significant project in dramatic literature, theater history, performance studies, acting, directing, design, or playwriting. Students are encouraged to collaborate on a project. Even when undertaking practicum projects in acting, directing, or design, students in 390 must produce a companion research paper of considerable length. In this way, before graduation, each student demonstrates to the faculty his or her ability to think and write about theater, as well as the more practicum skill or skills that he or she has acquired.


Major Requirements

Drama majors study all aspects of theater, from devising work to exploration of the classics. We strongly believe that theory and practice are inseparable. Complex learning, analytical and critical thinking, and collaborative, embodied practice as they are taught in the classroom are tested in a laboratory production environment. The Drama Department curriculum and its Experimental Theater work in tandem. Productions undertaken by the department are curricular in nature.

View Drama Major Requirements in the Vassar College Catalogue.

Important notes

  1. According to college regulations, no student may take more than half their total courses in the Department of Drama. Typically, this is 16 units for a student who graduates with the required 32 units.
  2. Students who take a Junior Year Abroad (JYA) in drama may generally count 2 of their credits, with pre-approval by the department, as elective credits.
  3. Drama 200, “The Experimental Theater,” consists of participation in Drama Department productions. This could be in any area including acting, design, playwriting, dramaturgy, stage management, or directing. This course may only be taken four times.
  4. At the senior level drama majors may elect to take Drama 390, senior productions work, and/or Drama 391, Senior Project in Drama
  5. Students may elect to undertake a senior project in drama during their senior year. These projects are proposed to the faculty in the spring of the junior year and can take many forms: an academic paper or research project, a playwriting project, or a variety of other production opportunities in the Experimental Theater. For production work there are various prerequisites: those who wish to direct in their senior year must have taken course work in directing, theater making, design, or dramaturgy; as well, they must have stage managed or assistant directed a department production. Those wishing to perform a specific role must have taken Actor’s Craft and Actor’s Art. Collaborative, group, and ensemble projects are strongly encouraged.