Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts

Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts

performers on stage for rehearsal

Perform, design, direct, and create

Welcome to a community where dreamers, doers, and creators are made. In the Performing Arts program at Iowa State University, you’ll receive practical training in professional performing artistry. You’ll also gain skills employers seek, like communication, collaboration, and leadership.

Our program prepares you with specialized skills – whether you want to perform, design, direct, or manage. Along with our highly regarded faculty mentors, you’ll learn from nationally recognized guest artists in residence. We host Broadway vocal coaches, award-winning playwrights and designers, professional musical theatre choreographers, and many others.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to unearth your full potential in the performing arts.

View the catalog to review degree requirements

Pathways for specialization

You can choose an emphasis in one of four areas: Acting and Directing, Musical Theatre, Theatrical Design and Technology, and Dance.

Since our program is 100% dedicated to undergraduate success, you’ll have plenty of real-life learning and leadership opportunities in your field of choice. There’s no competition with graduate students for leading roles onstage or design and production positions.

Explore leadership roles in stage management, lighting design, sound design, costume design, scenic design, puppet design and props design for our major productions. And our Ten-Minute Play Festival and Fringe Fest allow you to flex your skills in directing, film, playwriting, and many other creative areas.

Bobbie Buie (’25, center) performing in Climate Change Theatre Action, 2021
Bobbie Buie (’25, center) performing in Climate Change Theatre Action, 2021

"The flexible degree program allowed me to explore and find what area of theatre fulfills me the most. I also knew that I would receive more individualized and hands-on education with the smaller department size – and indeed, the opportunities that I’ve been allowed through ISU Theatre have been limited only by the number of hours in the day.”

– Bobbie, ’25 performing arts, English

Career-ready Cyclones

Along with your classes and practical training, we will help you build your resume through professional theatre internships and opportunities to showcase work at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Recent students have interned at places such as the Santa Fe Opera and the Great River Shakespeare Festival. Our students are also well-represented in the Start Something LAS Academy for innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Jefferson White (’12), lead actor on TV’s Yellowstone
Jefferson White (’12), lead actor on TV’s Yellowstone

Graduates from our program have gone to careers such as:

  • Project manager in arts production
  • Youth theatre education director
  • Administrator for the Minnesota Vikings
  • College theatre professor
  • Award winning professional playwright
  • Donor relations director in higher education
  • Nonprofit theatre educator
  • Sales coordinator for a national banking institution
  • Scenic designer
  • Television actor

Experience Innovation

Hannah Johnson (’24 Engineering, Minor in Performing Arts), lighting designer for Always Plenty of Light in the Starlight All-Night Diner.
Hannah Johnson (’24 Engineering, Minor in Performing Arts), lighting designer for Always Plenty of Light in the Starlight All-Night Diner.

Students have opportunities to try out many innovative ways of making theatre and telling stories:

  • Create and perform with puppets made from unconventional materials in our new Puppet Laboratory.
  • Explore film and other media through digital storytelling.
  • And experience Fisher Theater’s state of the art video, lighting, and sound technology.

Community in the making

Our program is community-focused. We build our season together – your ideas included. Collaborate on performances that entertain audiences, inspire social change, reimagine classic stories, and spotlight contemporary topics. We’ve even taken our shows on tour around the Ames community!

Ready to join the Department of Music and Theatre?