Image of Ha!
                                "Ha!" created by and starring Matthew Holliday '19, April 2019 

No prior experience is needed to major in Theater and Dance. The Theater and Dance major provides a college-level interdisciplinary foundation in the arts of performance, while allowing for flexible and progressive study thereafter. New students should take one or more 100-level courses in their first year, and strongly consider participating in a departmental production. 
The Theater and Dance major requires successful completion of a minimum of nine and one-half courses as outlined below. Every major completes a senior project, which focuses on a specific area, such as choreography, playwriting, directing, design, dance, acting, or scholarly research, or that integrates two or more of these.

For a handy checklist of requirements and guidelines, see the Major Course Checklist.

If you are considering majoring in Theater and Dance, you should email the department coordinator, Suzie Rivers at, and set up a meeting with a faculty member to discuss your interests and options. Major requirements are sequenced, so speaking with us is important, especially if you plan on going abroad, or are considering completing a second major. We are happy to meet with you!

Major Requirements

Since Amherst College is making the Flexible Grading Option available to all students this semester, the Theater and Dance Department has decided that Theater and Dance courses completed in the Spring 2020 semester with a Pass grade will count toward the major, both for current majors and for those students who decide to declare the Theater and Dance Major at a later time.

Courses in the Arts of Theater and Dance (6)

The Core Courses

  • THDA 111: The Language of Movement
  • THDA 112: Visual Thinking
  • THDA 113: Action and Character

All three Core Courses should be completed by end of the first semester of junior year. They may be taken in any order.  

Intermediate Courses

  • at least two 200-level intermediate-level courses in the Arts of Theater and Dance

Before taking a 200-level intermediate course, you should complete at least two of the Core Courses. Two half-courses in a particular technique (such as dance or speaking) may be combined to count as one full course toward this requirement.

Advanced Studio Course

  • at least one 300-level advanced studio course in the Arts of Theater and Dance

Before enrolling in an Advanced Studio course, you must complete all three Core Courses. We do not offer all advanced studio courses every semester, and all have pre-requisites, so you should plan ahead with your advisor. An advanced studio course must be completed before undertaking the senior project.

Courses in the History, Literature and Theory of Performance (2)

  • THDA 114: Contemporary Performance: Case Studies (required); and
  • at least one elective course in the history, literature or theory of performance

THDA 114 should be taken in your first or second year, but no later than the end of the junior year.  For the elective, students may take an appropriate course offered by another department, or during study abroad.

The Majors Series (1.5)

Stage manager

The "majors series" includes the courses listed below:

  • THDA 400H: Production Studio
  • THDA 498 and/or 499, or 498D, or 499D: Senior Honors

Production Studio is a half-course associated with a stage management assignment, which is required of all majors, which you should request to have happen during your sophomore or junior year. Senior Honors is the course associated with work on the required senior project and written thesis.

Meetings and Productions 

All majors attend:

  • production meetings, rehearsals, and performances, as required;
  • an individual meeting with faculty at the end of each semester; and
  • meetings during the junior year to develop senior project proposals.

In addition to course work, it is expected that majors will participate in a variety of departmental projects, productions and required meetings over the course of their college career.