Which Colleges Have Performing Arts Programs in California?

Find colleges in California that offer programs in performing arts. Learn about program requirements, prerequisites, and other important school information for those colleges offering these programs in the state of California. Schools offering Theatre degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Explore undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the performing arts in the state of California. Schools that offer such programs provide a wide variety of fields of study so students can enter their preferred performance specialty right after graduation.

What You Should Know

Several universities and state colleges in California offer performing arts programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Oftentimes, these programs allow students to choose a particular area of focus, such as music, theatre or dance. Bachelor of Arts degree programs in performing arts generally take four years to complete and require students to gain hands-on training in their chosen artistic medium. Two-year graduate degree programs in the performing arts field often have a strident selection process and require students to complete a thesis project of some kind.

Colleges in California with Performing Arts Bachelor's Degree Programs

California State University - Los Angeles

At California State University in Los Angeles, you can prepare for a career in performing arts by completing a baccalaureate degree program in theatre arts and dance. The program consists of 99 credit hours and can be completed with a dance or theatre option. For the dance option, you can learn beginners through advanced-level skills in movements involving ballet, jazz and modern dance. Training is also provided in breathing techniques, choreography and ethnic dance. The theatre arts option emphasizes study in areas such as character and scene study, costuming, directing, stage lighting and world theatre.

Through the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance, you may enroll in a Bachelor of Arts general music program that consists of 84 credits and deals with music history, literature, theory and performance. There's also a Bachelor of Music program that allows you to choose an area of specialty. For the jazz studies, music education, keyboard, instrumental and vocal performance specialties, you will need to complete an audition to gain admission. You need to submit two letters of recommendation for the music education concentration. The composition track is open primarily to those who can demonstrate strong skills in their entrance portfolio. If you select the commercial music track, you must submit audio samples, written samples or compositions of original songs. This track can also be completed with an emphasis in composition and arranging, music technology or performance.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Dance, Bachelor of Arts in Music, Bachelor of Music
  • Fields of Study: Dance, theatre arts; composition, commercial music, keyboard performance, instrumental performance, vocal performance, jazz studies (Bachelor of Music concentrations)
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $6,355 per year for state residents; $17,515 per year for non-residents
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, complete college prep courses with grade of C or better
  • Requirements: Submit proof of immunization records, complete and submit audition, portfolio and/or letters of recommendations
  • School Type: 4-year, public; roughly 20,700 undergraduate and 3,800 graduate students

University of San Francisco

Through the College of Arts and Sciences, you may pursue a bachelor's degree in performing arts and social justice. You can complete this degree program with an emphasis in dance, music or theatre. The dance concentration covers a wide range of genres including ballet, contemporary, hip hop, jazz and West African dance. You will also receive training in dance composition, choreography and pedagogy.

The music track consists of lecture, instrumental, vocal and private lesson training. Courses include music anthropology, Western music history and music theory. For the theatre concentration, you will receive professional training in areas such as voice acting and scene study, community theatre and play production. You can also complete coursework in dance, music and theatre as a minor program.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts and Social Justice
  • Field of Study: Dance, music, theatre
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $42,634 per year for state residents and non-residents
  • Requirements: Official high school transcripts, mid-year report, essay, one letter of recommendation
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; roughly 6,850 undergraduate and 3,850 graduate students

San Jose State University (SJSU)

San Jose State University offers programs in performing arts through its School of Music and Dance and the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre. As a music major, your curriculum will include training in dance technique and choreography, dance kinesiology, ballet, modern and jazz dance. The jazz studies and performance music programs prepare you for a career as a musician or performer by developing your skills in arranging and composing, musical expression and performance styles. For the theatre arts program, you can complete courses for one of the fields of study mentioned or combine courses for a multi-disciplinary degree. You will also have the opportunity to perform in main-stage and student productions held at the university; advanced students can audition for television and film agents, casting directors and regional theatre companies.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, Bachelor of Music in Performance, Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts
  • Fields of Study: Acting, directing, design and technology, theatre education and musical theatre, writing and research (theatre arts concentrations)
  • Program Length: Four years, full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $7,378 per year for state residents; $18,538 per year for non-residents
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent, complete all required high school courses with a grade of C or better
  • Requirements: Complete audition
  • School Type: 4-year, public; roughly 26,660 undergraduate and 6,050 graduate students

University of California-San Diego

The University of California at San Diego is located just 45 minutes from the Mexican border and about two hours from Los Angeles. You can complete courses in performing arts by majoring in dance, theatre or both. As a dance major, you can learn various art forms such as ballet, contemporary, jazz and tap dance. For the theatre major, your training will include courses in lighting and sound, acting, costume design and stage management. Topics in the dance and theatre double major include theatre acting and design, dance choreography, movement and performance, playwriting, directing and stage management. The university also offers dance concerts, studio acting projects, theatre practica and study abroad opportunities to help students further develop their skills.

  • Program Name: Bachelor of Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Arts in Theatre
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $13,530 per year for state residents; $38,238 per year for non-residents
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED, minimum GPA of 3.0 for CA residents and 3.4 GPA for non-CA residents in high school 10th and 11th grade courses,
  • School Type: 4-year, public; roughly 24,800 undergraduate and 5,900 graduate students

Colleges in California with Performing Arts Master's Degree Programs

California State University - Los Angeles

Graduate students at Cal State in Los Angeles can pursue advanced studies in music and theatre arts. If you're looking for a general music program that covers a wide range of topics, you can enroll in the Master of Arts in Music program. If you're looking to concentrate in a specific area of music, you choose from one of the six areas of concentration mentioned for the Master of Music program. Additionally, the Master of Music program requires completion of a comprehensive exam and thesis project to meet the degree requirements. For the theatre arts major, you will complete a total of 45 credit hours of coursework such as dramatic comedy and tragedy, avant-garde and Shakespeare theatre, dramaturgy and playwriting. You can also further develop your skills through several acting studio and performance classes.

  • Program Name: Master of Arts (M.A.) in Music, Master of Music (M.M.), Master of Arts in Theatre Arts
  • Fields of Study: Composition, commercial music, conducting, keyboard performance, instrumental performance, vocal Performance, Afro-Latin music, music education (M.M. concentrations)
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Graduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $7,621 per year for state residents; $16,549 per year for non-residents
  • Prerequisites: 4-year degree in music from an accredited institution (music programs), music credential or qualified music teacher (music education program), bachelor's degree in theatre arts, dance or performance with a 3.0 GPA (theatre arts program)
  • Requirements: Complete graduate placement exam in music (M.A. in Music program), complete placement exam in music history and theory, submit portfolio and/or complete audition (M.M. program), copy of all college transcripts, artistic resume or portfolio, statement of purpose, writing sample, three letters of recommendation (M.A. in Theatre Arts program)
  • School Type: 4-year, public; roughly 20,700 undergraduate and 3,800 graduate students

San Jose State University

At SJSU, you can purse advanced studies in performing arts by selecting the theatre arts master's program. The program is offered through the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre with a thesis or research project option. To earn your degree, you must complete an oral exam for the thesis option and an oral defense based on a written exam for the research project option. Some of the courses you would take in this program include performing arts theoretical perspectives, performance cultures, twentieth century dance and scriptwriting.

  • Program Name: Master of Arts in Theatre Arts
  • Program Length: Two years, full-time
  • Graduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $8,644 per year for state residents; $17,572 per year for non-residents
  • Prerequisites: 3.0 GPA in undergraduate theatre arts, radio, television, film and media courses
  • Requirements: Submit portfolio
  • School Type: 4-year, public; roughly 26,660 undergraduate and 6,050 graduate students

Prospective performing arts students in the state of California can pursue either a bachelor's or master's degree in a variety of specialties.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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