Columbia College Chicago

Theatre Directing, BFA

As a leader on stage and behind the scenes, you have the vision and initiative to fully realize a production from beginning to end. At Columbia, we make sure you gain experience leading teams and working through challenges as a director.

At other schools, you might only direct one production. But at Columbia, you’ll direct at least three fully-realized projects. And you’ll begin interpreting scripts and working with actors and productions during your first year, directing progressively longer pieces with bigger casts and production teams throughout the program. In Directing I, taken during your first year, you’ll direct a five-minute piece. By the time you get to Directing IV during your final semester, you’ll direct a full-length play.

This highly experiential program lets you learn where you excel as a director before joining a team at a professional theatre. 

What to Expect Your First Year

Theatre students from all disciplines and majors come together in two first-year Theatre Foundation courses. In your first-semester Theatre Making course, you’ll explore the artistic processes of theatre making within the contemporary landscape of the discipline. You’ll be part of a small cohort of students from all backgrounds working together in a collaborative atmosphere. In your second-semester class, Performance, you’ll work with faculty to learn specific performance techniques in acting, voice and movement. This will help you to assist actors in your future rehearsals.

During your first year, you’ll also dive right into your major with Introduction to Directing I and II, Stage Management I, and a Theatre Design course you’ll choose based on your interests.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your last year, you’ll be preparing for a professional career in theatre directing. You’ll document your work with photos and video in a final portfolio that will demonstrate your expertise and unique vision.

Over the course of the program, you’ll take four directing courses. As you go, you’ll work with teams of actors, designers and technicians that are increasingly similar to what you’ll find in the profession. In your capstone directing class (Directing IV), you’ll direct a full theatrical production under the supervision of your instructor.

A business course will provide an overview of the professional landscape for directors and assistant directors in all contexts of theatre, from professional shows to schools and community-engaged theatre. You’ll also participate in Senior Showcase, a professional development event with industry professionals. And you’ll attend our annual Master Class, where you’ll work with a guest artistic director from a Chicago theatre.

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Put simply, Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs generally require fewer credits within the major than Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. This means BA students have greater flexibility to include electives and minor courses of study, while BFA students follow a more focused and rigid path.

All Theatre students admitted to Columbia College Chicago start in the BA track. Eligible students will have the opportunity to audition for BFA programs during their first or second year of enrollment.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

You’ll study in Chicago, one of the great theatre cities of the world. You’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant theatre scene, network and see productions on a regular basis. You’ll have the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaborations across campus.

Our Theatre Department puts on approximately 40 productions a year, giving you the opportunity to continually hone your skills throughout the program while learning every aspect of theatre. 

What are my internship options?

Internships are required for seniors. Our internships immerse you in a professional theatre, expand your experience in the industry, and show you first-hand how professional directors structure auditions and rehearsals.

We have ongoing relationships with theatres who welcome our Directing students for a broad education in how a theatre works. We host two internship fairs each academic year, with attendees ranging from prominent theaters like Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and the Goodman to small storefronts and everything in between.

Our faculty’s strong connection to the Chicago theatre scene and their work with companies throughout the city ensures diverse and rich selection of internship opportunities for our students.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

Looking for an event near you?

If you can’t make it to campus, don’t worry! We have a full schedule of events all across the U.S. and around the world.