About Performing Arts

Performing Arts students build technique and artistry under the guidance of top-notch faculty and professionals from the San Francisco Bay Area arts community.  Whether you want to act, dance, sing or play an instrument, there's room for you here to learn and grow as an artist and a student.

Performing Arts offers four distinct majors and minors:

The Performing Arts Department builds creative artists with multiple skills. A team-taught core course cultivates thoughtful perception of the arts while introducing the distinctive languages of each medium. Rigorous studio and lab courses build technique, while classes in history, theory and analysis provide a critical engagement with the substance and styles of dance, music and theatre. Students learn to discuss and analyze both classic and contemporary works, and to understand the arts in the context of the long history of great ideas and artistic achievements that have shaped our world.

Performing Arts’ signature values include:

  • Mentoring by faculty members who are both outstanding teachers and accomplished artists.
  • Frequent attendance at world-class dance, music, and theatre performances around the Bay Area.
  • Multiple and varied performance opportunities, beginning with the first year.
  • Challenging standards that help students achieve artistic excellence and professionalism.
  • Master classes, guest lectures and informal contact with professional artists, connecting classroom learning with the real world.
  • A welcoming and inclusive student cohort experience, in which students of all levels are supported and encouraged in their individual development.
  • Stimulating creative collaborations and intellectual exchange between programs. 


The capstone of the Performing Arts degree is the senior project, for which students must produce a substantial original research paper or artistic work demonstrating their command of artistic and intellectual skills appropriate to the undertaking.

The Performing Arts Department provides students the experience of the arts from the pleasurable to a critical engagement. Team-taught core courses cultivate the skill of careful, thoughtful looking and listening while exploring the distinctive languages of each art form. Upper division courses provide the opportunity to discuss and analyze both acknowledged masterpieces and contemporary works. World-class performances around the Bay Area and contact with professional artists connect classroom learning to live performance. Our students enjoy attending an impressive array of performances at venues including Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Davies Symphony Hall, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, and Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall. 

The Performing Arts Department builds performers. Majors and non-majors study together in studio courses and performing ensembles, building technique and performance skills with the guidance of professional teacher-artists. Dancers, vocal and instrumental musicians, and actors—both beginners and more experienced—are challenged creatively and encouraged in their individual development. Theatre technicians are given ample opportunities to develop their skills as stage managers, master electricians, and designers.

The Performing Arts Department successfully prepares students for graduate studies and professional performance in both the Bay Area and internationally. Our alumni have been accepted to the graduate programs of Mills College, California Institute of the Arts, CSU Long Beach, CSU Los Angeles, Smith College, and NYU School of the Arts.  Others have found their performing arts degree an effective preparation for a career in arts administration, education, media and communications, even law.

The Performing Arts Department encourages students to understand dance, music, and theatre in the context of a long history of works and great ideas that have shaped the world in which we live, thus reflecting a deep commitment to the liberal arts tradition. Students explore humanity’s deepest desires and fears conveyed through the arts. The department requires students to develop critical thinking and communication skills plus performance practice that together are the hallmark of the liberally educated person.