First Year Focus

For additional guidance, view the: First-Year Resources [pdf]

About the Performance Studies Major

The Department of Performance Studies explores performance in all its forms, extending and deepening the understanding of performance as central to the human condition. Students majoring in performance studies engage performance both as an object of study—something to be documented and analyzed—and as a method of study—something to be experienced and enacted. From the adaptation and staging of texts, to the exploration of rituals and festivals, to the study of performance in everyday life, students in the department enter the world of performance and performance theory as an important and emerging field of study.

Good Courses for First-Year Courses

While all 100 and 200 level Performance Studies courses are appropriate for first-year students, the following provide particularly good introductions to the discipline:

  • Performance Studies 200 Introduction to Performance Studies
  • Gen Cmn 203 Performance, Culture, and Communication
  • Gen Cmn 103 Analysis and Performance of Literature
  • Performance Studies 216 Performance and Culture

If you would like to discuss which Performance Studies class is right for you, contact the performance studies advisor, Roxane Heinze-Bradshaw at

Distribution Requirements

During the first year, students in performance studies take a combination of major courses and distribution courses. The distribution requirements are the liberal arts classes that all students in the School of Communication must complete to receive a bachelor’s degree. Performance Studies majors take 2 courses in each of the three distribution areas: Math/Science/Technology; 3 in Individual and Social Behavior; 3 in the Humanities and Fine Arts; and 10 additional in any distribution category. 

AP and IB Credit

AP and IB credits may be applied to the SoC distribution requirement with certain restrictions. The Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences determines what scores will earn what credit at NU. If your credit is not yet posted, have your scores sent from the College Board to the Registrar’s Office for processing.

Once your AP/IB credit is posted to your transcript, it can be applied to your distribution requirements as follows:

  • One AP/IB credit in each of the three areas: Math/Science/Technology; Individual and Social Behavior; and Humanities and Fine Arts
  • An additional six AP/IB credits may apply as additional distribution classes
  • A final credit may count as an elective
  • The maximum total number of AP or IB credit that may apply is 10

Career Paths

Performance Studies alumni pursue a wide range of careers. Several have been instrumental in founding innovative theatre companies (including Lookingglass, Redmoon, Lifeline, and Roadworks companies). Many elect to pursue graduate study in performance studies as well as other disciplines. Other recent majors have begun successful careers as theater and film artists, as actors, directors, and producers. Others now employ their critical and creative thinking skills in their careers as teachers, psychologists, lawyers, and urban planners.


For more information about the major, or to initiate a transfer, contact Performance Studies Advisor Roxane Heinze-Bradshaw at, or make an appointment with her by calling 847-491-7214.