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About the School of Theatre and Dance

The School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University provides intensive artistic and academic training for students preparing for careers in theatre and theatre-related areas. The course of study is rigorous and realistic, designed to develop, challenge and broaden the skills and attitudes of all theatre students, but especially the highly motivated student who takes responsibility for his or her own growth.

Our principles are simple. Students perform publicly all four years of the program. Our students have a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence, but also the ability to work as an ensemble and treat other artists with respect – this is not only fostered but required. We emphasize in collaboration and NOT Competition!

Why Northern Illinois University is a Unique Theatre Training School

"I have had the pleasure of working with a number of recent graduates of Northern Illinois University's actor training program, and I have found them to be exceptionally well prepared as artists and as professionals. I feel NIU is certainly one of the premiere training programs in our region, and quite likely in the country."

--Steve Scott
Associate Producer
The Goodman Theatre

There are three metropolitan areas within a 2.5 hour drive of the university, all with robust theatre communities, including Milwaukee, and Madison, and of course, Chicago. NIU’s proximity to Chicago gives our students enormous professional exposure, with opportunities to audition for summer stock companies, internships at major regional theatres and to work as assistants and designers for many of the hundreds of producing organizations that call Chicago home.   

The goal and the focus of the training we provide ensures that graduates of this program step out the door ready to begin their careers. SoTD alumni are actively working in film, television and onstage in NY, LA, major regional theatres and overseas.

Every academic year, we stage a full season of seven Mainstage Series and six Studio Series productions on three stages, providing public performance opportunities every year of a student’s academic career. Our programming reflects eclectic choices, which are designed to challenge both our students and our audiences. Also every year, a select group of students studies for one month at the famed Moscow Art Theatre School.

The School offers several degree programs, including BA in theatre arts, BFA with emphases in acting, design and technology and dance performance, and MFA with specializations in acting and design and technology.

Global Impact

We have an internationally recognized faculty of practicing artists and scholars, and a gifted student body of about two hundred, recruited and carefully selected from around the country and abroad. The School of Theatre and Dance is a member of the University Resident Theatre Association, and its programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre.