2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
    Apr 21, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

School of the Arts

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The School of the Arts is a community of artists, professionals, and scholars committed to educating and training students to bring personal vision, commitment, sophistication, and courage to the practice of their crafts in film and television, media arts, performing arts, creative writing, and publishing. The School looks for students who will use their Emerson experience to produce work that explores the world as they see it with informed accuracy and emotional honesty. The School of the Arts shares with the rest of the College the mission of teaching students how to perceive and to question, with sensitivity to ethical and emotional complexity.

In supporting Emerson College’s mission that a strong liberal arts education is fundamental to rigorous professional training, the School offers courses in art history, literature, theatre, and media studies. As the College continually enhances its liberal arts core, students receive the strongest possible educational grounding as thinkers, makers, and citizens of a complex world. New combinations of liberal arts offerings prepare our students for lives in which the interaction of new ideas and new methods are the rule of the day. Underlying all of this innovation, there remains an abiding respect for intellectual rigor and creative discipline.

The School of the Arts consists of three departments (Performing Arts; Visual and Media Arts; and Writing, Literature and Publishing) and the interdepartmental programs and majors in Comedic Arts and Design for Stage and Screen, as well as the Emerson Engagement Lab. Each department offers programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Students in all degree programs at the undergraduate level are encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary study and minors whenever possible. Each department contributes to the Business of Creative Enterprises major in the School of Communication: arts management, publishing, and media producing.

Residential, online, and low-residency graduate programs leading to a Master of Fine Arts are available in Creative Writing, Theatre Education, and Film and Media Art. The School also offers a Master of Arts in Theatre Education and in Publishing and Writing.

In the School of the Arts, our stellar faculty members instill in students a sense of ownership in their education by teaching them to recognize and accept stylistic and ethical responsibility for their work. As they embrace that responsibility, students know to speak with the authority of the master craftspeople and artists they aspire to be.

Students leave the School of the Arts as discerning thinkers and nimble and inventive cultural producers. Working in a grammar of words, images, sounds, and actual and virtual space, Emerson students truly are a creative force.

The Engagement Lab at Emerson College

Eric Gordon, Executive Director, Principal Investigator, and Professor of Visual and Media Arts

The Engagement Lab (ELab) is Emerson’s laboratory for collaborative learning, design, and research.  The ELab supports faculty and students in studio courses or independent research/creative projects to partner with organizations and community groups in its areas of thematic focus: gun violence, mass incarceration, and climate change. With attention to the Boston region, the ELab is committed to creating long-term partnerships with organizations committed to social justice. This is done by supporting Emerson students and faculty in applying their creative skills, scholarly pursuits, and passions to the real world challenges our partners are facing. Housed in a creative space on the edge of campus, the Engagement Lab is a hands-on learning environment for all who care about effectively applying communication and the arts to creating a more just and equitable world. 

Comedic Arts Program

A first-of-its kind degree, the BFA in Comedic Arts integrates comedy writing, performance, production, and studies. Immersive and hands-on in its approach, this interdisciplinary major draws its faculty and courses from the departments of Visual and Media Arts; Performing Arts; Writing, Literature and Publishing; and from the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies. In addition to learning and practicing the craft of comedy, students explore the historical, cultural, ethical, and theoretical dimensions of comedy as a global art form. Our faculty is deeply committed to helping each student find and develop their comedic voice against the backdrop of a creative, collaborative, and supportive learning environment.

The BFA in Comedic Arts offers students the unique opportunity to study comedy across a variety of styles, genres, and disciplines. It invites students to consider comedy and its various applications, to study its history, and to engage in media production, writing, and improvisational performance. Students may also access Emerson’s American Comedy Archives, a curated collection containing oral histories, manuscripts, photographs, and film and video materials from some of the most well-known comedic artists in the country.

Junior Year Experience in Los Angeles

Junior Comedic Arts majors will spend the Fall semester at the Emerson Los Angeles Center engaging in an immersive 4-course, 16 credit, conservatory-style field of study. The intensive nature of the cohesive learning experience ensures students are better prepared to take full advantage of senior level coursework. Faculty for the program are experienced industry professionals with a proven track record of teaching in the comedy arena. Sample courses include, Performing Sketch Comedy, Creating Comedy #Content, Finding the Funny: Comedic Scene Study for TV and The business of Funny.

This unique program is part of the Los Angeles Internship Program, that requires students to enroll in coursework and an Internship experience. Comedic Arts students will have the opportunity to apply for the ELA Internship program for a future semester.


During junior and senior years, students must take two courses in the liberal arts at the 300 level or above from courses approved by the department. These courses may not also be used to satisfy a Liberal Arts or major requirement.

Transfer Policy

This program does not accept transfers, with the exception of internal candidates. Any current student at the College wishing to apply for transfer into the Comedic Arts major must provide a comedic sample and a two-page, double-spaced statement that clearly explains their motivation for the transfer request and interest in the program. Acceptance into the major is subject to the approval of the Program Head.


    Bachelor of Fine ArtsMinor

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