Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree with a Major in Visual And Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography

Program Learning Outcomes for the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography

Upon completing the BA degree with a major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a major concentration in Film and Photography, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the social, aesthetic, and technological history of film and photography.
  2. Become fluent in both older forms of filmmaking and photography and newer ones.
  3. Grasp the relationship between the tools and the art.
  4. Utilize the understanding and the fluency to create works of art.

Requirements for the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography

For general university requirements, see Graduation Requirements. Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a major concentration in Film and Photography must complete: 

  • A minimum of 12 courses (36-39 credit hours, depending on course selection) to satisfy major requirements.
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements.
  • A minimum of 7 courses (21 credit hours) taken at the 300-level or above.
  • A maximum of 2 courses (6 credit hours) from study abroad or transfer credit. For additional departmental guidelines regarding transfer credit, see the Policies tab. 
  • The requirements of a major concentration. When students declare the major in Visual and Dramatic Arts, students must additionally identify and declare one of three major concentrations, either in:

It is possible for students to change their major concentration at any time, even after initially declaring the major. To do so, please contact the Office of the Registrar.

Students pursuing the major concentration in Film and Photography are strongly encouraged to explore film-related courses offered in other departments that may enrich their selected major concentration, such as philosophy, anthropology, science, history, cultural studies, language, writing, comparative studies, etc. Students should speak with their faculty advisor prior to enrolling.

The courses listed below satisfy the requirements for this major. In certain instances, courses not on this official list may be substituted upon approval of the major’s academic advisor, or where applicable, the department's Director of Undergraduate Studies. (Course substitutions must be formally applied and entered into Degree Works by the major's Official Certifier.) Students and their academic advisors should identify and clearly document the courses to be taken.


Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography36-39
Total Credit Hours Required for the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts120

Degree Requirements

Core Requirements
Select 5 courses from the following:15-16
Select 1 course from the following:3
Select 2 courses from the following:6-8
Professional Practices Seminar and Field Trip
Elective Requirements
Electives in Visual Arts, Film, Photography, or Theatre
Select 2 elective courses from Studio Arts (ARTS), Film (FILM), Photography (FOTO) or Theatre (THEA) course offerings at the 100-level or above6
Advisor Directed Electives in Visual Arts, Film, Photography, or Theatre
Select 1 elective course in the Theory/Criticism of Studio Arts (ARTS), Theatre (THEA), or Film/Media Studies (offered in the departments of Anthropology, English, French Studies, History, etc.) 23
Total Credit Hours Required for the Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography36-39
Additional Credit Hours to Complete Degree Requirements *50-53
University Graduation Requirements *31
Total Credit Hours120

Footnotes and Additional Information 

Policies for the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography

Program Restrictions and Exclusions

Students pursuing the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography should be aware of the following program restriction:

  • Students pursuing the major in Visual and Dramatic Arts may pursue only one major concentration within the major.

Transfer Credit 

For Rice University’s policy regarding transfer credit, see Transfer Credit. Some departments and programs have additional restrictions on transfer credit. The Office of Academic Advising maintains the university’s official list of transfer credit advisors on their website: Students are encouraged to meet with their academic program’s transfer credit advisor when considering transfer credit possibilities. 

Departmental Transfer Credit Guidelines

Students pursuing the major in Visual and Dramatic Arts should be aware of the following departmental transfer credit guidelines:

  • No more than 2 courses (6 credit hours) of transfer credit from U.S. or international universities of similar standing as Rice may apply towards the major. The 2 transfer credit courses should be studio, film, photography, or theatre practice courses required for all majors. 
  • Transfer students who are transferring coursework from another accredited college or university should be allowed to transfer their undergraduate art courses. However, students must speak with the department chair or program advisor immediately upon transferring to Rice.
  • Transfer credit received via the articulation of advanced placement (AP) credit, international baccalaureate (IB) credit, or A-level credit will not be considered towards major requirements.
  • Requests for transfer credit will be considered by the program director (and/or the program’s official transfer credit advisor) on an individual case-by-case basis.

Distribution Credit Information

The determination of distribution credit eligibility is done initially as part of the new course creation process. Additionally, as part of an annual roll call coordinated each Spring by the Office of the Registrar, course distribution credit eligibility is routinely reviewed and reaffirmed by the Dean’s Offices of each of the academic schools.  

Faculty and leadership in the academic schools are responsible for ensuring that the courses identified as distribution-credit-eligible meet the criteria as set in the General Announcements. Students are responsible for ensuring that they meet graduation requirements by completing coursework designated as distribution-credit-eligible at the time of course registration. 

Distribution courses from Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) are accessible to any student, regardless of their previous experience. These courses are devised for the development of students' artistic skills, creativity, and engagement with art on both a personal and societal level. DI courses are generally 100-level and 200-level introductions to the study of art, theatre, film and photography.

Additional Information 

For additional information, please see the Visual and Dramatic Arts website:

Opportunities for the BA Degree with a Major in Visual and Dramatic Arts and a Major Concentration in Film and Photography 

Academic Honors

The university recognizes academic excellence achieved over an undergraduate’s academic history at Rice. For information on university honors, please see Latin Honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude) and Distinction in Research and Creative Work. Some departments have department-specific Honors awards or designations.

Distinction in Research and Creative Work

Distinction in Research and Creative Work is a university award for select undergraduates, granted at commencement, which appears on the transcript and diploma. Students must apply within their department or program to be considered for the award, and a letter from a faculty member must support the application.

Eligibility for the award extends widely to include a variety of research, design, and other creative projects, as well as persistent dedication to research. Projects completed in part or entirely at other institutions or with community partners will be eligible for consideration.

Applicants must be in good academic standing.

Also, of further note: The award will be granted only to projects that produce a concrete outcome – e.g. an essay, invention, design, art exhibition, project or performance, or musical composition – and demonstrate commitment and/or achievement above and beyond the norm. Students who complete senior theses, senior design projects, or other required senior capstone projects shall not qualify automatically for consideration for this university distinction.

For the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, the application for Distinction in Research and Creative Work must include:

  1. application form, including portfolio;
  2. a written artist statement;
  3. letter of support from a Visual and Dramatic Arts faculty member;
  4. public exhibition, screening, publication, or performance that includes a lecture or artist talk component by applicant;
  5. two-page description of how the project meets the requirements of Distinction.

The department requires exceptional evidence of success, as defined by completion of a project (body of artwork, film, theatrical design work, etc.). Support through the application process is available through the department – e.g. workshops, seminars and individual meetings with faculty mentors.

Contact the department or look online for deadline dates. No electronic submissions accepted. Please note that your project does not have to be already completed to apply for Distinction (all final materials will be due in the Spring semester). The department selects a very limited number of students for this university academic honor.

Exhibitions, Lectures, and Arts Programs at Rice

The Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts mounts several art and photography exhibitions and stage productions each year. In addition, exhibitions and related activities organized by the Moody Center for the Arts enrich the teaching program of the Visual and Dramatic Arts department, as well as the larger university and Houston communities.

The department enjoys an ongoing close relationship with local theatres, museums, and galleries. The department offers opportunities for students to work and study with local art venues and alternative art spaces by way collaborative events and programs. The collections and exhibitions of local museums are often the subject of course lectures.

Lectures, symposia, and talks are sponsored by the department and are designed to bring local, national, and international scholars, actors, directors, critics, and studio artists to campus to speak on a broad range of topics and current interests.

Junior Professional Practices Seminar and Field Trip (ARTS 387)

ARTS 387 is required for students pursuing the Visual and Dramatic Arts major (all major concentrations). The junior year field trip is designed to help VADA majors focus on the upcoming senior year of intensive studio work, and to get to know the Visual and Dramatic Arts faculty and staff. These are trips to cultural centers nationally and internationally, including visits to museums, galleries, artist studios, theaters, and meetings with creative professionals in the fields of film and photography, studio art, and theatre.

National Theater Institute

The National Theater Institute is the educational arm of the renowned Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. The program is designed to complement a liberal arts education with three distinct study-away programs, all offering rigorous, risk-taking theater exploration. The semester long program at the O’Neill Center in Connecticut, the NTI Moscow Art Theater semester, and the seven-week Theatermakers summer program confront the serious theater student with opportunities to discover new creative possibilities.

The National Theater Institute offers an extensive conservatory-based training program for the dedicated student. Distinguished master teaching artists guide the classes in courses in acting, directing, design, playwriting, stage combat, voice, and movement. The Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts will accept academic work completed at the National Theater Institute as transfer credit to fulfill major requirements (following university transfer credit guidelines).

Rice Cinema

Rice Cinema works in concert with the Visual and Dramatic Arts department's academic mission to enrich students’ undergraduate experience. Film and media studies students are provided state-of-the-art screening facilities to examine and study the historical and methodological aspects of movies from around the world in celluloid and 4K Digital Cinema Projection with Dolby Digital Sound. Film production students can showcase their work during the academic year on our silver screen in recently renovated projection facilities.

During the academic year, Rice Cinema screens films from around the world—foreign features, shorts, documentaries, and animation—as part of our ongoing partnership with the diverse cultural communities of the City of Houston. Film at Rice reaches beyond the university’s hedges to create, engage, and encourage scholarly thought and dialog on the many issues that impact our world. Internationally known filmmakers who have appeared on our campus over the years include Werner Herzog, Rakhshan Banietemad, Atom Egoyan, Shirin Neshat, Martin Scorsese, Andy Warhol and Dennis Hopper.

Rice Theatre Program

The Rice Theatre Program curriculum offers a solid foundation in all aspects of theatrical production from acting and directing to technology and design for students who wish to pursue a professional career in theatre or continue on to a graduate program. Theatre courses also are open to non-majors who want to gain a greater appreciation for the art of theatre.

There are two main-stage productions (one fall and one spring) and the possibility of two student showcases offered each year in Hamman Hall, a 450-seat proscenium theatre facility. The department invites distinguished guest artists each semester to direct and produce the two main-stage productions. Participation in productions is open to all students.

Theatre Program faculty are actively involved in professional theatre and film locally, nationally, and internationally and actively pursue opportunities to involve advanced students in that work. In addition, advanced students are encouraged to apply for internship positions whenever possible. Rice students have been accepted in competitive internships at theatres such as The Alley Theatre, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. In addition, students are encouraged to study theatre abroad and transfer course credit back to Rice. Approval for transfer credit must be sought prior to enrollment in a study-abroad program by contacting the director of the Theatre Program.

In even numbered years, the Theatre Program, sponsored by the Alan and Shirley Grob Endowment for Shakespeare in Performance, hosts the Actors From the London Stage, one of the oldest established touring Shakespeare theatre companies in the world, for a week-long residency of workshops, performances, and lectures. Each tour presents a full-length play by Shakespeare performed by five classically trained actors who come from such prestigious companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Additional Information

For additional information, please see the Visual and Dramatic Arts website:

See for tables of fellowships, prizes, and internships/practica that may be relevant to this major. 

The Rice Arts portal can be accessed at