Frequently Asked Questions

Please feel free to contact us should you need further information about the School of Performing and Visual Arts or any of our programs.

Art and Design

What is an Art and Design portfolio?

Portfolios contain a compilation of your work! Here are some guidelines for submitting your digital portfolios:

  • Portfolios should include 10-15 images of your work. You may include: drawing and painting from observation/imagination, printmaking, sculptures or other three-dimensional works, ceramics, print, packaging, illustration, typography, web design, identity campaigns (logo design and branding), digital photography, and interactive media/motion graphics.
  • If you have interactive media/motion graphics, please share the URL when submitting the form.
  • File should be saved as a single Adobe PDF document.
  • Include 1-2 images per page: Include title of work and medium used.
  • File should be no larger than 25MB.
  • Please use the following format for the file name: first_lastname_portfolio.pdf.

We look for both an interest in and commitment to art, as well as skills in drawing and painting from observation/imagination, a sense of color and design, and other creative abilities.

What if I have limited experience in studio art? Should I even submit?

Many of our incoming students have little or no experience in formal studio art training but do have a love of art! Chances are you have been drawing your whole life, so absolutely submit. If you are accepted to our program, we teach you the foundations of studio art from the start.

Will I have a chance to speak to Art and Design faculty?

Yes, we will have online sessions where you can meet with members of the faculty to discuss our Art and Design programs at USM.

When will I know the result of my portfolio submission?

We will notify you after all of the portfolio review dates have passed in March.

Does the portfolio submission cost any money?

No. It does not cost any money, just submit all the requested information via the online form!

How do I apply for a scholarship?

To apply for a scholarship, you will need to submit the following:

  • Digital Portfolio
  • Recommendation: You will need to submit the contact information of a reference. It can be a visual arts teacher or an employer. You will need their first name, last name, email, title/position, and organization.
  • An essay titled “Why I Want to be an Art Major at Southern Miss?”

Once you submit your application form online, your reference will receive an email on behalf of Southern Miss Art and Design with an online recommendation form for them to submit. Note: You will need to certify that you have permission from your reference to share their email address, so they can be contacted via email by USM to request the recommendation.

Do you offer “full ride” scholarships?

Rarely. We prefer to use our scholarship money to benefit the greatest number of majors. Scholarships average about $500 per academic year. If you are not awarded a scholarship the first time you apply, you are able to reapply each year.


How do I audition for the Dance Program?

Currently, we are only accepting online auditions. The online auditions are available to you at any time, find the audition form. The advantage of an online audition is the accessibility of submitting your audition materials when and where it is most convenient for you.

What if I have no experience in modern dance? Should I even audition?

Many of our incoming students have little or no experience in modern dance: most dancers first experience modern dance in college. The majority of our majors come with experience in ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, even tap, show choir, etc. If you are accepted to our program, we teach you modern dance from the start. I think it is common to be intimidated by a style of dance with which you are less familiar, but that shouldn’t stop you from auditioning if you want to be a dance major.

What materials do I need to submit?

Since you will be auditioning online, the required materials should be submitted along with the video, including resumé, your responses to 3 personal dance major narrative questions, contact information of a reference, and essay (if auditioning for a scholarship).

What do I wear to audition?

You should wear a leotard and tights, and nothing distracting. In order to determine important things like alignment, it is essential to see your body as you dance. This is particularly true for online auditions.

When will I know the result of my audition?

We will notify you no later than two weeks after your audition. This is true for campus auditions and individual online audition submissions. The exception are online auditions in the summer. Depending on faculty availability during this time, reviewing auditions may take more time. You will be notified by letter and required to respond by “accepting” your position as a dance major officially. Directions for how to do this will be in your acceptance letter.

Can I re-audition if I feel I did not do well?

Yes, but not in the same year.  If you audition and are not accepted, you can request feedback on what to work on to be more successful in our audition if you try again the following year.  It is important to remember that our audition does not determine whether you are a good dancer or have potential, but whether you would find success in our B.F.A. dance program if accepted.  We have had several students successfully re-audition after another year of independent dance training.  If becoming a dance major is your goal, we encourage you to do what is needed to both pursue and achieve this!

Does auditioning cost any money?

There is no cost, for either the campus audition or the online audition.

How do I apply for a scholarship?

In addition to the audition application form and your resume, you need to have a dance teacher complete a brief recommendation form (sent electronically) on your behalf. You will also need to complete an essay based on one of the two questions offered. This gives us a better idea of what motivates you as a dancer.

Do you offer “full ride” scholarships?

We rarely offer full scholarships. Instead, we prefer to offer scholarship monies to benefit and invest in as many of our dance majors as possible. The scholarships range from $150 – $3300 per academic year and are awarded based on academic excellence, service to the program, and potential in the dance program. Students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships funds each year. The receipt of a scholarship is designated for one year, and students reapply each year. We send reminders to students about the due dates for scholarships and encourage all qualified majors to submit applications for consideration.


Why should I chose USM Theatre?

Well, USM has one of the finest theatre programs in the South. We can prove it to you, too. The program is nationally accredited by the NAST. The department offers specialized course work in performance, design, stage management, directing, musical theatre, and more. We offer two degree plans so that students can choose a broad focus in the BA or a detailed focus for the BFA.

Every year, USM students compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and represent us very well at both the regional and national levels. We have won regionals (covering the entire Southeastern U.S.) and gone on to nationals several dozen times and in all major areas (acting, directing, playwriting, scenic design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, allied arts, etc.)  USM undergraduates have won in every one of these areas, so don’t listen if people tell you only graduate students win. Our undergraduates are trained to be ready. So why wouldn’t you choose Theatre at Southern Miss? #SMTTT

What is the difference between a BA and BFA at USM?

The Bachelor of Arts, or BA, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts, or BFA, are two different but equally respected degree programs within the School of Performing and Visual Arts. The BA offers a broad view of theatre and the chance to explore multiple interests within theatre. It also leaves room in the schedule for other interests, a minor, or even a double major.  Transfer students who completed the general education at a community college can finish a BA in Theatre in two years of regular study.  BFA students specialize in Acting or Design and Technical tracks.  More course work is required within the emphasis area for these students and the faculty apply a higher standard of expectation.

All students enter as BA students so that they learn something about all areas before choosing a specialization. Students may apply for the BFA when they have completed a series of internal requirements.

When and where do I apply for mainstage shows at USM?

Auditions for mainstage shows happen once at the beginning of the school year for fall semester shows, and then once more in the late fall semester for casting of spring semester shows. Auditions take place in the Theatre and Dance Building.  We run a 6-show season at Southern Miss. Those cast in mainstage shows rehearse up to 4 hours per night, so showcases and ensembles have to be approved by the faculty.

What other audition opportunities do you offer at USM?

Other than the mainstage shows, you may audition to showcases, original playwright readings, and special directing projects. We have student ensembles that present awesome showcases every semester, including Harlem (inclusive performance ensemble celebrating people of color), PRISM (LGBTQ+ performance group), Writers@Play (playwright group), Skip the Script (improvisation troupe), and Fight Club (stage combat group).

As an underclassmen or transfer student do I have a shot at a mainstage production?

Absolutely. Every student that auditions has a fair shot. Major roles are spread through every class level. We understand how daunting auditions can be as you start your collegiate career and we are committed to giving students every opportunity to showcase their talents. So, every freshman, sophomore, or transfer student is guaranteed a spot in the Freshman, Sophomore, and Transfer Showcase. We encourage new students to join the ensembles listed above.  We also hope you’ll join our national honor society, APO, for a family network that is dedicated to welcoming and supporting the next generation of USM Theatre. You will quickly get your footing.

What is it like to be in a program with graduate students?

USM is very proud to host a thriving Master of Fine Arts program with specializations in Directing, Design and Technology (Scenic, Lighting &Sound, and Costume Design), and Performance. The presence of graduate students in the department pushes undergraduates to have a professional sensibility to their work and increases the competitive standard they will need in the real world of professional theatre. Most of the graduate students arrive with considerable resumes in professional theatre. Graduate students work directly with undergraduates in shows and classes and help foster an academic environment that is unique to The University of Southern Mississippi. Graduate TAs offer coaching and practice sessions so that students have more help in putting projects together for their professors.

There is an added bonus for theatre majors at USM because graduate students take up the responsibility of non-majors’ courses and students. This means that our faculty and staff are able to fully dedicate their time to Theatre majors and they are able to teach in much smaller and more intentional classroom settings.  You get MORE faculty attention and a support system that helps you become the best you can be.

Is the USM Theatre Program focused on diversity and inclusivity?

It is more than a focus, it is a dedication. We celebrate inclusion and diversity in every aspect of our program.

How many shows are there each year?

There are currently 6 mainstage shows running throughout the academic year. We also have 2 major Directing Projects, at least 12 major Showcases, a Playwright Series with a resident Professional Playwright, the APO New Play Festival, and more!  Every other spring the Advanced Directing class puts on 3 nights of One Act Plays. Our Southern Arena Theatre summer repertory is our awesome theatre opportunity for those seeking a professional model of full time theatre. The department strives to stay relevant and desires to invoke thoughtful dialogue with its audience. There is usually a mix of contemporary and classical pieces as well as musical and non-musical selections.

What courses should I take as an incoming theatre major?

Here is a link to the registrar’s page that features degree plans for all majors that we offer.

Normally, freshmen take three (3) General Education classes (like English or History – and including University 101), two (2) entry-level Theatre classes (like Stagecraft, Introduction to Theatre, or Fundamentals of Acting), and two credits of Practicum (credits you get for working on main stage productions every semester). Then, you keep that balance and try to clear your GEC classes by the end of sophomore year so you can focus on your major more fully during your junior and senior years. If 15 -17 credits is too much right away, you can spread the credits into January intersession (one class before the semester starts leaves a lot more time for the other 4!) or summer session (yea, summer school is pretty cool at the college level).

Mailing Address //

118 College Dr. #5033
Hattiesburg, MS 39406

Physical Address //

201E Theatre and Dance Building
Hattiesburg Campus

Phone //


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