Courses & Curriculum


Program Overview

The BFA in Collaborative Arts is a course of study designed for a diverse group of versatile, curious, and enterprising undergraduates. Students in the Collaborative Arts BFA are required to practice and learn a variety of disciplines and are expected to emerge as multidisciplinary artists. They are seeking a curriculum that emphasizes breadth, integrates theory with practice and rewards the artist who is able to dream up projects and work with others to realize them. The Collaborative Arts BFA appeals to students who are passionate about working in the arts across disciplines.

Degree Requirements

The core Collaborative Arts curriculum combines the investigative process and the creative process, requiring students to: undertake research, bridge subjects, cross disciplines, and make art that address themes and ideas. Students complete their BFA by creating a co-authored, multi-disciplinary work, in collaboration with at least one other fellow artist.

Candidates earning the Tisch Open Arts Collaborative Arts BFA must fulfill the following requirements:

56 Major Credits in Practical Training Across the Arts Disciplines
12 Major Credits in Studies Across the Arts Disciplines
32 General Education Credits
28 Elective Credits

Students finish with enough credits in the above four areas to total 128 credits.

Four Year Sequence

Sample four year trajectory for Collaborative Arts students. For years 2-4, students choose their class sequences (which vary from the example presented below)

Students may be able to accelerate their degree depending on their incoming credits (e.g. AP or IB credits), or by taking summer or January term courses.

Year 1

Beginning in their first year, students in the B.F.A. in Collaborative Arts are introduced to concepts in traditional and arts-based research, theories of group development, and historical and current cinematic, performing and emerging media arts collaborations. Students are also exposed to professional artists’ research and production processes for making meaningful work. Continuing in their first year, Collaborative Arts students engage in required core training in multiple forms of storytelling, including: visual, digital, text-based and performance/movement. This first year lays the groundwork for further collaboration.

Required Courses: Year 1


FALL SEMESTER                


Course Credits Course Credits
Collaborative Arts Workshop I  4 Performative Practice 4
Words and Ideas 4 Technology in Action 3
NYU Expository Writing (NYU Requirement)  4 Visual Narratives 3
    NYU Expository Writing (NYU Requirement)  4

Year 2 / Year 3

In their second and/or third years, students work together in Collaborative Workshops, to investigate and research cultural and/or global perceptions, beliefs and traditions. These semester-long workshops provide students with a platform for discussing, refining, and testing ideas. B.F.A. students engage in ongoing training through tiered courses across the arts disciplines to support their work in Collaborative Workshops. In years 2 and 3, B.F.A. students choose courses in a minimum of two areas of study and practice among the visual, digital, text-based, performance, or movement fields.

Required Courses: Year 2 and Year 3


Couse Credits
Collaborative Arts Workshop II 4
Major Practice (at least 4 credits must come from Tier II courses) 24

Major Studies

Producing Essentials 4
Research Matters (Required Fall Semester, Year 2) 4

Collaborative Arts Workshop III

*students can take this course in their 3rd year, or the fall semester of their 4th year



Year 4

The final year of the degree program is a capstone project in which students pursue research questions in a group project of their choice. In this capstone year, students form working groups to research and investigate an issue of local and/or global resonance. Working as a collaborative team, students then apply their research towards an artistic response to that issue. Each working group is assigned a faculty project advisor who will support their collaborative capstone. Students present their final creative projects and research to the Collaborative Arts community and, as a group, defend their creative projects to a panel of faculty at the conclusion of the capstone year.

Required Course: Year 4


Collaborative Arts Workshop III 

*Students will only take this course in their 4th year if they did not take it in their 3rd year. 

                 4 Thesis                                           6


Required Major Studio Training (58 credits)

The following studio training courses are required for the major. 24 credits of required studio training are chosen by students from the Open Arts practice-based courses based on their interests. 


4 credits (Required course)

Collaborative Workshop 1 is a semester-long course introducing the participant to both disciplinary and multi/inter/trans-disciplinary art practices. The course functions as an exploratory space, challenging participants to live more fully and more immediately, vis-à-vis the development of single-authored and co-authored artworks. Students experiment with various artistic expressions and develop artworks in relation to: Object/Body, Space/Location/Time, Performance/Text, Color/Light/Sound, and Technology. Participants develop an appreciation for art as a valid form of research by examining various artmaking methods through reading, listening, seeing, and creating. By integrating the formal with the conceptual, historical with the contemporary, they make visible the possibilities and multiplicities of approaches in contemporary cultural production.



Words and Ideas

4 credits (Required course)

What does “Art” mean, and how does Art make meaning? WORDS AND IDEAS will undertake a playful grappling with the big questions: What is re-presentation? What is a positive representation—for whom, and how do we know? Why do we choose certain styles, mediums, forms? Should art please, flatter and delight or, conversely, challenge, shock and offend? We will begin to pull apart theories of mimesis (art as imitation) to enable us to be better-informed multidisciplinary artists. Because stories so often undergird how we make meaning, we will explore the concept of narrative—the dramatic scene in a play, 3-act structure in a film—and immerse ourselves in basic storytelling techniques. We will gain exposure to language that helps us critique art, contextualize art, explain art—with the ultimate goal of being able to articulate the intentions of our own art. To this end, we will encounter the major modern and postmodern “isms” (Realism, Expressionism, etc.) to discover what history can teach us to make us better 21st-century artists. The course alternates engaging, interactive lectures with practical recitations. 

Technology in Action

3 credits (Required course)

Our collective intuition and imagination are more powerful than computer programs, yet paired with technology, software, digital media, and online networks, our wildest dreams can become real. By understanding the fundamentals of digital and interactive tools, our DIY sensibilities, artistic practices, and social experiments can be transformative, even revolutionary. With algorithms surveilling and dictating our culture, it is crucial to learn and harness digital technologies for independent expression. In this hands-on introductory course, we will learn to utilize tools for creating interactive musical and visual experiments, playful interactions and games, and emerging media discourse. Students will work independently and collaboratively to create and produce music and sound collages, interactive graphics and augmented reality experiences, internet art, videos and performances. Collaborators from different fields of study will be encouraged to incorporate their individual interests and expertise.

Performative Practice

4 credits (Required course)

Performative Practice, co-taught by a choreographer and acting teacher, offers an overview of contemporary movement and theatrical practices. This course will address explorations of space and time, presence, working with objects, composition, dramatic action, emotional point of view, theatrical use of dramatic as well as non-dramatic text, various improvisational structures, and the connection between the body, voice and imagination. During the semester we will discuss seminal texts that have significantly informed the development of 20th century and early 21st century performance practices. There will be a final research paper (4-5 pages) on a subject chosen by the student in consultation with the instructors, based on the course readings and practical work.

Visual Narratives

3 credits (Required course)

Filmmaking, photography, and the basics of visual imagery are explored through a hands on art-studio experience, which provides an overview of the development of visual storytelling throughout history.  From the first creation of early hand drawn cave paintings to modern film production, all the essential elements of visual representation, visual imagery, visual grammar, and visual narrative are explored. Lectures introduce and explain a variety of methods used to capture a visual image and how visual imagery, both with and without words, is used to convey meaning. In class painting, etching, drawing, film, and photo assignments are given for students to create their own visual imagery, using these several different artistic formats. Technical training on cameras and editing software accompanies these practical assignments. Students also complete several short film projects throughout the course, as they explore the essential nature of visual storytelling, pre-visualization, and practical production. The course examines how the basic tools of traditional narrative storytelling are also used in purely visual storytelling - to create a secondary world and to maintain a suspension of disbelief in order to inform, entertain, and affect the audience.


4 credits (Required course)

Collaborative Workshop II requires students to apply their training and work in multiple arts mediums based on a semester-long exploration of a chosen theme or topic. With an emphasis on play and process - students complete a series of classroom/studio projects based on specific prompts from the Instructor. These projects are designed to emphasize experimentation across the arts disciplines and to foster creative collaboration. In addition to class lectures and workshops, interdisciplinary guest artists are invited to share their work, inspire and support student projects.

The Fall 2020 theme for CW2 is "Creation and Reality."

Students work in groups to develop and present collaborative projects that creatively incorporate real-life material (for example: unscripted interviews, archival material, found footage or newsreel) as the basis for developing their co-authored work. Over the course of the semester, collaborative groups explore what it means to create original works from real-life material - examining how various mediums allow them to delve into this theme differently. The final project is a multi-disciplinary, co-authored work.




6 credits (Required course)

In this course, students form year‐long working groups to investigate an issue of local and/or global resonance to which they plan to respond as a collaborative team through their final semester. The first half of the semester students develop group literature reviews based on different aspects of the group’s chosen research issue/question. The second half of the semester, student groups develop an outline and formulate a project proposal, including budget, resource needs, production schedule and rationale for practical application of the research issue/question. This practical application/creative response is then realized in the final semester of study.

Open Arts Practice-Based Courses

24 Credits

Tier I

Tier I studio training courses are foundational Open Arts practice-based courses across the arts disciplines. All practical training/studio courses listed on the Open Arts course offerings website are Tier I courses unless specified as Tier II. Open Arts courses are open to any NYU student, so Collaborative Arts majors engage with students from various majors, artistic backgrounds and experience levels. Collaborative Arts majors are required to complete a minimum of 24 credits of Tier I & Tier II training to fulfill their Major Practice requirements, of which 4 credits must be from a Tier II course(s). Students must choose tiered training courses from at least two different disciplines (e.g drama and film; dance and media.)

Examples of Tier I courses include:

  • Fundamentals of Filmmaking I: The Art of Visual Storytelling
  • Choreography 
  • Fundamentals of Developing the Screenplay
  • Handmade Music
  • Puppets and Performing Objects

Please note, for students who are interested in studio art, up to four credits of the Major Practice requirement can be fulfilled from within the Steinhardt Studio Art course offerings should they remain open at registration.

Tier II studio training courses are intermediate or second-level Open Arts practice-based courses across the arts disciplines. All Tier II practical training/studio courses are labeled on the Open Arts course offerings website. Almost all Tier II courses have a prerequisite to enroll, please refer to the course description for details. Open Arts courses are open to any NYU student, so Collaborative Arts majors engage with students from various majors, artistic backgrounds and experience levels. Collaborative Arts majors are required to complete a minimum of 24 credits of Tier I & Tier II training to fulfill their Major Practice requirements, of which 4 credits must be from a Tier II course(s).

Examples of Tier II courses include: 

  • Special Effects Makeup II
  • Playwriting Practicum II
  • Fundamentals of Documentary Filmmaking II: Documenting Discovery - Directing & Producing a Short Documentary Film
  • Intermediate Screenwriting
  • Acting II: Advanced Scene Study

Required Studies Across the Arts Disciplines (12 credits)

The following studies courses are required for the major. Research (4 credits) and Producing Essentials (4 credits) are required courses, and the remaining 4 credits of required studies across the arts disciplines are chosen by students from the Open Arts courses, based on their interests.

Producing Essentials

4 credits (Required course)

The role of the creative producer in the entertainment industry is integral to bringing a project to fruition. This introductory course covers both the creative and physical production time-line and provides students with an understanding of the producer's role through a semester-long team-based pitch project, which culminates in written and verbal pitch presentations. Students are encouraged to work on a project that best suits their area of interest: feature film, episodic/streaming, theatre, performance, podcasts, VR/AR or individualized multi-media. The course focuses on the dynamics of producing, including producer skill sets, tasks and responsibilities necessary to effectively and efficiently develop a project.


4 credits (Required course)

This course provides a foundation in creative research methods by examining the range of concepts, theories and praxis of artists and other knowledge producers. Beginning with an overview of the research landscape, including traditional academic research models followed by a series of creative (or artistic) research case studies, this course will address key questions such as, What is creative research in the context of contemporary art practice and why is it important? How do artists define their research, and what social, cultural and political ideas influence them? What roles do collaboration, inter‐disciplinarity and audience play in how artists formulate their research strategies? How do artists gauge their results and what are the markers or processes for verification? How do the findings of creative research contribute to new knowledge applicable to a variety of disciplines?


Balance of Liberal Arts

8 credits

Additional credits of Humanities and/or Science to reach the minimum General Education requirement of 32 credits.

Expository Writing

4 credits (Required course)

(through TSOA's Department of Art and Public Policy):
8 credits required for Freshmen; 4 credits for Transfer students. *See “Expository Writing” for full policy.


8 credits

Two courses for a total of 8 credits from one or more of these areas:
Art History, Classics, Comparative Literature, East Asian Studies, English (except Dramatic Literature), European Studies, French*, German*, Hellenic Studies, Irish Studies, Italian*, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Music (history not theory), Philosophy, Portuguese*,Russian and Slavic Studies*, Spanish*, or other areas as defined in the General Education Guide for NYU Tisch Drama Students

*See “Foreign Language Policy” on how to receive Humanities credit.


8 credits

Two courses for a total of 8 credits from one or more of these areas:
Animal Studies, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies, Computer Science, Economics, Environmental Studies, Journalism (history or theory, not skills), Law and Society, Linguistics, Mathematics, Neural Science, Physics, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, or other areas as defined in the General Education Guide for NYU Tisch Drama Students.

Required NYU Electives (26 credits)

Any NYU course can count as an Elective except those offered through the School of Professional Studies (SPS).


Students majoring in Collaborative Arts can also choose to complete a minor as part of their degree. Minors can be in the humanities, social sciences, languages, or other arts (subject to policies governing minors in those respective departments). To learn more about minors that are offered through Tisch, please visit this website. Examples of minors offered outside of Tisch include: Psychology; The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Technology; Art History; Journalism; and many more.  

Study Abroad

Tisch and Open Arts believe that global and cultural awareness is critical to education and personal development, and the B.F.A. in Collaborative Arts encourages students to study abroad while completing their degree. The curriculum is designed to allow students to spend a semester (or an entire year) abroad while earning core, general education or elective credits. Visit NYU Study Abroad or Tisch Special Programs to learn more about study abroad opportunities at NYU.