Theater Arts major to be renamed 21T

The program was formerly titled 21M-2

Beginning in the fall of 2024, MIT’s “Theater Arts” major will be renamed Course 21T, distinguishing itself from the traditional music major titled 21M. Prior to this change, Course 21T was designated Course 21M-2: the Music major will still be titled Course 21M-1.

Professor Sara Brown, Course 21T’s major and minor advisor, wrote to The Tech that “popularity has definitely played a role” in creating Course 21T. Brown believes that the creation of 21T will reduce confusion amongst the student body, especially given the designation of the previous Theater Arts program under that of Music.

“As enrollments have risen, and more students pursue the major, minor, and concentration, it has been vital that we communicate more clearly to the students,” Brown wrote. “21T communicates Theater, whereas 21M-2 has caused confusion. Music and Theater are one administrative entity but we are two different programs each with our own major, curriculum, research agendas, and programming.”

She also added that the opening of Building W97 in 2017, a space that allows for theater work, played a key role in expanding the program in terms of student enrollment, and that the dedicated space “reflects the significant growth of [the theater] program on every front.” 

According to the department, students must first demonstrate “demonstrate proficiency in theater arts fundamentals and have experience participating in a performance.” Popular 21T classes will remain intact, including “Introduction to Acting,” “Voice and Speech,” and “Playwriting Fundamentals.” 

Brown added that the current 21-M2 students will become 21T students, and like with the prior 21M-2 major, 21T students are required to take 186 units within the major.

Notably, none of the subjects taken in the major can be counted for General Institute Requirements (GIRs) or the 180 units required beyond the GIRs. Utilizing a course for credit between two departmental programs is not permitted. 

21T students can also choose to complete a thesis as part of their major if they qualify. In addition to Brown, other 21T administrative faculty include Professor Jay Scheib as the transfer credit advisor, and Lecturer Dan Safer as the concentration advisor. 

For non-21T students, Brown encouraged them to “take a 21T class during their time” before they graduate.

“We have classes in acting, dance, directing, playwriting, podcasting, drawing, as well as design classes for sets, lighting, projection, costumery, sound and interactive media,” Brown wrote. “Students should also take a look into taking 21T.100: Theater Arts Production. This class provides an excellent opportunity for students to collaborate in the same way that professional theater companies do and to see their work realized on stage in front of a live audience — all while receiving course credit!”
The 21T class schedule for the upcoming Fall semester has been released, encompassing both undergraduate and graduate-level classes.