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Schools in the USA

Theatre Programs In America

Credential
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

  • Bachelor of Science (BS)

  • Associate of Arts (AA)

  • Associate of Fine Arts (AFA)

  • Diploma/ certificate


  • Program Length
  • 4 years for bachelor's degree

  • 2 years for associate's degree

  • 1-3 years for diploma

  • 12-52 weeks for certificate


  • Entry
  • Bachelor's degree - direct entry; entry after associate's degree

  • Associate's degree - direct entry

  • Diploma/ Certificate - direct entry


  • Areas of Study
  • General arts, theatre, drama

  • Specialization areas include acting, scriptwriting, directing, technical theatre, theatre design, period- and region-specific theatre.


  • Special Features
  • Opportunity to work with visiting guest artists

  • Participation in public performance

  • Studio workshops

  • Limited enrollment

  • Opportunity to participate in specialized competitions


  • Broadway and Hollywood bookend this country with impressive opportunities in theatre arts. And, truly, all across the country there are theatre programs that can train you for every possibility. From limited-enrollment, competitive bachelor's degrees to community college diplomas and certificates, be sure to read up before you make your decision.

    Theatre arts degrees provide flexibility for possible combinations of majors and minors, so that you can tailor your program to your talents and interests. For instance, within a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theatre you might study technical theatre, theatre design, directing, writing, acting, as well as theatre from different periods, such as Shakespearean drama, modern theatre, American theatre, theatre history. You can also pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in playwriting or acting: for instance, the Actor Training Program (ATP) is a 4-year professional program for those serious about an acting career.

    Because theatre intersects with other performing arts-such as music and dance--don't forget to check out honors, double major and interdisciplinary studies options. This range of choices means finding the right program itself requires creativity: some institutions have specific theatre Schools or Colleges, while at other universities you should look for theatre programs in Colleges or Schools of Arts, Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, and possibly others. There are also specialty 4-year colleges devoted exclusively to the arts, so make sure you look around! Many smaller liberal arts colleges also offer theatre programs, and those who want to study theatre arts in a different context may want to consider taking theatre at a Christian or women's college.

    Most university and 4-year college theatre programs combine theoretical, historical and cultural learning with practical studio or lab work, and often culminate in public performances. Field trips and study abroad sessions are sometimes optional, sometimes compulsory, so that students are exposed to important art works and working situations "live." Class sizes are small, thereby giving students an intimate and personal education that encourages exploration and development of their own artistic vision. A bachelor's degree in theatre is a good start to a career in the arts, or as a step towards a master's degree.

    Many community and technical colleges also offer performing arts programs, with some colleges dedicated solely to this field. Their programs are usually 2-year associate's degrees-such as Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Fine Arts (AFA). As well, 1- to 3-year diplomas or certificates in the more technical aspects of theatre, such as costuming or the many aspects of technical production and stagecraft, prepare students for employment, and these credentials often qualify for university transfer credit. Community college programs tend to be more career-oriented and may include business skills. Diplomas and certificates may also be available.

    So whether it's on stage or behind the scenes, there are many educational paths to making a career in the magic of theatre.

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