No Business Like Show Business: Theater Degree

Do you thrive under the spotlight and would love to use your acting abilities to entertain the crowds? Do you want to experience the thrill of acting in front of a live audience instead of the cameras? Maybe you prefer taking charge and directing others or love the idea of producing a play. Throughout the ages the theater has been an important part of human culture and by obtaining your theater degree you can be a part of this historical industry. Theater can be both educational and entertaining while also creating a sense of community. Famous actors like Natalie Portman, Hugh Jackman, Andrew Garfield, Robert Pattinson and Lea Michele all started their careers in theater and many choose to return to the stage even after transitioning to the big screen.

Degree Programs you Might Like

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Theater Degree Info

Bachelor of Arts Degree

A Bachelor of Arts program can be completed in four years and students can typically choose to focus on a specific area or a combination of concentrations. During the second year of the course, students then take part in more specialized courses to further expand their understanding of the theater industry. Concentrations that can typically be selected include playwriting, directing, design, theater and community, or performance studies. The type of courses will depend on the concentration that you choose. For example, choosing a design concentration means courses such as lighting and costume design while a playwriting concentration might feature dramatic literature and creative writing.

Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree

A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in acting is typically geared towards students who plan on becoming stage actors. This type of course normally takes about three years to complete and include core training geared towards voice, movement and acting classes. As part of your training you will usually also take part in departmental productions. Depending on the institution where you study you may also be prepared for national auditions at regional theaters, festivals or acting companies.

Master of Arts in Theater Degree

Master of Arts in Theater degrees are also available where you are able to study theater history, playwriting, acting, directing, dramaturgy, theory and other topics related to the industry. This course typically offers a blend of theory and practice feature required classes such as Theater history, play analysis, as well as dramatic theory and criticism. Before enrolling in a Master of Arts in Theater degree you will typically be required to have a Bachelor’s Degree. Depending on the course and your own circumstances, this type of degree can generally be completed in anything from 18 months to three years.

Theater Degree FAQ

Can I Obtain A Theater Degree Online?

Due to the fact that theater courses generally require you to participate in experiences and interactions with fellow students and teachers, it is not always possible to study everything online, especially the acting side. However, some schools do provide hybrid courses where part of your studies can be done online while the rest takes place on campus or other locations. For the online portions you may be able to watch video recordings of lectures or theater performances as well as learn about topics such as theater history, play genres and directing. It is also possible to take introductory classes that are available online before committing to full-time or hybrid courses.

Who Are The Ideal Candidates For A Theater Degree?

Obviously you will benefit the most from having some natural talent, but there are a couple of other skills that are essential for working in the theater business. Creativity and teamwork go hand in hand with the theater, so possessing these skills will be very beneficial. You also have to be passionate and driven if you want to succeed and of course have plenty of self-confidence. In addition, due to the long evenings spent in rehearsal it is recommended that you have plenty of stamina and endurance. If your goal is to be on the stage, then you should have good communication skills, be able to follow directions perfectly and have a knack for connecting with audiences. On the other hand, if you aspire to being a theater director or producer then you should have good management skills and have some natural leadership qualities. Regardless of the career path you want to pursue in theater, you will have to be able to work under pressure and adhere to deadlines.

What Are My Career Options With A Theater Degree?

There are numerous career paths available to those with a theater degree and your options will be determined by the focus of your studies. Common jobs include becoming a professional actor/actress, playwright, director, stage manager, dramaturg, literary manager, theater educator, drama therapist and more.

How Much Can I Potentially Earn With A Theater Degree?

Your potential income when working in the theater industry depends on a lot of factors. Actors, directors and producers who are in demand can command high salaries, but it can take time to build up a reputation and reach such a point. The type of career path you choose will also have an influence on your potential salary. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, actors earned a median pay of $18.80 per hour during 2015. During the same time the median hourly rate for directors and producers was about $32.91. The BLS also predicted job growth of about 10 percent from now to 2024 for actors, and nine percent for directors and producers. Of course, people working in this industry tend to earn more in major areas and with big productions.

What Are The Other Benefits To Earning A Theater Degree

Although the skills and knowledge gained by earning a theater degree are very useful when working in the theater industry, it has plenty of other real-world applications as well. While the majority of people with theater majors become producers or makers, there are many others who go on to become politicians, lawyers, marketing executives, management consultants and more. A theater degree can give you the confidence boost needed to do well in careers where you are always in the public eye. This is thanks to the presentation skills as well as voice and body control you learn over the course of your studies. After paying your dues on theater stages you might even find yourself heading to Hollywood if you are lucky.

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