Most schools in Virginia offer acting and theater bachelor's degrees, although master's degree and certificate programs also exist. To complete a degree program, students may be required to complete practicums and internships and may need to complete a senior project. In addition, once admitted, students may need to audition annually to remain in the program. Below are overviews of ten of the largest public and private colleges and universities in Virginia offering acting training.
College of William and Mary
The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg offers a bachelor's degree in theatre that hosts roughly twenty students each year. Courses include acting, stagecraft, theatre history, direction and dramatic theory. Undergraduates must complete practicums in both performance and technical roles. This program is offered through the Department of Theatre, Speech & Dance, which has 28 faculty members.
George Mason University
Fairfax's George Mason University has several options for aspiring actors. The Bachelor of Arts program offers a theatre concentration that includes courses in modern and Shakespearian acting, script analysis, voice and speech fundamentals, movement and characterization. Students earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts pursue a more rigorous curriculum with courses in visual thinking, stage combat, makeup design and dramaturgy. The capstone project for both programs is a one-person show. Additionally, undergraduates in either program can receive a certificate in musical theater by completing a series of music theory, voice and dance classes. The university's School of Theater has 21 faculty members.
James Madison University
James Madison University, located in Harrisonburg, offers a bachelor's degree program in theatre that includes courses in dance, performance production and visuals. From there, students can choose to concentrate in theatre or musical theatre. The theatre program covers topics such as acting, performance analysis, scene study and auditioning. Musical theatre participants take courses such as dance, group and private voice, aural perception and music theory. Both programs include theatre practicums in areas such as performance, costumes, management and scenery. The school hosts up to 24 productions each year, all of which are heavily run by undergraduates. There are 12 faculty members in the university's School of Theatre and Dance.
Students at Liberty University in Lynchburg can pursue a bachelor's degree in theatre arts with courses in play production, theatre history, acting and stage voice. The performance concentration addresses stage accents, movement, musical theatre and classical acting. A senior project is required. Undergraduates in the department have access to 15 faculty members and a campus chapter of Alpha Psi Omega, the theater honor society.
Northern Virginia Community College
Annandale's Northern Virginia Community College offers an 18-credit theatre studies certificate designed for students who want to further their experience. Courses in public speaking, theatre appreciation and acting are combined with electives in voice and diction, playwriting, directing, creative drama and lighting. This program may be offered at multiple campuses throughout the state.
Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University in Norfolk has two Bachelor of Arts options for theatre studies. The B.A. programs provide training in stage and film acting, screenwriting, directing, movement, performance analysis and experimental theatre. The performance emphasis includes a host of required and elective courses, such as dance, the creative self, stage combat, costumes, auditioning, camera acting and spoken text. This degree requires an annual audition to stay in the program. All students must complete a senior project and participate in performance and production experiences.
Undergraduates at Radford University in Radford may pursue Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees in theatre. Courses include theatre aesthetics, stagecraft, acting, directing and makeup. The program's performance emphasis focuses on areas such as voice and speech, movement, scene study, playwriting and directing. Theatre practicums and internships may be required.
Regent University, based in Virginia Beach, has a variety of acting programs. Students in the bachelor's degree program learn about acting, movement, play analysis and costume design. A total of six practicum experiences are required. The school also offers a 1-year online Master of Arts program and a highly competitive 3-year Master of Fine Arts program. Also available is a post-graduate certificate in theatre practices, which includes an on-campus residency program.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia, located in Charlottesville, offers undergraduate and graduate programs in drama through its Department of Drama, which has 26 faculty members. Bachelor's degree candidates take courses in musical theatre performance, movement and stage combat, script analysis and film/television texts. The Master of Fine Arts program accepts a small number of actors every three years and delves into areas such as voice, movement and expression. This program requires a thesis project.
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University has a Bachelor of Fine Arts program that focuses on acting, movement, voice and dialects. This program, offered through the 'Theatre VCU' department, also includes courses in theatre business, auditioning and film acting. The department also offers a Bachelor of Arts-level theatre program that allows students to pursue additional training in another field. Students in both of these programs have access to 23 faculty members, acting showcases and a number of performance and production facilities.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Acting Programs Offered||Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|College of William and Mary||4-year; public; small suburb||Bachelor of Arts in Theatre|| $19,372 (undergraduate in-state),
$41,072 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|George Mason University||4-year; public; large suburb|| Bachelor of Arts in Performance (Theatre Concentration),
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance for Stage and Screen (Theatre Concentration),
Certificate in Musical Theater
| $10,952 (undergraduate in-state),
$31,598 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|James Madison University||4-year; public; small city||Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance|| $10,018 (undergraduate in-state),
$25,152 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|Liberty University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; small city||Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts||$20,109 (undergraduate)*|
|Northern Virginia Community College||2-year; public; large suburb||Certificate in Theatre|| $5,138 (undergraduate in-state),
$11,055 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|Old Dominion University||4-year; public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance (Theatre - General Emphasis),
Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Dance (Theatre - Performance Emphasis)
| $9,480 (undergraduate in-state),
$26,220 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|Radford University||4-year; public; small city|| Bachelor of Arts in Theatre,
Bachelor of Science in Theatre
| $9,809 (undergraduate in-state),
$22,093 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
|Regent University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; large city|| Bachelor of Arts in Theatre,
Master of Arts in Theatre,
Master of Fine Arts in Acting,
Certificate of Graduate Studies in Theatre Practices
| $16,478 (undergraduate),
|University of Virginia||4-year; public; small suburb|| Bachelor of Arts in Drama,
Master of Fine Arts in Drama
| $15,192 (undergraduate in-state),
$44,365 (undergraduate out-of-state),
$17,094 (graduate in-state),
$26,892 (graduate out-of-state)*
|Virginia Commonwealth University||4-year; public; midsize city|| Bachelor of Arts in Theatre,
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre - Performance
| $12,772 (undergraduate in-state),
$31,464 (undergraduate out-of-state)*
Source: *NCES College Navigator.