Theater Acting Degree Programs with Course Information

Acting programs can be found at the bachelor's and master's levels. Bachelor degree programs provide a broader overview of theater and stage acting, while a master's program provides more specific and rigorous training.

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Essential Information

Students in acting programs learn how to express themselves, improvise and perform in front of live audiences. Programs prepare students for acting careers in theater, film and television. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission, but perspective students should also expect to audition for each program; audition requirements vary by institution.

Bachelor's Degree in Acting

A bachelor's degree in acting provides students with the dramatic skills required to work as a professional actor. Students learn how to audition and play a variety of roles, with focus on how to integrate life experience into their work. While an acting curriculum offers intensive acting courses, it also teaches students supplementary skills in dance, stage combat, fight choreography and script reading. Production and design courses give students an appreciation for the collaborative nature of theater arts. Coursework typically includes variations of the following:

  • Principles of acting
  • Stage directing
  • History of theater
  • Script analysis
  • Dramatic literature
  • Theater costuming and scenery

Master's Degree in Acting

A master's degree program in acting is intensive and requires students to explore their body, voice and imagination. The objective of this program is to explore the use of self and further develop skills in both text analysis and performance. A variety of on-stage performance opportunities are available for students, and students are encouraged to develop original pieces and rehearse theater as a collaborative art. Coursework covers extensive scene study of a wide range of classical and contemporary pieces. Courses in this program include:

  • Classical acting
  • Voice studies
  • Movement
  • Acting for the camera
  • World theater

Popular Career Options

In addition to working as actors, graduates of acting programs may find work as acting teachers, stagehands, and directors.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for actors are expected to increase 10% from 2014-2024. These workers made a median hourly wage of $18.80 in 2015. In the same year, the lowest-paid ten percent of actors only made $9.27 per hour.

Whether you aspire to perform on stage or on screen, whether you're just breaking into the business or a seasoned veteran of the arts, there are numerous acting programs across the country specifically designed to help you hone your craft.

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