2021 Drama & Theater Arts Degree Guide
If you have a passion for the stage and revel in musicals, Shakespeare plays and live comedies, you may be interested in a degree in Drama and Theater Arts.
Students in the Drama and Theater Arts take classes in theater history, acting, costume design, stage movement, voice, directing, and scene design to learn about the necessary steps to produce a performance. You will participate in performances and learn about the behind the scenes and skill work necessary to ensure a successful production.
While some students enjoy taking classes in all aspects of Drama and Theatre Arts, others decide to specialize in areas such as Theater Design and Technology, Playwriting and Screenwriting, Theater Literature, Acting, Directing and Theatrical Production, Musical Theater, or Costume Design.
Drama & Theater Arts Degrees On The Rise
Drama & Theater Arts was the 59th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 17,726 degrees in this year alone. This is a difference of 484 over the prior year, a growth of 2.7%.
The United States has 968 different schools where you can get a degree in drama and theater arts. This year's Best Colleges for Drama & Theater Arts ranking compares 173 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of theater programs later in this article.
Requirements for Getting a Degree in Drama & Theater Arts
Depending on your area of specialization, your courses will require different skills. Acting requires memorization, public speaking and stage presence, while playwriting requires creativity and strong writing skills. Students interested in directing tend to be leaders, while costume designers are creative and skilled in fashion design. Those interested in theater tech may work behind the scenes with lighting and sound. However, all Drama and Theater Arts students have a passion for theater and tend to be good communicators.
A career in Drama and Theater Arts is usually fulltime, but work hours vary depending on the area of specialization. Critics attend productions, but spend most of their time in the office writing reviews. Directors and actors work long hours practicing and performing, while screenwriters and costume and set designers may work more typical hours with overtime when approaching a deadline. An internship or summer job in theater will allow you to work closely with a professional in your desired area of specialization and learn more about the profession.
Those interested in this field usually practice their skills with theater productions in high school and college. You can also get involved in community productions. College allows you to hone your skills and prepare for a professional career in the field.
Theater Degree Program Entry Requirements
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most theater degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic drama and theater arts program qualifications, to serve in some theater careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.
Drama & Theater Arts Degree Types
There are various different levels of theater degrees. You can get anything from a associate's degree in drama and theater arts to the highest theater degree, a research/scholarship based doctorate. Different drama and theater arts degrees vary in how long they take.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to theater, with approximately 38.2% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for theater workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|High School Diploma||10.1%|
|Some College Courses||8.4%|
The education level required is different depending on the theater career you are seeking.
Career Opportunities for Theater Majors
Drama and Theater Arts graduates work for a variety of companies within the performing arts field. Some graduates work with musical theater companies touring with the production, some are on Broadway, some graduates have gone into the motion picture company, and others work for performing arts magazines or venues. A degree in Drama and Theater Arts provides students with the skills to be a member of any company or organization within the acting field.
Entertainment and performing arts are growing at an average rate; however, this can be a very competitive profession in some areas. Those who are successfully typically have a lot of practice and experience under their belt.
Solid Growth Projected for Theater Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your theater degree? Drama & Theater Arts careers are expected to grow 8.7% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to drama and theater arts.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Musicians and Singers||182,800||6.0%|
|Producers and Directors||151,200||12.2%|
|Writers and Authors||141,200||7.6%|
|Art, Drama, and Music Professors||137,200||12.0%|
|Music Directors and Composers||79,100||5.7%|
How Much Money Do People With a Theater Degree Make?
Recently graduated drama and theater arts students earned an average of $21,389 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $11,100 to as high as $39,600. As you might expect, salaries for theater graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
High Paying Careers for Theater Majors
Salaries for drama and theater arts graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers theater grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Producers and Directors||$89,840|
|Art, Drama, and Music Professors||$82,560|
|Writers and Authors||$73,090|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||$61,020|
Getting Your Drama & Theater Arts Degree
With over 2,345 different theater degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased theater school rankings to help you with this.
Top Ranking Lists for Drama & Theater Arts
Drama & Theater Arts
Highest Paid Graduates
Drama & Theater Arts
Most Popular Colleges
Drama & Theater Arts
Best for Non-Traditional Students
Drama & Theater Arts
Best for Veterans
Drama & Theater Arts
Study Areas in Drama & Theater Arts
One of 9 majors within the Visual & Performing Arts area of study, Drama & Theater Arts has other similar majors worth exploring.
Most Popular Majors Related to Theater
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Fine & Studio Arts||40,751|
|Design & Applied Arts||36,179|
|Film, Video & Photographic Arts||16,756|
|General Visual & Performing Arts||5,720|
Featured Theater Schools
|Request Info||Southern New Hampshire University You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs. Learn More >|
|Request Info||Purdue University Building on Purdue’s mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that’s tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from the prestigious Purdue University system—completely online. Learn More >|
|Request Info||Grand Canyon University (GCU) With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments. Learn More >|
|Request Info||Northcentral University Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences. Learn More >|
|Request Info||Colorado Technical University (CTU) CTU could help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional community, faculty who are real-world professionals, and innovative technology. Learn More >|