Acting Programs and Degrees

Learn what it takes to get accepted into an acting degree program. Explore the classes you'd take and the student performance opportunities you may have. Find out whether acting classes can be taken through a distance-learning format. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Is an Acting Program Right For Me?

If you are serious about making a career out of performing, then an acting degree program could be a good choice for you. In it, you will learn about how to enhance your acting skills as well as how to manage your life in the acting profession. Most of your training will focus on the three key areas of voice, movement and performing, but you will also learn about a variety of other techniques such as design, directing and lighting. While all acting programs share the common goal of training you for a professional career as a thespian, there are a variety of degree program levels and areas of specialization available.

If you are just beginning your studies, you may wish to enroll in an associate's degree program, which takes only two years to complete and covers basic acting areas. Bachelor's degree programs such as the Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), offer an acting emphasis and can cover areas such as theater and cinematic arts. You can also further your education even more by applying for a graduate degree program. Master's degree programs generally focus more on acting, while doctorate degree programs concentrate on research areas, including drama and production training.

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees
Prerequisites Requirements vary by institution; most schools require applicants to audition
Common Course Topics Acting skills, design, lighting, directing, voice
Online Learning Traditional classroom programs are more typical; however, students may be able to take select courses online
Median Salary (2018)$49,988 (for actor/actress)*
Job Outlook (2016-26)12% growth (for all actors)**

Source: *, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Entry Requirements?

The requirements for admission vary based on the school you apply to and the level of the degree program. With that in mind, there are several requirements that are common to many different schools, including an audition process. The audition process typically involves submitting a copy of your resume with a headshot attached and performing live in front of a panel that will decide your admission. The live performance may involve monologues from classical and contemporary plays, answering questions about plays and vocal performances. Admission to acting degree programs can be highly competitive, so you should be well prepared when you apply.

What Classes Will I Take?

Once you are accepted to an acting degree program, you will take classes that aim to improve your skills as a performer. Some examples of performance-related classes include acting, improvisation, speech and dance.

In addition to performance classes, you may also take classes that cover critical thinking in theater and the history of performing on stage. Some of these classes may have titles such as directing, theater analysis and teaching drama. Many programs also provide you with opportunities to perform live on stage in school or community productions.

Can I Find These Degree Programs Online?

Due to the hands-on nature of training for actors, fully online degree programs may be difficult to find. If you are considering an associate's degree, B.F.A. or M.F.A. degree program, you may be able to take some online courses that cover acting areas, such as screenwriting or classical drama.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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