Performing Arts Associate Degree

Read about associate degree programs in the performing arts, including specific areas of concentration. Find out what you'll learn, as well as information about career options and employment and salary outlook for performing artists.

Do I Need to Earn an Associate Degree in Performing Arts?

Performing arts encompasses various areas, including instrumental and vocal performance, theater and dance. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a degree isn't required to find a performing arts career; however, performers in certain fields, such as acting and dancing, might benefit by completing a formal training program (www.bls.gov).

These programs might be offered as an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Performing Arts with a concentration in a specific area, such as drama or dance, or they might be named after the concentration itself, such as an A.A. in Drama or an A.A. in Dance. Some schools will require you to audition for their performing arts programs.

Education Associate of Arts
Common Courses Stagecraft, production, script analysis, music theory, composition
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 1% for actors
0% Musicians and singers
-1% Dancers and choreographers
Average Hourly Wage (May 2018)* Actors: $29.34
Musicians and singers: $37.51
Dancers and choreographers: $20.70

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Might I Learn?

As a performing arts student, you'll take a number of general education courses, in addition to elective and core courses in your area of concentration. For example, programs with an emphasis in theater might cover topics like stagecraft, production, acting and script analysis, while those in music might include courses in music theory and composition, as well as classes that focus on different instruments or musical styles. Your program also might include an internship. While some general education courses might be offered online, performing arts classes generally must be completed on campus due to their hands-on nature.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

Once you've graduated, you can choose to enter the performing arts field or apply your training toward an advanced degree program, such as a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts. The BLS predicted that employment for actors could increase by 1% between 2018 and 2028. For the same period, the BLS anticipated no increase in jobs for musicians and singers and a slight decline in employment opportunities for dancers and choreographers. As of May 2018, mean hourly wages for these performers ranged from $29.34 for actors to $37.51 for musicians and singers and $20.70 for dancers, per BLS statistics.