What Are the Requirements to Be a Drama Teacher?

Drama teachers' primary duties are to produce plays, nurture the arts in schools and teach acting and set design skills to a variety of students. Learn about what you'll need in order to become a drama teacher and get information on degree options, coursework and licensure. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Become a Drama Teacher?

Drama and theater teachers generally work at public and private schools, community centers and colleges. Some teachers may also offer private lessons. As with any subject, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree and teacher certification in order to teach drama at public elementary, middle or secondary schools. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Theater or a related subject is typically required for university-level teaching. Though no specific degree is necessary for conducting independent drama lessons or teaching at a community organization, you will be expected to have mastery over the subject, often gained through previous experience working as a professional actor, director or other theater professional.

Basic RequirementsBachelor's degree in theater or a related field for public school drama teachers; Ph.D. in Theater or a related field for drama professors; previous theater industry experience for private and community-based drama teachers
Common Undergraduate CourseworkCostume and set design, stage make-up and direction, lighting, theater management, famous playwrights
Common Graduate CourseworkResearch methodology, historical and contemporary drama, critical studies
Licensure InformationLicensure varies by state but is required for public school drama teachers; generalist certification for private and community-based drama teachers is available

What Will I Learn in a Bachelor's Degree Program?

Both theater education and drama programs are available at numerous colleges and universities in the U.S. A theater education program is the better choice if you intend to teach drama at public schools, as these programs combine drama studies with educational methods and theories. In these programs, you'll learn how to manage classrooms, instruct students and build curricula. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with different cultures and age groups may help prepare you to teach students from diverse backgrounds.

Drama courses cover all aspects of theater, including stage design and production subjects. You'll learn acting and directing skills, such as stage voice, theater management, play writing and stage movement. You'll also likely study the works of William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and other famous playwrights. Topics you may study include the following:

  • Set design
  • Stage make-up
  • Stage direction
  • Costume design
  • Lighting

What Will I Learn in a Ph.D. Program?

Ph.D. programs place heavy emphasis on writing and research methodology. In order to graduate, Ph.D. candidates must complete a teaching practicum, as well as write a dissertation. Some doctoral programs may be specific to teaching theater, whereas others may focus more on advanced research, practice and performance. In either case, much of your coursework will deal with critical studies and the history of theater, with classes commonly focusing on the study of classical, Renaissance and contemporary drama.

Will I Need Licensure?

Licensing requirements vary depending on your career choice. Technically, you only need licensure if you plan to work in public K-12 schools and colleges; however, each state has its own licensing requirements and credentialing process. Many states require certain examinations, and you can anticipate having to participate in classroom observation during the assessment process.

Credentials aren't usually required to teach in community organizations, but voluntary certification, which is offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), may be an option for certain drama teachers. Although there is currently no certification specific to the subject of drama, aspiring drama teachers can earn the generalist certification, which demonstrates to potential clients and employers your knowledge and dedication to teaching.

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:

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