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.
Our 2023 Best Drama & Theater Arts Schools ranking analyzes 443 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for drama and theater arts students. Explore this or one of our many other custom theater rankings further below.
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.
drama and theater arts degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional theater certifications required to pursue a career in this field.
There are many different theater degree levels. Drama & Theater Arts programs offered by schools range from a to a , which is the highest theater degree you can get. 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.
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.
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%|
Recently graduated drama and theater arts students earned an average of $23,096 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $10,438 to as high as $53,180. As you might expect, salaries for theater graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
Salaries for drama and theater arts graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 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|
With over 2,423 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.
Drama & Theater Arts is one of 10 different types of Visual & Performing Arts programs to choose from.
|Theater Design & Technology||1,164|
|Other Dramatic/Theatre Arts & Stagecraft||862|
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Fine & Studio Arts||37,413|
|Design & Applied Arts||36,301|
|Film, Video & Photographic Arts||16,778|
|General Visual & Performing Arts||6,355|