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2023 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 Decreasing

#59 Most Popular Major
17.3k Degrees Awarded
-4.5% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, drama and theater arts was the 59th most popular major nationwide with 17,341 degrees awarded. This 783 less than the prior year, a decrease of 4.5%.

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.

2023 Best Colleges for Drama & Theater Arts
2023 Overall Best Drama & Theater Arts Colleges >

Best Drama & Theater Arts Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Drama & Theater Arts
Bachelor's Degrees in Drama & Theater Arts
Master's Degrees in Drama & Theater Arts
Doctorate Degrees in Drama & Theater Arts

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.

Getting Accepted Into a Drama & Theater Arts Program

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.

Drama & Theater Arts Degree Types

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
Bachelor’s Degree 36.9%
Master’s Degree 14.6%
High School Diploma 10.1%
Doctoral Degree 8.7%
Some College Courses 8.4%

About 61.3% of workers in careers related to theater obtain at least bachelor's degrees. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in drama and theater arts careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the theater career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Theater Graduate

Average Number of Jobs
$23.1k Average Starting Salary
9% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

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 Theater Grads Make?

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.


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 highest paying careers theater grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Producers and Directors $89,840
Fashion Designers $87,610
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 2,423 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 Focus Areas

Major Annual Graduates
Theater Arts 11,385
Acting 1,793
Theater Design & Technology 1,164
Musical Theater 995
Other Dramatic/Theatre Arts & Stagecraft 862

View All Theater Concentrations >

Majors Similar to Theater

Related Major Annual Graduates
Fine & Studio Arts 37,413
Design & Applied Arts 36,301
Music 25,910
Film, Video & Photographic Arts 16,778
General Visual & Performing Arts 6,355

View All Theater Related Majors >


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