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Dramatic Arts


Programs in dramatic arts teach people the history and styles of acting in theatre or film performances.

Programs in dramatic arts teach people methods for producing and directing live or filmed theatrical performances. Students learn about the common themes that appear in major dramatic works across time. They study different genres of dramatic literature.

Dramatic arts programs, students learn:


In dramatic arts programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Many community colleges offer associate degree programs in dramatic arts. An associate degree program at a community college usually takes two years of full-time study to complete.

Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees in dramatic arts. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in dramatic arts. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master’s degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Additional helpful preparation includes active participation in school or community theater programs.

Some schools may require you to audition and complete a personal interview as well. These requirements are generally for bachelor of fine arts degrees which tend to emphasize dramatic arts performance and production.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree and good grades. You also need to submit letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

Your bachelor's degree does not necessarily have to be in dramatic arts, although it would be helpful. However, you should take several related courses and participate in related extracurricular activities, where possible.

If you want to pursue a doctoral degree, you do need a master's degree in this program of study or a closely related one.

Additional requirements at many schools include:

Programs that are geared towards performance often require applicants to audition as well.

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

In this undergraduate program, you typically take courses such as the following:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate course work tends to vary depending on the program. However, the general outline of a typical graduate curriculum looks like the following:

Depending on your program, you may also have opportunities for dramatic productions. An extensive production and analysis may count as your thesis in a master's degree program that places more emphasis on performance than scholarship.

Some graduate programs require you to have reading knowledge of at least one other foreign language as well.

Both undergraduate and graduate programs sometimes incorporate internships and practicums into their curriculums. These allow you to apply your classroom knowledge to real-world applications of the dramatic arts. You also benefit from the guidance and direct supervision of one or more dramatic arts professionals.

Possible settings for an internship include a theater production company, an agency promoting theater education, and a journal of dramatic arts-related research.

Things to Know

Many schools offer different kinds of bachelor's and master's degrees depending on your desired concentration. Some of these degrees focus more on performance and production. Others combine their teaching of production skills with a broad liberal arts education.

Doctoral (PhD) programs are mainly intended for people who want to pursue extensive research or teach at the university level.

Acting in or working for various community theaters helps to get your name and talent into the field. Seek out summer and extracurricular acting or production gigs to gain a wider variety of acting experience.

Not all actors, especially beginning actors, can make a living for themselves only from acting. You may consider interning in stagecraft or theater administration to widen your skills base.

Many private acting academies and conservatories concentrate only on performance. If you're truly committed to performance and performance only, you may consider programs in these institutions. However, you should also keep in mind that programs at colleges and universities provide you with a broad liberal arts foundation.


East Side Area

Central Washington University

Walla Walla Community College

Whitman College

King-Snohomish Area

Antioch University

Bellevue College

Cornish College of the Arts

Everett Community College

Highline College

North Seattle College

Northwest University

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle University

Shoreline Community College

University of Washington - Seattle

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Spokane Falls Community College

Whitworth University

Tacoma Area

Pacific Lutheran University

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

Pierce College Puyallup

Tri-Cities Area

Columbia Basin College

Vancouver Area

Clark College

West Side Area

Centralia College

Lower Columbia College

Saint Martin's University

Skagit Valley College

Western Washington University