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Theater Majors, Conservatories, Auditions: Choosing a College or University Drama Program

If you aspire to be an actor, you need to consider the sorts of university programs that can train you to become a professional actor.  There are many paths to becoming an actor (and not all of them lead through college, actually).  You need to decide which path suits you best.

At four-year colleges, your main choice will be between the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree or the Bachelor of Arts degree.

The BFA is more common at conservatories and dedicated theater schools.  Approximately two-thirds of your coursework will focus on theater, while the remaining third will be distributed among the general education requirements. With the BA, it’s the other way around:  about a third of your courses will be in the drama major, one third will be general education requirements, and another third will be electives (perhaps English?  perhaps music?  perhaps pre-med, as a safety option?).

You  may want to choose a conservatory program, in which all students are involved in theater, or in the performing arts.  Or you may want to choose to attend a more comprehensive university, in which there is a strong BFA or BA program in theater.  Or you may decide that you prefer a liberal arts college that has a strong theater department, but where you can explore other intellectual interests, too.

I spent some time on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I sat down to chat with some first year students who had just been through the process of selecting a theater program and enduring the auditions.  They provide some helpful information about the nuts and bolts, as they reflect on what was important to them as they made their decisions.  Have a look at this short video.

Mark Montgomery
College Consultant

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