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Performing Arts Degree: Performing Arts Schools and Colleges

Performing arts degree programs provide students with a liberal arts education as well as specialized, professional training in the field of dance, theater or singing. Performing arts schools offer four-year degree programs that include hundreds of hours of intensive training on stage. Performing arts colleges train students in a classroom setting, but also give students a chance to work in a studio environment, participate in workshops and gain experience by being part of a real performance or production.

Performing Arts Degree Programs

While a degree is not required to work in the field of performing arts, formal training from a performing arts school can help the student develop strong skills and advanced knowledge about particular techniques in their field so that they can excel in their career. Students are exposed to a variety of workshops and classes that help them learn the history of stagecraft, movement, world drama and even digital media.

Many performing arts degree programs make it easy for the student to collaborate with other performers, attend workshops and seminars, and take part in full-scale productions and events so that they can further enrich their educational experience.

What to Expect at a Performing Arts School

Performing arts schools provide students with hands-on training and classroom instruction where they learn about the history of music, art and theater, and also spend time training in a formal studio with a professional in their field. Performing arts degree programs offer a diverse curriculum and help students develop core skills and knowledge in several disciplines. Core courses offered by a performing arts school serve as the building blocks for educational and professional development in the field of performing arts, and some schools give students a chance to choose an emphasis at the undergraduate level so that they can graduate with a specialization.

The three common areas of emphasis at a performing arts school include:

  • Dance emphasis – study of collaborative dance performance and musical theatre
  • Music emphasis – concentrated study in commercial music and musical theatre and performance
  • Theatre emphasis – concentrated study in acting, directing, musical theatre, stage productions and collaborative performance

Performing Arts Degree Courses

Some of the most common courses that are part of the curriculum of a Performing Arts degree program include:

  • Introduction to Theatre
  • Stagecraft
  • English Composition
  • General Psychology
  • Theatre Workshop
  • Acting
  • History of Film
  • Movement for the Actor
  • Survey of World Drama
  • Intro to Digital Media
  • Dance Movement
  • Fundamentals of Play Directing

Students that wish to complete a performing arts degree in the field of dance typically need to complete studio training in the fields of ballet, dance technique, dance composition, kinesiology and music. Students that wish to pursue a performing arts degree in the field of music may need to complete coursework such as music history, piano, applied music, composition and music theory.

Graduates of performing arts schools that complete a bachelor's degree may pursue a master's degree or doctoral degree in theater. These degree programs will provide students with the advanced skills and knowledge they need to take on a theater management job or a teaching position.

Getting Into a Performing Arts College

Some performing arts schools require students to complete formal theater training before they can enroll in a performing arts degree program, while others can enter the school with a high school diploma. Many students that attend a performing arts college have completed courses and programs in the field of theater, costume design, set design and other performing arts during high school. In order to gain admission at some private performing arts schools, a student may be required to complete an audition and complete a written examination.

Careers After Performing Arts College

Students that successfully complete their performing arts degree program can enter the field of performing arts with advanced training and skills. A performing arts degree allows students to enter the performance field as an actor, playwright, dancer, musician or director. Students that complete a master's degree or doctoral degree in the field may pursue career opportunities in business, management, working in nonprofit administration, or pursuing a teaching position.

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