If you have a flare for the dramatic but aren't ready to hit the big time just yet, consider honing your craft at one of Pennsylvania's post-secondary theater programs. Whether you're looking at a program that features acting, technical theater, dramatic writing, direction or another aspect of the theatrical arts, you'll find an array of colleges and universities across the state that offer both bachelor's and master's-level degrees.
Acting Out the Academics as an Undergrad
Before you get your nomination for the prestigious Tony award, you'll need plenty of time to refine your acting skills. Pennsylvania students who want to work in the theater as actors can get intensive practice and instruction through the Carnegie Mellon University's Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama in Pittsburgh. Not only does this program provide the specialized training that you'll need to work as a professional actor, but it also includes performance experiences, faculty with impressive real-world credentials and an end-of-school showcase. Likewise, the California University of Pennsylvania offers an undergraduate major in theater, featuring coursework in the fundamental practice of acting.
Being the Boss
Aspiring directors and stage managers can get the experience and expertise they'll need to take on a professional production at one of Pennsylvania's theater schools. CMU offers a graduate-level directing program, featuring a three-year curriculum in both classical and contemporary approaches. If you're looking for a larger public school, Penn State University's BFA in theater has a stage management option. This program centers on organizational content for running a theatrical production at the professional level.
Triple threats -- actors who also excel at singing and dancing -- may want to consider a musical theater program at one of Pennsylvania's drama schools. Indiana University of Pennsylvania's Bachelor of Arts in musical theater track provides undergraduate students with the chance to study acting, vocal methods and dance. Pittsburgh's Point Park University also offers a musical theater degree at the bachelor's level. Point Park's program includes specialized training in acting and singing, as well as movement, jazz dance, ballet and tap.
Performing Towards a Ph.D.
Actors and theater enthusiasts who have career goals that include teaching drama at the post-secondary level or conducting research may benefit from a doctoral-level program. The University of Pittsburgh offers a Ph.D. in theater arts that allows students to focus on either performance or history, literature and criticism. Students in this type of doctoral program typically have a background in drama, either acting or in a more academic area such as critical analysis or history.
- Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama: Five Facts About Our Program in Acting
- California University of Pennsylvania: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre: Curriculum
- Carnegie Mellon University, School of Drama: The John Wells Directing Program
- Penn State: University Bulletin, Theatre
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Fine Arts, Interdisciplinary, Musical Theater Track
- Point Park University: Musical Theatre
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.