If you are thinking of becoming an actress, you have probably thought about going to school to get an acting degree. Before you make up your mind, you should do due diligence and research the three different types of educational programs there are for students of acting – certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree programs.
Some people choose a shorter educational route by earning only a certificate degree. These programs often last between one semester and a year and half, and can be garnered through class work or in some cases, technical internships. You could earn a certificate in many different aspects of theater and film, such as acting, writing, directing, producing, and cinematography. Certificates can help prepare people for certain positions within the film and theater industry without requiring that they earn a higher level degree. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer certificate programs. Such degrees can also be used as a supplement to an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in order to expand a student’s knowledge on a subject or diversify their expertise.
A middle of the road solution to your education is to enroll in an associate’s degree program. Associate’s degree programs typically last two years (depending on how many classes you take at one time and if you go to school over the summer) and feature a combination of career-specific and general education classes. In the beginning of your studies you will probably have to take some classes that don’t have anything to do with acting, such as algebra, composition, science, a social science class such as psychology, or computers/information technology. The purpose of these classes is to prepare you to be successful in a wide range of career fields and to give you a foundation on which you can build in your later vocational classes. For example, English and rhetoric classes will help you learn to communicate effectively with other actors as well as directors and producers. Math, science, and social science classes will all come in handy if you have to play a role that requires intricate knowledge of a specific topic, such as physics or psychology. While taking these classes you will also take acting and theater classes, such as theater lab, stage craft, and the foundations of movement.
Other students choose to attend school for four years in order to earn a bachelor’s of fine arts degree in acting. The organization of classes for bachelor’s degrees is similar to that of associate’s degrees, in that they both require students to take a combination of general education and career-specific courses. The difference is that bachelor’s programs include more of each type in their recommended curriculum, so students gain more knowledge about acting as well as other useful topics, like math and English. The advantage of bachelor’s degrees for aspiring actresses is that they may prepare them more comprehensively for a career on stage or in front of a camera, and may (although it is not a guarantee) give them a leg up in auditions. Of course, they take longer to complete and are therefore more expensive than certificate or associate’s degree programs.