Did you know that the BFA degree has only existed as we know it today since 1971? As the traditional degree choice for students wishing to receive education in the performing or visual arts, it was created to allow students to focus much of their studies actively practicing their craft as opposed to a BA degree where the majority of their education is spent in lectures and classroom. In the past, aspiring actors were pretty much confined to drama conservatories and most colleges and universities that offered acting programs mostly focused on acting for the stage. So essentially, students wanting to study acting were limited to a training program without gaining a foundation in the liberal arts and sciences that are a hallmark of bachelor’s programs.
How things have changed. Today, hundreds of schools across the country now offer BFA programs that combine arts training with the general education offered by universities and colleges. However, when it comes to aspiring actors interested in gaining a BFA in Acting degree, there are more choices today than there ever was. While the majority of schools that offer a BFA in Acting program focus primarily on stage acting, aspiring actors that wish to focus primarily on acting for film and television now have more options than ever, with an increasing number of schools offering such a program.
So how do you decide which BFA program is right for you and whether it’s worth investing in three or four years of study? First and foremost, you need to ask yourself what kind of acting career you truly want. If you are enamored with the theatre and wish to concentrate solely on that aspect of acting, then a BFA in Acting is ideal for you. However, if you desire to reach a larger audience, potentially make considerably more money, and perhaps even obtain celebrity status, than a BFA in Acting for Film is the ideal choice.
In addition, as most aspiring actors who are still in high school mostly have experience in theater acting, if you are looking to make the leap to movie and television acting, a BFA in Acting for Film will give you crucial experience in learning how to act in front of a camera. After all, a set is much different from a stage. Not only do you need to know your cues and lines, but you also have to know how to handle dealing with the many cameras, crew members, and other distractions while still giving a compelling performance. This is not something that comes naturally to most actors and thus a BFA in Acting for Film will provide you with extensive experience learning how to act for the camera and control the many subtleties your body conveys that aren’t visible on stage.
Of course, in getting a BFA, you also receive a well-rounded education in the liberal arts and sciences. While many people would argue that gaining insight into a plethora of different disciplines will absolutely help you in your acting career—after all, acting is the continual process of learning about a lot—if fame and success are your primary goals, enrolling in a short-term acting for film workshop or conservatory program might be your best bet. However, as it is extremely rare for BFA Acting graduates to land their dream gig right out of school, possessing a bachelor’s degree is always helpful in finding work that will help pay the bills in between going out on auditions. Plus, BFA students are able to spend considerably more time developing their skills not just as actors, but as career-minded individuals who learn how to navigate the industry and excel in auditions.
But above all, whether you have your sights set on the stage or the screen, Acting BFA programs demand a huge time commitment from students to complete both their general studies while also constantly honing their acting chops. As such, you must be truly dedicated to making the most of your time as an undergraduate. After all, you are making a substantial investment and you will ultimately get back as much as you put in. So if you have the drive, the dream, and the talent, then an Acting BFA is your best bet.