What Is a Performing Arts Degree?

Ballet students about to perform on stage

Do you have a passion for creating, storytelling, and solving unique problems? Are you creative and driven? If any of these attributes apply to you, then a performing arts degree may be the right educational path for you. Students who can envision themselves singing, dancing, playing music, designing, working backstage or acting for a living can earn a performing arts degree in  those fields. Throughout a performing arts degree program, students will not only build skills in many different subject areas, but they will become more confident and knowledgeable about the industry they would like to work in.

What Is a Performing Arts Degree?

A fine arts program, a category which performing arts falls under, is based in practice. Students choose an area they would like to specialize in and enroll in a relevant program, which will include academic classes as well as classes in the specific arts field. Before you delve into classes that are in your specialty you will receive an overall foundation of the various performing arts disciplines, including dance, music, drama, design and technology.

What Are the Specializations in a Performing Arts Degree Program?

Music, dance and drama are the major specializations in performing arts degree programs. However, in each of these fields, there are additional specializations. For example, you may want to learn about performance and technology. Students who dive into this type of program learn about how technology is used in the entertainment industry. These students may study lighting, sound, stage management, scenic design, CAD drafting and many other subjects in technical production.

You might also want to specialize in screenwriting. If you are interested in both working on and offstage, scriptwriting may be the right specialization for you, as a student are able to learn about the writing technique, creative process and industry standards used to mold and shape an idea into a script for performance.

What Careers Can I Pursue With a Performing Arts Degree?

Students with performing arts degrees may become professional:

  • Actors or performers
  • Scenic designers
  • Lighting designers
  • Technical directors
  • Master electricians
  • Stage managers
  • Production managers
  • Playwrights
  • Voice-over performers
  • Singers
  • Dancers
  • Dance studio founders or managers
  • Musicians
  • Stage and screen directors

In 2018, the BLS reported that producers and directors in particular earn a median salary of $59,080 each year, while musicians and singers earn a median salary of $31.69 per hour.1

Roles in these fields can be competitive, so some fine arts graduates choose to take other career paths that still rely on their degrees. Some become teachers by earning their teaching credentials alongside their performing arts degree. Elementary, middle and high schools usually have arts programming that includes theatre, band, choral music, dance and creative and/or digital arts. Other grads may go on to pursue additional education to become music or arts therapists who help children and adults express their emotions using the arts.

Grand Canyon University offers several performing arts degrees to choose from. If you are hoping for a career on the stage, consider our Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Theatre. Or if you would like to earn your teacher licensure, learn more about our Bachelor of Arts in Theatre for Secondary Education program.

References:

1. https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag711.htm

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