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What's a BFA

singactglasssingactglass Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
I know what a BFA is, but only by definition. I'm confsued about the difference between a BA and BFA. I def wana go BFA MT for college, but I would like to know what exactly it is, and what it offers! Thanks (:
Post edited by singactglass on

Replies to: What's a BFA

  • Blueroses1Blueroses1 Registered User Posts: 68 Junior Member
    It's definitely important that you make sure you know what a BFA is before you decide you are sure you want one...they are definitely not for everyone, even all serious performers (which I assume you are!). I know people working in the industry who are amazingly talented and dedicated, but who have decided to go for a more flexible BA. The BFA means that your degree requirements are different so you have a much higher percentage of classes in your major (usually for MT or Acting its around 80% requirements in drama, 20% or less in general ed or liberal arts requirements).
    The BA has fewer specific drama requirements and more liberal arts requirements for the degree, the BA is usually more well rounded in the field of drama, since you would probably take classes in other areas of theater along with the performance aspect like maybe playwriting, directing, or others. With the BFA you have no flexibility on the classes you take, the curriculum is much more focused...you might only take one liberal arts course a semester, and the rest of the classes would be probably acting, voice, speech, movement or dance, maybe a drama related literature or history study. With a BA you get much more of a college experience, the BFA is usually on a schedule that is different from everyone else's in the university, so they are kind of off on their own. Classes for BFA's usually run from 9 or 10 AM to 10 or 11 PM with often mandatory crew assignments for upper classmen shows or with rehearsals. It's an incredibly busy schedule, so you can't count on doing much outside of the department at a lot of the top, most intense, schools. Again, BA's have more flexibility and options.
    BA's usually prepare students to receive an MFA in the concentration that they are most interested in after graduation. BFA's prepare you for going straight into the profession of acting. In the industry, a BFA or MFA looks better--as they are the true professional acting/musical theater training...but usually in the industry they do not care where you went to school or what degree you got, as long as you have the talent and technique, so BA students can do just as well if they do a good program (I believe Northwestern has a BA program for musical theater, but their training is still one of the most highly regarded in the country). Sometimes BA students have an advantage because they have the opportunity to pursue professional work while in college, whereas BFA's are usually not allowed to audition for outside shows.
    Some schools have separate seasons of shows set aside for BFA students to perform in, and often BA students cannot audition for them (sometimes they can).
    I'm going the BFA route (for Acting, though, not MT) because I am 100% positive I could not spend my time doing anything but the artistic training...I want the full schedule and the extreme concentration on ONE discipline! If you are the same way, go BFA. If you want a full college experience, a flexible schedule and an overall more well rounded education, go BA route. I'm sorry if I'm rambling--I've had to answer this question a lot when all my academic teachers and relatives ask me what I'm doing for college--and I hope I've answered your question!!
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,304 Senior Member
    Blueroses.....you did a good job of it!
  • flhopeflhope Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    Thanks, Blueroses1, this is definitely a helpful summary. As I learn more about MT education though (and I wish I'd learned a lot more before our daughter was a senior in high school...) I'm beginning to realize that there are some BA programs that appear to approach or perhaps even exceed the rigors of some BFA programs. A lot may come down to the philosophy of the faculty and the performing arts department - how rigorous the program is, what the expectations of the faculty are, and what the department's expectation is for graduates. In terms of total coursework credits, the difference in MT credits vs. gen. ed. may come down to only one or two courses. It might also be worthwhile to keep in mind the differences between conservatory vs. non-conservatory BFAs.

    I wish I knew how much weight is placed on whether a young performer has a BFA vs. BA degree!
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,018 Senior Member
    I think all of the answers above hit the nail on the head -- ultimately it is important to research the school, and the requirements at that school. Not all BFAs look alike, not all BAs look alike. Some BFAs require students to take the full general education requirements, some do not. Some BAs have a large number of required courses in the major and many electives a student can take, some do not. If you go on a school's website you should be able to find the online course catalog... usually this is where you can find the specific graduation requirements for a degree at a particular school.

    flhope -- "I wish I knew how much weight is placed on whether a young performer has a BFA vs. BA degree!"

    This is just my opinion -- but I do not think that casting directors put a lot of weight on whether an auditioning actor's degree is a BA or a BFA (or BM - some schools also offer this degree).

    However, when a student has just graduated from college I think they do look at the program the student attended. Having a degree from a school with a reputation for graduating strong performers can help a young performer get an audition appointment. In the end it is the audition that gets you the job -- but having a degree from a particular school can help you get your foot in the door.

    Of course, a degree from one of the "top", well known conservatories will help in this regard.... but so can having a degree from the school that the Casting Director went to... or her sister went to... or her mom went to (for example).

    When a young performer is first out in the world finding out this kind of information can help him/ her get an idea of where to submit him/ herself.

    I teach in a BA Musical Theatre program, and we recently had an alum who has been very successful on Broadway and National Tours come back and do a master class with the students. What he said is that coming out the door performers from top conservatories do seem to have a bit of a leg up -- but ultimately that distinction fades away as a performers begin to make names for themselves in the business. There are successful professional performers from "top" BFA programs, performers who never went to college, performers from BA programs who majored in theatre or musical theatre, performers from BA schools who majored in other areas but kept on studying and performing through college.

  • kardankardan Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    While in college, how do schools cast for shows? Is any preference given to BFAs or BAs vs. nonmajors given during show auditions at various schools?
  • kittymomkittymom Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    At CMU (and correct me if I'm wrong, just a parent not a student) non majors can only participate in Scotch N Soda, the extra curricular theater group. The Drama program is BFA conservatory only. Casting is by audition, but seniors are given priority for main stage productions and smaller shows are generally juniors and seniors.
  • KatMTKatMT College Rep Posts: 4,018 Senior Member
    kardan -- if your question is more general (not only directed to CMU) you may want to post it n the main CC MT forum page. Each school will have a different policy in terms of casting. I believe that kittymom is correct in terms of CMUs policy.
  • kardankardan Registered User Posts: 61 Junior Member
    Thanks for the suggestion KatMT. I am interested in how other schools approach casting. I will post the question to see what others have to say.
This discussion has been closed.