Is going to college for acting worth it?

I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but Google hasn’t been the most helpful in answering this question. I’d like to know from anyone who is currently in or graduated with a degree in theater/drama if they think it is/was worth it to go. I have 3 actors in my family, one of whom is my cousin who went to Fordham for theater and is now quite successful as an actor. I’ve taken acting classes here and there, but I wonder how much more I would learn if I was in a BFA program. If anyone has answered this question somewhere else, please let me know!

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honestly not really sure if this post makes any sense whatsoever I’d just love to get some input

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I think it really depends. Some people just have inborn charisma and talent, and don’t need to go to classes for acting. But other people benefit from classes. But most helpful of all is probably experience, the sort of experience you gain from being in plays with experienced directors and actors.

The good side of going to college for theater is that it gives you opportunities to be in many plays and gain experience, while also getting a college education. Acting jobs will not care whether you have a college education, but many other employers want their employees to have a bachelor’s degree in something and don’t really care what subject. So a BA or BFA in theater would fulfill that well enough. And of course most actors can’t make a living from acting alone, so need a “day job” and that’s where having a college diploma comes in handy.

Personally, I would never go into debt for a theater degree, though. It’s generally not worth spending a lot of money on. But that’s just me.


It depends. Do you have other means of support, after you’ve finished college with an acting major, if you cannot get acting work? If no, are you willing and able to live below the poverty level, working a full-time low-pay job, while struggling to find work acting? Are you willing to go back to school after having failed to find work as an actor, in order to get another credential so that you can earn a decent living? If yes, then sure, major in anything you love, to try anything you love, with a plan B of going back to school to get a credential that will earn you a living someday, if plan A doesn’t work out.

Unless someone else is going to pay it all off for you, don’t borrow a cent for a degree that is unlikely to earn you a living. Acting is probably at the very top of that list.

So no you don’t need to go to college to be an actor or or singer or any performer. You need an agent and you have to have talent. You need to learn what failure feels like and how to take constant criticism on just about anything. It’s not what you think it is watching TV shows or movies. Stage or film?

But college will get you prepared for it and you can find out if you have “it”.

There are “many” very talented kids that went to pre performing high schools in major cities and got their bfa in acting and their working retail at Walmart. But where I live in Chicago and when I go see plays I do read about each of the performers and it seems they all had college backgrounds.

I just don’t know how you approach acting with out any experience? Can you learn lines and be on mark in less then 2 weeks for a 7 show run for one week? This was my daughter’s high school. Many of her friends went on to some of the best programs out there. That is just some of the competition. But many are also standing in line for auditions for months and need to handle rejection. Over and over again.

So taking acting classes here and there compared to 4 years of daily acting lessons? My daughter had an acting coach just to pass auditions for her high school to be accepted into it. (pre professional).

You have actors in your family. What do they say?

Hi! I cannot tell you if going to college for acting would be worth it for you, but I can say that successful actors do study acting. The idea that some people just have talent may be true, but to be successful at anything, even if you have talent, you have to study and practice. Acting is no exception. If you want to be an actor there are many ways to approach the career, college and/or a BFA program is one way, but all will involve acting classes. I think it is wise not to take on debt, but college may be valuable for many reasons, as others have pointed out. I suggest looking into programs, and talking to faculty about the opportunities available. Visiting is another great way to learn about programs, but if that is not possible, there is a lot of information online. Your cousins may also be great resources. I believe that Fordham is a BA is theater, not a BFA, so you might want to talk to your cousin about their experience as well.

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Here is five years worth of research with a lot of commentary from me and others which suggests that if you know deep in your bones that you want to be a professional actor, getting the degree from a good school is probably going to be your best bet for achieving that goal as long as you can pull it off without burying yourself in debt …

And here is why I think that is …

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Thank you for your advice! My main concern is how many acting classes I would have to take to even be prepared to audition for a BFA program since they are challenging to get into. I am very fortunate to not have to worry about debt (at the current moment) because my family has set up a substantial college fund for me. I have looked into some programs, but I feel very intimidated by all of it (which is to be expected). My cousin is a good amount older than me (I’m 20 and she’s in her mid 30s) so I’m not sure how close her experience will be to how it is now but I will definitely ask!

Out of my BFA class, a few of us had been to performing arts high schools and whatnot, but the majority had just done your broiler plate high school and community theatre in flyover country. Also, while I don’t know how much they cost or who to recommend, there is apparently now a cottage industry of college audition coaches you can work with online to choose a good slate of schools and choose and prepare your audition pieces. You can probably find some info on who the good ones are by searching this forum as well as the one for Musical Theatre Majors. Both forums have been around for close to twenty years, so just about anything you need to know about this process is pretty much right here at your fingertips.


If you ask my friend who got her BFA at Carnegie Mellon, she would say no. But, she didn’t throw herself into the performing arts either. She moved to the southwest and became the best darn high school drama teacher I know.

But, a good friend’s child had a completely different experience. I think it helped that he lived in places where he could develop contacts and be discovered. He did his undergrad in California (and had some bit parts here and there), then completed a MFA at NYU after which his career took off. Another young woman I know is also finding her acting groove at NYU.

So, I think it helps to be in a creative epicenter like NYC or LA. I also agree with other posters that study and practice is required for success.


Thank you so much for your advice!

I’ve lived in NYC all my life and spent almost all of high school involved in the performing arts (a cappella, musicals, plays, acting classes, etc.).Whenever I see a play, I always look at the credentials of the performers and most of them have a BFA from a highly-ranked theater program.

Given the highly selective admissions process of most BFA programs, I’m most concerned about how long I would need to take classes/prepare in order to feel like I could give a good audition. Maybe a personal acting coach would be more helpful for that. I’ve taken a few acting classes (two of which lasted for a month), but I definitely don’t think I would be ready to audition now with my current skill set. I just wonder how the number of personal acting classes I would need to take to prepare to audition for a BFA would add up in terms of how long until I would feel prepared since I often worry about falling behind progress-wise within my age group (I’m 20, soon to be 21).

I would be happy to do both theater and film work. All of the actors in my family have done both, and I find it very important to be able to act on stage as well as on camera. I’ll make sure to ask my family members what their thoughts are!

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Your family members have agents. They will have contacts to acting coaches. See if you can do dry runs with either to get an idea where your at. Go do an audition. Ask for feedback. Failure is part of this. Don’t be scared to put yourself out there and go for it. If in NY your opportunities are out there to test the waters. I know many in your age group on family vacations that auditioned just because they were there and wanted the experience. Ask your family members for advice since it’s unique that you have that in your back pocket.


If this is what you want to do, then look forward, do not worry about “falling behind”. After high school, adult life takes many different paths, and all are good. Do not hold yourself back for fear that you are behind. You will only grow older. Keep learning and moving toward your goals. We are all learning for our entire lives. GL


My S21 who is at UNCSA took zero acting classes and started with drama as a HS sophomore. We found MTCA hugely helpful to make a college list and do audition specific prep. This is especially helpful if you are NYC based. They will meet with you and do a consult it you are not sure what you want.

If your question is whether you’ll learn anything in a BFA program–the answer is YES! Of course, you’ll learn something. That’s obvious. Some people are naturals but most people, even talented people, get better with training and experience, which is what happens in BFA programs.

More importantly, BFA programs may help you get an agent/manager,e.g., showcases before graduation, which agents and managers attend looking for talent. I would most definitely talk to your cousin and ask him/her for advice and have a conversation with his/her agent as well.

The financial question??? My D (who got an MFA in Theater) graduated from a program that was fully funded. In other words, students who were admitted to the program didn’t have to take out loans they couldn’t repay or beg their parents for tuition money. I don’t know if BFA programs are fully funded. (My D didn’t get a BFA.) If there are such programs, I would definitely look at those.