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Drama & Theater Arts

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Drama & Theater Arts Major

15,911 yearly degrees
#69 in popularity
$73,000 median salary

Drama and theater arts is a major that typically falls into the Visual & Performing Arts category.

There are 264 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in theater, 1,220 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 267 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 40 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Theater Degree?

In 2017, roughly 12,500 drama and theater arts majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree. This makes it #41 in popularity of all the majors we track. The major attracts more women than men. About 63.9% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of theater majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 2.3%
  • Black or African American: 8%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 12.6%
  • White: 66.5%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 2.9%
  • Other Races: 7.6%
Drama & Theater Arts Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in theater. About 2.9% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending theater majors to the U.S. are China, Canada and Brazil.

What Will You Learn as a Drama & Theater Arts Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to theater to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Theater Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Drama & Theater Arts Majors

Skills for Theater Majors

When studying theater, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Drama & Theater Arts Majors

Abilities for Theater Majors

A major in theater will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for theater Majors

What Can You Do With a Theater Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with theater:

Careers Related to Drama & Theater Arts
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Set and Exhibit Designers



Program Directors



Fashion Designers



Art, Drama, and Music Professors












Talent Directors



Poets, Lyricists and Creative Writers



Technical Directors/Managers



Drama & Theater Arts Major Salary

Theater majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $60,000 to $88,000. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Theater Major  ( 60000 to 88000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Drama & Theater Arts Major Jobs

Some careers associated with theater require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to theater have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Drama & Theater Arts
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Drama & Theater Arts Programs

There are 1,220 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in drama and theater arts, with 8 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Many learners are drawn to online programs due to the ease of use and flexibility. Students should be warned that those who enroll in online programs can take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to drop out.

Is a Drama & Theater Arts Major Worth It?

The median salary for a theater grad is $73,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 88% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $683,800 after 20 years!

drama and theater arts salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Donald Judge via License

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