What's the Difference Between a BFA and a BA in Theater?

Posted: November 05, 2019 | Author: Lyndsey Nelson | Read Time: 4 minutes

Students in a theater playThe world of the arts is a beautiful place, with many paths available for students to find their passions and earn degrees in their art. However, with so many options available, it can be confusing for new students to decide where they want to dedicate their time, and which path is right for them.

For a theatre student, choosing which path is for the student can be a difficult decision. With auditions for some degrees but not others, and a confusing list of classes with striking similarities no matter where they turn, many students can be led to ask; what is the difference between these classes? What do I get from one degree that I won’t find in another degree?

The idea of pursuing a BFA can be a major confusion for students, and it can lead students to a place of frustration and anxiety as they attempt to figure out what exactly a BFA is, and what the difference is between a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and a Bachelor’s of Science or Bachelor’s of Art degrees. All that in mind, let’s take a look at the differences between pursuing a Bachelor's of Fine Arts versus the standard Bachelor’s of Science or Bachelor’s of Art degrees. 

Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA)

A BFA in theatre is a professional degree, which focuses on getting students the skills and experience necessary to prepare them for a career in theatre. The BFA program at SUU is a 125 credit program, which focuses on content based around performance, and provides opportunities for students to perform, both with the school and through internships and fellowship programs. Because of the length and focused nature of the program, students are not required to complete a minor alongside the BFA.

One of the more noteworthy fellowship programs at SUU is their fellowship with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which provides opportunities for Southern Utah students to work as a part of the Festival while still at school and grants them hands-on experience before they have graduated. 

In addition to experience opportunities, students of SUU’s BFA program will also have the opportunity to take specialized classes to help them grow as performers. Some of these classes include; advanced acting classes, stage combat, and a portfolio or showcase class for senior students to prepare for auditions outside of school.

At Southern Utah University, there are three BFA paths for theatre arts students. Performance students can pursue a BFA in classical acting or musical theatre, and those not looking to pursue a performance path have the opportunity to work for a BFA in theatre designs and technology. 

All performance BFA candidates will be asked to audition with two monologues, as well as a song for those wishing to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre. They will then have a masterclass movement audition, and each will be asked to participate in an interview with the faculty once their audition has been completed.

Students pursuing a BFA in theatre designs and technology will present a portfolio featuring between three and five of their projects, showcasing their talent and ability. These students will also participate in an interview with faculty, during which they will discuss their portfolio, past projects, and their goals, as well as the program in general. 

SUU’s BFA program accepts a limited number of students in each focus per year and all auditioning students must be accepted to the University before their audition. All information for BFA auditions can be found on the website for the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.

Bachelor’s of Science/Art (BS/BA)

A standard bachelor’s degree in theatre arts provides students with many of the same opportunities. Students may still participate in the shows put on by the department, and they will have the opportunity to audition for the Utah Shakespeare Festival fellowship program.

While a BFA is a very specific degree, with focuses in one area, students following the Bachelor’s of Science/Bachelor’s of Art path will have the opportunity to experiment in multiple focus areas. These students will have more freedom to find their own passions both inside and outside the department of theatre arts, including completing a minor. 

The BS/BA track also allows for more experimentation outside of performance. Students wishing to study theatre arts education or follow a directing path may prefer a BS/BA in order to study multiple focuses, rather than just concentrating on performance. 

Regardless of the path a student may choose, the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance is constantly working to improve their students’ experiences and allow for everyone to gain a hands-on approach to the world of theatre. While certain classes are aimed at BFA students, any student can work with their professors to take whichever classes will benefit them and their goals. 

Learn more about the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at SUU

Tags: Theatre Arts and Dance College of Performing and Visual Arts

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