Acting, BA

Acting, BA

Our Theatre Department produces about 40 productions a year, so you’ll have opportunities to be part of many productions. You’ll be able to audition for a range of plays, musicals, one-acts and devised works.

You’ll learn diverse acting styles, including the Stanislavski System, which implores the actor to contemplate motive and fully experience the character they play. To this approach, we add physical theatre, viewpoints, stage combat and on-camera techniques. But at Columbia we don’t only interpret the work of others. We also explore devised methods, which means you’ll collaborate on new work with other performers to create something fresh and innovative.

You’ll have the opportunity to study abroad in London or participate in a 10-day immersion course in LA. You’ll collaborate with students in our film program, who often recruit Theatre students to appear in their work. And you can enhance your professional skills by pursuing a minor such as Voiceover, Stage Combat, or Live and Performing Arts Management.

What to Expect Your First Year

Theatre students from all disciplines and majors come together in two first-year Theatre Foundation courses. In your first semester Theatre Making course, you’ll explore the artistic processes of theatre making within the contemporary landscape of the discipline. You’ll be part of a small cohort of students from all backgrounds working together in a collaborative atmosphere. In your second-semester class, Performance, you’ll work with faculty to learn specific performance techniques in voice, movement and acting.

At Columbia you’ll be on stage right away. Through our “NewStew” performance projects series, all first-year and new transfer students will audition and have the chance to participate in one of five shows created specifically for new students. 

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your senior year, you’ll be preparing to enter the industry as a professional actor. We encourage students to intern in the local theatre community. You’ll also audition for the Senior Showcase, where you can exhibit your talent for an audience of local producers, directors, casting directors and agents.

By your last year, you’ll be honing your craft and preparing to audition post-graduation. You’ll choose from a range of electives centering on acting styles and take professional workshops on auditioning. If you’re interested in acting in television or film, you may choose to take An Actor’s Guide to Hollywood, in which students spend 10 days in LA networking with industry professionals, including artistic directors and agents, and learning to audition there.

You may also be completing coursework in a related minor, which can enhance your versatility and open additional employment opportunities.

BA vs BFA: What’s the Difference?

Put simply, Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs generally require fewer credits within the major than Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. This means BA students have greater flexibility to include electives and minor courses of study, while BFA students follow a more focused and rigid path.

All Theatre students admitted to Columbia College Chicago start in the BA track. Eligible students will have the opportunity to audition for BFA programs during their first or second year of enrollment.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

By studying in Chicago, one of the greatest theatre cities in the world, you’ll immerse yourself in the acting scene. You’ll see productions regularly and network with the city’s best actors. You’ll also have the opportunity to study abroad in London and learn to audition in LA. We encourage students to intern behind the scenes, in production and in box offices to get a full picture of what makes the theatre industry work. Our Theatre Department puts on approximately 40 productions a year, giving you the opportunity to continually hone your skills throughout the program while learning every aspect of theatre.

What are my internship options?

Internships are strongly recommended for juniors and seniors. The emphasis of internships is based on placing you in a professional theatre setting and expanding your awareness of the industry by doing behind the scenes work, such as administrative duties, fundraising and outreach.

We host two internship fairs each academic year, with attendees ranging from prominent theaters like Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and the Goodman to small storefronts and everything in between.

Our faculty’s strong connection to the Chicago theatre scene and their work with companies throughout the city helps us continually build internship opportunities.


Ready to Apply?

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