Film, Television and Theatre Acting: Diploma Program Overview

Learn about the curriculum and training included in film, television, and theatre acting programs, including those leading to diplomas and certificates. Read about the skills gained and career possibility through completion of an acting diploma program.

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Essential Information

Diploma programs in acting may be rarely offered, but certificate programs in film television, and theatre acting, which are similar in both length and subject matter, are more common. A certificate or diploma in acting can provide individuals with the training to become an actor without the addition of liberal arts education courses.

Students typically gain experience acting in front of cameras and in live performances. Many programs help students prepare professional resumes and actor reels and may provide introductions to industry professionals. These short programs, which can be completed in as little as one month, are typically designed for both beginning and experienced actors. Applicants to a diploma program for acting should have a high school diploma or the GED equivalent.

Course Topics

Certificate and diploma programs can help students become better actors by offering coursework that engages them in voice, movement, imagination, and coaching. Foundational training in acting techniques, craft elements, and theatrical traditions are usually included. Most programs offer coursework in both film and stage acting, and can teach students exercises to improve technical, emotional, and physical performance. Through rehearsing, memorizing, and auditioning, students may gain skills in stage fighting, mask work, singing, character analysis, breaking down scenes, verse-speaking, and cold readings.

Students may study topics that include:

  • Text analysis
  • Improvisation
  • Audition technique
  • Performance analysis
  • Script interpretation
  • Stage movement
  • Acting styles
  • Dramatic literature
  • American cinema
  • Voice management

Popular Career Options

An individual who earns a certificate or diploma in acting can be prepared to meet with agents and casting directors in film, television, and theatre. In general, individuals may find themselves working as:

  • Film actors
  • Theatre actors
  • Commercial actors

Continuing Education

Individuals can choose continuing their education in their craft by pursuing a bachelor's degree in acting, theatre, or a related field. Bachelor's degree programs can expand on previously-learned techniques and knowledge.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median hourly wage earned by actors was $20.26 in May 2012. The motion picture and television industries employed more actors than any other field in 2012, and they paid them the most; actors working in TV and film averaged $44.61 an hour, per the BLS. The employment of actors is expected to grow by four percent between 2012 and 2022, per the BLS.

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Popular Schools

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Design and Technology
        • Theatrical Production
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Arts Management
        • Theatre Design and Technology
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Temple University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Design and Technology
        • Theatrical Production
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Connecticut (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Connecticut include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Design and Technology
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Baylor University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Design and Technology
        • Theatrical Production
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at DePaul University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Playwriting and Screenwriting
        • Theatre Arts Management
        • Theatre Design and Technology
        • Theatre History, Literature and Criticism
        • Theatrical Production
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Texas (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Texas Tech University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Playwriting and Screenwriting
        • Theatre Arts Management
        • Theatre Design and Technology
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics