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Drama Students

The School of Drama is committed to advancing standards of quality and integrity in the acting profession. Faculty members dedicate themselves to shaping actors who are capable of making this kind of contribution in theatre, television and film. An actor graduating from the School of Drama will possess a finely honed technique and a discriminating artistic sensibility.

Applicants to the School of Drama may enroll in the college degree (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program, the college Arts Diploma program or the high school drama program (12th grade). At the college level, students in the BFA program combine intensive training in drama with a full academic program. Students in the college diploma program concentrate solely on intensive actor training.

Drama Students

The Professional Actor Training Program (Bachelor of Fine Arts or College Diploma)

Each student committed to a career in theatre engages in a rigorous course of study with required classes in voice, movement and acting. The curriculum also includes more specific skills, such as mask work, stage fighting, verse-speaking, singing, and period and style. The schedule for each day includes class work relevant to afternoon and evening rehearsal periods.

Students study major works from the classical repertory through the 20th century. A full schedule of workshops and major productions offers important performing experience.

Course of Study Found in Bulletin

During the first year (Studio I), students discover and explore their physical, vocal and imaginative talents. The first year seeks to free the actor's instrument and to stimulate the imagination through an introduction to craft elements in acting technique. (See sample schedule.)

During the second year (Studio II), students apply in depth the elements of physical, vocal and imaginative expression. The emphasis is on craft and technique through a progressive and layered sequence. The second year also begins the transformation into character. (See sample schedule.)

During the third year (Studio III), students apply the craft of acting to many plays in different styles. The third year also emphasizes the classical values of the training program.(See sample schedule.)

Studio IV is the final year of training. Artistic independence is encouraged. Fourth-year students present a season of classical and contemporary plays, and a musical. In addition, Studio IV members participate in master classes including audition workshops, TV and film camera techniques, cold readings and résumé preparation taught by noted theatre professionals. In the spring, the graduating seniors are presented in New York to major agents, casting directors, artistic directors and management from all branches of theatre, film and television. It is a year that culminates with the student's emergence into the profession. (See sample schedule.)

Advanced Placement

Transfer arts credit from other programs and institutions is not usually given. Transfer students and entering students with substantial previous professional training may, at the discretion of the faculty, be granted advanced placement and awarded commensurate advanced placement credit. Transfer students in the directing option must have had the equivalent of the first two years of actor training at the North Carolina School of the Arts.


Students are evaluated each semester by the entire faculty, and informed of their progress. Grades are assigned by each teacher as an evaluation of a student's work. Students are encouraged to discuss problems and progress in their work with the faculty at any time.

Continuance in the Program

Students are invited to continue in the program each semester by the dean only as long as they demonstrate substantial growth toward artistic excellence. The School of Drama reserves the right to dismiss from the program — without probation or an official letter of warning — any student whose social or professional behavior prohibits the School's classes and rehearsals from proceeding in a creative and productive fashion, and thereby impairs the training and education of fellow students.

Drama Students

The Directing Option (Bachelor of Fine Arts or College Arts Diploma)

The directing option is open to students with a strong interest in becoming leading creative practitioners in theater. Only two or three students will be admitted each fall to this highly competitive program.  It is appropriate for people who intend to become directors, but might also be of interest to writers or producers, and graduates of the program work in these areas as well as in casting and literary departments. Coursework includes a thorough amount of performance classes, but also includes Directing Theory and Practicum, Design classes, and directing production opportunities. Consideration will be given to candidates with high levels of artistic experience and exposure, leadership, as well as demonstrated academic excellence.

  • The program runs in conjunction with the Acting curriculum. All directors complete the first two years of acting, voice, and movement training in their entirety.
  • All directing students direct a one-act play in their junior year and a workshop full-length play in their senior year.
  • Admission is limited to three students per year, and is at the discretion of the Dean of the School of Drama.
  • Additional application materials include: a short (one page) essay detailing why the applicant wishes to pursue a directing degree, and a short (one page) essay detailing the candidate’s approach to the production of a Shakespeare play. For directing applicants, we would be interested to see one of your personal references relate to your leadership experience.
  • Applicants must audition (one contemporary monologue, two minutes maximum), and interview in person to be considered for admission.

Course of Study Found in Bulletin 

Students in the directing option study directing in small, closely mentored directing classes limited to six students. They assist in-residence and guest directors with Studio III and Studio IV productions. They take theatre design courses offered in the School of Design & Production, and participate in acting and movement classes throughout their program of study, in addition to directing, literature, and dramatic theory classes. In their junior and senior year they are assigned independent directing projects, overseen by faculty mentors, which are performed by students in the acting program with assistance from the school of Design and Production.

Drama Students

High School Drama Program (High School Diploma)

The high school drama program is an intensive one-year course of study in the senior year focusing on the craft of acting. The program includes instruction and practice in acting, movement, singing, voice and speech, and workshops in special techniques such as stage combat and circus techniques. The carefully planned curriculum emphasizes development of the student's personal resources, aesthetic growth, capacity for artistic collaboration and awareness of theatre's cultural context, while stressing the importance of the academic program.

For information, visit the high school academic program page.

Course of Study Found in Bulletin

Two units of high school credit per year are earned from the following:

  • Acting Fundamentals
  • Fundamentals of Voice and Speech
  • Fundamentals of Singing
  • Fundamentals of Movement
  • Special Techniques
  • Intensive Arts
(See sample schedule.)

Continuance in the Program

Students are evaluated by the faculty each semester and are invited by the dean to continue only as long as they demonstrate substantial growth toward artistic excellence. To remain in the high school drama program, a student must maintain a 2.5 average in drama classes and a 2.0 average in academic program courses.