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Five Performing Arts Degrees You Didn’t Know Existed

When choosing a theatre-related major, you might think that your options are limited to the standards. However, there are many types of performing arts degrees out there if you love the theatre but want to take it in a unique direction.

Here are five performing arts degrees you might not know about and where you can pursue them:

1. Music Direction

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Only two schools in the United States have this unique MFA program. Learn the skill of music direction so you can conduct an orchestra on Broadway, in regional theatres or tours across the country.

Make sure to visit Penn State and the University of California, Irvine for more information on their programs.

2. Circus Skills

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Currently, the National Institute of Circus Arts in Australia is the only school in the world that grants this degree (a BA or MFA). This unique degree gives you the skills to fly high, hula-hoop and much more. Run away with the circus, or use your skills to get hired in a Broadway show or at a regional theatre. With shows like “Pippin” earning acclaim, more and more productions are combining the aerial and circus arts into their productions these days.

3. Theatre Arts Management

Whether you want to start a theatre company, run one or be a company manager for a Broadway or national tour, this is the degree for you if you’re interested in arts administration. Check out University of the Redlands for an undergraduate degree, or Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Yale University and NYU for master’s programs.

4. Music Business

This degree teaches you everything about the music business. With this degree, you could manage artists and bands, produce albums and even start your own record label. Check out Billboard’s list of the top 15 music business schools here .

5. Sound Design

At most schools, you can get a degree in scenic, costume or lighting design, but sound has been a trade long learned on the job. Now, with the advancement of equipment and ever-changing technology, you can go to school to learn this business. About a dozen schools offer this with either a certificate, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree. Check out a few:

What are you currently studying, and where? Let us know in the comments below…

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Written by Kimberly Faye Greenberg

Kimberly Faye Greenberg is the first and only actress to play Leading roles in 2 OFF-BROADWAY musicals at the same time. In addition, Kimberly's numerous portrayals of a FANNY BRICE have been critically acclaimed by the NY Times, Huffington Post and Associated Press and currently her solo show Fabulous Fanny Brice is touring the country. Kimberly has worked backstage as a Broadway wardrobe swing dresser on over 20 Broadway shows. As a Performing Arts Consultant Kimberly loves to inspire, educate and work with proactive Artists.


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  1. There are FAR more than a dozen schools offering programs in sound design. CalArts, Cal State Fullerton, UCIrvine, UCLA, UC-CCM, Penn State, Yale, Cornish, UMKC, Purdue University, University of Virginia, USC, DePaul, Webster, Carnegie Mellon, University of Arizona, and many many more. These are the ones that are just off the top of my head.

  2. I’m particularly partial to the Arts Management degree myself. Though I’m not working toward one myself, I have taken some of the courses at my own university (Buena Vista University), and I’m hoping to end up in Arts Management later on in my career. Theaters are businesses too and need accountants, managers, HR, marketing, and all sorts of business professionals just as much as other businesses do! This list is a great reminder for thespians who want to have a career in theatre but don’t want to act!!

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