Acting, B.F.A.

Program Code: ACTNG_BFA

Program Description

The BFA in Acting is an intensive training program for students who intend to pursue a career in acting for stage and film. Admission is determined via an audition and interview process, in addition to admission to the University Park campus. Four years of studio training include one semester in the Theatre Academy of London for advanced training. Performance opportunities are provided for the student, but must be earned through audition. Education in theatre and the general education curriculum provides depth to the actor's intellectual and artistic development. Concurrent majors and minors are allowed only with pre-approval of the program. Like all programs in the School of Theatre, the BFA in Acting is subject to NAST (National Association of Schools of Theatre) accreditation.

What is Acting?

Acting facilitates the highest level of curiosity, performance preparation, and investigation of the craft of acting. The commitment is to all stages of the journey from page to stage. Rehearsal journeys and public performances are full, yielding work that is truthful, nuanced, varied, deeply embodied, and emotionally compelling.

You Might Like this Program If...

  • You regularly answer mundane questions in random accents
  • Never gave up on make believe as a worthwhile pursuit
  • Love words and bringing them to life
  • Find yourself comfortable talking to everyone about anything!
  • Find memorizing to be easy and fun

Entrance to Major

Admission to the program includes acceptance to the University Park campus, application to the program, an audition, and an interview with primary faculty members. Video taped auditions and video interviews may be arranged.

Entrance Procedures

Students interested in pursuing Acting (B.F.A) should follow the appropriate first year, change of major, or transfer application instructions found under Acting Admission Information at

Retention Requirements

Retention will be determined through the process of scheduled reviews, in concert with verification of sustained academic growth as demonstrated by earning of grades of C or higher within the major. Failure to do so is grounds for an academic warning, with clear written strategies and a time frame for the student to return to good standing. Should the issues not be addressed by the student, the faculty may advise the student into a different program or major.

Degree Requirements

For a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting, a minimum of 121 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 2
Requirements for the Major 83

9 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 3 credits of GHW, 3 credits of GN, 3 credits of GA.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
DANCE 270Introduction to Bartenieff Fundamentals Keystone/General Education Course3
DANCE 361Intermediate Modern Dance I Keystone/General Education Course1.5
DANCE 362Intermediate Modern Dance II Keystone/General Education Course1.5
DANCE 370Anatomy and Physiology for Performers Keystone/General Education Course3
DANCE 499Dance Foreign Study3
MUSIC 113Music Theatre--Class Voice I 11
MUSIC 114Music Theatre--Class Voice II 11
THEA 1SFirst-Year Seminar: Theatre Production Practices 11
THEA 106Theatre Foundations 13
THEA 115B.F.A. Acting Foundations2
THEA 132Survey of Theatre Production Practice 13
THEA 201WScript Analysis3
THEA 225AB.F.A. Acting Studio I2
THEA 225BB.F.A. Movement Studio I2
THEA 225CB.F.A. Voice/Speech Studio I2
THEA 289Theatre Production Practicum 12
THEA 322Voice and Speech I2
THEA 324Movement for Actors I2
THEA 325Movement for Actors II2
THEA 420Scene Study I3
THEA 421Advanced Acting: Physical Approaches3
THEA 422Advanced Scene Study3
THEA 425AB.F.A. Acting Studio II2
THEA 425CB.F.A. Voice/Speech Studio II2
THEA 427AB.F.A. Acting Studio III2
THEA 427CB.F.A. Voice/Speech Studio III2
THEA 429Theatre Performance Practicum2
THEA 437Artistic Staff for Production6
THEA 499Foreign Studies--Theatre Arts9
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select 9 credits from the following:9
Theatre History I: Ancient to 1700
Theatre History II: From 1700 to Present
20th Century Theatre History Keystone/General Education Course
Twenty-first Century Theatre and Drama Keystone/General Education Course
Theatre History: American Theatre
Women and Theatre
History of American Musical Theatre
African American Theatre

A grade of C or better per course is required for teacher certification.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Learning Outcomes

  • Become embodied and effective actors with the ability to perform in a range of styles, genres, and mediums
  • Increase their understanding and awareness of the multidisciplinary applications of performance within domestic and international contexts
  • Practice analogical, abstract, and metaphorical thinking
  • Value risk taking and learning from failure
  • Develop expressive agility in body and voice
  • Construct an authentic point of view that is evident in performance work
  • Consistently create specific, interesting, idiosyncratic work
  • Practice good global citizenship by being positive contributors to our community

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Steve Snyder
School of Theatre Student Adviser and Course Coordinator
108 Theatre Building
University Park, PA 16802

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2024-25 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition.

Acting, B.F.A. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15, 15A, or 30H (GWS)3THEA 132*3
THEA 1S*1THEA 201W*3
THEA 106*3THEA 225A*2
THEA 115*2THEA 289*1
THEA 225B*2THEA 322*2
THEA 225C*2General Education Course (GQ)3
THEA 289*1General Education Course3
General Education Course3 
 17 17
Second Year
DANCE 270*†3DANCE 361 (GA)*† 1.5
THEA 425A*2DANCE 370*†3
THEA 425C*2MUSIC 114*1
THEA 324*2THEA 427A*2
General Education Course (GQ)3THEA 427C*2
Additional Course for Major (see note 1)*13Additional Course for Major (see note 1)*13
 General Education Course3
 General Education Course3
 15 18.5
Third Year
DANCE 362 (GA)*†1.5Semester Abroad
ENGL 202A, 202B, 202C, or 202D (GWS)3DANCE 499*3
MUSIC 113*1THEA 499*3
THEA 420*3THEA 499*3
General Education Course3THEA 499*3
General Education Course3 
 14.5 12
Fourth Year
CAS 100A, 100B, or 100C (GWS)3THEA 422*3
THEA 3252THEA 437*3
THEA 421*3Add Additional Course for Major (see note 1)*13
THEA 429*2General Education Course3
THEA 437*3 
 15 12
Total Credits 121

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement


Select 9 credits from the following: THEA 401, THEA 402, THEA 403, THEA 404, THEA 405W, THEA 407W/WMNST 407W, THEA 408W, THEA 412/AFAM 412.

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy Cultural Diversity Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ), Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS) and Integrative Studies (Inter-domain) requirements. N or Q (Honors) is the suffix at the end of a course number used to help identify an Inter-domain course, but the inter-domain attribute is used to fill audit requirements. Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of 'C' or better.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and satisfy a portion of that General Education requirement. If the student’s program prescribes GWS these courses will replace both ENGL 15/ENGL 30H and CAS 100A/CAS 100B/CAS 100C. Each course is 3 credits.

Program Notes:

ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS: Admission to the program includes acceptance to the University Park campus, application to the program, an audition, and an interview with primary faculty members. Video taped auditions and video interviews may be arranged.

RETENTION REQUIREMENTS: Retention will be determined through the process of scheduled reviews, in concert with verification of sustained academic growth as demonstrated by earning of grades of C or higher within the major. Failure to do so is grounds for an academic warning, with clear written strategies and a time frame for the student to return to good standing. Should the issues not be addressed by the student, the faculty may advise the student into a different program or major.

Career Paths

This degree prepares students for advanced study in acting, movement, playwriting, or directing. Students are ready to enter the profession, prepared on every level to be a successful artist. With the required semester in London, students are prepared to engage at the international level.


Graduates are prepared for careers in all areas of performance, including stage, TV, film. They also have preparation for jobs in casting, directing, choreography, writing, and teaching.

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Students are are prepared for graduate programs in acting, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, performance theory, and movement, as well as professional programs in performance.


Professional Resources


The BFA in Acting is accredited by the National Association of Schools and Theatre.

Founded in 1965, the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) is an organization of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities with approximately 188 accredited institutional members. It establishes national standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for theatre and theatre-related disciplines, and provides assistance to institutions and individuals engaged in artistic, scholarly, educational, and other theatre-related endeavors.



University Park

116 Theatre Building