Students interested in theatre education and training are often concerned with the question of whether or not to pursue the BFA degree or the BA degree. This decision is a personal one and is should be based on a student’s future plans after graduation, something not every freshman clearly knows. When you apply to the Chapman Department of Theatre, you must choose a degree program when you submit your application. Here is some information that may be helpful to you in making that decision.
The BA degree programs offer students the most flexibility in pursuing their theatre studies at Chapman, easily allowing for second majors and studies in other areas of interest outside of theatre because it requires fewer credit hours (47 credits) and allows flexibility in course sequencing. The BA degree is designed to provide an overview of theatre in all areas, rather than focusing only on acting. Students study acting, directing, technology, and other areas of theatre such as playwriting, dramaturgy and/or theatre for social change. The degree allows flexibility in areas of study through the students' elective choices. Acting classes are available, but there are more limited acting classes available to BA students than are available in the BFA degree.
BFA students have a significantly higher credit requirement in theatre classes (78 credits) and a required sequence of coursework that makes carrying a double major, while not impossible, more challenging due to potential class conflicts between majors. We have found that students attempting a double major with the BFA often have to spend an extra semester, or incur additional tuition costs, to complete the second degree. The BFA degrees, while requiring courses in all areas of theatre (and film for the BFA Screen Acting degree), primarily focus on acting training.
Both BFA and BA degree programs are designed so that students may take advantage of study abroad opportunities, although BFA students should consult with their faculty advisors to determine when in the course sequence such studies should take place—typically second semester sophomore year.
Students who audition for BFA programs and who are not accepted may indicate their interest in being considered for the BA program when they complete the Supplemental Art Application. Transfer students who are considering Chapman should be aware that the BFA programs require, at a minimum, three years of residence at Chapman, pending review of transfer credit, due to the sequence of required courses. Entrance into BFA programs for transfers is limited to spaces available.
Further information on the difference between the BFA Screen Acting and BFA Theatre Performance degrees can be found on our FAQ page.