The Theatre School > Conservatory > Undergraduate Conservatory

Undergraduate Conservatory

The Theatre School's undergraduate program is a highly specialized conservatory offering fifteen Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) majors in all aspects of theatre. Each major is a four-year professional training program designed to provide students with the skills and experiences necessary to prepare them for their careers.

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What is the difference between a BFA degree and a BA degree?

Both a BA and a BFA are four-year undergraduate college degrees. A Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program is conservatory training: focused, structured, intensive, and hands-on. Most of the classes a student takes are required for the major; frequent work on productions is also often required. Students typically declare their major when they apply and must audition or interview for admission. All undergraduate majors at The Theatre School are BFA degrees.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) program is typically more flexible and less structured than a BFA. There are fewer courses required to complete the major, and the program may not require production work. It is designed for students who are interested in studying theatre broadly or who may not be sure of their major when they apply to college. The Theatre School does not offer a BA program.

What does it mean to pursue your BFA at The Theatre School?

Individual Attention

Each student receives personalized instruction and ample production opportunities. Our program capacities are intentionally small to ensure individual attention and a collaborative, ensemble-based environment.

Highly Structured

Each of our majors has a four-year progression-based curriculum, with each quarter building on the previous quarter and each year building on the previous year. Responsibilities and expectations of our students increase each year both in the classroom and in the productions.

Learning By Doing

Learning does not stop in the classroom. Each year The Theatre School produces more than 30 public productions of varying shapes and sizes to give our students ample opportunity to synthesize what they are learning in the classroom. Outside of the director of each of these productions - who is a member of the faculty, a guest artist, or a graduate directing student - every person involved in the production is a student doing what he or she is here to study. Students in many majors are also required to do professional internships as a bridge to their chosen career field. Explore some of our past mainstage productions here.

Working Professionals

Our students learn from people who know what it is like to work in the business – because they do. The Theatre School has 28 full-time tenure-track faculty who are accomplished theatre professionals and continue their work while teaching our students. We also employ more than 60 adjunct, or part-time, faculty who are hired right out of the Chicago theatre community for their individual expertise. Being a professional training program, it is important to us that our faculty has a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the profession. You can read more about our faculty here.


Individual. Intense. Ensemble. Real Experiences. 

    "Our actors and directors bring dedication, imagination, humanity, and joy to their work. We train them to be inspired, collaborative, life-long practitioners of excellence in theatre, film, television, and beyond."

    PHIL TIMBERLAKE / PERFORMANCE