How to Become a

Drama Professor

The complete career guide to be a Drama Professor: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $76,710
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 10.8%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Drama professors teach theater courses at the college level. They teach both introductory and advanced classes in theater arts, performing arts, and playwriting. They create course syllabi and lessons plans, grade assignments and performances, and assist with productions hosted at the school.

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What is a Drama Professor?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in drama professor roles:

  • Teach college courses in disciplines related to theater and performing arts
  • Create course syllabi and lesson plans
  • Grade student assignments and performances
  • Perform a variety of administrative tasks in support of the drama department
  • Coordinate or assist with college theater performances

A Day in the Life of a Drama Professor

Drama professors teach theater and performing arts courses to undergraduate and graduate students at colleges and universities. They may teach introductory-level courses that cover drama topics broadly and rely on lecture- and textbook-based study, or they may teach advanced courses where students perfect their acting, playwriting, directing, or technical theater skills. While all drama professors are usually required to teach introductory courses, advanced courses are often taught by professors with professional experience in the field being taught.

Drama professors often teach between 3-5 courses each semester. When preparing for a new semester, drama professors create a syllabus for each course—a schedule of learning and required reading. During the semester, drama professors create specific lessons plans for each class session. They also assign homework, essays, and coursework and grade student assignments and/or performances. While drama professors spend some time in the classroom, they spend much more time preparing for classes.

Drama professors are also commonly in charge of or responsible for assisting a college’s performing arts theater. Often, the college theater is where students in drama programs are able to accrue professional acting, costuming, or technical theater experience, so drama professors work to create opportunities for students to showcase their skills and what they’ve learned. Drama professors may teach fewer courses in a semester and, instead, spend their time organizing, rehearsing, and marketing college productions.

Typical Work Schedule for Drama Professors

Drama professors have somewhat flexible schedules and are often able to influence what times of day they teach. Some may teach daytime classes during the week, some may teach evening classes, and some may teach weekend classes. They are also able to choose whether or not they want to teach over the summer. They often work nights and weekends preparing for classes or assisting with productions.

Projected Job Growth for Drama Professors

Demand for professors of all types is expected to grow significantly in the coming decade as higher education becomes more accessible and more unavoidable. With most employers now requiring employees to hold college degrees, the demand for professors is expected to grow to meet increased interest in postsecondary education.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Actor, Director, Costume Designer, Theater Technician, Playwright
  • Mid-Career: Adjunct Drama Instructor, Assistant/Associate Drama Professor
  • Late Career: Drama Professor, Assistant Dean, Dean

Typical Employers

Drama professors are hired by colleges and universities to work in schools with theater departments and performing arts degree programs.

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How To Become a Drama Professor

To become a drama professor, you’ll first need to earn a bachelor’s degree. For the most part, aspiring drama professors pursue bachelor of arts or bachelor of fine arts degrees in theater, though they can choose to specialize in a number of theater disciplines. You may specialize in costume design, acting, technical theater, playwriting, or directing, and each will qualify you for the next step in the process of becoming a drama professor. However, keep in mind that your specialization will form the basis for the type of theater work and teaching you do throughout your career.

The next step is to earn a master’s degree. Pursuing a master of arts or master of fine arts in a theater discipline is the most popular approach. Throughout your college education, you’ll want to participate in as many productions as possible, or assist with productions as a playwright, costume designer, or theater technician. Experience will be crucial when applying for open drama professor roles after graduation. Involve yourself with college-led productions, and find internships at local theaters to build your professional experience.

Some aspiring drama professors also go on to earn a Ph.D., but this is usually not required to secure professorships. Instead, most drama professors begin as adjunct instructors, teaching introductory-level courses. With teaching and production experience, you may qualify for open tenure-track drama professor positions. If you succeed during your tenure-track timeframe, you’ll be able to become a tenured assistant or associate professor, and you may eventually be promoted to a full drama professor.

Drama Professor Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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National Hourly Wage

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How do Drama Professor salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Drama Professor's can make an average annual salary of $76,710, or --- per hour. On the lower end, they can make $47,120 or --- per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #160 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Drama Professor. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Drama Professors

  • 43.3%   Doctorate
  • 35.7%   Masters
  • 16.2%   Bachelors
  • 2%   Associates
  • 2.4%   College
  • 0.2%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Drama Professor job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 13,000 jobs for a total of 133,700 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 10.8% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #169 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Drama Professors

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 56,000 7,600 8%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 36,400 1,400 1%
Junior colleges; local 13,900 1,900 2%

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