College Scholarships for Thespians
There is a large and varied assortment of theater scholarships from schools of every size, because in many cities college theater is a beloved form of entertainment and a reliable draw. Theater scholarships are awarded for not only acting but also for essential disciplines like set and lighting design, directing, stage management, theater education, technical theater skills, and theater management.
As you will see, theater scholarships are often classified according to which students are eligible. Some scholarships are designed to recruit new students to college theater departments, and others are for the benefit of students who have remained loyal to the program.
Scholarships From Colleges
Elmhurst College’s Department of Communication Arts & Sciences advertises the Talent Scholarships for theater majors. Elmhurst’s usual policy dictates that if you are eligible for more than one scholarship, you can receive only the larger one, but the $2,000 theater scholarships are an exception to that rule.
Illinois State University
The School of Theatre and Dance at Illinois State University offers four types of scholarship aid:
- Tuition scholarships cover part of your tuition expenses if you are an incoming theater student, based on your audition, academic history, and potential. These may be renewed for a full four years, but that will occur after evaluating each semester’s performance.
- Talent Grant-in-Aid assistance pays part of both tuition and fees, and is intended for continuing students. Your work in the department and its theatrical productions and your academic success will all be considered.
- Friends of the Arts awards have the same criteria as Talent Grant-in-Aid, but are distributed each semester.
- Theatre Education scholarships are given to continuing students majoring in that field, on a semester rotation.
There is a detailed set of guidelines you should review that provides eligibility details for renewal of any departmental scholarship.
Alma College’s Theatre and Dance Department hands out two scholarships to theater majors:
- Performance Scholarships in Theatre are given to first year students who have the potential to succeed in one of three fields: acting, design, or technical theater arts. The pay scale is $1,000 for years one and two, $1,500 for year three, and $2,000 for year four.
- Distinguished Performance Scholarships are given for excellence as displayed in your audition. You can perform two monologues (time limit is two minutes per selection), and you will be expected to explain your past involvement in theater in the light of what you want to accomplish to Alma.You can receive anywhere from $3,000 to full tuition.
The Theatre Arts Program belonging to Blinn College awards three scholarships, which share a list of criteria. You must:
- Conduct yourself well, remembering that you represent the theater program and the school.
- Enroll full-time, including a theatre arts quota of three hours, and meet any GPA requirements for your particular scholarship.
- Audition for and perform in all Blinn stage productions for which you are chosen.
- Buy shoes appropriate to your warm-ups.
- Declare your major in theatre arts.
There are two scholarships for theatre arts majors with financial need, the Larry and Mary Whigham Scholarship and the Timothy Ray Whigham Scholarship. Theater is also one of the majors accepted for the W.O. and Bobbie Dietrich Scholarship.
The Whitman College Department of Theatre is one of the schools that recommends submitting an application to the President’s Scholarship in Theatre, and provides financial aid for students who are selected. This prestigious scholarship brings national recognition to a student, and Whitman contributes anywhere from $2,500 to $47,000 per year, as a reward for great talent.
You must forward the following materials to Whitman: a resume of your work in the theater, two reference letters from mentors or colleagues, and high school transcripts. You must pass an audition or present various materials verifying your work, and requirements differ for actors, playwrights, directors, theater technicians, and stage managers.
St. Olaf College
St. Olaf College’s Theater Department offers a series of renewable scholarships to incoming students. These reward outstandingly talented individuals based on merit, and the college also offers additional aid based on financial need. St. Olaf’s scholarships are worth as much as $6,000.
The renewal criteria can be found on this page, and by paying careful attention to these you can fund part of your undergraduate education for all four years. Examples of ways to further your chances of renewal include participation in numerous theatrical productions, involvement in a community service project, and recommendations from teachers.
You can find more information on similar acting scholarships here.