Yes, you can definitely forge a successful, thriving career as an actor without a degree in theater—much the same as you can become a successful filmmaker without going to film school, or be a successful writer without a BA or MFA in creative writing. Institutions often struggle to bridge the gap between classic theater training and technique and preparing the actor for the styles and demands of an ever-changing film and TV industry. The trained actor will find they need to supplement their training with classes in multi- and single-camera sitcom technique, motion capture, self-taping, cold-reading, etc., in order to be competitive at the Olympic level of the industry.
That said, a theater degree is a truly special experience during one’s collegiate years, and is one which I would never trade for anything. It can offer a strong foundation, solid work ethic, and give precious hands-on experience in a fun and challenging environment with talented, like-minded individuals—people who can offer invaluable support and collaboration as you grow as an artist.
This article was originally posted on Backstage