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Acting Classes in Philadelphia, PA with School Overviews

The Philadelphia, PA, area has five schools that offer acting programs, including three located within five miles of the downtown. Learn about three of these degree programs, admission info and program requirements to make an informed education decision.

Philadelphia, PA, Acting Schools

Aspiring acting students in Philadelphia have several undergraduate and graduate education options within the city limits. Undergraduate programs can lead to a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA); graduate students can earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA). Continue reading to learn more about these programs and compare some key school facts. A short paragraph about two other Philadelphia schools that offer classes for acting students can be found after the comparison table.

  • Temple University's theater program offers undergraduate and graduate programs that allow for a concentration in acting. At this university, which is located almost three miles from Philadelphia's downtown, students also have access to several theaters and rehearsal spaces.
  • The University of the Arts in downtown Philadelphia is located near several arts venues, like the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Merriam Theater and six additional theaters that are within walking distance. The university's Ira Brind School of Theater Arts includes prestigious professors, like a Tony Award nominee, a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and a Barrymore Award winner. The school awards a BFA in Acting.
  • At the University of Pennsylvania, located almost four miles from Philadelphia's downtown, students can pursue an undergraduate major or a minor in theatre and take part in extracurricular activities and theater productions. Once enrolled, students can choose to focus on theory or practical aspects of acting.

Temple University

Temple University is member of the University/Resident Theatre Association, an organization that promotes the interaction of theater schools and professional theaters. Many of the faculty members have worked professionally in the industry and actively participate in the Philadelphia theater scene. Students in the theater program can choose to concentrate in acting.

Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Acting Concentration

In the bachelor's degree program, students complete both foundational and acting concentration work. Foundation courses include topics in the theater process, theater history, acting and a production practicum. In order to take advanced courses in acting, student must audition. Advanced courses include speech and voice for actors, basic movement, thesis projects and theater workshop.

Minor in Theater

This minor program is geared towards students majoring in another field of study. Students must complete 20 credit hours of courses that cover all aspects of theater, including acting, directing and productions. Undergraduates can choose electives in acting, improvisation and creativity.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

This 3-year acting program is for professionals who wish to receive further education to hone their skills or for those who want to become teachers. Temple University provides assistantship opportunities with tuition remission for theater and acting graduate students. Students take courses in acting, rehearsal and performance, and complete acting projects and a research thesis.

University of the Arts

The College of Performing Arts at the University of the Arts provides students with opportunities to work in productions. Students learn about theater methods, such as those developed by Meisner and Stanislavski. Students can choose to study abroad at the Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting

Students train in speech, improvisation and emotional acting. Classical performance, monologues, scene study, audition techniques and stage combat are some of the topics that are covered in this program. Students also complete electives and liberal arts courses. At the end of the program, students should be able to analyze scripts, act authentically and collaborate with fellow actors.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania offers a bachelor's degree and a minor in theatre arts. Students are encouraged to participate in workshops, performing arts outings, production discussions and opening nights.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts

Students are required to complete foundational courses in acting, directing, theater culture, scene design and play productions in addition to elective courses and a practicum requirement. In order to fulfill the practicum requirement, students must participate in a theatre arts production.

Theatre Arts Minor

In this program, students must take six course units. Three course units are selected from the areas of theory, literature and history, and three are in practical applications, such as in design, acting or directing.

Comparison of Schools

This table is designed to provide aspiring actors and actresses with the kind of information that might help them choose the university best suited to their budgets and high school records. It includes undergraduate tuition and financial aid figures, as well as acceptance rates that reflect school selectivity.

Temple University The University of the Arts University of Pennsylvania
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, private not-for-profit4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2011) 36,855* 2,246* 24,832*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2011-2012) $13,596 in-state; $23,422 out-of-state* $33,500* $42,098*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2010-2011) 90%* 100%* 63%*
Acceptance Rate (2011) 63%* 67%* 12%*
Retention Rate (2011) 87% for full-time students; 61% for part-time students* 80% for full-time students* 97% for full-time students; 83% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (2011) 68% (20% transfer-out rate)* 62%* 96%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Other School Options

There are two more schools within Philadelphia that offer acting classes. Saint Joseph's University is a private university that is 4.4 miles away from downtown. The Community College of Philadelphia is only 1.9 miles away from the center of Philadelphia.

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