List of the Best Drama Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Although completing a drama school program isn't always a requirement to becoming a professional actor, several schools across the country offer such programs. Read on to learn about two of the best, including their program offerings and ranking info.

School Information

Many drama schools offer programs leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting, playwriting, directing or production design. Two good U.S. universities with drama programs are Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh and The New School in New York City. Both schools have alumni who have gone on to become award-winning actors and actresses. Carnegie Mellon offers programs in dramatic writing and design, while The New School requires students to take a hands-on approach in their MFA programs.

1. Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

School Highlight: Carnegie Mellon University faculty and alumni have won 115 Emmy Award recipients 41 Tony Award and 7 academy awards.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Carnegie Mellon University seventh among the nation's top colleges of fine arts in 2015. Established in 1914, CMU's School of Drama offers both bachelor's and master's programs. Having been affiliated with over 160 awards related to drama, including Emmy Awards and Tony Awards, CMU's School of Drama is one of the most prestigous in the world. Programs leading to a BFA, at Carnegie Mellon University include acting and musical theater, design and production technology, directing and dramaturgy. Students may also obtain an MFA in directing, production technology and management, dramatic writing or design. The drama school is housed in the Purnell Center for Arts, which includes the Phillip Chosky Theater which seats up to 450 people and the Skinner and Wagner Voice and Speech Rooms where classes are held to help students with vocal techniques.

2. The New School in New York, NY

School Highlight: Students at The New School in New York can study abroad in locations ranging from London to Sri Lanka.

The New School is a private university composed of eight schools on its Greenwich Village campus. The school offers 134 degree and diploma programs in design, music, liberal arts, social research, management, urban policy and drama. The New School for Drama offers a three-year program leading to an MFA in playwriting, directing or acting. During their first two years, students learn the structure of their field and are trained in dramatic techniques. The last year of the MFA program is dedicated to productions and preparation for the students' professional careers as actors, directors and writers.

Top Colleges and Universities with Drama Programs

School Name Distinction Location
New York University In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked NYU 32nd among all national universities. New York, NY
The Juilliard School The school is very prestigious, with only 6.7% of applicants gaining acceptance for enrollment. New York, NY
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Bruswick Theatre students can complete an entire year of classical study through the Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare's Globe in London. New Brunswick, NJ
University of California - Irvine Students have access to six theatres, an arts lab and a 30-million-volume library. Irvine, CA
University of California - Los Angeles UCLA ranked #4 on U.S. News & World Report's 2012 list of the best fine arts schools. Los Angeles, CA
University of Southern California USC's location in downtown Los Angeles gives acting students access to the entertainment capital of the country. Los Angeles, CA
University of Texas at Austin UT-Austin ranked 22nd on the 2015 U.S. News & World Report listing of best fine arts schools. Austin, TX
University of Washington - Seattle UW offers the Center for Performance Studies, an interdisciplinary consortium of arts-based graduate programs. Seattle, WA

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