Acting and Modeling Schools in the U.S.

Theater, acting or drama degree programs at colleges and universities prepare actors for stage, television and film acting careers. Graduates may also use their skills to work as models.

Students aspiring to work in the performing arts and modeling industries can earn degrees or certificates in acting or a closely related field. Programs are available at traditional universities and arts-focused schools.

Schools with Acting/Modeling:

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer acting and modeling programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)*
American Academy of Dramatic Arts-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 2-year, Private, not-for-profit Certificate, Associate's $30,650*
American University Washington, DC 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $43,103
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $49,324
Hartnell College Salinas, CA 2-year, Public Certificate, Associate's In-state $1,420; Out-of-state $7,420
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's $43,960
Trinity College Hartford, CT 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $50,776
University of Hartford West Hartford, CT 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $36,460
University of North Carolina School of the Arts Winston-Salem, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $8,983; Out-of-state $24,403
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private, not-for-profit Bachelor's $49,535

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

School Selection Criteria

Students interested in acting and modeling schools may want to consider the following:

  • Students may want to look at the availability and genre diversity of student-run theatre productions within a school or program, as these can provide hands-on experience and helpful feedback on techniques.
  • Prospective students may want to find out if the art department at the school hires students as figure models for drawing courses, as this may provide relevant modeling experience.
  • Students may want to find out if the school offers internship opportunities with production companies or modeling agencies.
  • Students who want to major in a field other than acting but still pursue acting studies may look for programs that allow students to complete a certificate program at the same time as a bachelor's degree.

Associate's Degree Programs

Aspiring actors can enroll in associate's degree programs, which take two years to complete. Unlike most associate's degree programs, which require general education coursework, Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) programs emphasize career-specific coursework for actors who want enter the performing arts industry.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

A common undergraduate option for aspiring actors is a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Acting Program. BFA programs emphasize performance studies in areas such as movement, physical theatre and voice. They also provide courses in dramatic literature and acting theory. In addition to honing their acting technique, bachelor's degree students also take liberal arts courses.

Master's Degree Programs

Aspiring actors who want to pursue more advanced studies in the field can enroll in Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs. Over the course of these three-year programs, students take advanced courses in acting techniques. Prior to graduation, they must complete a theatre practicum.

Certificate Programs

There are different types of certificates available in acting. At some schools, acting certificates are only available for bachelor's degree candidates who want to pursue studies in the field while majoring in another topic. There are also programs available for aspiring acting and modeling professionals who do not want to enroll in a full degree program, but still want to take courses to improve their performance technique, audition skills and business knowledge in order to achieve career success in this highly competitive field.

Many public and private institutions offer certificates, associate's, bachelor's, or master's degrees that will prepare individuals to pursue acting and modeling.

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