Acting Schools in Los Angeles, CA with Course and Degree Summaries

There are several schools within 20 miles of downtown Los Angeles that have accredited acting and theater programs. Read an overview of 3 acting school options located in the Los Angeles area, and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Schools with Acting Programs in Los Angeles, CA

There are numerous schools offering acting classes in Los Angeles and its adjacent communities. This article highlights 3 of the closest schools, which are all 25 minutes or less from downtown. Use the table to compare important statistics, such as enrollment numbers, tuition, graduation rates and more, to help make an informed decision. Also provided is a short section discussing 3 other nearby school options.

  • Located 4 miles from downtown Los Angeles, California State University, Los Angeles offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theatre Arts and Dance, as well as a Master of Arts (MA) in Theatre Arts and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Television, Film and Theatre.
  • The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is 12 miles from downtown and offers a BA in Theater and a MFA in Acting.
  • At the University of Southern California (USC), which is about 4 miles from downtown Los Angeles, students have the chance to earn a BFA in Acting or a MFA in Acting.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Acting
  • Artisanry and Craft Design
  • Playwriting and Screenwriting
  • Theatre Arts Management
  • Theatre Design and Technology
  • Theatre History, Literature and Criticism
  • Theatrical Production

Comparison of Schools

Tuition can play a big role when choosing a college. The table below allows for easy comparison of that information, as well as several other attributes of each school.

California State University, Los Angeles University of California, Los Angeles University of Southern California
School Type University, public University, public University, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2014) 24,488 (20,681 undergraduates)* 41,845 (29,633 undergraduates)* 42,453 (18,739 undergraduates)*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2015-16) $6,355 in-state
$17,515 out-of-state*
$12,763 in-state
$37,471 out-of-state*
$50,277*
% of Beginning Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-14) 83%* 64%* 65%*
Acceptance Rate (2014) 61%* 19%* 18%*
Retention Rate (2014) 84%* 97%* 97%*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (Students Who Began in 2008) 41%* 91%* 91%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

California State University, Los Angeles

The Department of Music, Theatre and Dance at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) offers several degree programs to prepare students for professional careers. The department also offers an MFA program in conjunction with the Department of Television, Film and Media Studies. The university contains the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, which has one of the largest stages in Los Angeles.

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts and Dance, Theatre Performance Option

This program requires students to take 99 units of core requirements for a total of 180 units overall, including general education and elective courses. The program is designed for students seeking careers in theatre and dance, and students are required to participate in departmental productions. Core requirements include dancing, acting and stagecraft courses, as well as theory and research classes.

Master of Arts in Theatre Arts

Applicants must already have a bachelor's degree in theatre arts, dance, performance studies or a related field for admission into this program. The program requires 45 units, including a combination of research, theory and seminar classes. Students can take classes on dramaturgy, costume design, children's theatre and contemporary drama. The program culminates in either a comprehensive examination or the presentation of a thesis or project.

Master of Fine Arts in Television, Film and Theatre, Emphasis in Performance/Acting

The program is designed to prepare students for professional careers in acting or teaching. During this 88-unit program, students take advanced courses in acting, movement and voice and also can perform in television, film and stage projects. In addition to classes on the theory and history of performance and acting, the program also explores business practices for actors.

University of California, Los Angeles

UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television has over 15 faculty members dedicated to the acting specialization. Admission to the school is among the most competitive in the nation, with less than a 9% admission rate. UCLA has many ties to the professional entertainment industry and close working relationships with local professional theaters.

Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Emphasis in Acting

The acting classes in the theater program are designed for students who perceive themselves as scholar-artists rather than for students who wish to pursue immediate professional careers as actors. Acceptance into the acting sequence does not guarantee admission into the required acting classes, which still require instructor approval. Approximately half of the courses required for the major are not related to theater. The acting classes for students in the acting sequence begin during the sophomore year.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

This program incorporates acting techniques for camera, microphone and motion capture, in addition to traditional stage performance. Collaborative groups are formed with directing and playwriting students. The program also offers courses in digital technology and producing. Emphasis is given to conservatory courses in voice, speech and movement. Students must take 12 or more units each quarter, for a minimum of 94 units over the 3-year program. The program culminates with a showcase for entertainment industry professionals. Brief classical and contemporary monologues are required to audition for the program, which only accepts applicants for fall admission.

University of Southern California

Drama has been taught at USC since 1880. The Department of Drama was founded in 1945 and became an independent school in 1990. With close professional ties to Hollywood, USC's School of Dramatic Arts offers a combination of training for stage and screen, as well as voice-over work. There are over 65 faculty members teaching performance and dance within the department and 5 separate theatre venues available for performances.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting

This specialized acting degree program requires an audition with 2 brief monologues. Coursework over the 4-year program includes technical production training and critical studies, in addition to training in acting, voice and movement. Program objectives include gaining a working understanding of the rehearsal and performance processes for both live venues and recorded productions.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

The 3-year MFA program includes a combination of courses designed for performance on stage and for the camera, as well as advanced courses in diction and movement. The program can prepare students to perform as characters from any period, to work effectively within a collaborative ensemble and to act within any performance medium. During the third year, entertainment professionals, including agents, managers, directors and producers, can observe students during audition workshops and instruction.

Other School Options

There are many acting schools and programs in Los Angeles. Located almost 8 miles from downtown Los Angeles is the American Academy of Dramatic Arts - Los Angeles, which offers certificate and associate degree acting programs. Loyola Marymount University, which is about 20 miles from downtown, offers a study abroad program with the Moscow Art Theater, as well as bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree theatre programs. Situated approximately 8 miles north of downtown, Occidental College provides an undergraduate theatre program.

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