Best Graduate Schools with Acting Programs: List of Schools

Jul 17, 2018

Learn about universities offering the best graduate-level acting programs, which lead to a master's degree in the performance field. Learn about the rankings, degree program options and course offerings for quality acting graduate programs in the nation.

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  • 0:02 School Overviews
  • 0:31 Yale University in New…
  • 1:01 Temple University in…
  • 1:39 Brown University in…
  • 2:06 Top Graduate Acting Programs

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School Overviews

At the graduate level, top acting programs usually confer Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. These programs generally take 2 or 3 years to complete and are often connected to professional theaters. Three of the schools that offer the best graduate programs in acting are Yale University, Temple University, and Brown University. U.S. News & World Report has recognized all of these schools for their excellence in fine arts or general education.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale University 1st first among fine arts graduate programs in 2016. Its School of Drama offers an MFA in Acting through its 3-year program that helps students develop a toolbox of acting skills, including comedy, drama, clowning, singing, and movement. The program is very competitive and has a rigorous application and audition process. The program is connected to the Yale Repertory Theatre, which has produced two Pulitzer Prize winners.

Temple University in Philadelphia

In 2016, U.S. News & World Report listed Temple University as tied for 15th among the best fine arts graduate programs in the country. The School of Communications and Theater has a 2-year MFA in Acting program, with the purpose of developing working actors to teach acting at the university level. A secondary focus of the program is to use ensemble acting to train students in the classics. Temple University is situated less than two miles north of the center of Philadelphia, giving students the chance to participate in the artistic culture of the city. Graduate assistantships are available for aspiring actors.

Brown University in Providence, RI

At Brown University, students can pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Acting and Directing. In addition to lecture-based coursework, students also gain real-world experience through technical training and collaboration with Trinity Rep, a professional theater company in Rhode Island. The acting program focuses on training for contemporary theatre. In 2016, Brown was ranked 14th among all universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Top Graduate Acting Programs

Graduate-level acting training is also available at these schools:

College/University Name Location Distinction
George Washington University Washington, D.C. The MFA in Classical Acting is a collaborative effort with the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI MFA students have access to the university's seven performance spaces, including an outdoor theater
The New School New York, NY Graduating acting students participate in a showcase that gives them an opportunity to be seen by agents and find work
New York University New York, NY Students have numerous opportunities to observe and perform in theater and film productions in the city; the university's lecture series and workshops feature prominent stage and screen actors and directors
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX In addition to the university's Master of Arts (MA) program in theater arts and the MFA in Performance and Pedagogy, the Department of Theater and Dance offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with an option to specialize in acting and directing
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL Graduate students can audition for the university's Lyric Theater at Illinois, a training ground for musical theater and opera where three productions are staged annually
University of Nevada - Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV Acting students can perform in productions by the Nevada Conservatory Theater, the university's professional theater company
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA Acting students can participate in showcases in Los Angeles and New York
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Seattle, WA Graduate students in the Professional Actor Training program write and perform two solo shows, and they take part in a minimum of seven other productions over the course of three years of study

Aspiring actors can find graduate-level training programs at some of the nation's best universities. These programs hone actors' skills, provide performance opportunities, and offer showcases for agents and casting directors.

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