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

Jan 03, 2020

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

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  • 0:00 School Information
  • 0:38 Carnegie Mellon University
  • 1:27 The New School
  • 1:59 New York University
  • 2:34 Top Colleges with…

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School Information

Several top drama schools offer degrees in acting, playwriting, directing or production design. Programs typically lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts. Top universities with drama programs include Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, The New School in New York City and New York University. These schools offer diverse hands-on training and boast alumni who have become award-winning actors, designers, and dramatists. They were also ranked highly by the U.S. News and World Report across various categories in recent years.

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA

U.S. News & World Report ranked Carnegie Mellon University sixth among the nation's top colleges of fine arts in 2019. 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 prestigious in the world. Carnegie Mellon University offers BFA programs in 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 Philip 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.

The New School in New York, NY

The New School is a private university composed of eight schools on its Greenwich Village campus. The school was ranked #153 for National Universities in the country by U.S. News and World Report in 2019. 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.

New York University in New York, NY

In 2019, U.S. News and World Report ranked New York University #29 among all national universities. Through the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama that includes professional training, theater studies and general education requirements. There is also a graduate-level acting program that can prepare students for work in television, film, theater and other media. Aspiring writers can enroll in the two-year graduate musical theater writing program, which results in the production of a full-length musical.

Top Colleges and Universities with Drama Programs

Excellent drama programs can be found in several other institutions across the nation:

School Name Distinction Location
The Juilliard School The school is very prestigious, with only 6% 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 #2 on U.S. News & World Report's 2019 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 27th on the 2019 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

Regardless of their interest area within the field of drama, students can find excellent training programs at four-year universities and dedicated art institutions, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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