Top MFA Acting Programs in New York

Mar 20, 2019

Students who wish to pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Acting may wish to consider a program at one of the many schools in New York, as it is a hub for theater and artistic performance. There are a range of programs from which students can choose.

Those who wish to enter the profession of acting have a range of choices about how to pursue this career. One option is to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting, theater or drama. This terminal degree, which takes two to four years to complete, can hone an actor's craft and provide them insights into professional performance. Here, learn more about some specific MFA programs in New York, and the admissions requirements for this competitive degree.

New York MFA Programs in Acting

New York University

The Tisch School of Arts at New York University offers a three-year course of study leading to the MFA in Acting for just 16 students per cohort. The first year of the program focuses on acting behaviors and classroom-based performances, including an African dance and ensemble project, while the second year may include American Naturalist and a Cabaret performance in university performing spaces. The third year of study includes a season of performances drawing from a wide range of acting possibilities. A public theater collaboration introduces students to the process of developing new plays as an actor. All students also consider acting in film.

Long Island University

Students at Long Island University can earn an MFA in Theater. The two-year program offers courses in stage combat, directing, and post-modern theater. The Suzuki technique is featured in coursework. All students participate in a first year show. The program culminates in a group thesis of a company theater production in New York City, team-taught by faculty with a range of theater specialties.

Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, offers an MFA in Theater with courses taught by faculty who are working actors and theater professionals. Students are encouraged to draw components from the music and dance program, as well as acting. Specific coursework may include Alexander technique, comedic improvisation, and theater outreach. Students are encouraged to participate in internships in professional theater companies. The program is typically completed in two years.

Julliard School

At the Julliard School in NYC, students can earn an MFA in Drama in four years. Each year of study, students hone their craft through a courses in dramatic interpretation and techniques. Other classes may include Shakespeare and American theater landscape. A fourth-year course entitled Bridging the Profession revolves around entering the professional acting career through units including casting, auditioning, and contracting. Third and fourth year performance projects are an element of the curriculum as well. Only 8-10 students are typically admitted to the program each year.

Pace University

Pace University presents the opportunity to earn an MFA through its actors studio drama school. The program requires three years to complete and is based upon the Stanislavski system. During the first year, students prepare with a range of classes, while in the second year they focus upon building character and in the third creating a role for production. The highlight of the third year is the professionally-produced repertory season, with individual scenes and full-length plays that are written, directed, and performed by Pace students.

Application Requirements

Students who are considering applying to an MFA program will need to be cognizant of application requirements. They need to hold a bachelor's degree and may need to provide a resume, headshots, recommendations, and a personal statement. Auditions and callbacks are an important component of the application process. This process differs by schools, so it is important to review exactly what materials are required for each callback and audition. Some examples of what students may be expected to perform include a comedic monologue, a classical monologue, cold reads, and 16 bars of a musical theater piece. Some programs may allow students to submit video auditions, while others require them to be in person.

Earning the MFA requires a 2-4 year time commitment but can provide performance and growth opportunities to those wishing to prepare for a career in acting. Several programs in New York provide students the education and training they need to enter this demanding profession.

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