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List of the Best Acting Schools with Program Info

Students searching for the best acting schools in the U.S. may earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, such as a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting and Master of Fine Arts in Acting. This article examines three of the best acting programs in the nation.

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Depending on your intent, acting or teaching, the best acting schools will be located in large metropolitan cities or regions where film or theater is prominent. These schools represent the best of the best in the United States.

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

Schools Overview

While there are many schools in the U.S. that offer excellent acting programs, the following schools offer three of the best programs for students interested in earning a degree in performance. The Juilliard School, Yale University, and Tisch School of the Arts offer highly competitive and honored programs with some students working in professional theatre programs each year.

The Juilliard School in New York, NY

School Highlight: The Hollywood Reporter ranked Juilliard first in the nation among schools offering drama programs in 2016.

The Juilliard School, located in New York City, provides undergraduate conservatory training in music, dance, and drama. The highly-respected Actor Training Program accepts approximately 8-10 students each year for inclusion in its actor ensemble. Students completing the program receive either a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting or a diploma, depending on specific permission from the school.

Yale University in New Haven, CT

School Highlight: In 2017 U.S. News & World Report tied Yale University for the third best university in the nation; while The Hollywood Reporter shows the Yale School of Drama as #2 overall.

Based out of New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University's School of Drama provides professional conservatory theatre training at the master's degree level in all areas of theatre. Students who have already completed a bachelor's degree can enroll in the Master of Fine Arts in Acting, which requires three years in residence. All participants take part in Yale Repertory Theatre productions. Individuals who are accepted to the program but do not hold a bachelor's degree can go through the same three years of training to earn a Certificate in Drama.

Tisch School of the Arts in New York, NY

School Highlight: In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter ranked Tisch as the third best acting program in the nation.

New York University Tisch School of the Arts in New York, NY, shows that the National Research Council ranked NYU's Ph.D. program in theater and performance studies as number one in the nation. The school offers acting degrees from a bachelor's to a master's to a Ph.D.

Top Acting Schools

The following schools offer some of the best acting programs in the nation for 2016.

  • Boston University in Boston, MA offers one-on-one instruction and gives students the option to receive more specialized training for a student's particular interest.
  • DePaul University hosts the oldest theatre conservatory in the Midwest located in Chicago, IL.
  • Harvard University found in Cambridge, MA, is ranked second as an overall university in the country by U.S. News & World Report.
  • In Evanston, IL, where Northwestern University is, students in the acting program typically stay in classes with the same instructor and 15-20 students for the majority of the program.
  • At the University of California - Irvine, every member of the faculty works professionally in theater, film or television production.The school can be found in Irvine, CA.
  • The University of California at Los Angeles offers an interdisciplinary master's degree program in acting.
  • The University of California at San Diego has all students in the graduate acting program perform for at least one semester in a professional residency with the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, CA.

Students in drama looking for the best acting schools have a lot to choose from in the United States. Many of the best can be found on both the coasts and major cities where film and theatre is typically centered.

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