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NYC Acting Schools with Program and Class Descriptions

The NYC area has more than five schools that offer acting programs, including three located within five miles of its downtown. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for these three schools to make an informed education decision.

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Acting Schools in NYC

Aspiring actors in the NYC area have plenty of program options from which to choose, including those available at three, four-year not-for-profit schools. All three schools offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in acting, which are summarized below. Readers will also find a comparison table with key school facts. A brief paragraph about three other school options for acting students is offered at the end of this article.

  • With an annual enrollment of nearly 13,000 students, Pace University - New York is the largest acting school in the city. Located 0.9 miles from the downtown, the university's acting programs can lead to a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) or Master of Fine Arts (MFA).
  • The New School, located 1.9 miles from the downtown, offers both BFA and MFA programs for actors and actresses in training. This school is the most expensive of the three profiled below.
  • The Juilliard School is the most selective of the group, only admitting 6% of nearly 2,500 applicants in 2011. The school is located 4.7 miles from the downtown and offers an undergraduate diploma, as well as BFA and MFA in Drama programs.

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

Use this table to compare information about school selectivity and undergraduate tuition. Find out how likely you are to receive financial aid as a new undergraduate, as well as return after your first year of study.

Pace University - New York The New School The Juilliard School
School Type 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit 4-year, private not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2014) 12,857* 10,477* 926*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016) $41,333* $43,813* $39,720*
% of First-Year, Full-Time Undergraduate Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-2014) 97%* 96%* 83%*
Acceptance Rate (2014) 85%* 66%* 8%*
Retention Rate (Fall 2013 to Fall 2014) 76% for full-time students; 79% for part-time students* 83% for full-time students; 79% for part-time students* 98% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate (students beginning in 2008) 55%* 60% (19% transfer-out rate)* 84% (3% transfer-out rate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

Pace University - New York

The acting programs at Pace are supervised by members of the Acting Studio and are taught by industry professionals.

BFA in Acting

Acting students enrolled in Pace's BFA program spend time performing, working in the studio and learning about the technical aspects and the history of the theater. Required coursework includes classes on voice and movement, speech for the stage and acting for film and television.

BA in Acting

Pace's well-rounded, liberal arts program includes 60 credits of core classes. Additionally, the acting track requires students to take theater, theater history and technical courses. Students enrolled in the BA program can also minor in another field, such as English or business.

MFA in Acting, Directing and Playwriting - Actors Studio Drama School

This 3-year program consists of 115 credits and is based on Stanislavski's techniques. Each year of the program has a specific focus. During the first year, students focus on language and methodology, while the second year emphasizes training and craft. In their final year, students work on collaborative projects with other acting, directing and playwriting students.

The New School

With a unique focus on civic engagement and global awareness, The New School offers both BFA and MFA acting programs through The New School for Drama. Previous artists in residence have included distinguished actors, playwrights and directors. Students enrolled in programs at The New School for Drama also have the option of taking classes at any of the university's seven divisions, including Parsons and Mannes College.

BFA in Dramatic Arts

The multidisciplinary BFA program provides students with experience in a range of dramatic arts, including acting, writing and directing. The curriculum focuses on work from all over the globe. Students end their studies with a collaborative capstone project.

MFA in Acting

The New School's 3-year graduate program offers a chance for acting, playwriting and directing students to collaborate on projects and develop professional connections. The program focuses on a variety of disciplines, including Alexander and Stanislavski techniques. Each year of the program has a different focus. The first year is devoted to discovery; the second year is devoted to structure; and the final year focuses on production.

The Juilliard School

The Juilliard School's Drama Division is highly selective; the BFA and MFA programs each accept only eight to ten students annually. The Drama Division works closely with the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program, and BFA and MFA students collaborate on some productions.

Undergraduate Diploma

Juilliard's undergraduate diploma program is only available to students who have received permission from the Office of Admissions. In this 4-year program, students are not required to take any liberal arts credits. Students study dramatic interpretation, theater history, dramatic techniques and Shakespearean texts.

BFA in Drama

In addition to the drama curriculum, BFA students complete 24 credits in liberal arts courses. In the final two years of this conservatory program, students focus on performance projects and career development.

MFA in Drama

This 4-year graduate conservatory program consists of advanced classes in subjects such as dramatic interpretation and technique, Shakespeare and American theater. Additionally, students participate in graduate seminars.

Other School Options

An acting conservatory program is also available at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts - New York, located 2.7 miles from downtown. Marymount Manhattan College, situated 4.7 miles from downtown, offers a BFA in Acting. Kean University, located 17.5 miles away in New Jersey, has a BFA program in theater performance.

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