Best Graduate Schools for Acting

Top graduate schools for acting provide excellent training and performance opportunities, and they can open doors in the industry. Read on to learn the traits of good schools. See about the program options offered by three well-known schools. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look For In A Top Graduate School For Acting?

Since union membership is a prerequisite for many acting jobs, and experience is required for membership, the best schools provide professional performance opportunities. Because acting is a highly competitive profession, you may want to find out how the school you are considering showcases its students to industry professionals.

Location may also be a consideration. Industry centers like New York and Southern California offer the most professional opportunities. If you choose a good program elsewhere, determine whether graduates are successful, working actors. You'll also want to investigate faculty credentials and industry connections.

What Are Three Top Graduate Schools For Acting?

Yale University in New Haven, CT

As of 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale fourth in its 'Best Global Universities for Arts and Humanities' list. Award-winning actors like Paul Newman and Meryl Streep studied drama at Yale.

The Yale School of Drama and the associated Yale Repertory Theatre provide both educational and production opportunities for graduate students. All acting students work as understudies, observing professional acting and directing. Their work at this professional theatre earns eligible students the coveted Actor's Equity Association (AEA) membership card upon graduation.

Graduate degrees offered include:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Acting
  • Doctor of Fine Arts in Drama

New York University (NYU) in New York, NY

U.S. News & World Report ranked NYU 8th in its 'Best Global Universities for Arts and Humanities' rankings as of 2016. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts graduate acting program, culminating in the Master of Fine Arts degree, admits only 18 students per year. Alec Baldwin and Spike Lee are among many distinguished alumni. Actors train nine hours per day in movement, acting, voice, speech and text. Second-year students in the 3-year program participate in four workshop productions. Faculty are drawn from active artists in the New York television, theater and film industries.

  • Master of Fine Arts in Acting

University of California at San Diego, California

The University of California at San Diego tied for 23rd place in the 'Best Global Universities for Arts and Humanities' rankings by U.S. News & World Report as of 2016.

Students in UC-San Diego's graduate acting program experience progressive studio work in movement, speech, voice and singing. Second year students explore classical to contemporary works. From 10-15 student productions are scheduled each year, as well as cabaret workshop productions. Graduate students may be cast in supporting to lead roles at the La Jolla Playhouse, along with professional actors and directors. Third year work includes showcase presentations in Los Angeles and New York with invited groups of theatre professionals attending.

Degrees include:

  • Master of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance (Acting)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre and Drama (joint program with University of California at Irvine)

Other Schools with Graduate Programs in Acting

College/University Institution Type Location
American Conservatory Theater 4-year, Private San Francisco, CA
Brown University 4-year, Private Providence, RI
California Institute of the Arts 4-year, Private Valencia, CA
DePaul University 4-year, Private Chicago, IL
Ohio University - Main Campus 4-year, Public Athens, OH
Temple University 4-year, Public Philadelphia, PA
The Juilliard School 4-year, Private New York, NY
The New School 4-year, Private New York, NY
University of Southern California 4-year, Private Los Angeles, CA
University of Washington - Seattle Campus 4-year, Public Seattle, WA

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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