Which Schools Offer Acting Programs in San Francisco?

Learn about acting classes in San Francisco, California. Get information about degrees available and program requirements to make an informed decision about your education. Schools offering Acting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Becoming a thespian requires lots of training and honing your skills, and what better place to do so than California? If you are interested in pursuing an education in acting in the San Francisco area, read on for undergraduate and graduate options available.

What You Need to Know

Individuals interested in pursuing an acting career near San Francisco may choose to complete a formal education program in the field first. Near San Francisco, students may choose to complete a bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree program. Acting programs in the region are offered by public and private, four-year schools. A number of specializations within a baccalaureate degree program are available, such as performance studies, technical theatre, and dramaturgy. Bachelor's degrees are prerequisites for both master's and doctoral programs, in addition to auditions. A thesis is included as part of a master's degree program and doctoral students must submit a dissertation.

Bachelor's Degree Program in San Francisco, CA

San Francisco State University

San Francisco State University's Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Drama offers several concentrations, including performance and popular theatre. You can also minor in drama if you would rather major in another field of study. Courses include technical theatre, theatre backgrounds, costuming, scenery, directing and lighting.

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Drama
  • Specializations: Performance, Play Development and Dramaturgy, Technical Theatre and Design, Popular Theatre
  • Program Length: Four years full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $6,476 per year for residents and $17,636 per year for non-residents
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 29,465 students (25,938 undergraduate)

Stanford University

Located fewer than 30 miles outside of San Francisco, Stanford University offers a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program in drama that can be completed with 60 credit hours. Core courses cover the subjects of theatre design, theory and practice. You can also take courses in theatrical literature, history and production. Performance courses in acting, directing, playwriting and design all play a role in the curriculum as well. A senior project is required to earn the degree by performing a major role in a production or by presenting devised work.

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Drama
  • Program Length: Four years full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $46,320 per year for residents and non-residents
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 16,963 students (7,019 undergraduate)

University of California - Berkeley

The Theatre and Performance Studies major at UC Berkeley provides extensive training in drama, stagecraft and performance studies. You will also be able to receive advanced training through electives in the fields of directing, playwriting, acting, design, theory, stage management and new media. Multiple capstone experiences are available through productions of various sizes, professional workshops, independent studies and internships with professional companies.

  • Program: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies
  • Program Length: Four years full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $13,431 annually for residents and $38,139 annually for non-residents
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 37,565 students (27,126 undergraduate)

Master's Degree Programs in San Francisco, CA

American Conservatory Theatre

The American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) is a production company dedicated to providing high-quality acting training and preparation through courses, programs and productions. You can gain the tools necessary to become a professional actor through courses in voice and speech, rehearsal and performance, culture and text, and acting and movement.

The Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) degree program requires total immersion in the craft without electives. Every course is mandatory, but you will be given multiple opportunities to perform devised theatre and movement projects, one-act plays and full productions. Famous alumni include Denzel Washington, Benjamin Bratt, Annette Bening and Chris Pine.

  • Program: Master of Fine Arts Program in Acting
  • Program Length: Three years full-time
  • Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $26,951 per year for residents and non-residents
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor's degree and audition for admission
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 48 students (15 undergraduate)

University of California - Berkeley

While not an official program, UC Berkeley does award a Master of Arts (M.A). degree to those students in the process of earning a doctoral degree in performance studies. Requirements include the completion of five courses and a master's thesis. Typically, graduates awarded an M.A. degree from this program were Ph.D. candidates who had to withdraw from the program.

  • Program: Master of Arts in Performance Studies
  • Program Length: Three years full-time
  • Graduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $13,431 per year for residents and $28,533 per year for non-residents
  • Requirements: Bachelor's degree in theatre, dance, performance studies or literature
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 37,565 students (27,126 undergraduate)

Ph.D. Programs in San Francisco, CA

Stanford University

The doctorate program at Stanford University requires a minimum of 135 credit hours of course work, in addition to the independent study necessary to complete a dissertation. This terminal degree requires a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language, three examinations, the defense of a dissertation and assistantships both teaching and researching. Required courses include graduate seminars in drama and four workshops in directing.

  • Program: Ph.D. in Drama
  • Program Length: Five years full-time
  • Graduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $46,320 per year for residents and non-residents
  • Requirements: Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • School Type: 4-year, private not-for-profit; 16,963 students (7,019 undergraduate)

University of California - Berkeley

The graduate program in performance studies at UC Berkeley leads to a doctoral degree and allows you to research interdisciplinary methodologies, such as theatre and dance. There is a language requirement that can be met by passing a three-hour examination, as well as core seminars in performance theory, theatrical texts and methodology. In addition, you would be required to participate in at least one theatrical production. A dissertation is required to earn this terminal degree.

  • Program: Ph.D. in Performance Studies
  • Program Length: Five years full-time
  • Graduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016): $13,431 for residents and $28,533 for non-residents
  • Requirements: Bachelor's degree in theatre, dance, performance studies or literature
  • School Type: 4-year, public; 37,565 students (27,126 undergraduate)

Students interested in becoming professional actors can earn degrees from three well-known universities and a nationally recognized acting conservatory in the San Francisco area.

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:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Full Sail University

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  • The Art Institutes

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    Popular programs at The Art Institutes:

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    Campus Locations:

    • California: San Francisco
  • Indiana Wesleyan University

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    Popular programs at Indiana Wesleyan University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
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  • Regent University

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  • Penn Foster High School

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  • Temple University

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    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • University of Connecticut

    Campus Locations:

    • Connecticut: Storrs
  • University of Miami

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Coral Gables
  • DePaul University

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    • Illinois: Chicago