What Are the Top Drama Schools?

Get info on selecting a good drama school. Explore three top drama schools, as determined by their national and international rankings. Read about the drama programs you could pursue at each school. Schools offering Teaching & Learning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of Top Drama Schools?

A good school will provide you with technical training through hands-on acting, directing and stage design opportunities. You should look for an institution that offers excellent drama production facilities, workshops with visiting professionals and teachers with an extensive background in the performing arts. You might consider attending a school located in a major market for theater productions.

What Are Three Top Drama Schools?

New York University (NYU) in New York

NYU was ranked 36th among U.S. News & World Report's national universities for 2016. Advanced undergraduate training options are available through Tisch's Classical Studio, the Stella Adler Studio of Acting or the Stonestreet Screen Acting Workshop. Study abroad destinations may include London, Havana, Shanghai, Sydney or Johannesburg. An audition or a sample of relevant work is usually required for undergraduate or graduate admission at Tisch.

Only 16 students are admitted annually to the 3-year graduate acting program. You'll participate in at least four productions in your second year. Your class may then produce six or more projects during your final year, using performance spaces like The Studio Theatre or the Frederick Loewe Theatre. Degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Drama
  • BFA in Dramatic Writing
  • Master of Arts in Performance Studies
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Design for Stage and Film
  • MFA in Musical Theatre Writing
  • MFA in Acting
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Performance Studies

University of Washington (UW) in Seattle

UW tied for 54th place among U.S. News & World Report's national universities in 2016. You'll have opportunities to participate in student productions as an undergraduate in UW's School of Drama. Stage facilities include the Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre, the Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse and the Meany Hall Studio Theatre. Costume, design and scene building shops are available. A new 8,000 square foot space was created in 2011 for use in undergraduate and graduate design courses. The Center for Performance Studies hosts cross-cultural performance studies, lectures and conferences for drama students.

An audition is required for admission to the 3-year graduate acting program. Only two positions are available in the graduate directing program and only in alternate years. Admission prerequisites for the master's program in design include a portfolio of sketches or drafts as well as an in-person interview. You could earn one of the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Drama
  • MFA in Acting
  • MFA in Design
  • MFA in Directing
  • Ph.D. in Theatre History and Theory

Yale University in New Haven, CT

Yale was 3rd among national universities in 2016, according to U.S. News & World Report. The School of Drama is a comprehensive graduate conservatory with well-known alumni like Paul Newman and Meryl Streep. It publishes Theater, a professional journal, and Technical Brief, a journal for theatrical technical managers. Resources include the Yale Repertory Theatre and the Drama School Annex with facilities for sound design and music.

Annual Actor Presentations in New York and Los Angeles showcase graduating students. The Theater Studies Program's World Performance Project (WPP) hosts workshops and lectures given by performance artists. Students who don't hold a bachelor's degree can receive a certificate by completing any available MFA program except those in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism or theater management. Available degree programs include:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies
  • MFA in Acting
  • MFA in Design
  • MFA in Directing
  • MFA in Playwriting
  • MFA in Sound Design
  • MFA in Stage Management
  • MFA in Technical Design and Production
  • MFA in Theater Management
  • Doctor of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism

Ten More Drama Schools

College/University Institution Type Location
Carnegie Mellon University Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above Pittsburgh, PA
University of California--Los Angeles Public, 4-year or above Los Angeles, CA
Syracuse University Private, not-for-profit, 4-year Syracuse, NY
Virginia Commonwealth University Public, 4-year or above Richmond, VA
Columbia University Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above New York, NY
University of Iowa Public, 4-year or above Iowa City, IA
University of Tennessee-Knoxville Public, 4-year or above Knoxville, TN
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Public, 4-year or above Minneapolis, MN
University of Arizona Public, 4-year or above Tucson, AZ
Stanford University Private, not-for-profit, 4-year or above Stanford, CA

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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