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25 Best Acting Schools In The World

Best Acting Schools In The World. The COVID-19 pandemic’s protracted slumber was terrible to the performing community, but on the bright side, it drove many of the top theatre programs in the world to reset their creative processes. During the downtime, colleges and conservatories rebuilt, rehired, and reconfigured their operations. Diversity has moved beyond the position of a trendy ideal and has become a goal that is eagerly pursued by both teachers and students.

There are now new theaters and facilities. And returning to in-person study after a year or more of remote study has sparked an explosion of unrestrained creativity. Call it the awakening of spring. In light of this, The Hollywood Reporter’s annual assessment of the top universities offering acting degrees involved interviews with academics, former students, and business leaders.

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Best Acting Schools In The World

The Yale David Geffen School of Drama has been around since 1925 and was previously known as the Yale School of Drama. The program received a $150 million grant from the David Geffen Foundation, which could be related to the change. “I knew Yale was the right place to begin to change the way we think about funding arts education,” David Geffen, who taught a course at Yale in the late 1970s, said when he presented his gift.

As a result, the exclusive graduate acting program that helped create Meryl Streep in 1975 and Frances McDormand in 1982, among many other acting icons, is now entirely free — for the select few (15–17 students each year) who are accepted. And that merits praise.

Juilliard provides an undergraduate and a graduate program that each last four years. Both programs immerse students in a rigorous conservatory setting where they gorge on classes for singing, speaking, acting for the camera, and vocal and physical comedy. The outcomes are self-evident: The Tragedy of Macbeth’s Corey Hawkins (’11), Julia’s Brittany Bradford (2018), and Che Diaz themselves — Sara Ramirez (’97) — are recent examples of successful recent graduates. But unlike at Yale, kids will probably leave with $51,000 in terrible student loans to pay back each year.

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Ral Esparza, a Broadway actor, graduated in 1992, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman also attended this buzzing artistic hub in Greenwich Village. The three-year Graduate Acting Program and the undergraduate Tisch theatre at NYU are two of the most interesting theatre programs in the world.

In terms of annual cost, they are also among the most costly, coming in at about $60,000 (financial aid is available). But for some, the expense can be justified, especially given the connections that can be made there thanks to alumni like Mahershala Ali, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sterling K. Brown who return to give guest lectures. According to a school representative, “Over the past three years, each of our students has obtained agent and/or manager representation upon graduation.”

Although UNCSA only offers undergraduate degrees, there is no disputing that its graduates find employment. Recent graduates are benefiting from the school’s decision to teach on-camera acting for the entire four years of the program. George Clooney cast Briana Middleton (’22) in The Tender Bar, while Jeremy Gill (’21) received a role in the upcoming film Cat Person. Aid is offered, and annual tuition is $24,000.

At this prominent training facility in sunny Southern California, the playhouse is the thing. I’m talking about the La Jolla Playhouse, which Gregory Peck co-founded in 1947 and which has produced a large number of Broadway-bound plays, including Memphis and Jersey Boys. At the Playhouse, MFA students participate in professional shows, allowing them to graduate with an Actors’ Equity card. Additionally, their tuition is waived.

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6. London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art

In the British Isles, the first theatre school was established in 1861. Since then, LAMDA has produced some of the greatest performers to take on works by William Shakespeare and other classical authors. Brian Cox of Succession graduated in 1965, and most recently, American LAMDA alum Matt Doyle received the 2022 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his performance in the revival of Company. There are undergraduate and graduate programs available; tuition is $30,000 per year.

This renowned acting conservatory, where only an undergraduate degree is currently offered, produced Lily James (’10), who is a cast member of Pam & Tommy. The three-year program trains actors to “move with confidence between stage, screen, digital and audio platforms and classical, contemporary and experimental repertoire.” Annual tuition is $34,000.

Actor, director, and choreographer Jesse J. Perez (who costarred in the 2003 film American Splendor) is in charge of the Old Globe and University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Theatre Program’s two-year MFA program, which is heavily centered on Shakespeare. Even though tuition is fully paid, just 2% of applicants are admitted into each class, which has seven pupils.

After a one-year COVID-19 hiatus, this Ivy League training institution, affiliated with the Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company, has resumed its MFA program. The good news is that prospective graduate students can now participate in Trinity productions like Death and the Maiden, directed by award-winning visual artist Eddie DeHais, and have their whole tuition waived.

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The rebuilding of UCLA’s program to its pre-pandemic robustness is currently underway. After a two-year hiatus, its graduate program is back on schedule. The graduate acting course resumes in the fall of 2023. Meanwhile, its alums can be seen in a wide variety of movies and television shows, including Olly Sholotan (’19), who portrays Carlton on Peacock’s Bel-Air, and Zuri Adele (’16), who is a cast member of Freeform’s Good Trouble. Residents pay $30,000 annually in tuition; non-residents pay $60,000 annually.

The School of Acting and Music Theater at Carnegie Mellon is an undergraduate-only, four-year program that excels in producing musical theater artists (though nonmusical training is also provided). Graduates include Billy Porter (’91) and Zachary Quinto (’99). Annual tuition is $36,000.

Loki might not exist absent RADA. That may be overstating things, but Tom Hiddleston developed his acting skills at this illustrious acting school that was established in 1904 and has Queen Elizabeth II as its royal patron. The institution provides a one-year M.A. Theatre Lab and a three-year B.A. in acting. Annual tuition is $26,000.

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Colman Domingo, the star of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, joined USC’s School of Dramatic Arts this year as a guest lecturer and master artist before becoming a full-time professor in the fall. The Dropout’s Kate Burton, Transparent’s Alexandra Billings, and Ordinary Joe actor David Warshofsky are also well-known faculty members at USC, which, of course, tremendously benefits from its location in the heart of the Hollywood industry. Undergraduate tuition is $58,000 per year; graduate tuition is discounted by 75%.

John Bashford, a former associate principle at LAMDA who educated Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Cumberbatch, oversees the acting program at NIDA, Australia’s top theatre school. With graduates like Sarah Snook (’08) and Cate Blanchett (’92), NIDA has a stellar history that is no less noteworthy. There is a three-year BFA program available, with annual tuition of roughly $23,000.

The number of students enrolling in this three-year MFA program, which waives tuition and offers a stipend, has increased recently. In the fall of 2021, the Maltz Performing Arts Center opened, and Kenya Woods, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey, joined the faculty as a full-time dance instructor. A 15-week film acting course, a 10-week film audition course, and a seven-week voiceover intensive have all been added to the on-camera training curriculum. Additionally, in the associated Cleveland Play House, students can earn their Equity cards.

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The second-oldest theater department in the country, UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art was founded in 1936, and it offers a rigorous MFA program that is connected with PlayMakers Repertory Company. Each session accepts six to eight performers who are given stipends and tuition waivers.

The school will introduce a new minor in musical theater performance starting in the fall of 2022. With funding from an unidentified donor, the lighting grid in the school’s Paul Green Theatre has undergone a complete redesign, and a new hearing-impaired accessibility system has been installed. Alumni include Wyatt Cenac (’94) and Billy Crudup (1990).

Joey Odom from Dickinson and Tamera Tomakili from Winning Time are two recent success stories to come out of this MFA acting program, which “defines itself by its location in New York City.” In this industry, networking is important, and Columbia has a sizable and effective network. But be prepared to pay for the luxury: Annual tuition is $72,000.

Michael McElroy, a veteran of Broadway and a Grammy and Tony nominee (The Wild Party, Big River), was chosen to oversee the school’s undergraduate musical theater department in the fall of 2021. (An alternative BFA stream is also offered.) Fun fact: Before graduating from the University of Michigan in 2009, Darren Criss performed in A Very Potter Musical alongside other acting students from the university.

Michael McElroy, a veteran of Broadway and a Grammy and Tony nominee (The Wild Party, Big River), was chosen to oversee the school’s undergraduate musical theater department in the fall of 2021. (An alternative BFA stream is also offered.) Fun fact: Before graduating from the University of Michigan in 2009, Darren Criss performed in A Very Potter Musical alongside other acting students from the university.

20. University of Missouri — Kansas City

Donnie Keshawarz, a graduate of Bull (’98), received his MFA from “Kansas City’s best-kept secret”—a demanding conservatory training program connected to Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The cost of undergraduate and graduate degrees is $25,000 per year.

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21. Virginia Commonwealth University

An influential member of the theater community and the former artistic director of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Sharon Ott joined VCU in 2017 and has been working to strengthen the department’s offerings ever since. She is currently filling in as creative director. The institution provides a B.F.A. in Theatre curriculum featuring, among other specializations, performance and musical theater. For the four-year B.F.A. degree, out-of-state students pay $38,000 annually in tuition while in-state students pay $16,000.

22. Northwestern University

The MFA program, which was established in 2019, is a two-year, fully financed program that is housed in brand-new facilities at Abbott Hall on Northwestern’s campus in downtown Chicago. Both faculty and alumni from this school have achieved success in Hollywood and on Broadway. While Selina Fillinger, a 2016 graduate now located in Los Angeles, created the Tony-winning play POTUS and is presently working on the third season of Apple’s The Morning Show, assistant professor Masi Asare, who co-authored the lyrics for the smash musical Paradise Square, was nominated for a Tony Award for her work on the song.

23. Savannah College of Art and Design

Florida Man actor Isaiah Johnson and Broadway veterans Tiffany and Mike Evariste (Aladdin, The Book of Mormon), who were recently hired by SCAD, are putting undergraduate and graduate students through their paces in cutting-edge rehearsal and broadcast facilities. Recent triumphs include Kayli Carter, who appeared in the most recent season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Christian Magby (’16), who was paired with Demi Lovato in the NBC pilot Hungry. Annual tuition is $38,000.

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24 Southern Methodist University

Eight graduate students are accepted each even-numbered year to the theater program at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts for acting instruction that “stands within the Stanislavski tradition.” A complete scholarship and a $12,000 stipend are provided. A BFA in drama is also an option, as Candice Patton, the star of The Flash, attained in 2007. The annual cost of the undergraduate program is $45,000.

25. Purchase College (SUNY)

A course on the business of acting is taught by casting director Susan Shopmaker (Sound of Metal), who just joined the faculty. Additionally, recent grad Chris Perfetti (’12) is on a roll and currently appears on ABC’s Abbott Elementary. The cost of the BFA program, including room and board, is $33,000 per year. There are 20 selected students.

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