Outstanding Drama Colleges for Rising Stars in Theatre & Film


It’s time to face it- looking for the right college to attend for your studies is downright terrifying.

Luckily, some universities stand out as far as their acting programs go. This list shows you some of the best acting schools to attend. While some offer a film program, others focus on theatre and share the same love of performance.

Let’s look at some of the best drama colleges to major in acting.

The Juilliard School – New York City, New York

If you want to attend one of the most famous acting schools in the world, look no further than Juilliard.

This school, which started in 1905 and offers both Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts programs to its students, is known by almost everyone in the acting world.

Juilliard’s BFA and MFA Programs are four-year studies focusing on aspects such as the Alexander Technique, voice training, and movement coaching.

This school does not have a high acceptance rate—an average of 18 students are accepted into the two-degree programs annually. However, many of their students end up having successful careers.

Although Juilliard only requires proficiency in the English language and a high school diploma to apply for the BFA, they look for additional aspects during the second part of admissions- the audition process.

Steps for admission include registering, orientation, auditioning, and callbacks. After this, you may be admitted or placed on a waitlist for the program.

When you audition for Juilliard, you must showcase your ability to act with your voice, body, and emotion. Giving your all during the audition will help show you are not holding yourself back. 

Annual tuition for Juilliard is $53,300.

New York University – New York City, New York

New York University is another renowned theatre school from New York State (with other global opportunities available).

The Tisch School for the Arts offers a drama program, which allows you to attend classes and work on productions at the university, furthering your performance studies.

NYU’s undergraduate drama program offers a variety of studies to make you well-rounded in the theatre community. The Bachelor’s degree program also requires extensive work in Theatre Studies and regular core classes.

If you hope to continue your education at this university after the BA, a Graduate Acting Program is also available, offering more intense training. The graduate program is for people who want to work as a team and visualize themselves living their entire lives as actors.

The Tisch School of Arts began in 1965 and has expanded into one of the most famous art schools of the century. 

You can be a student at NYU if you have a high school diploma or GED, want to dual enroll with high school classes, or are currently attending high school as a non-dual enrollment student.

Tuition for one full year (two semesters) at NYU is $60,438. 

University of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA

If you want to learn and live in the large and infectious city of Los Angeles, the USC School of Dramatic Arts is a place to consider for an acting education. You can obtain a couple of degrees with both undergraduate and graduate programs.

There is a BFA program called Acting for Stage and Screen, which teaches you how to act on stage and behind a camera- two things that can be very different. 

The Graduate Program is three years long and works with two major subjects to attune your body, mind, and focus to a script and performance. The courses are designed to allow you to work in any setting.

At the end of the three years, you can connect with agents and casting directors to book future professional work.

USC prides itself on using what you learn to confront issues in the real world. It hopes that by learning its curriculum, you will make the world a better place by addressing those matters.

To apply for USC Acting for Stage and Screen, submit a regular application to USC and a SlideRoom application (requirements for this submission are on the USC site). There is also an audition, which includes a monologue up to 90 seconds long.

Check out this article on good 1-minutes monologues.

Annual tuition for the USC Undergraduate Program is $66,640. The yearly MFA tuition cost is $53,856.

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art – London, UK

If you are searching for a school in Central London, this is the school for you. RADA is a university for students seeking an excellent education in the performing arts.

Like most others on this list, RADA offers undergraduate and postgraduate programs to its student body to develop their acting skills.

There is an application process for both of these programs. Admission requirements include a promise to grow from the material taught, good academic grades, being at least 18 years old by the time classes begin, having a student visa if needed, and maintaining compliance with university policies.

The BA in Acting (£9,250/year for UK students and £23,940/year for international students) helps you build basic skills before applying them to film, theatre, and audio performances. This degree takes three years to complete, and it will help you identify your abilities, enhance them, and fine-tune them. 

The BA program’s first year includes various subjects, including singing, the Alexander Technique, and improvisation.

MA Theatre Lab (£16,190/year for UK students and £22,290/year for international students) enhances your acting abilities and molds you into a professional actor. 

California Institute of the Arts – Santa Clarita, CA

If you are searching for a school in sunny Santa Clarita that offers an excellent theatre arts education, look at this one. 

The theatre program at CalArts is designed to prepare you to adapt to the ever-changing, busy industry. By training you across the variety of performance mediums offered, the education you receive will make you as marketable and professional as possible.

CalArts believes in training you as an entire performer (physically, mentally, and emotionally) to harness as much talent and connectivity as possible.

CalArts offers a BFA in theatre, with some MFA or further education studies offered depending on your specific area of extended learning.

Requirements to get into CalArts include an application and an audition (like others on this list). The audition includes a headshot, resume, and video-recorded monologue.

Tuition for CalArts is $28,037 per semester. 

David Geffen School of Drama at Yale – New Haven, CT

If you have ever looked into colleges in the United States, there is a 99% chance that you know about Yale, one of the most famous schools in the country.

Many of their majors are renowned for their status, and Yale does not fall short in their performing arts program.

The Acting program at Yale School of Drama works with you both in the classroom and on the stage, giving you hands-on experience with the learned written material.

The goal is to be ready for any project you wish to work on by the end of your training. 

The university seeks students who are creative and determined with good academic standing.

The online application for this school requires three recommendation letters, a resume, a current picture of you, an essay, and a transcript.

David Geffen School of Drama offers both an MFA program and a certificate program for those seeking an education without a BFA. A year’s tuition is $37,034.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

The University of Michigan has a celebrated theatre program in the Midwestern area of the United States. 

Fun fact: If you were a user of YouTube in the past decade or so, you would have heard of U of M’s production, A Very Potter Musical, starring Glee Alum Darren Criss’s pre-glee club days. 

If you study at this university, you will focus on evaluating yourself during your critical studies, keeping a scene going with conversation and actions that will finesse your onstage practices. 

U of M offers a BFA in acting, which requires both an application and an audition. The BFA calls for 122 credits to be completed. 67% are within the Musical Theatre and Drama courses, and the remaining 33% are liberal arts courses.

 U of M also offers performance opportunities and the chance to see lectures from guest speakers.

Tuition rates are $8,788/year for Michigan resident students and $29,255/year for non-Michigan resident students.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts – Winston-Salem, NC

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts has alumni such as Hunter Schaefer (Euphoria) and Danny McBride (The Righteous Gemstones). UNCSA offers a curriculum that challenges you as a performer in a contemporary setting.

The school taught you classic acting methods with the skills to navigate a demanding career as a successful performer.

The School of Drama offers an Undergraduate program if you wish to pursue a degree at this location.

The BFA takes four years to complete, using your first two years to develop your skills and your last two to perfect and build on them.

The first academic year offers various courses to see what you best connect with.

The degree also requires liberal arts classes to be completed as part of the curriculum.

The fourth year requires a project called Keys to the Kingdom, which is essentially a presentation of your solo work from the year coinciding with UNCSA’s mainstage productions.

Overall, if you are looking for a quality education 

Tuition for in-state students is $6,497/year and $24,321/year for out-of-state students.

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama – Pittsburgh, PA

If you want to learn in one of America’s historical cities, check out Carnegie Mellon University. CMU works with you on your personal and professional growth and constant collaboration with your peers.

This college wants you to work hard and truly enjoy what you do. 

The School of Drama offers an Undergraduate acting program. Throughout the academic period, you will have many chances to participate in productions and projects.

You can also study abroad at some of the best acting schools in the world and learn from theatres in other parts of the world! 

The class size at CMU is smaller to help you get the individual training you need in a group environment.

The courses are designed to shape what you need to know for your acting abilities to blossom.

Freshman-year students study subjects such as movement, voice, and speech, advances in the later years.

The undergraduate degree takes four years to complete. Admission requires two applications: the Common Application and the Supplementary Material Application.

Tuition is $36,300/year for students.

Closing Thoughts

The nine schools on this list should be considered if you are looking for a beneficial education in acting.

With many notable alumni and rave reviews, it’s no wonder they are on this list as some of the best acting colleges available.

Remember that these suggestions are not set in stone and that you should go where you feel will benefit your acting career the best!

However, this decision is up to you- not another person. Do what suits you best and follow your aspirations.

Even though these universities are notable and have a high success rate, you should look at schools you are excited about and go with your gut.

Work hard and figure out what acting methods work best for you, make connections, and put yourself out there, and you will succeed with the right school for your educational experience.


  • Richelle Talor

    Richelle Talor is an actress with talent agencies based in the Midwestern area. A driven creative, she uses her creative skills to write and direct her own short films when she's not on the other side of the camera.

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