Revealed: The 10 Best Colleges for Acting, Theatre, and Drama

For many aspiring actors of stage and television, attending school for theatre and drama is an absolute must to gain an edge in the ultra-competitive world of entertainment.

In today’s world of acting and media, almost every major actor below the age of 40 has on his or her resume training from a prestigious school of drama or conservatory.

Finding the right school to help you become the very best actor you can be has never been more important.

The top schools in drama teach everything from Shakespeare to contemporary acting. Their alumni are performing in the world’s most vaunted stages.

Their faculty are comprised of accomplished actors and coaches who have worked with only the very best.

Today, we highlight 10 incredible colleges for drama and theatre in this article, revealing some household-name schools that “everyone” knows, as well as a few that you may not have known were among the most elite at training actors of the next generation.

How did we make this list of the top 10? You can see our methodology on the site, but basically we looked at six lists highlighting the best acting schools available online from top publications. Then we assigned an average score to each school based on their position in each list.

Here are the 10 best schools for Acting, Theatre, and Drama.

10. Columbia University School of the Arts (New York, NY)

Columbia University
Getty Hall, Columbia pano, CC BY-SA 3.0

Columbia’s acting program is for graduate students only and awards an MFA, otherwise known as a Master’s of Fine Arts.

Actors in the program are provided industry connections as well as hands-on experience. One class students take, known as Professional Practice, allows students to participate workshops and other opportunities hosted at Off-Broadway theatres.

According to Columbia’s website, agents scout shows involving Columbia University actors, making the school a good option for the serious student seeking professional contacts.

All in all, the MFA is a three-year program at Columbia designed to train actors at the highest levels.

9. Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

Carnegie Mellon University
Dllu, Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Interior, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Carnegie-Mellon School of Drama is among the most reputed acting programs worldwide.

Although we will later publish a separate list for musical theatre colleges, Carnegie-Mellon is perhaps the most selective musical theatre program in the country. Additionally, it is the 5th-most represented school on Broadway.

In 2017, the Hollywood Reporter named it the #2 best undergraduate drama program in the country.

Alumni of the school are some of the most famous actors working today. Just a sampling of TV/Broadway their alumni have starred in: Glee, Hamilton, Angels in America, Orange Is the New BlackThoroughly Modern Millie, The Book of Mormon, and hundreds more.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts @ University of the Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

Beyond My Ken, University of the Arts Dorrance Hamilton Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The University of the Arts is one of the oldest schools of art and music in the United States.

Dating back to the 1870’s, this school’s theatre program is among the most well-respected and established in the nation.

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts offers students the opportunity to learn from professional, working actors and implement their studies in a few of the many theaters in the surrounding area. In fact, the campus makes up a piece of the Avenue of Arts in Philadelphia.

The Brind School values collaboration, and also choice. They encourage students to specialize in their areas of interest, and then utilize their peers to create well-rounded performances.

Lani Skelley, a 2018 BFA graduate says, “My freshman year, I did a voice-over for an animation student, sophomore year I got to direct a show…”

The opportunity to use their skills to collaborate with students in other programs, and expand creative theatrical knowledge in the process, gives Brind School graduates the confidence they need to succeed in the real world.

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