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

HONORABLE MENTION: Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle, WA)

photo by Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons

The Theatre Program at Cornish College of the Arts is known for its focus on storytelling.

From the ground up, students at Cornish bring works of art to life in their very own theaters, of which they have three dedicated facilities.

Starting in the classroom, students study 30-plus original works, and then take to the stage to collaborate on bringing them to life.

Students gain experience through direct, practical application, even at the freshman level. Each year is structured in a way that builds the students up to their final year, where they showcase their skills in a senior thesis project.

Cornish also has an impressive scholarship program, stemming from their annual Scholarship Gala.

The 2018 Gala was a sold-out event, and they raised a record breaking $1 million dollars for current and future students. One graduate donated $200,000, showing her passion and appreciation for the school.


5. UCLA School of Film, Theatre, and Television (Los Angeles, CA)

photo by Gary Minnaert via Wikimedia Commons

TFT’s mission is to “enlighten, engage, and inspire change for a better world.”

Their proactive approach to the study of theater is both inspiring and intriguing for incoming students.

It’s one thing to state this as a mission, and another to deliver. UCLA gives their TFT students the opportunity to perform their work at festivals and research conferences around the world.

This not only gives students tremendous exposure, but also gives them the chance to inspire and influence communities.

If you’re looking to make a difference in the industry, then TFT is a great program for you. The projects and programs that they offer all come with the purpose to serve the greater good.

For example, Elevate is a student run organization that focuses on inclusion of different cultures in the film and theatre industry.

Founding co-chair, Sam Sheppard, reflected on her educational experience stating, “you want to see all these different kinds of people and that was not happening in certain respects”.

Elevate not only promotes change in the industry, but also in the fundamental education that students are receiving.


4. California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)

photo by Bobak Ha’Eri via Wikimedia Commons

The Theatre program at the California Institute of the Arts offers a focus in all aspects of Theatre, from performance, to scene design, to directing. The variety is impressive, and gives students the opportunity to truly hone in on their specific talents.

In addition to covering all aspects of theatre, they also encourage students to move past the basics and take their respective areas of study to the next level.

Because of their progressive view on the arts, CalArts has churned out some notable and innovative alumni. Notable alumni include David Hasselhoff, Alison Brie, and Don Cheadle.

Another noted alum, Ed Harris, who graduated from CalArts in 1975, started out in local theatre. After earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the CalArts, he went on to perform in successful movies and TV series, such as The Truman Show and HBO’s Westworld.

If you know these examples, you know that they’re creative and innovative, which is exactly the kind of work that CalArts inspires.

CalArts has a direct connection with Walt Disney, who was one of the founding staff of this historic institution.


3. USC School of Dramatic Arts (Los Angeles, CA)

The Doheny Library at USC – photo by Bobak Ha’Eri via Wikimedia Commons

The University of Southern California has a Theatre program that is unmatched.

USC seems to have it all: cutting-edge program, hands on experience, impressive faculty who are mainstays of Los Angeles acting, and notable alumni.

The students in this program are close-knit, which creates a supportive network for them both during school and in the future.

Although the program is competitive, the students of USC thrive on collaboration not only with others in the Film program, but also with students in the other creative degree programs at USC

The University’s Dean, David Bridel, says that USC School of Dramatic Arts “draw(s) upon the traditions of the past, create(s) in the present, and build(s) towards the vivid future of our disciplines with passion and rigor.”

Located in the drama center of California, USC is in sync with LA’s culture. Students are drawn to the traditional aspect of this program, which also comes with the opportunity to innovate.

Following in the steps of the alumni before them, students learn the fundamentals from USC and build on them through their hands-on course work.

In Troian Belisario’s 2014 commencement speech, she said, “Studying at this school has given you the time, space, and permission to learn how you want to tell a story.”

The emphasis is on you because once accepted, this University gives you the freedom and resources you need to conceive and design, but ultimately the creation is left up to the talented students of USC School of Dramatic Arts.

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