The 10 Best Acting Schools in Los Angeles

For an aspiring actor, no city is more exciting, inspiring, and potentially door-opening than Los Angeles. Luckily, the City of Angels is home to some incredibly strong acting schools where students can hone their craft, gain stage and screen experience, and network with peers and industry professionals. 

With Hollywood in your backyard, world-famous actors as your neighbors (well, almost), and a buzzing hub of media, television, movies, and drama all around, LA is the perfect backdrop to pursue a degree in acting. 

Nowadays, it’s very rare to waltz into an audition and land a break-out role successfully. Contemporary young actors need training, industry know-how, and connections. That’s exactly what acting schools provide. 

Acting school students study both theory and practice, linking drama concepts and philosophy with actual on-stage and/or on-screen experience. That’s a powerful combination. Acting school students also benefit from being enmeshed in a community of fellow thespians, learning from some of the world’s best actors and theatre professionals. Aspiring actors can truly eat, sleep, and breathe their craft. 

In this article, we’ll highlight College Gazette’s picks for the 10 best acting schools in Los Angeles and discuss what makes each of them unique. These schools truly live up to the “lights, camera, action” of LA, and offer aspiring actors countless opportunities for students to strengthen their acting skills, explore new genres, learn from professional actors, and connect with peers and industry professionals in search of new talent. These schools are the training ground of the most compelling actors of tomorrow.  

10. California State University, Northridge

CSU Northridge
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

CSUN’s Theatre Department offers young thespians a well-rounded undergraduate education in theatrical production, theatre history, literature, and criticism, as well as the ins and outs of the acting profession. 

All theatre majors are required to participate in theatre and production activities through the department each semester. Given that the department puts on seven or more full-length productions of stage dramas, musicals, and operas each year, theatre students have no shortage of opportunities to stand in the spotlight. These productions are like a living laboratory for theatre majors: this is where students test out the theories, methods, philosophies, and skills they learn in class. 

In addition to the wide-ranging B.A. in Theatre, CSUN also offers a number of specialized Theatre minors for students who want to pair their study of theatre with a major in another field. Theatre minors can concentrate on acting/directing, design/production, history/literature, or musical theatre. 

9. California State University, Los Angeles

California State University Los Angeles
Justefrain, CSULA Student Union BLDG, CC BY 3.0

Cal State LA’s Department of Theatre and Dance invites aspiring actors to pursue a liberal arts undergraduate degree in Theatre with a specialization in Performance. Cal State LA’s program aims to help aspiring thespians “discover and develop their own unique voices in a collaborative, diverse, inclusive, community-centered, and enriching learning environment.”

Situated in the heart of the entertainment industry, Cal State LA not only offers students interdisciplinary learning opportunities within the university, but also matches students with exciting opportunities in the bustling artistic community of LA. Students study performance theory, putting their knowledge into practice with live productions. Participating in department productions is mandatory. Theatre majors with an interest in movement arts can also pursue a minor in Dance within the department.

8. Occidental College

Occidental College
Geographer, Johnson Student Center and Freeman College Union, CC BY 1.0

At Occidental College, a.k.a. “Oxy”, the Theater program is on a mission to help students “Find your voice.” Oxy welcomes students into the study and practice of the art of Theater by challenging them to explore themselves and others “through theory, production and performance — over time, across cultures, and technology.” 

Oxy Theater majors get a comprehensive education in the theory, practice, history, and current and future trends in production and performance. 

Oxy makes frequent use of all the theater-related opportunities present in Los Angeles, the world’s entertainment capital, by connecting students with industry professionals and production companies. The theater program is multifaceted, consisting of the stage, studio, and classroom work under the guidance of highly regarded professors and visiting artists who are successful in the fields of film, television, and theater. Within the theater program, students can elect to concentrate on nearly a dozen different aspects of theater, including acting. 

7. Loyola Marymount University

The Theatre Arts program at Loyola Marymount views theatre as a “laboratory for the study of life,” a way to learn more about what it means to be human through performing drama. Students benefit from small, intimate classes in everything ranging from acting, directing, and design to theatre technology, playwriting, history, and criticism. In addition to training students for careers in film, television, and theatre, LMU’s program emphasizes highly applicable and transferable communication and leadership skills that can help students make a positive impact in the world. 

Some notable LMU alumni include Chris Sullivan, best known for his role as Toby on the wildly popular TV show This Is Us, and Linda Cardellini, who many people recognize from her roles in the Scooby-Doo films and Legally Blonde. Amber White, production stage manager for Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway, is also an LMU alum. 

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