The 10 Best Acting Schools in the World

illustration of cast and crew working on a production set

If you’re passionate about acting and want to become an actor, then studying drama will be the obvious first step. Indeed, with focused, intensive lessons centred on acting and performing arts, you’ll learn a wide range of acting techniques – including breathing, improvisation and scene work – and how to apply them effectively.

Some of the world’s most esteemed acting schools have trained countless talented and renowned actors. Once you’re lucky enough to succeed in an audition and join an establishment, you’ll have the chance to train alongside fellow students with immense potential, as you learn from one another, build close-knit relationships and, hopefully, land the job of your dreams.

Below is a list of the top 10 acting schools in the world. Have you got what it takes to get in?

10. Purchase College – State University of New York

Location: New York City, New York, US

With its intensive, focused training programmes in acting and theatre arts, Purchase College is the ultimate location for any aspiring actor.

Offering world-class facilities for a limited number of students, this is a fantastic opportunity to spread your acting wings in a highly creative, passionate and collaborative environment.

As the course comes to a close, top acting students get to perform a showcase of theatrical scenes before an audience of more than 300 agents, casting directors and producers in Los Angeles and New York City.

9. Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, Illinois, US

With notable alumni including David Schwimmer, Seth Meyers, Zach Braff and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, this leading private research and teaching university is renowned for its unorthodox methods of therapy, including those dramatised in The King’s Speech.

Located in Evanston, Illinois, Northwestern University offers a versatile teaching programme and a broad range of classes, where students develop extremely nuanced performance abilities, as well as an in-depth knowledge of literature, history, analysis and theory.

The campus is also in close proximity to Chicago, offering a direct route to the city’s art scene and cultural climate that has influenced countless successful actors and actresses throughout their careers.

8. National Institute of Dramatic Art

Location: Kensington, Australia

Located in Kensington, Australia, this leading centre for education and training in the performing arts is notoriously difficult to get into. Indeed, only 4% of applications pass auditions to get in, and the programme only accepts 24 students per year.

Established in 1959, Australia’s most prestigious performing arts school has fostered generations of highly revered performers, including Baz Luhrmann, Mel Gibson, Toni Collette and Cate Blanchett.

If you’re lucky enough to land a coveted spot on the programme, you’ll undertake intensive, immersive learning through world-renowned teaching techniques. Their inspirational academic and artistic experts will empower you to become a sought-after practitioner and change-maker in your specific discipline.

7. University of North Carolina School of the Arts

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US

This top-ranking creative and performing arts university is by far one of the best schools you can attend if you are in love with the arts.

The University of North Carolina School of Arts offers a deep and progressive learning environment and thoroughly prepares students for this highly competitive professional industry.

Offering mock auditions for senior students from visiting agents and casting directors, countless alums, including David LaChapelle, Jada Pinkett Smith and Missi Pyle have gone on to achieve incredible success since graduating from here.

6. Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Location: London, England

Founded in 1904, this deeply respected institution has a reputation for offering world-leading vocational training for actors. With some classes that involve just one teacher and up to three students, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) is an institution that is seen by many employers as a guarantee of quality.

No matter which area of acting you want to specialise in, RADA has the facilities to equip you. From musical theatre to film and everything in between, their practical training course is designed to thoroughly prepare you for the professional world of acting.

If you can get RADA on your CV, it’s considered extremely impressive. Once you graduate, you’ll definitely find yourself on agents’ and casting directors’ radar. Notable alumni include Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Vivien Leigh and Richard Attenborough.

5. London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Location: London, England

As one of the oldest drama schools in the world (founded in 1861), the London Academic of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) was the first institution to offer acting tuition, and has produced some incredible talent who have already won 19 BAFTAs, 4 Academy Awards, 16 Golden Globes, 36 Olivier Awards and 12 Tonys.

Located in Hammersmith, London, this internationally esteemed academy seeks out and trains exceptional dramatic artists and technicians.

If you’re lucky enough to get in, you’ll be exposed to the most outstanding vocational training needed to meet the highest demands and best opportunities in theatre, film and TV. Having LAMDA on your CV will inevitably gain you some very notable connections in showbusiness!

4. Carnegie Mellon University

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

As the oldest acting school in the US, Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama, located in Pittsburgh, is heavily focused on ensuring students truly understand and embody their characters through deep material analysis.

The school prepares actors for the real world at the most professional standards, offering small classes and highly personalised attention. It also has a faculty of working theatre professionals who ensure that students are well-prepared for work immediately after graduating.

Alumni include Ted Danson, Andy Warhol, Ethan Hawke and Gabriel Macht.

3. Tisch School of the Arts

Location: New York City, New York, US

Founded in 1965, this preeminent centre for the study of performing arts offers rigorous conservatory training in theatre and film and is considered America’s leading arts school.

More than 300 artists and scholars are admitted to the Tisch School of the Arts each year from around the world to study acting, musical theatre, film, dance and much more, but don’t let that high number fool you! Applicants are put through a rigorous academic and artistic process and admission is very selective. Candidates must submit both a Common Application and an artistic review, but once you’re in, you’ll work with renowned faculty, gaining the skills to think creatively, intellectually and professionally.

2. Yale School of Drama

Location: New Haven, Connecticut, US

This is without a doubt one of the best acting schools in the world – and most famous, too. Since the Yale School of Drama opened its doors in 1990, it has seen countless famous actors succeed, including Meryl Streep, Paul Newman and Sigourney Weaver.

Getting into this school is no walk in the park. Candidates are expected to possess active intelligence, strong imagination and a transformative vocal instrument.

Not only is it a privilege to get into this school, but once you’re in, you’ll be exposed to some of the most rigorous training imaginable. Offering in-depth classroom training with extensive production experience, once you graduate, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for your career as a professional actor.

1. The Julliard School

Location: New York City, New York, US

In at number one is New York City’s Julliard School, regarded as the best acting school in the world.

Founded in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art, it currently trains around 800 students per year – but is notoriously difficult to get into.

With some of the world’s most famous alumni – including Aretha Franklin, Robin Williams, Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain – this super-competitive school offers a first-class education like no other.

Here, the most exceptionally talented young performing artists from around the world will learn to hone their craft, deepen their artistry and strengthen their capacity for expression. Offering an incomparable educational journey, prepare to emerge with formidable language and script skills designed to truly prepare you for the challenging yet exciting world of acting.

Are you preparing to leave school and considering a career in the fascinating world of acting? Which of these acting schools do you want to apply to? Join the conversation down below and let us know!