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If you’re passionate about acting, then pursuing a degree in drama and performance will be the obvious first step. Indeed, with focused, intensive lessons centred on acting and the 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 join an academic institution, 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 career of your dreams.
Below is a list of the top 10 acting schools in the world.
10. Brown University
Location: Providence, Rhode Island, US
The Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies (TAPS) at Brown University offers undergraduate, doctoral and MFA programmes. Students also have the chance to learn and perform in a Tony Award-winning regional theatre, Trinity Rep. TAPS also places a focus on cross-discipline collaborations, encouraging aspiring actors, playwrights and directors to work together throughout their studies.
Acting training is primarily focused on developing technique as well as skills that will allow you to play versatile roles and perform in different theatrical styles.
It’s worth mentioning that Brown University is the only Ivy League school that fully covers tuition fees for graduate students in the drama school.
The school has produced alumni such as Laura Linney and John Krasinski.
9. The Old Globe & USD (San Diego)
Location: San Diego, California, US
The Shiley Graduate Theatre Program at the Old Globe and University of San Diego is a two-year Master of Fine Arts programme in classical acting with training and performance work in Globe productions.
With a 2% acceptance rate, this is a highly competitive programme led by acclaimed actor, director and choreographer Jesse Perez. The curriculum is centred around performance skills for classical theatre, and includes classes in acting, movement, voice, speech and literature. Meanwhile, summers are reserved for work in productions at the Old Globe.
Among their notable graduates, you will find Jim Parsons, as well as award-winning screenwriters, playwrights and Broadway performers.
8. Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Location: London, UK
As one of the most prestigious drama schools in the world, Guildhall prides itself as a vibrant, international community of musicians, actors and production artists.
The Drama Department offers a BA in Acting Studies as well as an MA in Acting. The former is conducted in partnership with the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, and students spend two years of training at each institution. Meanwhile, the master’s programme is currently under review in order to make it eligible for government funding and thus make it more accessible to aspiring artists who want to join the school.
Guildhall has produced actors and performers including the likes of Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Orlando Bloom and Eileen Atkins.
Want to sharpen your acting skills? Join Natalie Portman’s acting class on MasterClass and learn about her own approach and technique.
7. Carnegie Mellon University
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US
As the oldest acting school in the US, Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama 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.
6. London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Location: London, UK
As one of the oldest drama schools in the world (founded in 1861), the London Academy 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.
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 show business!
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5. UC San Diego
Location: San Diego, California, US
MFA students at UC San Diego have the opportunity of working with the notorious La Jolla Playhouse at UCSD. The school also has close ties with Wagner New Play Festival.
As a student there, you’ll have the opportunity to partake in intensive studio work in movement, voice, speech and singing accesses. The first year of the MFA programme is focused on daily explorations that will help you enhance your expression as an artist, while the second year is centred around the study of classical texts and their performance. Meanwhile, the final year will be devoted to your needs as an actor and will help take your first steps as a professional actor.
4. 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’re 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.
Want to perfect your craft? Join Helen Mirren’s acting class on MasterClass and get insight into theatre and film acting.
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 1924, 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, a 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 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 set you up for the challenging yet exciting world of acting.
Getting into one of these prestigious schools could be a dream come true for many aspiring actors and performers. It could also be the golden ticket that will help you start your acting career on the right foot.
So, if you’re determined to master the art of performance, it’s time to pick a school that will help you reach your potential!
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Join the conversation! Are you preparing to leave school and considering a career in the fascinating world of acting? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an update of an earlier version published on 24 November 2019 and contains contributions from staff writer Melina Theodorou.