Acting schools provide students with the opportunity to study the performing arts with seasoned instructors and fellow young actors as they prepare for a career in the industry.
Fortunately, students interested in pursuing a career in the performing arts can choose from a wide variety of accredited degree programs in the field of professional acting at institutions in both the United States and England.
How, then, do future actors choose among the many available acting programs?
The following is a list of highly regarded educational institutions that can serve as stepping stones toward an acting career in the theater, film, or radio.
These acting programs not only provide students with the training they need to improve as performers, but also provide them with the chance to meet and network with other people who share their interests and pursue careers in the performing arts.
It is common practice for aspiring actors to begin their careers by enrolling in some sort of acting program. Actors-in-training who take their cues from them can benefit from the instruction of industry professionals.
Because acting schools shape their students based on their inherent talent, prospective students should compare and contrast various acting programs, their offerings, prerequisites, and how they shape their students into working actors.
The top acting programs around the globe are listed below.
Best film acting schools in the world
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London)
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), located in the heart of London, is one of the oldest and best acting schools in the United Kingdom.
This school has a long and storied history of training actors for London’s vibrant and exciting theater scene. Television, radio, theater, and film training are all available.
The RADA campus is home to six theaters (five for live performances and one for movies), giving students ample opportunity to hone their acting chops in front of affluent and well-educated London audiences. Also, students at the RADA have countless opportunities to collaborate with other actors on challenging and exciting productions.
An excellent opportunity for students is to perform for the Royal Family, and RADA is a great place to do just that.
Princess Diana of Wales was president of RADA from 1989 to 1997, and Her Majesty the Queen is the school’s Royal Patron. Former students include the famous Fiona Shaw, Alan Rickman, and Vivian Leigh.
USC School of Dramatic Arts (Los Angeles)
If you want to study acting near the center of the Hollywood film industry, one of the best places to do so is at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
The University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts is a private institution widely regarded as having among the best acting programs in the country. Acting, stage managing, technical directing, and sound design are all fields that could benefit from this training.
This school was founded in 1945 and annually presents over 20 shows in four state-of-the-art performance spaces, providing students with ample opportunities to learn about and develop as artists in their chosen subject.
Some of the school’s notable alums include Leigh Allyn Baker, John Ritter, and LeVar Burton.
East 15 Acting School (Essex)
For international students seeking a British acting education outside of London, East 15 Acting School is an excellent university option.
East 15 Acting School prepares students for roles on internationally renowned stages through rigorous training in acting, stage design, directing, and technical design.
The East 15 Acting School’s illustrious roster of foreign acting instructors gives students the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.
Alan Ford, Arsher Ali, and Elizabeth Henstridge are only a few of the famous people who attended this school.
The Juilliard School, New York
The four-year conservatory program at Juilliard, arguably the most well-known acting school on the list (and with good reason), is intense.
Acting, movement, voice, and other aspects of the craft are taught in small classes (only 20 new students are accepted each year) at Juilliard, where students learn and interpret a vast canon of dramatic literature.
In the first two years of school, students work on honing their abilities across a variety of methods in order to better prepare them to create their own procedures in later years.
Anyone thinking about applying should know that there will be a live audition that includes four memorized monologues and a singing audition.
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama is the oldest acting conservatory in the United States, and its faculty places a premium on students’ in-depth analysis of source material to help them fully inhabit their roles.
With small classes, intensive one-on-one instruction, and a faculty made up entirely of working theatre professionals, the four-year program is broken down as follows: the first year lays the groundwork for the rest of the program, the second year tackles more advanced material, the third year deepens technique through collaboration with graduate playwrights and directors, and the fourth year is dedicated to performance and the preparation for a career in the field.
Elon University’s Department of Performing Arts provides its students with “conservatory-style training in a liberal arts setting,” which goes far beyond traditional theater training. Located on a beautiful campus in North Carolina, the program educates students in everything from vocal technique to the history of the theater, from stage makeup to the analysis of scripts.
With only 16 new students accepted into the acting program each year, students have ample opportunity to gain performance experience in preparation for careers in film, theatre, or television.
Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University should not be underestimated due to its proximity to New York City, small-school atmosphere on a large campus, and successful television, film, and theater graduates.
By focusing solely on the Meisner technique, Rutgers’ acting students are able to develop “a truthful instrument” in which to express themselves.
During their third year, they spend time at the Globe Theatre in London learning about and performing Shakespeare’s work, with an emphasis on developing a global perspective on their art form.
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
Undergraduate programs in performance studies, theater, and dance are housed in Northwestern University’s Communications Department.
Northwestern University’s drama programs, which are consistently ranked among the best in the United States, offer a wide variety of performance incubators and workshops focused on theater, dance, playwriting, and musical performance.
Located on the northern edge of Chicago, one of the most progressive theater performance cities in North America, Northwestern University provides students with unrivaled access to Chicago’s renowned acting and performing arts community.
David Schwimmer, Stephen Colbert, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are just a few of the famous alums.
Northwestern University is a great option for aspiring actors, directors, and playwrights because of its beautiful campus and proximity to one of the world’s largest and most diverse cities.
UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television (Los Angeles, CA)
Let’s say a group of students from out of town wants to attend college in the Los Angeles area, but they’re looking for a prestigious program with a long track record in the field.
If that’s the case, there’s no better place to study than at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television.
When it opened its doors in 1947, this institution was the first of its kind to combine the study of the performing arts with that of cinema and television. This avant-garde ethos has endured to the present day.
In terms of sheer size, the UCLA Film & Television Archive at the university is second only to the Library of Congress.
If you enroll, you’ll gain access to the world’s largest library of movies and TV shows. Many different performance-related academic tracks are available to students.
The Master’s in Acting program at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television is widely regarded as among the best in the world.
Students will be able to perform on some of the most illustrious stages in the country, including the Billy Wilder Theater and the Geffen Playhouse.
Carol Brunett, Jack Black, Nancy Cartwright, and Francis Ford Coppola are just a few of the famous people who attended this school.
NYU Tisch School of the Arts (New York, NY)
Students who are serious about a career on Broadway should enroll in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Established in 1965, Tisch (as it is commonly known) is a mecca for aspiring artists of the stage. It’s a bonus to have New York City as a backdrop for your schooling.
If you want to break into the Broadway industry, there may not be a better place to hone your acting chops and make connections than Tisch, which in 2016 boasted the most active alumni working in the industry of any acting school.
Angelina Jolie, Joel Coen, Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin, Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Whoopie Goldberg are just some of the famous alums.
New York’s Juilliard School
Juilliard, the most illustrious of the best film acting schools in the world, is a conservatory that takes four years to complete.
Students at Juilliard (only 20 new students are accepted each year) study acting, dance, voice, and other aspects of the craft in order to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to interpret a wide variety of dramatic material.
Institute of the Arts in California (Los Angeles, CA)
The California Institute of the Arts is often called the “Juilliard of the West” because it has one of the best film acting programs in the world. The curriculum takes a slightly leftward slant as a result of the conservatory’s experimental, all-encompassing approach.
Forty percent of the curriculum is devoted to “critical studies,” with the stated goal of exposing students to a wide variety of artistic forms, alternative points of view, and cultural vantage points.
Because of its proximity to New York City, its small-school vibe on a large campus, and its alumni who have found success in theater, film, and television, Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts should not be overlooked.
What sets Rutgers apart as one of the world’s top film acting programs is the fact that its students focus less on the Meisner technique and more on finding the universal significance in their work.
Chicago’s University of Illinois
Those interested in acting can choose from three different bachelor’s degrees at the University of Illinois: a BFA in Acting, a BA in Theatre and Performance, or a BA in Theatre Design, Production, and Technology. There are a total of six scholarships available from these divisions, and one of them honors a notable alumnus by his name, Michael Gross. Department assistantships are another option for students receiving Federal Work-Study grants; these jobs can range from grading papers to working at the box office.
Connecticut’s David Geffen School of Drama
It took the emergence of masterworks like Lupita Nyong’o, who won a Golden Globe in 2014 for her performance in 12 Years a Slave, for the Yale University School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut to earn its reputation as one of the best film acting schools in the world.
Yale is an excellent starting point for a career in the theater, whether you want to write, direct, design, or perform.
Are Film Acting Schools Expensive?
Your skills will get you in, but the price may change based on which university you choose.
Duration of Film Acting Schools Programs
A lot will depend on how well you do in front of the camera, but expect it to take anywhere from one to two years.
Students at the top acting schools will not only receive training that will improve their acting skills, but they will also have the opportunity to meet and network with other artists in the field. Acting classes have been credited with helping launch the careers of many well-known actors. Students can improve their acting skills by watching the masters at work and trying to emulate them.