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14 Dec Acting Colleges – 5 Great Options

Acting teachers always say that an actor’s training should never end. They should be continuously honing their craft.

Acting colleges can provide an actor with a great foundation from which to work from for the rest of their careers.

These focused institutions can equip the budding actor with a toolbox of acting techniques, theory and a whole host of other important aspects of the craft that will get them started on the right foot.

Not only that, but after attending any acting colleges, you’ll leave with a bunch of contacts in the acting community that could really help down the road.

Let’s look at five of the top undergraduate acting colleges in America:

  • Juilliard

The granddaddy of performing arts schools. Juillard, in New York City, is a very prestigious conservatory style school. Conservatory, meaning you spend four years deeply immersed in the learning process, going through your training with the same teachers and mostly the same group of students. This creates an intense and rewarding experience. Students will train in Shakespeare, improvisation, stage combat, script analysis and more in their first 2 years. Juillard is widely recognized as a fabulous program. The only problem is, out of 1000 yearly applicants they accept only 18!

  • SUNY – Purchase

Very competitive and intense like Juilliard. SUNY, 40 minutes outside New York, is one of the top acting colleges in the country that requires incredible dedication. The first 2 years of your residency is considered a “trial” period, after which you may or may not be asked back. Classes typically start at 8am and end near 11pm at night on some days. Gruelling, but has one the best reputations in the U.S.

  • NYU – Tisch School of Drama

This is a truly huge drama department, boasting 1400 students! The program involves a combination of liberal arts education, theater studies and conservatory training. The program is engineered to lead up to a performance at the end of the year. 7 studios are provided at Tisch. In each of these, students focus on one aspect of acting. For example, in the “Meisner extension” students will focus on renowned drama teacher Sanford Meisner’s methods and excercises. Right in the heart of New York City, Tisch is a great option if you can get in, which isn’t quite as hard as the previous two schools.

  • Cal Arts School of Theater

Cal Arts is another great option. Located near Los Angeles, the school tends to incorporate classes with a broader focus than the previous schools. You won’t just be constantly rehearsing plays and techniques. Here students are required to take 40% of their classes in the school for critical studies. This is to ensure a well rounded education for every student, deepening their understanding of a wide range of subjects, not simply a narrow emphasis on acting.

  • Carnegie Mellon University

This university located in Pittsburgh, offers students a four year undergraduate acting program focusing on such playwrights as Shakespeare and Chekhov. Students can also opt for a double major adding musical theater to the mix! The program also tackles Greek and restoration plays all leading to a performance on the schools main stage at the end of the year. The most interesting part of the program is reserved for top students who are invited to perform in a “showcase” in either New York or Los Angeles.



Jeremy Guilbaut

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