Best Acting Schools in USA

9 minute read
Best Acting Scools in USA

The USA has given some of the greatest actors, directors, and playwrights in the world. The USA’s film and television industry are one of the largest employers and diverse industries in the country today. Undoubtedly, it is home to some of the finest acting schools and remains one of the best countries for international students who wish to study drama, theatre and fine arts to spur their career in the world of entertainment. If you are looking for acting courses in the land of Hollywood then keep reading because, in this blog, we will cover all the best acting schools in the USA!  

Also Read: Top 25 Film Schools in the World

Top 10 Best Acting Schools in the USA

Let’s look at some of the best acting schools in the USA that have honed the greatest actors in the world- 

1. Tisch School of the Arts, NYU

YouTube: Nadia Fedchin

Tisch School of the Arts, NYU is one of the most competitive acting schools in New York, USA. It offers a bunch of programmes in performing arts, from dance to drama to acting, directing, cinematic studies, public policy and management for high schoolers, undergraduates, graduates and professionals. It is well-known for teaching and guiding actors, singers and directors like Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Alec Baldwin and Lady Gaga! 

  • Tuition: 
    • $59,332 (INR 44,13,128) for undergraduate programs
    • $65,408 (INR 48,65,063) for graduate programs
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 19% – 35%
  • Popular courses: BA, BFA and MFA
  • QS Rank: 11
  • Alumni: Dee Rees, Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik, Ang Lee, Sam Esmail

2. American Film Institute

Credits: American Film Institute

The American Film Institute is a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to celebrating excellence in the art form and creating national education initiatives that inspire artists and audiences alike. This past year, AFI conducted Zoom Master Seminars led by the likes of Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee and David Fincher, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, 2021’s Dune) joined the faculty. In addition, the newly established Lawrence Herbert Alumni Center will assist students in gaining an industry foothold, while scholarship funding was at an all-time high, with a recent $5 million contribution from the estate of Jerry Perenchio in support of diverse students.

  • Tuition: $59,951 (INR 44,59,170)
  • Alumni: Patty Jenkins, Melina Matsoukas, David Lynch

3. USC School of Cinematic Arts

Caption: USC School of Cinematic Arts

The USC School of Cinematic Arts has nurtured and inspired writers, directors, scholars, entrepreneurs, producers, animators, interactive designers and others who have developed an unparalleled mastery of cinema, television and new media. Their programs provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity for international students, from regions as diverse as Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, to explore and expand their creative potential.

  • Tuition:
    • $60,446 (INR 44,95,988) for the undergraduate program
    • $39,900 (INR 29,67,771) for a graduate program
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Popular courses: BFA and BA in Theatre
  • Acceptance Rate: 25.6%
  • QS Rank: =31
  • Alumni: Judd Apatow, Jon M. Chu, America Ferrera

Must Read: Best Drama Schools in the World

4. Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts

Credits: Chapman University

Chapman’s personalized education gives each student a unique opportunity to become an original thinker who rises to the world’s challenges. Their inclusive, empowering community fosters creative thinking and expression of all perspectives. Chapman’s campus is a perfect size—not too big, not too small—allowing for effective, innovative programs to be a focal point of our institution. The mission of Chapman University is to provide personalized education of distinction that leads to inquiring, ethical and productive lives as global citizens

  • Tuition:
    • $58,250 (INR 43,32,649) for the undergraduate program
    • $48,336-$58,250 (INR 35,95,243 – INR 43,32,649) for postgraduate program
  • Alumni: The Duffer brothers, Justin Simien, Everything Sucks! creator Ben York Jones

5. Columbia University

Credits: CUSchooloftheArts

One of the nation’s most expensive film programs produces talent that works across the commercial (longtime superhero filmmakers James Mangold and Simon Kinberg are alums) and fine arts space. While its graduate programs are the ones that focus on practical filmmaking, undergraduate film studies majors, who focus on academic theory, often work on graduate student film sets to gain on-set experience. Columbia University is a thriving, diverse community of talented, visionary, and committed artists from around the world and a faculty comprised of acclaimed and internationally renowned artists, film and theatre directors, writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, playwrights, producers, critics, and scholars. 

  • Tuition:
    • $60,514 (INR 45,01,046) for Undergraduate
    • $73,240 (INR 54,47,609) for Postgraduate
  • Alumni: Disney Animation chief Jennifer Lee, Kathryn Bigelow

Explore: Film-Making Courses 

6. The Julliard School

Credits: The Julliard School

Sharpay Evans’ dream school – Juilliard is frequently recognised as one of the world’s greatest acting schools and for good reason. Juilliard’s success can be attributed to its rigorous training programme, which is designed to challenge and push students to their utmost potential. In addition, the school places a heavy emphasis on practical experience, with students having the chance to perform in a variety of theatre performances throughout their stay at Juilliard. Furthermore, the faculty at the school is made up of seasoned professionals in the acting field who can offer students important assistance and supervision.

  • Fees: $50,000-$40,000
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 7.4%
  • QS Rank:- 5
  • Alumni: Viola Davis from The Woman King and Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy.

7. David Geffen School of Drama at Yale

Credits: Aimee Catherine

Yale University‘s drama school is not only one of the greatest in the country, but also one of the most coveted, and for good reason. Following a $150 million grant from the David Geffen Foundation, the Yale School of Drama announced that tuition will be waived! No, you did not misread that. The School of Drama has announced that students can now study here for free. This is Yale’s second tuition-free programme, following the Yale School of Music, which did so in 2005.

  • Fees: Tuition-free 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Acceptance Rate: NA
  • QS Rank: 28
  • Popular courses: Acting, Design, Playwriting and Directing
  • Notable alumni: Angela Bassett from Black Panther, Patricia Clarkson from Sharp Objects and Kate Burton from The Scandal. 

8. The Old Globe and the University of San Diego

Credits: San Diego Review

The Old Globe and the University of San Diego developed this programme in 1987, and The Hollywood Reporter named it one of the greatest acting schools in the world. The Old Globe is a historic theatre group that has collaborated with USD to establish an MFA programme in acting directed by famous actor, choreographer, and director Jesse Perez. The programme is extremely competitive, so if you want to get in, you’ll need to bring your A-game.

  • Fees: £40,000-£45,000
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 2%
  • Popular courses: Bachelor of fine arts (BFA)
  • Notable alumni: Jim Parsons, most famous for his role as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, attended the program. 

Must Read: Top 35 Educated Hollywood Stars

9. Carnegie Mellon School of Drama 

Credits: Carnegie Mellon University

The CMU School of Drama is home to one of the world’s greatest acting programmes. But don’t worry; for those that are accepted, the hard work pays off! Because the programme is known for its intense training and demanding effort, CMU actors are among the best-prepared in the profession. Furthermore, with Pittsburgh’s thriving theatre industry just a short distance away, CMU performers have plenty of opportunities to put their talents to the test. Expect to see a CMU actor on Broadway someday – they’re that amazing!

  • Fees: $40,000 – $50,000 
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Popular courses: Acting, Speech, Voice and Movement
  • Notable alumni: René Auberjonois from Star Trek, William Atherton from Die Hard and  Hale Appleman from the film Teeth.

10. DePaul University’s School of Theatre, Film, and Television

Credits: Taiga Fukuyama

The School of Theatre, Film, and Television at DePaul University is regarded as one of the best acting programmes in the world. The institution, which is located in Chicago, Illinois, has a long history of producing great actors and actresses who have gone on to have successful careers in Hollywood and beyond. However, DePaul’s performers are more than just excellent; they are also quirky and unique lot. Students rehearsing Shakespearean monologues in the school coffee shop or doing impromptu sketches on the quad are not uncommon. More than 22,000 students have enrolled in several popular courses offered by the university.

  • Fees: $35,000 – $40,000
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Popular courses: Cinematography, directing, editing and filmmaking.
  • Scholarship Provided: Merle Reskin Scholarship 
  • Notable alumni: Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, Judy Greer from 13 Going on 30, and Joe Keery from Stranger Things. 

Acting Courses in the USA

  • Theatre Arts & Performance Studies
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts 
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting
  • Bachelor of Acting
  • Bachelor of Film, Television and Digital Media 
  • Bachelor of Theatre and Dance
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Theatre and Drama Studies
  • MA in Performing Arts 
  • MA in Dramatic Arts 
  • MA in Contemporary Theatre 
  • MA in Film Studies 
  • MA in Costume Designing 
  • MFA in Acting
  • Master of Film, Television and Digital Media 

Must Read: Best Film Schools in Europe

Eligibility Requirements

Also Read: Best Acting Colleges in India


That concludes our list of the top 10 acting schools in the USA. So, what are you holding out for? Choose your choice and begin your application immediately! You can also join one of these colleges’ theatre groups and put what you’ve learned in class to use on stage. Acting is an art form that demands a tremendous lot of devotion and hard work, and you should be proud of your decision to pursue it. We hope you found this blog useful, and we wish you the best of luck!


Q1. Where can I study acting in the US?

Ans. Here are some of the schools in the USA where you can study acting:
Acting – MFA DePaul University, USA.
Actors Studio Drama School: Acting, Directing and Playwriting – MFA Pace University, USA.
Acting for Film – MFA New York Film Academy, USA.
Theatre Arts/Acting/Directing – MFA Long Island University Post, USA.
Theatre Arts: Acting – MFA California State University, Long Beach, USA.

Q2. What acting school did most actors go to?

Ans. Many actors had formal acting training from either schools, such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Yale University, HB Studio, The Pasadena Playhouse, and The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, or from teachers such as Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Michael Chekhov.

Q3. How much does an acting school cost in the USA?

Ans. The average tuition of colleges offering Acting programmes for the academic year 2022-2023 is $35,334 for undergraduate programmes and $33,597 for graduate programmes. The average tuition for vocational programmes in the area is $35,200. The table below displays the typical tuition and fees for Acting programmes.

Acting is a diverse profession and thousands of individuals strive to make a mark in this creative industry every year. It remains one of the most competitive industries in the world as well as the most lucrative career choice. If you are someone looking for a career in acting, then contact our experts at Leverage Edu to shortlist the best acting schools in the USA and in the world.

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