2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST ACTING SCHOOLS


Where are the Best Acting Colleges to Attend for a Great Career Start?

Have you dreamed about becoming a movie star or a famous director? Maybe your sights are set on wining a Tony one day? To get a good start, you’ll want to find one of the prestigious acting schools that Hollywood and Broadway stars have attended.

While some actors start young without attending acting schools, you might be surprised at how many of your favorite stars have attended one of the best acting schools in the US to hone their craft and get a leg up in the industry.

You may be thinking, “Why do I need to look at acting colleges? I don’t need a degree to go to an audition.” While that is true and many great actors never attended top acting schools, there are many benefits to having a formal drama education that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Top 6 Best Acting Schools & Colleges

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Acting Schools & Colleges

Good acting colleges teach you more than just the acting craft, you also learn how the business works, how to watch out for your earnings, and how to protect yourself from vocal or other injuries. Attending top acting colleges can also help you make connections to open doors for roles.

In our Top 6 Ranking of the best American acting schools, we’ll provide a review of each of these excellent acting colleges and tell you what famous actors are alumni. We’ll also run down the costs to attend and the highlights that make each of these famous acting schools special.

Are you looking for good acting schools? Then let’s get started and take at look at the best of the best.



AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Acting Schools

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the school names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that school):


Top 6 Best Acting Colleges | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Best Acting Schools in the US

Estimated Annual Tuition, Room, Board & Fees

Acting Schools Locations

Boston University School of Theatre

  $67,352

Boston, MA

Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

$57,443

Pittsburgh, PA

New York University Tisch School of the Arts

 $43,046

New York, NY

The Juilliard School, Drama Division

 $60,130

New York, NY

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

  In-State: $21,180

Out-of-State: $36,923

Winston-Salem, NC

Yale School of Drama

$46,949

New Haven, CT

Table: Top 6 Best Prestigious Acting Schools | Above list is sorted alphabetically



Best Acting Schools FAQ | How Attending One of the Good Acting Colleges will Help Your Career

Why do so many famous actors of film and stage attend top acting schools? Besides getting the educational foundation of college, good acting schools also offer several other benefits that give them a better chance at a successful career.

And top acting colleges teach you about more than just the craft of acting or song and dance. Here are some of the reasons attending famous acting schools can help your future path to stardom, from references TheStage.co.uk and TheGuardian.

You Learn Techniques to Stay Healthy

Many actors, especially those in the theatre, not only act, they also sing and dance. The best acting colleges teach you how to sustain an injury-free career by taking care of your voice and body to keep them from getting strained.

Get the Best Acting Insights and Practices to use

Yes, you could just be a natural and walk in and totally nail an audition, but how much better would you be as an actor if you had learned Lee Strasberg’s Method or Stanislavsky’s System from one of the best acting schools in the US or elsewhere?

Learning tried and true acting techiques in an engaging and nurturing environment is the one of the main reasons people attend prestigious acting schools.

Learn About the Business

Acting schools will teach you about the business behind the drama going on out front. They’ll give you the background to understand the technical aspects of lighting and camera angles as well as important advice about money and finances for an actor.

Best Acting Schools & Colleges

Image Source: Pixabay.com | Best Acting Schools in the US

You’ll also learn about professional etiquette and different types of acting workplaces from acting colleges to help you show up on that first day of your acting job confident and ready to excel.

Know How to Promote Yourself

Once you’ve decided on an acting career, then what? The top acting schools teach you how to promote yourself proactively, tips for a strong audition, and the things you can do to self-market your talents to the right people.

Valuable Skills that Translate to Other Jobs

Even if you change career paths after graduation from one of the American acting schools, you’ll have gained valuable skills that translate to success in just about any other type of career.  Such as:

  • Self confidence
  • Speaking and presentation skills
  • Self-discipline
  • Ability to  handle criticism
  • Networking know-how
  • Skills that translate to other areas of entertainment, like broadcasting or choreography

So, now that you know the many ways that attending top acting colleges can help your future career, let’s take a look at our ranking of the top six best acting schools.

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Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Acting Colleges

Below, please find a detailed review of each school on our list of best acting schools in the US. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these prestigious acting schools to score so highly in our selection ranking.



Boston University School of Theatre Review


The first of the prestigious acting schools on our list is in historic Boston, Massachusetts. It is part of Boston University’s College of the Fine Arts, which includes a School of Music, School of Visual Arts, and School of Theatre.

The main college, which houses one of the best acting colleges, actually began as a Vermont Methodist seminary and was chartered as Boston University in 1847. The School of Music is the oldest, being founded in 1872, with their visual arts school and one of the best acting schools in the US coming along afterwards.

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Jason Alexander
  • Geena Davis
  • Olympia Dukakis
  • Ginnifer Goodwin
  • Julianne Moore
  • Alfre Woodard

Highlights That Make Boston University School of Theatre Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Multiple Areas of Craft to Study

Whether you want to be a Broadway star, craft movies as a director, or learn how to write a play, this is one of the top acting schools to attend for all those study areas and more.

Their programs of study for undergraduate and graduate programs include:

  • Acting
  • Dance Minor
  • Design
  • Directing
  • Music Theatre
  • Los Angeles Intership
  • Playrwiting
  • Production
  • Production Management
  • Scenic painting
  • Summer Theatre Institute
  • Stage Management
  • Theatre Arts
  • Theatre Education
  • Theatre Minor

You’re Guaranteed a Part!

Worried that you’ll never get to be in the school productions? Well no worries here! This is one of the good acting colleges you can count on to get you up on stage and learning your craft.

Beginning your sophomore year, you’re guaranteed to be cast in one of their 35+ productions each season, twice a semester. This is also one of the best acting schools in the US where you can learn everything, including musical theatre through their Music Theatre Concentration Curriculum.

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Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Review


You may think of Pittsburgh as a steel town, but this city is also home to one of the most well-respected and famous acting schools, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama.

This is one of the top prestigious acting schools in the country and it has some serious bragging rights. The school, founded in 1914, is the oldest conservatory training, and the first degree-granting drama institution in the US, making it the first of all the American acting schools.

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Ted Danson
  • Josh Gad
  • Josh Groban
  • Holly Hunter
  • Zachary Quinto
  • Ming-Na Wen

Highlights That Make Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Dramaturgy Program

If the normal drama programs at good acting schools just aren’t cutting it for you, Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama has a Dramaturgy program, which is more rigorous, highly structured, and artistically focused.

You won’t find a program just like this at other acting schools. It includes a strong background in history and critical theory. Students spend about as much time researching as they do in the rehearsal room.

Prepare with Their Pre-College Program

Do you want to have the best chance at getting in premiere acting colleges like this one? They offer high school students the opportunity to prepare for an audition at top acting schools through their Pre-College Program.

This 6-week program includes a variety of classroom projects, lectures and a daily schedule that mirrors the School of Drama’s curriculum.

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New York University Tisch School of the Arts Review


This is one of the two best acting colleges on our list that is located in the Big Apple, New York City. New York University Tisch School of the Arts was founded in 1965, making it one of the best acting schools in the US that’s been around for over a half century.

If you like the thought of acting colleges being on the cutting-edge, then you’ll definitely be a fan of Tisch School of the Arts and their Game Center that was created in 2012 to study the art of game design and development.

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Alec Baldwin
  • Kristen Bell
  • Lady Gaga
  • Clark Gregg
  • Bryce Dallas Howard
  • Idina Menzel

Highlights That Make New York University Tisch School of the Arts Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Study Abroad Opportunities

Worried that once you’re locked into one of the top acting colleges that you won’t have a chance to see the world while you’re there? Not so at Tisch School of  the Arts. This is one of the best acting schools to attend if you want to study abroad.

Their program includes opportunities to study in exciting cities such as:

  • Amsterdam
  • Berlin
  • Florence
  • Havana
  • London
  • Los Angeles
  • Paris
  • Prague
  • Sydney

Youre Never Too Old to Learn

Tisch is one of the acting schools that knows you’re never too old to learn something new. Just because you may be older than a typical student, doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for you.

Their Professional Courses are designed for adult learners and can easily be scheduled over weekday, weeknight or weekend hours. This is one of the good acting colleges to learn things like creating promotional and corporate videos, editing, and applying special effects make-up.

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The Juilliard School, Drama Division Review


The Juilliard School is perhaps one of the most prestigious acting schools and performing arts colleges around. Whether you’re a musician, dancer, or singer, Juilliard is has most likely been on your radar at one time or another, and they offer one of the best acting schools in the US.

Best Acting Schools

Image Source: The Juilliard School | Prestigious Acting Schools

This is one of the performance arts and acting schools that’s been around for over a century, being founded in 1905. The school is located in the heart of New York City, at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Jessica Chastain
  • Val Kilmer
  • Kevin Kline
  • Laura Linney
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Adam Shankman

Highlights That Make The Juilliard School, Drama Division Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Collaborate with the Best of the Best

When you get into The Juilliard School, you know you’re learning at one of the most prestigious acting schools in the world and will be acting across from some of the best and brightest.

The school admits just about 7.2% of applicants that apply as their choice for one of the best acting schools in the US for a drama and theatre education.

They’ve Got Writers Covered Too

You may enjoy acting and that's why you’re applying to one of the top prestigious acting schools, but you’re a writer at heart and would really like to learn some great playwriting skills.

This is one of the acting schools that includes a Playwrights Program in their Drama Program, so you not only learn from the best, but also might have an opportunity to earn one of their tuition-free, one-year graduate level fellowships. 



University of North Carolina School of the Arts Review


You may not envision Winston-Salem, North Carolina as a hot bed of art and theatre, but you’d be wrong. This next school on our list of the best acting schools in the US is the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and it is one of the top acting colleges around.

Ranked top among good acting schools, this university may be newer on the scene than some others, being founded in 1963, but it’s definitely made a mark with its five conservatories housed within one university.

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Anna Camp
  • Jennifer Ferrin
  • Tom Hulce
  • Terrence Mann
  • Mary-Louise Parker
  • Jada Pinkett Smith

Highlights That Make University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Very Affordable

Looking for a great education at one of the top acting schools but don't want to spend a fortune? Then the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is one of the acting colleges that you’ve been looking for.

Even their out-of-state tuition/board/fees is less than all the other famous acting schools on our list, at just $36,923. And if you’re lucky enough to be a North Carolina resident, you’ll pay only about $21,180.

A Robust Education

This university is one of the American acting schools where you will enjoy a robust education that incorporates more than just learning the craft of acting. In the first and second years, they incorporate things like:

  • Physical, vocal, and imaginative talents
  • Basic acting exercises
  • Text analysis
  • Improvisation
  • Voice and speaking technique
  • Dance, combat, and movement
  • Liberal arts courses
  • Technical aspects of drama and stage

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Yale School of Drama Review


When you think of Yale, visions of Ivy League educated lawyers typically come to mind, but they also have one of the most well known acting colleges, Yale School of Drama, that’s nearly as famous as their law school.

The Department of Drama was founded at Yale in 1924, and by 1955 it was organized into a separate professional school, which has become one of the top prestigious acting schools in the world

Best Acting Schools | Examples of Famous Alumni

  • Paul Newman
  • Chris Noth
  • Lupita Nyong’o
  • Liev Schreiber
  • Meryl Streep
  • Sigourney Weaver

Highlights That Make Yale School of Drama Stand Out on Our Top List of Best Acting Colleges

Jump Right Into Production Opportunities

This is one of the good acting colleges to get a production opportunity right after the first term. Students make a presentation of collaboratively designed projects and they work with directors, dramaturgs, and playwrights from their class.

First-years have a chance after that to get cast along with second and third year actors in one of the Yale School of Drama plays open to the general public.

Multiple Drama Degree Options

If you’re looking to get a Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A.) degree, then Yale School of Drama is one of the best acting schools to attend. Besides the D.F.A. degree, they offer a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.), Certificate in Drama, and a Technical Internship Cerficate.


Conclusion – Top 6 Best Acting Schools

There is a lot more wrapped up in an education from one of the prestigious acting schools than just learning the basics of method acting or movement. Acting schools also provide a education on theatre history, writing, and the technical aspects of performing.

While you may have the talent to just walk right in and earn your dream role, by not considering going to one of the best acting schools in the US, you might be missing out on some important groundwork that will help you throughout your career.

Whether you’re aiming for one of the most famous acting schools, like The Juilliard School, or are just looking for one of the best acting colleges that is also affordable, you can definitely find the perfect place at these best acting schools on our top 6 ranking.



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