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Acting Schools in Manhattan, NY with Degree Program Summaries

The Manhattan area has many schools that offer acting programs. Learn about the degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools to make an informed education decision.

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Comparison of Acting School Options in Manhattan

Aspiring actors have many school options to choose from in Manhattan. At The New School, students can earn a bachelor's degree in drama or musical theater or a master's degree in acting. The Juilliard School has a renowned theater conservatory program that offers highly selective bachelor's and master's degree programs in acting. For a more affordable option, students can attend CUNY Brooklyn College, which offers selective conservatory acting degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The New School The Juilliard School CUNY Brooklyn College
Acting Degree Programs Offered Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) in Musical Theater,
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Acting
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama,
Master of Fine Arts in Drama
Bachelor of Arts in Theater, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting,
Master of Fine Arts in Acting
Related Programs Offered Bachelor of Arts in the Arts,
Master of Fine Arts in Directing, Master of Fine Arts in Playwriting
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, Bachelor of Music in Vocal Arts,
Artist Diploma in Opera Studies,
Master of Music in Vocal Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Technical Theater,
Master of Fine Arts in Directing, Master of Fine Arts in Performance and Interactive Media Arts
School Type Four-year; private, not-for-profit Four-year; private, not-for-profit Four-year; public
Total Enrollment (2011-2012) 10,797* 969* 16,835*
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $39,368* $35,140* $5,884 in-state; $12,094 out-of-state*
% of Incoming, Full-Time Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2010-2011) 99%* 76%* 85%*
Acceptance Rate 65% (2012-2013)* 7% (2012-2013)* 28% (2011-2012)*
Retention Rate (2010-2011) 82% of full-time students* 96% of full-time students* 82% of full-time students*
Six-Year Undergraduate Graduation Rate (for students who started in 2005) 61%* 93%* 48%*
Relevant Facilities The John L. Tishman Theater, with 500 seats A proscenium theater, a black-box theater and two black-box studios; access to Lincoln Center Campus, with a variety of professional performance venues Proscenium main-stage theater, 120-seat black box theater
Noteworthy Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop was run at the New School in the 1940s; students of the program included Marlon Brando and Tennessee Williams Students have performance opportunities through Play Labs, workshops and staged readings of student work Alumni have worked in various notable theater and production companies, including Roundabout Theater, Equity Theater, the New York City Ballet and HBO Productions
Distance from Downtown (Driving Time) 1.8 miles (8 min) 5.2 miles (14 min) 6.8 miles (22 min)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics - College Navigator.


Degrees at The New School

The New School for Drama offers bachelor's and master's degree programs focused on acting. Students also can earn a bachelor's degree in musical theater through the New School for Public Engagement.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts

The B.F.A. in Dramatic Arts is a four-year, interdisciplinary program that teaches students to collaborate and think critically in a theatrical context. Students have the opportunity to take classes in various aspects of theater, including acting, directing, criticism, writing, design and technology. Theater coursework focuses on both Western and non-Western style and repertoire. Students learn about research methods and take core theater courses and both theater and general electives. The program culminates with a capstone group project.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater

The B.F.A. in Musical Theater is a flexible, self-designed program, with part-time and online options available. Admission to the program requires completion of the Integrated Program, a two-year, 60-credit musical theater conservatory program offered at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Upon acceptance to the New School, students take an additional 60 credits, 48 of which are in the liberal arts. Students can transfer up to 24 credits from other institutions to meet New School requirements. To graduate, students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

The M.F.A. in Acting program is designed to prepare students to enter the acting profession by helping them develop their artistic voice. The basis of the program is the Stanislavski system of acting. To be accepted, students must hold a bachelor's degree. Students work with contemporary and classical texts in solo and collaborative settings, often working directly with directing and playwriting M.F.A. students. The first year of the program involves vocal and movement training focused on developing basic skills through exercises and scene work. During the second year, students perform one-act plays publicly, while honing their acting, voice and movement craft. Acting classes involve work with major texts and the exploration of character through monologue and scene work. Students learn various movement styles, including mask and stage combat, and take voice classes dealing with classical texts, dialects, accents and genres such as musical theater. During the first semester of their final year, students perform in theatrical productions. The final semester involves career-oriented coursework and preparation for an industry showcase.

Degrees at The Juilliard School

Students seeking an intensive acting program can apply to Juilliard's Bachelor of Fine Arts or Master of Fine Arts programs. Each of these programs accepts only 8-10 applicants per year.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama

The B.F.A. in Drama offered at Juilliard is a 135-credit conservatory program in acting that typically lasts four years. Students take intensive theater coursework in acting, movement and voice and are introduced to and work with a broad variety of theatrical styles. The program requires 24 credits in the liberal arts, taken during the first three years, on topics such as ethics, society and aesthetics. Students take acting classes in interpretation and technique every year; they also take drama courses in Shakespeare, theater history, prose and poetry. During their final two years, students must be involved in theatrical productions and take classes about acting as a profession. Students might have the opportunity to work with M.F.A. candidates.

Master of Fine Arts in Drama

The M.F.A. in Drama offered at Juilliard is a four-year conservatory program in which students develop acting skills and can choose to develop a variety of other theatrical skills, including directing, playwriting, pedagogy and production. Students take acting classes in interpretation and technique for all four years. During the final two years, students focus on performance and take classes about the acting profession. The program's curriculum consists of 110 credits.

Degrees at CUNY Brooklyn College

Brooklyn College, a part of the City University of New York system, is currently building an $80 million addition to its performing arts center, which would cater to several departments, including the Department of Theater. The B.F.A. program accepts 12 students annually, and the M.F.A. program accepts ten students annually.

Bachelor of Arts in Theater

Students seeking a multidisciplinary degree in theater can earn a B.A. in Theater at Brooklyn College. The program provides a theater education within a liberal arts curriculum, with emphasis on theatrical collaboration. Students learn about all aspects of theater, with opportunities to focus on various areas, including acting, directing, theater history, stage and theater management, technical production, and costume, lighting and scene design.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting

The B.F.A. in Acting granted by Brooklyn College is a 61-credit, four-year program that provides training in a variety of acting techniques, including those of Alexander and Stanislavski. To be accepted to the program, students must submit four written essays and present various monologues in an audition. Students develop their own acting process through classical, contemporary and original work and training in voice, movement, improvisation and performance. Students also take classes in the business of acting and theater history. During their second and third years, students audition for all productions and must accept any role in which they are cast. The program culminates with a senior project that involves performance of a major character and the submission of a researched, written thesis. Students also participate in an acting showcase in Manhattan for industry professionals, such as casting directors and agents. To graduate, students must maintain a grade of C or better in all major courses.

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

Students seeking advanced acting training can earn an M.F.A. in Acting in two years of full-time study at Brooklyn College. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher to be considered for the program. The application process involves submission of a headshot and resume, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts, a statement of intent and a description of the applicant's acting process. Applicants also must be interviewed and attend an audition. The curriculum includes training in voice and speech, movement, acting and theater analysis. Students have many opportunities to participate in performances, including through collaborations with other theater M.F.A. students. The first year of the program focuses on expanding technique and skill, while the second year focuses on honing these skills through working with classical texts. Students also take classes in the business of acting. The program culminates with an actor's showcase for industry professionals.

Other School Options

There are numerous other acting schools within 25 miles of Manhattan. For example, students can pursue associate's degrees at American Academy of Dramatic Arts - New York and bachelor's degrees at Pace University - New York and Marymount Manhattan College. A few notable New York City schools with theater programs, which typically include acting classes, are New York University, CUNY Hunter College, Wagner College, Barnard College, Columbia University in the City of New York, CUNY City College and CUNY Queens College.

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Acting Degree and Certificate Program Information

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  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts campus Boston
    Areas of study you may find at Boston University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Florida campus Coral Gables
    Areas of study you may find at University of Miami include:
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    • Pennsylvania campus Philadelphia
    Areas of study you may find at Temple University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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    • Columbia (D.C.) campus Washington
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
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    • Connecticut campus Storrs
    Areas of study you may find at University of Connecticut include:
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      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
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    Areas of study you may find at Baylor University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
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