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Best Graduate Schools with Acting Programs: List of Schools

Learn about universities offering the best graduate-level acting programs, which lead to a master's degree in the performance field. Learn about the rankings, degree program options and course offerings for quality acting graduate programs in the nation.

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School Overviews

Two of the schools that offer the best graduate programs in acting are Yale University and Temple University. U.S. News & World Report has recognized both schools for their excellence in fine arts education. Both universities offer Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs in acting, which may take two or three years to complete. Read on for more information about two of the best MFA in Acting programs available.

Top Schools for a Master's Degree in Acting

1. Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale University second among fine arts programs in 2008. Its School of Drama offers a MFA in Acting, a 3-year program that helps students develop a toolbox of acting skills, including comedy, drama, clowning, singing, and movement. The program is very competitive, only admitting 16 students each year, following a rigorous application and audition process.

2. Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

In 2008, U.S. News & World Report listed Temple University as the 14th best fine arts program in the country. The School of Communications and Theater has a 2-year MFA in Acting program, with the purpose of developing working actors to teach acting at the university level. A secondary focus of the program is use ensemble acting to train students in the classics. Temple University is situated less than two miles north of the center of Philadelphia, giving students the chance to participate in the artistic culture of the city.

Good Graduate Acting Programs

College/University Name Distinction Location
Brown University The acting program is a collaboration between the university and Rhode Island's regional theater company, Trinity Rep Providence, RI
George Washington University University's MFA in Classical Acting is a collaborative effort with the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting Washington, D.C.
Michigan State University MFA students have access to the university's seven performance spaces, including an outdoor theater East Lansing, MI
The New School Graduating acting students participate in a showcase that gives them an opportunity to be seen by agents and find work New York, NY
New York University Students have numerous opportunities to observe and perform in theater and film productions in the city; university's lecture series and workshops feature prominent stage and screen actors and directors New York, NY
Texas Tech University In addition to the university's Master of Arts (MA) program in theater arts and the MFA in Performance and Pedagogy, the Department of Theater and Dance offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with an option to specialize in acting and directing Lubbock, TX
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Graduate students can audition for the university's Lyric Theater @ Illinois, a training ground for musical theater and opera where three productions are staged annually Champaign, IL
University of Nevada - Las Vegas Acting students can perform in productions by the Nevada Conservatory Theater, the university's professional theater company Las Vegas, NV
University of Southern California Acting students have access to five performance spaces, including a voice over studio Los Angeles, CA
University of Washington - Seattle Campus Graduate students in the university's Professional Actor Training program write and perform two solo shows, and they take part in a minimum of seven other productions over the course of three years of study Seattle, WA
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Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at George Washington University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Washington (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Washington include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Dance
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
        • Acting
        • Theatre Design and Technology
        • Theatrical Production
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Visual and Performing Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video

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