When looking to pursue a career in acting—whether on stage or on the big screen—formal education often provides the necessary foundation for success. Seeing as no two college programs are alike, it’s important for prospective students to do their research to choose a program that best fits their personality, as well as education and career goals. With so many programs to sift through, the program hunt can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of some of the best acting programs to help you get started.


Among one of the most prestigious performing arts programs, Juilliard offers an Undergraduate Diploma in Drama, as well as a BFA and MFA. For students looking to pursue playwriting, Juilliard also offers an Artist Diploma in Playwriting.

Yale School of Drama

Boasting more than 40 Tony nominations, Yale’s programs have been highly successful. Yale offers an MFA degree in ten areas of study, some of which include: Acting, Sound Design, Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, and Theatre Management. The school also offers a Doctor of Fine Arts (D.F.A) for students who already hold their MFA degree in Dramaturgy.

For students who do not hold an undergraduate degree, they can receive a Certificate in Drama in seven areas of study, some of which include acting, design, directing, and stage management.

University of California, Los Angeles

Undergraduates can pursue a BA degree in Theatre at UCLA, as well as a theatre minor. Graduate students can pursue MFAs in Acting, Playwriting, Directing, and can complete a three-year program for Design for Theatre and Entertainment Media.

For students seeking a higher terminal degree, they can earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Theatre and Performative Studies for an interdisciplinary approach to theatre and performance.

Boston University College of Fine Arts

Boston University offers a BFA in Acting. This program focuses on studio work which provides students the ability to actively hone their craft.

The College of Fine Arts at Boston University also offers MFA programs in Design (Costume, Lighting, Scene, and Design), Directing, Playwriting, Production (Costume and Technical), Production Management, Theatre Education, and Scene Painting.

Brown University

Brown’s undergraduate program offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Theatre Arts and Performance studies. Within this concentration, students have the option to choose “tracks” to study, such as Theatre Arts, Performance Studies, or Writing for Performance.

As for graduate programs, Brown offers an MFA of Fine Arts in Playwriting as well as an in Acting and Directing. Students looking for the highest terminal degree will find a Doctoral Program in Theatre and Performance Studies at Brown.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dramatic Arts, or a BFA in Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media. Along with these degrees, USC offers several other interdisciplinary degrees, such as a Visual and Performing Arts BA, Contemporary Musical BFA, and Design BFA.

USC also boasts graduate programs, which offer an MFA in Acting, as well as an MFA in Dramatic Writing.