There is a debate raging for ages in between actors about what really makes their trade – is it just talent or do acting schools really count for a change besides getting you wholly involved into the environment? The truth can hardly be in any grayer area; there have been stories of successful actors who appeared in the picture without prior credentials – heck, Walt Disney never even finished high-school – but many more unknown stories of talented young men who failed to improve at famous and expensive acting schools.
That being said, acting schools will give you more of a chance not only to prove yourself, but to enter the acting circuit with a smooth transition. You will also get schooled in many cases by established actors, and experience is always a great complement to talent. The problem will be with affording the not-so-mild fees asked; in that sense, you should view acting as more of an investment.
Whether you’re okay with this is up to you; there are certain advantages to acting schools. If you’re a quality over quantity type of person, then you’ll surely search for the top acting schools – be them in Atlanta, Houston or Cleveland. This article is designed exactly for you then: we are going to present some of the most prestigious acting schools, national and some abroad, which will hopefully help you decide which is best suited for you.
Yale School of Drama
Of course New Haven, Connecticut-based Yale University is one of the top in the country, and the Yale School of Drama makes no exception to this at all. Paul Newman, Meryl Streep or Lupita Nyongo’o are just some of the graduates that Yale’s acting department had to offer since its foundation in 1924. It offers both Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Fine Arts study programs, as well as a Certificate in Drama for students who have not completed a degree at any previous college.
In the terms of Dean James Bundy, every one of YSD’s graduates during the past decade have found themselves signed up with an agent less than a month after completion; if that doesn’t convince, open doors programs are usually held in September so that you can delve into the work and study atmosphere present there. The tuition fee is $27.250 per year – and the YSD estimates that students could look up at a total of $45.000 per year with all living costs included – a sum that could have anyone go mental.
The Juilliard School
NYC based Juilliard School is more than just an acting school – hosting loads of programs for dancing, music or liberal arts as well. It can be deemed more of an art school, but the acting department has kept the flag waving with high-profile graduates such as Kevin Spacey or Jessica Chastain. In any case, it’s one of the best acting schools NYC has to offer.
It boasts undergraduate, bachelor and master programs in acting in which the emphasis is put on classical theater – which is great in developing multi-capable actors. The tuition fee is quite high at $38.190, which rises to over $50.000 with the campus included. However, the Juilliard School does run extensive scholarship programs that might cover large parts of this sum to compensate; it might be the one best suited for your needs.
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
If you want to better you trade just under Hollywood’s nose, then the UCLA’s department is the best choice in this regard; you are essentially just a couple of blocks away from where the real stuff happens. The Los Angeles based TFT has a more modern, multimedia approach than the Juilliard School; it also preps students for careers in television, besides the usual theater and film, with its academic programs being split between Theater and Film, TV and Digital Media.
Forrest Whittaker and Grant Stoltz are some of the best known UCLA TFT graduates, and there is a certain amount of opportunism involved in studying the art close to Hollywood. That being said, this California acting school isn’t particularly rated up there with the best of acting most of the times. The tuition fee is also accordingly lower: a manageable $11,220, with about $12.000 more charged for campus rooms.
Boston University School of Theater
Massachusetts’ best acting school comes at the Boston University department, which uses a different approach than many counterparts known as the “Toolbox” approach. It functions in teaching a wide variety of acting techniques in parallel over the course of its degrees, so that you can pick them up at your own pace and filter the ones you find the most useful.
The BUST also offers a vast array of complementary degrees such as Stage Management, Play-writing, Design, Theater Minors, Theater Arts or Directing. Unfortunately, it does boast a quite prohibitive $53.000 tuition fee, but despite this remains very sough-after holding an average GPA for accepted students of 3.7 – a testament to its accepted quality.
DePaul University Theater School
Chicago’s DePaul theater department has a very individualistic and specific approach toward teaching the trade, holding an average of six students per faculty. However, they are treated to a whole array of acting skills throughout the four years program – most of which are split into “sequences”, meaning you’re free to learn them gradually as your skills are honed.
This approach resulted in a good number of high profile actors graduating from DePaul, including Gillian Anderson, Elizabeth Perkins, Karl Malden or Judy Greer. Tuition comes in at over $35.000, placing it in the league of expensive but not absurd acting schools from this point of view.
Florida State School of Theater
You’ll probably be surprised to hear that the best acting school you can get in Florida isn’t in Miami, but in Sarasota. The arguments here don’t go towards a breakthrough program or tradition, but to the fact that only 12 students are chosen per year – making for an individualistic and personalized approach for each – and the fact that they get their tuition fee fully waived, and also scholarship programs to help with the expenses of living there.
No, it wasn’t a typo; tuition fee is ENTIRELY free for those accepted. Problem is, you’ll have to ward off about another 1,000 candidates in federal-wide auditions. However, if you give it a shot and manage to secure your spot, you will feel more privileged than the vast majority of acting students. Heck, they’re even throwing in a one year study program in London as part of the degree. Speaking of which, how would you like to live and study in the capital of European theater and movies, the great London?
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Going over to the other side of the Atlantic, the English schools of acting have been known to provide both Hollywood and Broadway material at an astonishing rate over the years. London-based Guildhall is one of the more complete options – it puts acting and music aside one another, and the truth is that communication between students pursuing different art types has always been beneficial to their overall evolution.
Daniel Craig, Ewan McGregor and Orlando Bloom are just the icing on the cake of notable former Guildhall students. The tuition fee for acting is situated at almost 18.000 pounds (approximately $29.000) – not much more than what you would spend if you’d move to Georgia or Michigan, for example. And you’ll probably also get accustomed to that cool English accent in the process.
And of course there are many more options for you to choose from. Be it in Texas or Colorado, Philadelphia or Dallas, or wherever you’d want to go, decent acting schools have sprung out everywhere. This also transmits into increased competition – more and more children and teens around the country wish to pursue a career in acting with each passing year.
And here’s the point where the debate rages at its hardest – despite the high number of acting schools and the high number of applicants, greatness is still reserved just for a chosen few. It can be argued that a high number of acting schools will also result in more B-rated actors which drag down the average – and offer cheaper alternatives for directors and television producers.
However, acting school graduates nowadays are also trained to be more multi-purposed; and the transition from theater to film to television (not necessarily in this order) is way easier done nowadays, and offers more flexibility to all these branches. Pros and cons can be gathered by the days – in the end, acting schools are still extremely useful and give you an edge in the industry, be it only for making acquaintances if not for successfully teaching you advanced techniques. But the beauty of acting is that talent and skill are rewarded in auditions – not degrees and certificates. So if you find the tuition fees prohibitive or just not worth it, it doesn’t mean that you’re totally at a disadvantage.