Top 5 Undergraduate Schools for an Acting Degree

7:00 AM 6/10/2019

by Seth Abramovitch

Just starting out? Here's where to begin earning your chops.

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An MFA is helpful if you want to graduate with an Actors' Equity card — plus the academic credentials to teach acting in a college setting at some point in the future. But plenty of big-name actors have gotten their starts with only an undergraduate degree: Holly Hunter earned a BFA from Carnegie Mellon in 1980; Adam Driver got one from Juilliard in 2009; and Billy Magnusen graduated from University North Carolina School of the Arts' superb undergraduate program in 2007. Here then are the five best programs in the world for a bachelor's degree in acting.

  • National Institute of Dramatic Art

    Kensington, Australia

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    Australia's top institution flies foreign directors like Robert Schuster to Sydney for residencies.


    Winston-Salem, North Carolina

    G. Allen Aycock/Courtesy of UNCSA

    This year, musicals like SpongeBob SquarePants featured recent alumni of this Winston-Salem, North Carolina, school.

  • NYU

    New York

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    Jelani Alladin ('14), who starred in Frozen on Broadway, says his time at NYU was "invaluable," especially the "connections."

  • Juilliard

    New York

    Patti McConville/Alamy Stock Photo

    "The peeling may hurt, but it's a good hurt," says Oscar Isaac ('05) of how the NYC school breaks down actors to their elemental selves.

  • Carnegie Mellon

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Stephen Schwartz ('68), of Wicked fame, returns each year to help students mount a new musical at this Pittsburgh university.

    A version of this story first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.