Top 10 drama schools to get an acting career

“Study, find all the good teachers and study with them, get involved in acting to act, not to be famous or for the money. Do plays. It’s not worth it if you are just in it for the money. You have to love it.” – Philip Seymour Hoffman, Actor

In September this year, China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, announced he will build the world’s most expensive film studio in the quiet city of Qingdao on the country’s east coast. Celebrities ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Ewan McGregor travelled across the world to attend the ceremony in which Wang revealed his £3bn investment to build the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis.

Wang, 58, has received the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation that holds the Oscars, and will hold his own annual festival from 2016. With a move that made the headlines and will undoubtedly shape help the industry for years to come, Wang has opened a whole new world of opportunity for those pursuing an acting career.


China's richest man, Wang Jianlin. Pic: AP photo

The film industry is burgeoning all over the world but many of the best schools are still to be found in the US and the UK, where the film industry has long been a valuable cultural and economic resource. These prestigious institutions are offering stellar training and degrees to aspiring actors hoping to start a career in the film industry. The best drama degrees provide instruction in technical skills as well as the opportunity to rehearse, perform in public, and learn in master classes or workshops run by renowned professionals.

Choosing a university to dedicate those learning years to can be a daunting task, and to secure the best education it is crucial for students to have clear career goals and aspirations. The performing arts industry isn’t an easy one to become part of, but there are excellent courses out there that prepare passionate and dedicated actors for successful professional careers.

Lack of experience can come in the way of a well-educated candidate getting a job in many sectors, and acting is no different. Technique and skills only come with practice, so it is important for students to select well-rounded, comprehensive courses that give them the opportunity to hone their craft.

The following institutions offer the best drama courses to prepare students for professional acting careers.


Founded almost 20 years ago by Sir Paul McCartney and Mark Featherstone-Witty, LIPA is now ranked alongside renowned performing arts universities. The BA in Acting course is an outstanding programme that produces versatile, confident and skilled actors, guiding them to find their place in the professional landscape. LIPA offers master-classes by visiting professionals and workshops in the vibrant cultural centre that is Liverpool.

Patrons: Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Ian McKellen, Alan Rickman

Tuition fees per year: EU: £9,000/ International: £14,700


Sir Paul McCartney. Pic: DFree /


Consistently ranking among the top five drama schools in the world, Juilliard trains 800 students each year and has started some of the most famous careers in acting. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama is a four-year degree programme and daily class work in acting, movement, voice and additional aspects of the craft. This school has very high entry requirements and a busy teaching schedule; and with an intake of only 8 to 10 students a year, is one of the most selective.

Graduates: Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams, Val Kilmer, Christopher Reeve, Ving Rhames, Kelsey Grammer, Eriq La Salle, Kevin Kline, William Hurt

Tuition fees per year (based on the 2013-14 fees): £22,790


NIDA’s Bachelor of Dramatic Arts (Acting) offers broad and comprehensive training to students wishing to start careers in the arts and entertainment industry. On top of basic skills, the degree gears students with a variety of acting methods and helps them to develop their own approach through productions and performances.

Graduates: Cate Blanchett, Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving

Tuition fees per year: Australian and New Zealand students: £4,670 / International: £15,610


The BA in Acting at Guildhall is one of the most prestigious in the UK, equipping students with all the skills they need to start their acting career. Including individual as well as group work, the course focuses on four areas:  acting, voice, movement and playtexts. In their final year, students rehearse and perform to the public and to potential employers as well as attending sessions to finalise their professional training.

Graduates: Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Orlando Bloom, Eileen Atkins

Tuition fees per year: EU: £9,000/ International: £17,850


The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama at Tisch offers the best to start an acting career to its students: a rigorous conservatory training and a challenging academic education in the heart of culturally thriving New York City. Tisch is a training ground for artists, scholars of the arts, and creative entrepreneurs.

Graduates: Alec Baldwin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael C. Hall, Jeremy Piven

Tuition fees per year: £27,350


Philip Seymour Hoffman. Pic: Dan Kosmayer /


The Bristol Old Vic opened in 1946 and has since then provided world class training to many aspiring actors with comprehensive training in theatre, radio, television and film through classwork and public performances. The chance to learn within one of the UK’s most renowned theatre is one that should not be missed.

Graduates: Gene Wilder, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons

Tuition fees per year: EU: £9,000/ International: £18,800


The four-year degree in Dramatic Arts places professionalism and community at the heart of the programme, providing a multidisciplinary investigation of theatre arts and focusing on the development of critical thinking and collaborative skills. Students at the New School are encouraged to explore various disciplines such as acting, directing, playwriting amongst others and to find the best way into their professional career.

Graduates: Jesse Eisenberg, Marlon Brando, Bradley Cooper

Tuition fees per year: £23,544


The Oxford School of Drama offers a three-year diploma (equivalent to a Bachelor) based on the traditional values of classical acting. A practical training, it aims to equip its students with the skills and expertise to start a career in acting. A ‘young’ school of only 26 years, the Oxford School of Drama is independent from any UK university and highly selective, with only 18 students taken on each year.

Graduates: Lee Boardman, Christina Cole, Catherine McCormack, Will Adamsdale, Claire Foy, Anna Galvin

Tuition fees per year: £14,925


The Bachelor in Acting at the Drama Centre offers its students a theatre-based training incorporating both modern and classical texts, and prepares them to a career in acting through a methodological and innovative approach. Like most drama schools, the Drama Centre teaches method acting as well as improvisation.

Graduates: Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Lambert Wilson

Tuition fees per year: EU: £9,000/ International: £13,800


CalArts was founded in the 1960s by Walt Disney and has since then encouraged its students to develop their artistic ventures in a collaborative environment, integrating a variety of disciplines. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting guides students to become versatile theatre artists with the skills to shape their own creative and professional paths.

Graduates: Ed Harris, David Hasselhoff, Katey Sagal

Tuition fees per year: £27,806