10 Best Colleges for the Performing Arts

February 28, 2024
College Majors

Studying the performing arts is an exhilarating way to explore creativity, self-expression, one's artistic passion. Choosing the right college to nurture and refine these talents is a critical decision that can shape a budding artist's trajectory. In this blog post, we explore ten colleges that are renowned for their outstanding programs in the performing arts—institutions that not only foster artistic brilliance but also equip students with the skills and experiences essential for a flourishing career on the stage or screen.

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New York University

NYU's Tisch School of the Arts stands out for its diverse, extensive programs catering to students passionate about the performing arts. From the renowned Tisch School of Drama to the Tisch School of Dance to the Tisch School of Recorded Music, students have access to a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines. The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, part of Tisch, further enhances NYU's standing in the performing arts, providing comprehensive training for those interested in the cinematic side of the industry.

University of Southern California

The USC School of Dramatic Arts offers a dynamic environment for aspiring performers with a variety of programs, including acting, musical theatre, and stage management. USC's undergraduate acting program emphasizes a holistic approach to performance, incorporating voice, movement, and improvisation. Additionally, the university’s School of Cinematic Arts provides a unique intersection between performing arts and film, offering specialized programs for students interested in acting for the screen.

Northwestern University

Northwestern's School of Communication, including the Bienen School of Music and School of Theatre, provides an interdisciplinary approach to performing arts education. The School of Music offers a certificate in music theatre, preparing students for careers on stage with a strong foundation in vocal and instrumental skills, while the School of Theatre focuses on acting, directing, and stagecraft, ensuring a comprehensive education for those passionate about the dramatic arts.

Columbia University

Columbia’s undergraduate program in Drama and Theatre Arts is a dynamic, comprehensive program within the university’s prestigious School of the Arts. Designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of the theoretical, historical, and practical aspects of theatre, this major combines rigorous academic study with hands-on artistic training. Students delve into courses covering dramatic literature, performance theory, and theatrical history while also participating in practical workshops in acting, directing, and stagecraft. Columbia's prime location in New York City serves as an extension of the classroom, offering unparalleled access to the city’s vibrant theatre scene. Whether aspiring to be actors, directors, playwrights, or arts administrators, graduates emerge with a well-rounded skill set and a deep appreciation for the transformative power of theatre.

Carnegie Mellon University

CMU's School of Drama is renowned for its intense, immersive training programs. The undergraduate acting program focuses on developing the actor's craft through a combination of rigorous coursework and practical experience, while the program in music theatre blends singing, acting, and dancing to prepare students for careers in musical theatre.

Yale University

The Yale School of Drama is a distinguished institution offering Master of Fine Arts programs in acting, directing, playwriting, and more. Yale's unique curriculum integrates practical training with a strong theoretical foundation, fostering a deep understanding of the art and craft of performance. The Yale Cabaret, a student-run theatre, provides a platform for experimentation and collaboration, enriching the experience for aspiring performing artists.

University of California – Los Angeles

UCLA's School of Theatre, Film, and Television (TFT) offers a variety of programs catering to students interested in the performing arts. The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre offers a broad exploration of theatre, while the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre offers a more specialized curriculum for those seeking intensive training. In addition, TFT's Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance provides opportunities for students interested in dance and interdisciplinary performance.

Stanford University

Stanford's Department of Theatre and Performance Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies, emphasizing a broad understanding of performance in global and historical contexts. The department encourages interdisciplinary exploration, allowing students to combine their passion for the performing arts with other fields of study. Stanford's vibrant arts community, including the Stanford Shakespeare Company, enhances the overall experience for performing arts students.

Pomona College

Pomona's Department of Theatre and Dance provides a liberal arts approach to performing arts education. The college offers a major in Theatre and Dance, allowing students to explore various aspects of performance, including acting, directing, and dance. The close-knit community at Pomona fosters collaboration and creative exploration, providing a supportive environment for aspiring performers.

The Juilliard School

As a world-renowned conservatory, the Juilliard School is dedicated exclusively to the performing arts. Juilliard offers programs in dance, drama, and music, providing a highly specialized and intensive education for aspiring performers. The school's commitment to excellence, world-class faculty, and state-of-the-art facilities make it an unparalleled institution for those seeking rigorous training and preparation for careers in the performing arts.