The 7 Best Acting Schools in New York City (2021 Updated)

Many kids want to be an actor when they grow up. They see their idols performing crazy acts on the screen, and want to be like them. It might seem impossible to get into the world of acting. But there are so many shows being produced nowadays that you can easily find a spot in some offshoot comedy.

It’s not the most fashionable, but you have to start from somewhere. But before getting into the action, you’d do better by attending an acting school. As the home to Broadway, New York is the ultimate dream for many actors. They want to be a part of it, and this means attending one of the best acting schools in NYC.

Aspiring stars can easily find several options if they search online. The problem comes when they try to narrow down their choices based on reviews or personal preferences.

New York has a rich history of producing talented actors. It is one of the most vibrant cities for theater, film, and television productions. It is also home to some great universities that offer fine arts degrees. On top of this, there are many vocational or non-academic institutions with acting schools.

Picking the Right Acting School

Picking a general schooling direction is already hard enough. But once you’ve picked your subject your choice, you must then choose the best school for you.

You will find that there are many classes to choose from, but some of them offer better quality than others. The best acting school in NYC is the one offering a diverse selection of courses and workshops for all levels. It should be affiliated with industry experts who have strong connections within the entertainment business.

The actor’s life has proven to be a difficult one, but also extremely rewarding. It requires commitment and passion to endure the long work hours with little pay. But it is all worth it at the end of the day when actors step onto that stage or in front of those cameras – knowing they have accomplished their dreams.

Other people should attend acting school for different reasons; some want to understand their craft better, while others are interested in learning about the business side of acting. This is why it’s important for actors’ schools to have both a solid technique and an industry connection

A good actor school should cater to all kinds of students with different needs. They need people who want hands-on training, but also those who are more interested in the business side of things. It should offer a great balance between theory and practice so that students are ready for anything once they leave acting school – whether it is to be an extra, a stand-in, or even a star.

But what makes an acting school better than another? Let’s see the factors you should focus on.

Pick a School with Actors as Teachers

The best acting schools will have actors as teachers. This means that they are employed by the school, and not just working part-time on their own projects. They must be passionate about teaching others how to act because this is what their main job consists of – it’s not a side project or an extra cash flow for them.

Acting is all about expressing the right emotions in the moment. You can’t trust someone who hasn’t done it know how to teach you acting. Pick a school whose teachers know what it takes to work on set because they have experienced everything themselves.

Editor’s note: The school gets bonus points if your teachers are not only actors, but have other relevant experience such as directing, writing or production.

Choose a School with Several Programs and Courses

New York is home to many actors’ schools, and you can choose from a wide range of programs. They should offer different levels so that beginners can start at the most basic level before moving up as they learn more skills.

The best way to find out which acting school in NYC would be right for you is by attending an open day or visiting their website. Some schools may even have a free trial class for students who want to test the waters before making up their mind about enrolling there.

Check out what other courses and workshops they offer – do not just focus on acting classes as you will need much more than that if your goal is to work in this industry. Acting school should also prepare you for the business side of things – such as applying to auditions, knowing your rights and duties when working on set, or even how to write a good resume.

Pick an Acting School with Great Industry Connections

A great acting school will have connections within the entertainment industry. You should look at who is enrolled in their programs because this can be a good indicator of quality. Many working actors will choose the school where they learn because, let’s face it: we all want to work with the best.

Acting is about building relationships and connecting with people – you need to know who has strong connections in this industry so that you have access to those opportunities once your training at acting school is over.

Pick a School that Offers Career Guidance

As you progress through your training, an acting school should have people on staff who are there to help students figure out what they want from their career and how best to achieve it. They may offer workshops where students can learn about the most common mistakes made in auditions, as well as how to find and build a network of casting directors, agents and others in the industry.

Are You Passionate Enough?

Acting is one of those professions where passion is everything. While you can get by  begrudgingly working as an engineer, you can’t do the same in acting.  You have to love it very much and be willing to work for free until you get your big break.

This means finding the best acting school in NYC is of paramount importance. You don’t want to waste years at a place where they teach their students how to memorize lines, but not what it takes to make them believe it’s real.

If you have the passion, then pursue your dreams with all of your heart.  Make sure to attend one of the best acting schools in NYC and get ready for a long journey ahead.

Acting Schools in New York City: the 7 Best Ones

New York has a rich history of producing the best talents.  A lot of aspiring actors dream about living and working in this city. Because of this longstanding tradition, you’ll find plenty of awesome schools who will prepare you for the acting world.

Editor’s note: There are way too many excellent acting schools in NYC to fit them here. It’s guaranteed we will skip a school you think is great. Not being on this list doesn’t mean the school is bad. It’s just that we had to make a choice. It was hard for us too.

1. New York University Tisch – School of the Arts

NYU Tisch offers both Master of Fine Arts and Master of Professional Studies in Acting. There are multiple levels of study offered at NYU Tisch, including a Bachelor’s program.

Acting classes at NYU Tisch are taught by professionals in the field. Whether you’re looking to take a Master’s program or just an acting class, this school is one of the best places for studying drama.

The school has two campuses – the main campus in New York City and another on Randall Island. The NYC campus offers housing in the nearby residence halls.

Tisch also has one of the most famous alumni in the world: Robert De Niro. De Niro received his MFA from the university in 1967 and his first film was made three years later. He has been nominated for many Academy Awards and won two for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, as well as numerous other awards for both directing and producing movies.

2. American Musical Dramatic Academy

MDA was founded in 1979. The school mission is to give their students the training and access necessary for success. They offer programs for actors, singers and dancers with classes every day of the week.

Actors can study Musical Theater at the MDA Acting Conservatory or in their main program. There are also acting classes geared for actors who want to work in Film & TV as well as Animation & Video Games.

Acting teachers come from the industry, so they have experience working on actual sets and productions. Each teacher has a different specialty which allows MDA students to study subjects that interest them while still getting a full overview of professional acting techniques.  Some teachers teach classes exclusively for MDA students, while others teach private sessions as well.

The school has a vast alumni network that helps current students and grads find work in the industry.  Their instructors are always available to help their graduates with anything they need – be it an audition or finding representation.

Most of all, American Musical Dramatic Academy is committed to the arts. They want to see their students succeed and are willing to go the extra mile for them.

MDA will be your support system in an industry that’s often cutthroat and unforgiving. If you’re looking for a place where they’ll help push you forward, this is the one.

3. The Neighborhood Playhouse

The Neighborhood Playhouse was founded in 1915 and is known for its impressive alumni.

The school offers 2 programs:

  • A full two-years course on acting
  • An intensive six-weeks summer camp

Upon completion, you get a letter of completion. While it doesn’t hold the same weight as a BFA, certifications don’t matter that much in the acting world. If you follow the courses, study the materials, and practice every day, you’ll do fine in the acting world.

The Neighborhood Playhouse has a lot of famous alumni like Walter Koenig, Alison Janey, and Elizabeth Welter Wilson.

The curriculum includes courses in Meisner acting techniques, acting labs, modern dance, singing techniques, and other facts of the acting world. You’ll become a well-rounded performer after completing the program.

4. New York Film Academy

New York Film Academy offers a two-year Acting for Film and Television degree and one-year Acting Conservatory diploma. The school also offers certificates in Screenwriting, Cinematography, and other film-related disciplines.

The two-year program includes courses such as Acting for the Camera, Script Analysis, Lighting, Sound Logic, Advanced Camera Techniques, Cinematography I & II, Anatomy of Stage Combat Systems I & II and more.

NYFA is located in both New York City and Los Angeles. Their NYC campus is in Greenwich Village while the LA campus is downtown on Hollywood Boulevard. They have three levels of housing: dorms, apartments with shared bathrooms or private apartments with bathroom and kitchenette.

NYFA was founded in 1978, and it’s the oldest acting school in New York. They have a great alumni network that helps current students and grads find work.

The summer program includes courses such as Acting for Film I & II, Audition Technique, Voiceover Workshop: On Camera Techniques, TV Commercial Workshop, Improvisation/Script Analysis Core Class (for all levels), Acting for the Camera, and Advanced Acting for Film & TV.

NYFA is committed to their students’ futures. The school takes pride in its instructors who are working actors themselves so they know what it’s like on set and how things work.

New York Film Academy is the best place for young artists who want to learn about acting or filmmaking. The school has great teachers that are industry pros.

5. Juilliard School

The Juilliard School is a world-renowned performing arts school in New York City. It was founded in 1905, and has been educating young dancers, musicians, and actors ever since.

Juilliard is a private institution that offers full scholarships to all of its students. The school has conservatory programs in:

  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Orchestra
  • Theater history and literature
  • Jazz studies
  • Piano (both historical and contemporary)
  • Chamber music for strings and winds
  • Guitar (both historical and contemporary)
  • Percussion (both classical and modern)
  • Composition/theory (both orchestral and jazz)
  • Opera theater (with the option of concentrating on vocal performance)
  • Film scoring

The school is located on a beautiful campus in the Upper West Side. This area of New York has great housing, and all students get their own apartment.

Juilliard’s acting program offers courses like Acting I & II, Voice for the Actor: Speech Training from Shakespeare to Contemporary Texts, Theories of Acting Interpretation I – IV, and The Actor at the Crossroads.

The school believes in a holistic approach to acting so you’ll learn about dance, voice, movement, text analysis and more. You’ll also perform scenes for your classmates every week which is great practice in performing on stage. Juilliard has an outstanding alumni network that can help students find work once they graduate.

6. New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts

The New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts is a pre-professional school in NYC. They provide an education that will prepare their students for a career in the arts. NCCA offers classical ballet programs, as well as acting and musical theater training. The school has been around since 1947, and was one of the first schools to offer college-level conservatory programs in New York City.

The school provides a rigorous program, with classes for both day and night students. They have 11 different majors at the graduate level:

  • Acting
  • Classical Ballet
  • Creative Dance (modern)
  • General Musical Theatre
  • Musical Theater Design and Production
  • Opera Performance (vocal/instrumental technique)
  • Opera Voice Performance (voice intensive)
  • Musical Theatre Performance
  • Playwriting
  • Production Design
  • Technical Direction

NCCA has a great alumni network that can help students find work after they graduate. The school offers housing in the city for some of their dance majors, but most acting majors get an apartment off campus with roommates or live at home. NCCA’s program is rigorous so it prepares students for a career in the arts, but it’s not as intense as some of the other schools on this list.

7. HB Studio

HB Studio is one of the most well-known acting schools in New York. It offers a wide variety of programs, with classes for children, teens and adults. They offer daytime classes and evening workshops for busy people who want to keep their day job while still taking classes.

HB Studio is located near Broadway on 89th Street and Broadway. This school has been around since 1967 and has trained some of the best actors in the world.

The school focuses on the foundation of acting. They start with voice and text, movement training, improvisation and scene study – all before getting into character work.

They offer a lot of different classes for adults so they can find the right program to fit their needs as an actor. The HB Studio is known worldwide for its famous actors who have trained there, such as Cristopher Abbott, Steve McQueen, and Kyra Sedwick.

This school is known for its excellent teachers who are always working in the theater industry. If you want to learn from some of the best actors out there, this is an excellent place to study!

Conclusions

Going to school isn’t a necessity if you want to become an actor. But the right teacher will get you to next level. School is especially important to get your fundamentals down to a T. Acting is a never-ending quest to improve your skills.

Delivering a powerful message requires hard work and dedication. The schools on this list will teach you everything you need to know about acting. You’ll be able to express emotions and empathize with the character you are playing.

Before enrolling into acting school, you must be sure you want be an actor. This isn’t a path you can take lightly. If you are convinced, then picking one of this article’s schools will improve your chances of finding work as an actor.

If you have as much as a shadow of doubt, you should probably look into other careers. Acting is something that requires unrelenting faith in yourself and your abilities.

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