Combining classroom curriculum with extensive performance and production opportunities, undergraduate degrees in acting prepare you to become a dynamic member of the professional theatrical community. Knowing the requirements for acting school, from admission to degree completion, can help you reach your goals of sharing your stage presence with the world.
In addition to traditional application materials, such as standardized test scores and transcripts, you will need to audition to enter an acting Bachelor's or Master's of Fine Arts program. Auditions take place in major cities across the country in the year before you wish to enroll and can consist of up to three monologue performances. Some programs also specify that you submit a copy of your resume and head shot at the time you audition. More prestigious acting schools can require up to three auditions, beginning with a first round performance, followed by a second call-back audition and culminating in a final callback audition weekend before acceptance. Those invited to subsequent audition rounds might be asked to sing or undergo an interview in addition to the materials they had previously prepared.
Most acting degree programs require a series of introductory courses that are designed to expose students to the principles behind acting. Foundational coursework can include topics such as dramatic techniques or interpretation, stagecraft or theater organization and management. This course series can also ground you in the history of field, with courses such as theater history or Shakespearean text.
Required acting classes will prepare you for all aspects of theatrical performance. These classes can involve topics such as scene study, movement for the stage or styles of acting. and can be complemented by advanced theoretical coursework in topics like theories of comedy and tragedy or aesthetics and criticism of drama. Some programs also require their acting majors to take dance courses as well.
Advanced Coursework and Opportunities
The final semesters of acting school allow you to focus on honing your acting skills for entry into the professional world. Some programs, for example, require their advanced students to participate in directing labs or performance projects, which allow performance opportunities in a variety of theatrical productions. Some programs also offer special seminars in audition and professional preparation for students in their final year that allow them to meet industry professionals and eventually present scenes to casting agents at the semester’s end. Other programs encourage study abroad experiences to further develop your acting abilities. Ithaca College, for example, offers an intensive semester study-abroad program at their London Center that focuses on British theatre both past and present.
- The Julliard School: Drama Division Actor Training Program Application and Audition Requirements
- Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama: Preparing for Your Undergraduate Audition or Portfolio Review
- Yale University School of Drama: Application Requirements - Acting
- Ithaca College Department of Theatre Arts: Audition/Interview Requirements
- Ithaca College: Acting Major (B.F.A.)
- Yale University School of Drama 2012-2013: Acting Requirements and Courses of Instruction
- Ithaca College Academic Programs: Acting Major (B.F.A.)
Teresa J. Siskin has been a researcher, writer and editor since 2009. She holds a doctorate in art history.