Performing arts degree programs prepare students for professional careers in acting, playwriting, direction, producing and stage-managing. Undergraduates can work toward the professional Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in these fields, and graduate students can work toward professional diplomas or Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees. Many of the nation’s top performing arts schools have long traditions and have graduated many successful actors and playwrights.
The Juilliard School
American director and producer John Houseman and French director and actor Michel Saint-Denis collaborated to establish the Juilliard Drama Division in 1968. The division offers conservatory training in acting and playwriting. Undergraduates work toward the professional Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, and students who have completed an undergraduate degree can work toward a professional diploma. All first-year acting students must perform in a Shakespeare play as one of their first projects. Fourth-year students present a program for agents and theater professionals from New York and Los Angeles. Notable Juilliard Drama Division alumni include playwright David Auburn, actress Laura Linney and actors Kevin Kline and Mandy Patinkin.
The Juilliard School 60 Lincoln Center Plaza 10023 New York, NY
California Institute of the Arts
The California Institute of the Arts, commonly referred to as Cal Arts, was founded in 1961 by Walt and Roy Disney. The School of Theater emphasizes experimental, international and interdisciplinary education, and offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Undergraduates can work toward Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees in acting, puppetry, technical direction, stage management and scene, costume, lighting and sound design. Graduate students can work toward Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in acting, directing, writing for performance, puppetry, stage management, producing, technical design and scene, costume, lighting and sound design. All School of Theater students can complement their theater educations with elective courses in the Cal Arts schools of art, dance, film and music. Notable Cal Arts School of Theater alumni include actors Ed Harris and David Hasselhoff.
California Institute of the Arts 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355 661-255-1050 Calarts.edu/theater
Yale School of Drama
Yale University’s School of Fine Arts established the department of drama in 1924. The School of Drama now offers three-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree programs in nine different fields, including acting, sound design, dramatic criticism, directing, and playwriting. The school also offers a Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA) degree program in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism. Students who have not completed an undergraduate degree can enter a three-year program to work toward a certificate in drama.
The school offers a variety of opportunities for students to participate in theatre productions, including productions with the student-run Yale Cabaret, founded in 1968, and the Yale Repertory Theatre, founded in 1966. The Yale Repertory Theatre’s premiers have featured two eventual Pulitzer Prize winners. Notable Yale School of Drama alumni include Elia Kazan, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver.
Yale School of Drama 149 York Street New Haven, CT 06511 203-432-1234 drama.yale.edu/
Lisa Porter began writing professionally in 2009. She writes for various websites and has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.