Twenty is a number much broader than five, which means that a chance of getting into one of these drama schools is also bigger, therefore, let’s look at the best acting schools in the world list of Top 20.
We’ve already provided you a bunch of tips on how to prepare and succeed when applying for one of these best acting schools in the world, regardless of your location (you can find all these tips in our Beginner’s Guide linked below).
Further helpful tips and advice on acting:
- Acting for Beginners Guide
- How to NOT Get an Agent
- How to Approach Acting Agents
- How to Have a Successful Agency Meeting
If you haven’t seen my more narrow list of Top 5 top acting schools in the world, you might start from there. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick a top institution from that list, set your mind to it and get accepted. Get into one of the best acting schools in the world would be a dream come true for any actor, so if you think you can do it, I say don’t waste your time on reading this article — just do it!
However, I believe some readers are here just out of curiosity because they want to see what schools I have picked for my best acting schools in the world list and most likely criticize those choices.
I would like to remind to those people that just like I did with my lists of Best Acting Schools in the UK, Best Drama Schools in London, Best Drama Schools in UK and Drama Clubs in London, I have done my research and based the choices on a lot of criteria. I’ve also been in the industry long enough, everyday searching through the same topics all over and over again, which made me into sort of an acting industry critic or reviewer.
“I look at the school, and anyone who tells you they don’t is lying to you.” – Todd Black, Producer
And now to skip the fluff and get into the list of best acting schools in the world that is composed in absolutely no particular order…
Best Acting Schools in the World: Top 20
Tisch School of the Arts | New York City
Tisch or TSOA as the school is also known, is part of the New York University. It was founded in 1965 and is now one of America’s leading centers for studying performing arts. Aside from well-know screen actors, Tisch trained a significant amount of the most famous Broadway stars and is considered to be the top “supplier” of musical actors in the country, and maybe even the world. It’s a big school with over 3,000 undergraduate and about 1,000 postgraduate students. The huge amount of students is explain by school having multiple artistic departments. If you can graduate with a diploma from TSOA, consider yourself an alumni of one of the best acting schools in the world that trained today’s world-class names.
Graduates: Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ang Lee, Woody Allen, Joel Coen, Whoopi Goldberg, Marisa Tomei, Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Wright, Bridget Fonda, Anne Hathaway, Adam Sandler
National Institute of Dramatic Art | Kensington
Finally an Australia school on our best acting schools in the world list. NIDA was started in 1958 in the suburbs of Sydney, with just 23 students and two teachers. Over time it grew into the biggest drama school in Australia and definitely one of the best acting schools in the world, having brought a significant amount of great actors to both the United States and the United Kingdom. As it is said, only 4% of applicants pass their NIDA auditions; just like every other great drama school, it’s not easy to get into, and it’s not easy to stay either. Mel Gibson said: “I mean, I loved NIDA and hated it.” If you can get the chance, having NIDA on your resume will undoubtedly put you on the map.
Graduates: Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington
Oxford School of Drama | Woodstock
Oxford’s drama school is one of the youngest acting schools in the United Kingdom. While it has been around for only about 26 years, it has already produced a respectable amount of talented and famous performers. It’s a relatively small school with just 18 students on a course, so the competition for a place at this school between elite wannabe actors is a fierce one. This drama school is absolutely independent and is not attached to any of the Universities of the United Kingdom, and to get accepted means training at one of the best acting schools in the world.
Graduates: Lee Boardman, Christina Cole, Catherine McCormack, Will Adamsdale, Claire Foy, Anna Galvin
Yale School of Drama | New Haven
No doubt one of the best acting schools in the world for training actors is Yale that has opened their doors in 1900. It’s one of the most famous drama schools that not only is a privilege to get accepted to, but it’s just as difficult to stay and train there. If you choose it, and get in, then forget about auditioning for 4 years — you won’t have the time or the energy. This drama school is also very well known for rejecting talented actors just because they considered them not talented enough; those are actors that have gone to build themselves successful careers. So yes, keep in mind — it’s more difficult to get accepted into this drama school than it is to get into a summer’s blockbuster movie.
Graduates: Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver, Paul Newman, Angela Bassett, Courtney Vance, Henry Winkler, Charles Dutton, Dick Cavett, John Turturro
American Conservatory Theater | San Francisco
ACT, as it’s also known, was first founded in 1965 in Pittsburgh. It’s a resident company of top shelf professional actors that drew attention of 7 million people to theater’s Tony award winning shows. What’s more important, is that students get an opportunity to audition for real productions of ACT and they do get cast, this way receiving a massive exposure and experience from the top notch production in the acting industry. ACT is on the best acting schools in the world list also because like most of top drama schools in America, it has trained actors whose names will not be alien to you, and might inspire to actually submit a form for an audition to get into the school.
Graduates: Delroy Lindo, Anna Deavere Smith, Denzel Washington, Elizabeth Banks, Annette Bening, Winona Ryder, Nicolas Cage, Danny Glover, Teri Hatcher, Benjamin Bratt, Darren Criss
Guildhall School of Music & Drama | London
It’s great to be able to include GSMD once again, and it’s all the way up there with other best acting schools in the world, no doubt. This drama school is one of the most prestigious in the United Kingdom, rubbing shoulders not only with great musicians like Jacqueline du Pre and James Galway, but also actors that made a name for themselves both in UK and US markets. Dominic West says of GSMD: “Guildhall gives a broad training — it’s not prescriptive. We’re able to be versatile.” Michelle Dockery said: “Getting in was like winning the lottery.”
Graduates: Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Orlando Bloom, Eileen Atkins
University Of Southern California | Los Angeles
USC, as a research University, has been founded in 1880 in Los Angeles. While University’s research department is extremely famous by itself and the USC’s not exclusively drama based, their drama department is considered to be strong enough to hold their own against other best acting schools in the world. It is ranked among the top theater programs in the United States for a good reason, as throughout the years it has graduated some very successful actors. The reason why I like USC is because students there are already trained not only in acting, but in the business as well, because that’s what it takes to make it here. Who better would know this that people from Los Angeles.
Graduates: Forest Whitaker, Kelly Preston, Lisa Ling, John Wayne, Michael Landon, John Ritter, LeVar Burton, Rob Estes, Kyra Sedgwick, Tom Selleck, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Sophia Bush, Robert Stack, Robert Zemeckis
University of California Los Angeles | Los Angeles
Straight up next on the best acting schools in the world list comes another Los Angeles based research University with extremely strong resume of successful actors on their hands. It was established in 1882 and since then grew to be a very important part of the state of California. In addition, UCLA produced some of the greatest names ever in the industry, some of whom most likely inspired you to become an actor. Just like USC, UCLA’s actor training emphasizes screen work and understanding the business; there’s no way around it for an actor who wants to make it in Hollywood. Their world class drama department is one of the greatest study opportunities an actor can ever get.
Graduates: James Dean, Tom Skerritt, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Englund, Elizabeth Berkley, Lloyd Bridges, James Coburn, Jayne Mansfield, Rob Reiner, Tim Robbins, Ben Stiller, Jaleel White, Mayim Bialik, Jack Black
Juilliard School | New York City
Of course, it had to be also on the list of best acting schools in the world, and I know you were waiting for it. Considered to be the best drama school in the world, Juilliard comes up first on our list of best acting schools in the world in no particular order. Julilliard was established in 1905 as the Institute of Musical Art. At the moment, they train about 800 students per year and have produced some of the world’s most notable alumnus. It is actually harder to get into Juilliard than it is to get accepted into Harvard. Like I said, it can’t get more prestigious than that.
Graduates: Kevin Spacey, Robin Williams, Val Kilmer, Christopher Reeve, Ving Rhames, Kelsey Grammer, Eriq La Salle, Kevin Kline, William Hurt
Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts | London
Italia Conti was founded in 1911 and is named after its founder Italia Conti, who was an established female actor at the time. This drama school has always provided a modern approach to actor’s training based on the core of traditional skills, which means a strong emphasis on screen acting. Many professionals at this school are working in the industry and that means great connections after you graduate.
Graduates: Noel Coward, Russell Brand, Leslie Phillips
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art | London
And here comes UK’s royalty for the list of best acting schools in the world in no particular order. RADA was founded in 1904 and in addition to being considered one of the best acting schools in the world, it’s probably one of the hardest to get into in the UK. It is named this way for a reason, as it radiates royal reputation. There are classes that involve just one teacher and up to three students. It is said that The Beatles were famous because their RADA-trained manager taught them how to be dramatic. If you’re able to get in, after graduation you’ll be definitely on agents’ and casting directors’ radar.
Graduates: Peter O’Toole, Mike Leigh, Joan Collins, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Vivien Leigh
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts | London
LAMDA is one of the oldest drama schools in the world. After being founded in 1861, it has produced some absolutely great talent. Graduates of this drama school has already taken 19 BAFTAs, 4 Academy Awards, 16 Golden Globes, 36 Olivier Awards and 12 Tonys. Apart from this school looking strong, someone who can manage to get LAMDA onto their resume will score some major points in the great training and showbiz connections department.
Graduates: Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent, Swoosie Kurtz, Brian Cox
Mountview Academy of Theater Arts | London
Mountview, as it is often referred to, is currently one of the leading drama schools in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1945 and who’s current president is our beloved ‘M’, Dame Judi Dench. The school places a strong emphasis on professional stage training, but of course introduction to related industries is also there. There are claims that Mountview also supports their alumnus months and even years after they have graduated. So if that is something you are looking into (connections for years to come, why not?), then you should definitely consider applying to Mountview. Make sure you have what it takes though to get a place one of the best acting schools in the world.
Graduates: Brendan Coyle, Denise Welch, Eddie Marsan
DePaul University | Chicago
Another one of research Universities on our best acting schools in the world list due to its extremely strong theatrical department worth to be put up against any other drama school in the world. Established in 1898, DePaul is now the top institution for actors in the second best theater city in America, Chicago. Like most other Universities and drama schools on this list, DePaul trained well-known and talented actors and deserves to stay on the list. “There’s something in the water in Chicago. It’s a great place for actors, and so is DePaul,” said producer Laurence Mark.
Graduates: Elizabeth Perkins, John C. Reilly, Gillian Anderson, Kevin Anderson, Judy Greer, Karl Malden, Joe Mantegna
The Actors Studio | New York City
I have skipped this school on every other list of mine, but I’m glad to finally get an opportunity to include The Actors Studio in the list of best acting schools in the world. This drama school has gone through some major changes, most recently joining the Pace University in 2006. A lot of actors call Actors Studio a “sacred place”, and you can understand why after looking at the graduates list that I couldn’t finish completely. With the most powerful history of all drama schools in the world and built from the basis of world-famous Group Theater, Actors Studio had some of the best teachers: Lee Strasberg, Harold Clurman, Elia Kazan, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner and Robert Lewis. Its current co-presidents are Ellen Burstyn, Harvey Keitel and Al Pacino. Co-artistic directors are Mark Rydell and Martin Landau.
Graduates: Marlon Brando, Julia Roberts, Montgomery Clift, Robert DeNiro, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Walken, Sidney Poitier, Jack Nicholson, Eric Stoltz, Jane Fonda, Shelley Winters, Gene Wilder, Mickey Rourke, Carroll Baker, Steven Hill, Paul Newman, Eli Wallach, Dustin Hoffman, Sissy Spacek, Ellen Burstyn, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Chazz Palminteri, Tennessee Williams, Dennis Hopper, Martin Landau, Karl Malden, Bradley Cooper
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland | Glasgow
Another one on the list of best acting schools in the world is a drama school for actors in Scotland. RCS (formally RSAMD for Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) is a strong drama school founded as long ago as 1847. Prince Charles is currently a patron of the Academy, helping to maintain a school’s place as a vibrant conservatoire. Apart from great undergraduate and post-graduate courses, RCS also has Junior Academy of Drama for under 18 year old youngsters looking to get a head start in their acting career. It is definitely one of the world-famous places you will not regret being trained.
Graduates: Robert Carlyle, John Hannah, Billy Boyd, Angela Lonsdale
Carnegie Mellon University | Pittsburgh
Founded by Andrew Carnegie, the institution has been alive since 1900. During the period since they’ve developed their drama department, CMU has done enough to deserve a place on the best acting schools in the world list. What have their done? They trained some of the greatest American actors there are that won 6 Oscars and 96 Emmy awards. Zachary Quinto was quoted saying about the joy of studying at CMU: “It was a four-year playground.” Holly Hunter added: “I loved to be able to take a script apart in purely technical terms to learn about a character using this very pragmatic tool. That’s where I learned it.” Definitely a good addition to our best acting schools in the world list.
Graduates: Steven Bochco, Paula Wagner, Ted Danson, Rob Marshall, Patrick Wilson, John Wells, Zachary Quinto, Holly Hunter
Central School of Speech and Drama | London
CSSD is making its appearance once again on best acting schools in the world list, and it’s well deserved. CSSD is a very highly regarded theater and drama school that was founded in 1906. T0 say that you were able to fill a place in Central, as it’s also known, is a statement to be proud of. Throughout the years this drama school has produced some extremely talented actors that were successful both on stage and in film/TV. This is one of the most unique centers for aspiring actors in London that always there to offer a new form of training in theater and film acting.
Graduates: Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Judi Dench, Peggy Ashcroft, Harold Pinter, Vanessa Redgrave
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama | Cardiff
Making a transfer from UK’s top list into our best acting schools in the world list is RWCMD. Established in 1949 in Cardiff Castle, RWCMD — the National Conservatoire of Wales — is on the top level with all other great drama schools of the United Kingdom, and even the world. From what I have read about this school, they really take care of their students during and after the studies to get them onto their feet in the industry. The school has strong connections to local TV broadcast stations, constantly invites casting directors and stages over 300 public performances per year. If you are anywhere near Cardiff or Wales, consider applying to this drama school — satisfaction is guaranteed.
Graduates: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones
California Institute of the Arts | Valencia
Another drama school from best acting schools in the world list that’s very close to Hollywood is a well-known CalArts. Established in 1961 in Valencia, Los Angeles County, CalArts is responsible for bringing a good amount of talented actors in the US market. Following Travis Preston’s quote, CalArts is now referred to in the sense of “the hub of a vast network of artistic and professional relationships that traverses the globe.” As it is claimed, students of CalArts get to work with the likes of the Wooster Group, Andre Gregory, Magnetic Fields composer Stephin Merritt and avant-garde dramatist Richard Foreman.
Graduates: Katey Sagal, Don Cheadle, Ed Harris, Condola Rashad, Eliza Coupe, Alison Brie
Best Acting Schools in the World — How to get into one?
A little disclaimer first: for this little best acting schools in the world list we have picked out best drama schools only from English speaking countries. We are definitely aware of the great actors training in Moscow and St. Petersburg as well as French, Italian, Spanich and other schools of acting and their philosophical and physical approach.
However, we’re trying to give as much information as possible to our UK and US based aspiring actors looking to get into one of the best acting schools in the world where they can still maintain the ability to communicate in their native language, because our guess is that majority of them will be interested in training in their native language. We hope our foreign friends will forgive us.
As expected, of course, best acting schools in the world are mostly from United States and the United Kingdom. Obviously, London and New York City, two best theater cities with the longest and most in-depth theatrical history, are dominating the scene. Best screen acting training though belongs to California based drama schools, all four of them, which is no surprise in my opinion. And like I said, America’s actors training is very different from UK’s, as a lot of current actors don’t bother with diplomas and are getting training in private acting schools.
I would like to remind once again that the list is in no particular order. I’ve also tried to mix up all schools compared to other lists so that you could see one drama school in the top position while it was at the bottom on another list. It’s also important for you to understand that hard work prevails over anything else, and if you can get into ANY of these schools, you might be as successful as any of those graduates. Success is all about you, and very little if at all about the place you are studying at.
For more specific choices than just best acting schools in the world, you can take a loot at my lists of Best Acting Schools in the UK, Best Drama Schools in London, Best Drama Schools in UK and Drama Clubs in London. An actor from the United Kingdom might definitely find this to be a useful Intel.
Drop a comment below if you have an experience with any of these schools to share. I hope this list of best acting schools in the world will be of assistance to you, or at least be an interesting read.