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The Best M.F.A. Theater Programs in the Country: Acting

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  • 1. New York University (New York, NY): You could toss a coin between NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and Yale to decide which is better, but what sets Tisch apart from the others are the faculty and location. They have some of the most respected acting faculty in the world. Located in the heart of New York City, you can't get any better than that. They also have a prolific list of alumni, including Michael C. Hall, Marcia Gay Harden, and Nina Arianda.
  • 2. Yale University (New Haven, CT): While it might seem predictable that the Yale School of Drama is near the top of this category as well, to deny that they have one of the best M.F.A. Acting programs would be ludicrous. Their alumni list includes some of the highest regarded actors across generations, from Julie Harris to Meryl Streep to Frances McDormand to Paul Giamatti.
  • 3. Harvard University (Cambridge, MA): The Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard is a two-year program conducted in association with the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). One of the unique aspects of this program is that it includes a three-month residency at the Moscow Theatre Art school, where students work closely with their professional acting company on mainstage productions. Students receive a Certificate of Achievement from the A.R.T. at Harvard University and an M.F.A. from the Moscow Art Theatre. Alumni include Jessalyn Gilsig.
  • 4. American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA): Not associated with any university or college, the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) offers an M.F.A. program in actor training. Interesting note of history here, ACT was founded in 1965 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Carnegie Mellon University by theater and opera director William Ball. By invitation from San Francisco philanthropists and officials, Ball relocated the company to San Francisco and astonished the theater world by presenting 27 fully staged productions in rotating repertory in two different theaters (the Geary and the Marine's Memorial Theatre) during the first 40-week season. At ACT, not only will you have a chance to work with a Tony-winning regional theater company but perform in the history Geary and Strand Theatres. Alumni include Annette Benning, Denzel Washington, Anna Deavere Smith, Elizabeth Banks, and Darren Criss.
  • 5. University of San Diego (San Diego, CA): The University of San Diego offers an M.F.A. in Dramatic Arts in collaboration with the world-renowned Old Globe theater. This partnership makes USD/Old Globe one of the finest acting programs on the West Coast. Only seven students are chosen each year, and they are given full scholarships and stipends. But most important, students are given the chance to perform at the Old Globe, one of America's finest regional theaters. Alumni include Jim Parsons.

Source: OnStage Blog (Shared with permission)

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About This List

If you're a starry-eyed, Broadway-bound triple threat who also happens to be on the hunt for a graduate degree, you should check out these M.F.A. recommendations from OnStage. Honorable mentions include Brown University/Trinity Rep, UC-Irvine, DePaul University, The Juilliard School, and University of Missouri Kansas City.

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