Which Acting/drama universities should I apply to?

Good morning everyone, I’m going to apply to uni in the US as an international Italian student for Fall 2021. I have always dreamed of becoming an actor and working in the field of both stage and screen acting. However, I have been very confused and anxious about which universities I should consider for application. There are many unis I have heard about which all seem to offer great acting programs: Amda, Chapman, Boston University, Columbia University, De Paul, Harvard, Emerson College, Ithaca College, Purchase SUNY, Loyola Marymount university, Loyola university Chicago, Loyola university New Orleans, new York tisch school of the arts, Northwestern, Seattle, Suffolk, the New school, university of Miami, university of Southern California, Yale. (I have been considering private universities more as I have heard their financial aid is better for international students : is that true?). Problem is, I’m anxious about not getting admitted to any of those universities: most of them have low acceptance rates, plus admission for acting programs requires supplemental materials/audition. I don’t know if there are other universities that are more easy to get into: I’d like to make my application balanced, so that I can be sure that if I don’t get into my ‘reach’ unis, I still have the chance to get into ‘safety’ ones.
Are there any other acting universities I should take into account? Are there universities that would give me more safety about being admitted?

You have many questions.

Without knowing your grades and what you can afford, it’s impossible to recommend colleges. There are too many factors to consider.

Getting accepted into SOME college SOMEWHERE will be easy. However, 1) few colleges provide FA (financial aid) for international students. International students are usually expected to pay in full and that supplements the colleges’ income. 2) Ivy League colleges (or any school with acceptance rates below about 25-30%) are hard to get into. You need top grades. Each has a different policy on whether they give FA to international students.

Also, many colleges are not “acting colleges” they are schools where you earn a general degree and you can MAJOR in theater. That means at Columbia U, for example, you’d be expected to do the rigorous core curriculum in addition to your acting major. Are you ready to do that? Other schools have different approaches. There’s a thread on this forum about Musical Theater and you might want to go there to read it, and find out the ins and outs of that specialized field. Including audition info and FA.

There are “acting colleges” or colleges that focus more intensely on acting, such as Marymount Manhattan, but FA from a school like that is less likely. NYU is notoriously bad for FA for even domestic students. The New School is also notoriously expensive for example on average it charges the lowest income students (whose families make $0-$35K per year total) $37K per year. Clearly that would put that family in $125K of debt. So tread carefully when you look at schools. Do not be excited about getting accepted. Be excited when AFTER ACCEPTANCE they offer you a FA package that you can afford. Before accepting, check your approximate debt levels.

(Those numbers of on average costs for domestic students are from the website COLLEGE NAVIGATOR. )

That being said, you might want to consider LACs or universities that allow you to declare a theater major without submitting an audition.

Off the top of my head, Mount Holyoke has a theater program and they give FA to international students. University of Maine at Orono has a theater program and it has FA for international students. You might also check Bryn Mawr College as it offers FA to international students and it coordinates with Haverford, a co-ed school, for its theater program. Also check Wagner College on Staten Island.

There are probably many others.

Use the search engine on COLLEGE NAVIGATOR to isolate schools with theater programs. You can narrow the list by geography. Then you will need to reach out to each school to find out whether they offer FA for internationals.

You might want to consider location of schools. If you want to actually be an actress, you will want to audition.Where is theater happening in the USA?

Schools that are well known for theater include (and there are others)–
Carnegie Mellon
Wesleyan U in CT

But also CUNY schools are cheap and are located in NYC. That might be a good option. Yes they have dorms. Use this to find out which campus has theater.

CUNY academic offerings. http://www.cuny.edu/admissions/undergraduate/explore/programs/

Another thing to consider is a BFA vs. BA in acting. BFA programs are extremely competitive with scary low acceptances (think Harvard like). The schools themselves may be fairly easy to gain admission, but the programs will have 1000 applicants for 30 - 50 spots. Doesn’t mean you can’t get one of those spots but you need to be aware of that and plan accordingly. Generally speaking BFA candidates cast a pretty wide net because of the numbers and would be delighted with two or three acceptances out of 15 applications.

BAs are a whole different ballgame. Although MUCH easier to gain admission, there are also very good programs that focus on acting. I would make sure you include some of them.

Thank you very much! I have got one of the highest GPAs in my school, around 96%, and I’m expected to graduate from HS with a 100/100 (cum laude) score. I won’t take any standardized test. I will take the TOEFL (which is due for international students) and hope to get a good score, having a C1/C2 level of English. I have been studying drama for thirteen years now, but at town-level schools and I have no agent, so I will be making all my pre-screen job with my acting teachers.
Do CUNY offer financial aid to International Students?

What are some good BAs with particular focus on Acting?

PS: It’s no problem for me to attend a core curriculum. Indeed, it is something I wish to do at college: I’m really used to study a lot and I have a good study method.

PPS: I’m a man so I can’t get into Mount Holyoke

check out the the acting / theater thread (different than musical theater) threads under majors.

CUNY does NOT offer FA for international students. But it’s so cheap that it’s probably cheaper than a more expensive school that offers FA.

The tuition for out of state (OOS) residents is $18K per year. Other schools are about $50K per year. So even if they give you 50% scholarship, they’re more expensive than CUNY. CUNY Brooklyn has theater and is a pretty campus as is CUNY City College. It also has theater and is pretty. There are dorms but separately located in the City. The dorms at all schools would cost too, so figure that into your budget. You can google all of this information.

Haverford is co-ed school and pairs with Bryn Mawr–I’m not sure if Haverford offers any aid for int. students though.

Currently NYC is opening after (or during this hiatus) from COVID. The COVID rates are low (yesterday in a state with 19 million people there were 3 COVID deaths). Most people wear masks routinely. And if you check Governor Cuomo’s twitter feed you can get the state rates daily. He’s managed the pandemic well. Currently the subway system and buses are working and cleaned. The restaurants are opening with outdoor seating that’s taking over the streets. One of my neighbors is a costumer for BWY and she’s back at work, although few others are working on site at present. This is an FYI if you’re considering coming to NYC. It’s recovering from COVID currently and the trend is positive to continue in that vein. This semester CUNY is all online at present. There’s hope for next year (2021) that it will become live again. NYC currently has people practicing and performing outdoors–in parks and rooftops, etc.

@feb123 You have 13 years acting experience? You need to be looking at top tier and 2nd tier BFA and BA programs. Here’s a list to start:
University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA)
Carnegie Mellon
DePaul University
Boston University
California Institute of the Arts (CalArts)
University of Southern California (USC)
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
Rutgers University
State University of New York at Purchase (SUNY Purchase)
Northwestern University

Here are helpful podcasts if you want to get a perspective from students that actually go to those schools - store.howtogetintodramaschool.com

What do you think of Academy of Arts University in San Francisco? They have open admission for international students in the Acting BFA and a reasonable cost