Looking for your big break? Get in the spotlight at one of the best acting schools in NYC. Whether you’re been dreaming of stardom since you were born or just caught the acting bug after watching the latest Oscar-nominated flicks or the Tony Awards, the first step is hitting the stage. If you haven’t yet booked any acting auditions or accidentally-on-purpose stumbled onto the set of Law & Order: SVU, get into a classroom first to learn how to become an actor. With alumni including some of the world’s leading actors and programs ranging from part-time evening classes to full Bachelor’s degrees, these schools will get you on your way to the big screen or the best Broadway shows in no time.
Top acting schools in New York
Small classes at the Academy’s NYC campus (there’s also one in LA) offer training through acting history and technique first before diving into movement, speech and voice work. Whether you’re into improv, musical theater or TV shows, you’re in the right place—the school’s alumni have garnered nominations for 105 Oscars, 273 Emmys and 90 Tonys to date, giving you the right to name-drop former students Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd and Jessica Chastain. However, it’s a pretty pricey journey: approximately $55,855 if you live on campus and $37,020 if you find your own housing.
Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company is behind more than 150 plays like Spring Awakening and has won 12 Tony Awards. Want to be the next winner? Sign up for the two-and-a-half-year program ($42,000) or the evening sessions ($12,000/16 hours a week) that end in a one-act play for an audience. There are also summer intensive programs that will have you ready for your debut in three short months.
Fair warning: this is a pretty exclusive school. Only 54 students (if that) are accepted into the two-year program annually, which is likely due to its accreditation and association with a Broadway theater. If you can’t afford to take two years off for their full-time professional workshops ($17,000/year), the summer workshop programs ($3,650) offer the same intense acting training. You can add musical theater techniques for $1,500 and $350, respectively, and be only one degree of separation from Broadway sensation Idina Menzel, a fellow grad.
Want a quick-and-dirty lesson in acting? This spot’s six-week summer intensive ($3,250) is 30 hours per week and is one of the only conservatories where most of the staff were trained in acting by Sanford Meisner himself. You can’t ask for much more when learning the Meisner technique—which can be taken by itself or through the two-year program ($32,800).
Get a vintage vibe at Stella Adler, which has been around since 1949 and trained legends like Robert De Niro and Elaine Stritch. The programs range from an intensive three-year conservatory ($7,750 per semester) to part-time workshops like the 10-week evening introductory program ($2,750). Not ready to commit to that much? Try the Acting for Film & Television program, which runs for just 10 weeks for $800.
Even though you can ease in with the entry level 10-week Introduction To Meisner - Acting Technique class ($675), it’s worth it to go all-in with their one-year acting conservatory ($12,000/eight months) if you want to write or star in plays or musicals. Chelsea Repertory Company, the theater’s experimental lab, allows writers and directors to develop material while students gain performance experience outside of the classroom. Juliana Margulies and Tony Danza trained here, and they made out pretty well.
Ready to dive headfirst into method acting? Try Lee Strasberg’s method. You can go all-in with a two-year degree ($36,750), opt for a slim four-week intensive program ($2,000/fall and winter, $1,100/spring, $3,600/summer), or go for something in between. Whether you end up in something like Funny Girl or Broad City, it’s a win-win situation.