Classes, Schools, and Colleges in California for Acting

While having a career in acting does not require any type of degree or certification, most actors and actresses do have some type of formal training. A wide range of skills are needed, so just having natural talent is often not enough to get selected at an audition. Acting skills for stage, broadway, television, and film productions can be obtained in a variety of ways. Degrees in performing arts can be earned from specialized free standing schools or as part of a college or university’s drama department. There are also acting and theatre schools that offer classes in performing arts for students of all ages, from children and teenagers to young adults.

California offers many different schools for training actors and actresses. From the north central Sacramento area to the San Diego southern coast, some of the best acting schools are located throughout this state, in and around the major cities. Popular areas that have a high concentration of top acting schools include San Francisco, San Joses, Los Angeles, and Hollywood.

Where to study acting is one of the biggest decisions that a student must make. A good first step in deciding where to go to school is to know what type of acting you want to pursue. Some of the main categories and areas of interest include: Film and Television, Stage, Production and Design, and Musical Theatre/Broadway. Not all acting programs offer each type of training, so it is important that where you decide to go focuses on the area of acting you desire to be trained in. For example, the University of California has divisions in various locations throughout the state, but not all locations offer the same areas of focus in their theater programs. The Los Angeles location offers concentrated training in musical theater, the Riverside location offers film making and screenwriting concentrations, and the Santa Barbara division has degrees available in dance.

Acting schools can be departments of colleges and universities where students earn bachelor of arts (BA) or bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degrees, or they can be at specialized conservatory programs that offer certificates. The BA and BFA are 4 year programs that require some academic coursework while offering an abundance of performing opportunities. Students who train at a professional conservatory program earn a two year certificate while receiving rigorous instruction in acting that is designed to prepare them for a career as a professional actor or actress. Admission to specialized acting schools is based mostly on audition performances.

For children and teens who wish to receive early training, there are are several conservatories and theatres who offer classes designed for youth. Many of these facilities are located in California. The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), located in San Francisco, is a top internationally recognized program that trains young children through age 19 in both classical and contemporary productions.

Acting Schools in California

Academy of Art University
American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood
American Conservatory Theater
American Film Institute Conservatory
American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Los Angeles
Azusa Pacific University
Biola University
California Institute of the Arts
California Lutheran University
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
California State University, Bakersfield
California State University, Chico
California State University, Dominguez Hills
California State University, Fresno
California State University, Fullerton
California State University, Hayward
California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Monterey Bay
California State University, Northridge
California State University, Sacramento
California State University, San Bernardino
California State University, San Marcos
California State University, Stanislaus
Chapman University
Claremont Mckenna College
Columbia College, Hollywood
Concordia University
Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre
Design Institute of San Diego
Fresno Pacific University
Humboldt State University
Loyola Marymount University
Notre Dame De Namur University
Occidental College
Pacific Union College
Pepperdine University
Pitzer College
Point Loma Nazarene University
Pomona College
Saint Mary’s College of California
San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Santa Clara University
Scripps College
Sonoma State University
Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Davis
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
University of California, Riverside
University of California, San Diego
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of La Verne
University of Redlands
University of San Diego
University of San Francisco
University of Southern California
University of the Pacific
Vanguard University of Southern California
Westmont College
Whittier College

Two Year Community Colleges

American Academy of Dramatic Arts, West
American River College
Canada College
Cerritos College
Chabot College
Chaffey College
College of Marin, Kentfield
College of the Canyons
College of the Desert
College of the Sequoias
College of the Siskiyous
Contra Costa College
Cosumnes River College
Crafton Hills College
Cypress College
East Los Angeles Colllege
El Camino College
El Camino College, Compton Center
Foothill College
Fresno City College
Fullerton College
Gavilan College
Golden West College
Grossmont College
Hartnell College
Irvine Valley College
Lake Tahoe Community College
Laney College
Long Beach City College
Los Angeles City College
Los Angeles Pierce College
Los Angeles Southwest College
Mendocino College
Merced College
MiraCosta College
Modesto Junior College
Monterey Peninsula College
Moorpark College
Mount San Jacinto College
Orange Coast College
Palomar College
Reedley College
Rio Hondo College
Sacramento City College
Saddleback College
San Diego City College
San Diego Mesa College
Santa Ana College
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Monica College
Santa Rosa Junior College
Shasta College
Sierra College
Solano Community College
Southwestern College
Ventura College
West Valley College
Yuba Community College District

Acting Colleges in Los Angeles

Los Angeles California, with its downtown area just minutes from the famous Hollywood District, is home to some of the best actors and actresses in the world.  It comes as no surprise then that some of the top acting schools in California are located in this region. Several notable Tony award winners and members of the Screen Actors Guild have attended,  and continue to support some of the best acting colleges in Los Angeles. Many acting students have received professional training in acting schools in Los Angeles and have become successful in Television, Film, Stage, and Broadway productions.

While there are acting schools in California near almost every major city, the highest concentrations are in the Los Angeles and Hollywood area. Here is an overview of some of the best acting colleges in California located in and around Los Angeles.

Acting Schools in Los Angeles

University of California, Los Angeles
UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television
102 East Melnitz Hall Los Angeles, CA 90095
Phone: 310-825-8787

University of Southern California
USC School of Theatre
1029 Childs Way Los Angeles, CA 90089
Phone: 213-821-2744

American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood
1336 N. La Brea Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 800.222.2867

American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Los Angeles
Conservatory of The Performing Arts Los Angeles Campus
6305 Yucca
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone: 323-469-3300
Toll Free: 1-800-367-7908

Loyola Marymount University
Theatre Arts
1 Loyola Marymount University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Phone: (310) 338-3070

California State University, Los Angeles
Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Phone: (323) 343-4110