The number of acting schools in California is mind blowing. Just the sheer size of the state makes the number of acting schools quite large. Then, you throw in the fact that the entertainment capitol of the United States of America is situated right there in Los Angeles and you have got yourself a ton of places to study theater and attend drama school.
The list below is a mix of acting schools in California. Some you will find at an accredited university or college that will offer you a degree. Others are considered more of independent schools or classes.
These schools may not offer a degree, like a BA in Fine Arts or a Master in Fine Arts, but they will offer you the types of courses and workshops, and dramatic education that will allow you to thrive in the profession of acting.
For specific cities with acting schools in California, click the links below:
321 Talent Showcase - Program opens up the world of on-camera acting to your child through confidence boosting classes, imagination, and fun!
Academy of Art University - Located in San Francisco since 1929, this school offers full service acting training. Graduates can receive a associates, bachelors, or masters degree in Fine Arts. One of the most prestigious acting schools in California north of the Los Angeles area.
Act Now Network – Focuses is on INTENSIVES; multiple weeks with the same Casting Director and every actor works with a personal consultant.
The Acting Center – This full service acting studio offer 8 week Improv intensive classes.
The Acting Corp – They offer the famous “Actor’s Boot Camp” in Los Angeles. This is a true short term acting conservatory that covers everything you need to get started.
The Acting Studio @ Edgemar (Larry Moss Studio) - Michelle Danner and Larry Moss are two of the more respected acting coaches in Hollywood.
Actors Key – The Actor’s Key offers acting classes and workshops with instructors in the entertainment industry for both young and adult actors.
Actors West – No monthly fees or dues. You only pay when you attend an intensive, class or workshop.
The Actors Workshop – With location in North Hollywood and Orange County, these acting workshops specialize in acting in front of the camera.
Stella Adler Academy - Stella Adler started one of the most famous acting schools in New York City over 50 years ago. For the last 25 years her conservatory in Los Angeles has been teaching acting classes for adults. Her training has produces an actors or actress using her version of the Straslovski method.
The American Academy of Dramatic Arts - AMDA or AADA is the oldest acting school in the English speaking world according to its website. Teaching some of the worlds best actors since 1884, AADA has a list of famous alumni as long as you are going to find at any other institution. Definitely one of the most famous acting schools in California and New York that you could choose to attend.
American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) - One of the top performing arts colleges in San Fran.
Art Institute of California - AIC offers students the chance to get educated in areas of design and media arts.
Beverly Hills Playhouse – This one of the most famous and well respected acting schools in California. Founder Milton Katselas is one of the all time greats. Located in Los Angeles, if you are serious about jumping in feet first, this is a great place to start.
California Institute of the Arts - The Acting Program offers a MFA and BFA in Acting, Directing and Writing. Alumni consists of Ed Harris and Don Cheadle.
California Film Institute - This is not a film school or acting colleges per sei. This is a place that teaches student through the use a film as opposed to the students actually making the film.
Cal State Chico - More than 100 majors are split between theater majors and musical theatre majors.
Cal State Fresno - AKA, Fresno State University, they offer a top notch department of Theatre Arts in Central California.
Cal State University Fullerton - Ranked among the top 16 most highly recommended undergraduate programs in the nation, according to the most recent Performing Arts Major’s College Guide.
Cal State Long Beach - Don't want to live in Los Angeles right away? Study acting at the Theatre Arts program at Long Beach State just south of LA.
Cal State University Los Angeles - Located in Los Angeles where the 10 and 710 meet.
Cal State Northridge - BackStage Magazine ranked CSUN as one of the top nine university programs in the nation.....
California State University Stanislaus - Stanislaus is a public university that has an enrollment of around 9000. This small size enables is them to offer the benefits typically found at a private school.
June Chandler’s Actors Workshop – Offers a step by step approach to building your acting career.
Terrell Clayton’s Cold Reading Classes – Becoming a popular choice in the cold reading world.
Comedy Sportz – Teaches Improv comedy classes and workshops in short form and long form improvisation. Great for actors but you don’t need to be one in order to participate.
Michelle Danner - One of the most respected acting coaches in country.
East Los Angeles College - At around $400 per semester, ELAC is an inexpensive way to get your acting career started.
The Exposure Studio – Specializes in young performers, they offer classes, photos, casting director workshops, and a celebrity mentoring program.
The Groundlings – One of the most famous Improv training grounds in the world.
Margie Haber Studios – Is considered one of THE cold reading authorities in Los Angeles. Was voted “Best Audition Workshop” by Backstage! West in 2009 and her book, “How to get the Part Without Falling Apart” is one of the best book you can get your hands on.
Melissa Hayden - Melissa teaches classes at the Young People's Acting Class at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
Hollywood Film & Acting Academy – Programs range from 6 weeks to 6 months. All classes are taught by professional, working actors.
Humboldt State University - Offers class in Arcata, CA.
(IFA) International Institute of Film and Acting – Offers a wide variety of acting and filmmaking courses in Los Angeles.
iO West Theater ( ImporvOlympic) – With a Chicago and Los Angeles location, iO has produced so of America’s favorite comedy personalities.
David Kagen’s School of Film – Voted the Best Los Angeles Acting Class for film, David is one of the best.
Lesly Kahn & Company – Offer professional, advanced, intermediate, and beginner training. Her classes focus on your whole career as an actor: marketing, auditioning, the just the general ‘business of the business” so to speak.
The Lyndon Technique – Amy Lydon is a cold reading specialist. She has written and award winning book, she has a beautiful interactive website, as well as offering classes in Studio City, CA.
Lynette McNeil Studio – Focus, philosophy, and your career is what you are going to focus on at this acting school. Lynette has worked with some of the best.
Anthony Meindl Actor Workshop – Anthony is one of the most respect acting teacher in Los Angeles. Voted the Best Scene Study Class and Best Cold Reading Class by Backstage! in 2011.
Elizabeth Mestnik Acting Studio – Located in the heart of Hollywood, Elizabeth offers many types of acting training including courses on the Meisner Technique, scene study classes, as well as beginner acting classes.
Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts – Located in Central California, this is one of the acting schools in California that you wan to check out if you don’t want to study acting in the big city while you are in college. This is off the beaten path, but consider one of the tops and hasa great Acting Internship Program.
Stuart Rogers Studios – Has been training actors and directors for well over a decade.
San Diego State University School of Theatre, Television, and Film - Offers a full service theater, television and film program in beautiful southern California.
San Francisco State University - Offers top notch theatre program in the San Fransisco Bay area.
San Jose State University - Offer students the chance to earn a BA in Theatre Arts in the San Fransisco Bay area.
The Second City – Are you into sketch comedy? This improv institution, made famous in Chicago, has a studio in LA.
Melissa Skoff – Melissa is a casting director and really knows what she is talking about when it comes to cold reading techniques.
South Coast Repertory - Great place to study in Orange County. Will Ferrell among other spent some time on stage here.
Gary Spatz - Gary has been teaching kids for over 25 years. He runs The Playground Young Actor's Conservatory. Appears on my list as a top acting school for kids.
Aaron Speiser Acting Studio – One of the most respected acting coaches in Los Angeles. Worked with the likes of Will Smith and Jennifer Lopez. He has a great tagline: “Study here when you are ready to DO what you came here to DO.”
Stanford University - The Department of Theater Arts & Performance (TAPS) offers a great program in Northern California.
Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute - A history that goes back to the 1920’s. Alumni include future legendary acting coaches Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner.
Theatre of Arts - Located in Los Angeles, they offer 2 year associates degree program, along with short term classes and a summer program.
TVI Actors Studio - The offer many different classes and workshops in Los Angeles. They are geared toward the actors “showcase” of there talents along with teaching them how to audition. Many of their classes are taught by leading casting directors and professional actors.
University of California Berkeley - UC Berkeley offers a major and minor in theater.
University of California Davis - Offer BA, MFA, and PhD programs.
University of California Irvine – Claire Trevor School of Arts - The Claire Trevor School of Arts is one of the most respected programs in the nation.
UCLA School of Theatre Film and Television - UCLA is one of the most famous film and acting schools in California if not the entire country. Located in Westwood, CA, its proximity to the heart of Los Angeles has long made it one of the meccas when it comes to studying acting and filmmaking.
University of California Santa Barbara - Offers one of the only BFA Acting programs in the nation.
University of California San Diego – A top class acting school with an affiliation with the La Jolla Playhouse. If you think you won’t be distracted by the beach life, it is a great place to look into.
University of California Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz offer a diverse Theatre Arts Program in Central California.
University of San Diego - The University of San Diego offers a degree in Theatre Arts and Performance.
Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre – A full services Improv and sketch comedy training center.
USC School of Theater - Typically takes a backseat to its more famous film school, but it is a world class acting school.
Doug Warhit On camera Cold Reading and Scene Study Classes – All classes are on camera, held Mon-Thurs, and are held at Castaway Studios in on Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles. Doug also offers private coaching.
Westside Comedy Theater – Offering Improv and stud up comedy classes in a creative, fun environment.
Young Actors Camp - A great alternative to your standard summer camp if you son or daughter is interested in a career in the showbiz. This 4 week programs takes the kids for beginner to production in this unique acting camp for kids. One of the very good acting schools in California for kids.
The Young Actors Studio - The Young Actors Studio is headed by Jeff Allan-Lee and has been teaching acting classes for kids for over 20 years in Los Angeles and New York.