Theater - Acting (BFA)

With a BFA in Acting from the Brind School of Theater Arts, you’ll be taught by professional, working actors. You’ll attend classes in the middle of one of the nation’s largest thriving artistic communities—Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts—steps away from the Kimmel Center, the Merriam Theater and the Academy of Music, and within easy reach of more than 100 theaters.

Whether your goal is the stage, film or TV, if you have a strong drive to perform, the best place to start is at the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at University of the Arts.

The Brind School presents an annual season of work, which includes projects led by students, faculty and celebrated guest artists from the national and local theater scenes. Auditions for the season are open to all Brind School students.

Why You Should Earn an Acting BFA at UArts 

In 2021, UArts was named one of the top performing arts colleges in the U.S. by the College Gazette.

In UArts’ Acting program, you’ll collaborate with other UArts students on projects like films and student-directed theater. And you’ll have a chance to gain international inspiration through our student exchange program. Acting majors get both experience and exposure through a variety of performance opportunities–from UArts productions and audition showcases to small, experimental theater and huge Broadway-style productions.

No matter the path you choose, earning a BFA in Acting from UArts prepares you for a creative career, teaching you technique and how to collaborate creatively with other artists—including writers, dancers, musicians, filmmakers and visual artists of all kinds, a skill any artist needs for their career—and providing you with opportunities to learn with working and visiting actors, directors and other theater professionals.

Sample Curriculum

The Acting program prepares our students for professional careers in theater, film and TV, as well as for continued study at the graduate level. Most importantly, our training offers breadth and depth in a variety of studies and practices, which enable you to function successfully as active and productive members of society at large.

Graduates of the BFA degree program in Acting are expected to

  • Demonstrate a capacity for creative risk-taking, engaging their unique imaginative impulses and contributing strong generative proposals in both devised and scripted work with trust in themselves and the ensemble.
  • Fully integrate an active imagination with an active and dynamically aligned body, and a strong, supported voice, all capable of meeting the demands of text, character and given circumstances.
  • Effectively analyze scene and play structure; identify dramatic conflict; and shape specific choices of objective, obstacle and tactic that serve both the needs of the script and the artist.

 

Sample Curriculum

Duration: Four years, full time

Credits: 120

Major requirements: 69 credits

Discipline history: 9 credits

Critical Studies: 33 credits

Free electives: 9 credits

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First Year

Fall semester: 15 credits 
Survey of Theater Arts (3c) 
Movement for Actors I (2c) 
Stage Combat I (2c)
Acting Studio (3c)
Voice & Speech for Actors I (2c)
Writing I Placement (3c)

Spring semester: 15 credits 
Movement for Actors II (2c)
Neutral Mask (1c)
Scenery & Prop Tech or Costume Tech (1c)
Acting Studio II (3c)
Voice & Speech for Actors II (2c)
Script Analysis (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)

Second Year

Fall semester: 16.5 credits 
Movement for Actors III (2c)
Movement for Actors Lab (1c)
Crew (1c)
Acting Studio Technique I (3c)
Lab Hours (1c)
Voice & Speech for Actors III (2c)
Voice for Actors Lab (.5c)
Theater History (3c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)

Spring Semester: 16.5 credits 
Applied Major Instruction (2c)
Movement for Actors Lab (1c)
Crew (1c)
Acting Studio Technique II (3c)
Lab Hours (1c)
Voice & Speech for Actors IV 2
Voice for Actors Lab (.5c)
Theater History II (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Third Year

Fall Semester: 17 credits 
Movement for Actors V (2c)
Acting Studio: Poetic Realism (3c)
Acting on Camera (1c)
Directing I (3c)
Voice & Speech for Actors V (2c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring semester: 16 credits 
Movement for Actors VI (2c)
Audition Techniques (2c)
Acting Studio: Verse Drama  (3c)
Acting on Camera II (1c)
Voice & Speech for Actors VI (2c)
Critical Studies (your choice)  (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice)  (3c)

Fourth Year

Fall Semester: 12 credits 
Business of Theater (1c)
Production Hours (your choice) (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice)  (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice)  (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (4c)

Spring Semester: 12 credits
Theater, Movement, Studio or Voice & Speech  (3c)
Production Hours (your choice) 1(1c)
Critical Studies (your choice)  (3c)
Free electives (your choice) (5c)

Clubs and Organizations 

UArts is home to nearly 25 clubs and organizations that are just as creative as UArts students.

There’s something for everyone, including visual arts, music, performing arts, advocacy and much more. Our performing arts organizations include

  • The Coffee Cup Cabaret, a cabaret troupe dedicated to putting on musical theater cabarets and coffeehouses in a safe and supportive space that is open to students of all majors. 
  • The Ignite Dance Collective, which emphasizes the importance of versatility for working artists. By training in commercial dance form, their members focus on authentic expression, accountability and creating a loving and supportive community. 
  • The Royals Band Dance Line, which is dedicated to embodying and continuing the principles, traditions and culture of historically Black college and university marching bands.
  • The UArts Ballet Ensemble, which offers open membership to all students who are willing to further their experience in the art of ballet. 
  • The UArts Gospel Choir, which aims to foster love and compassion through ministry while maintaining an atmosphere that celebrates diversity.
  • The Unicorn Ball Club, which provides an open and safe space for community members to participate in ball culture, an artform devised by Black queer artists. 

Learn more about UArts’ clubs and organizations. 

Student Spotlight

In the Acting program, you'll collaborate with other UArts students on projects like films and student-directed theater. And you’ll have a chance to gain international inspiration through our student exchange program with the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in England. Acting majors get both experience and exposure through a variety of performance opportunities–from UArts productions and audition showcases to small, experimental theater and huge Broadway-style productions.

Frank Jimenez Headshot
Frank Jimenez

'19

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Hometown: West New York, New Jersey
Nina Rivera Headshot
Nina Rivera

'21

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Hmetown: Leesburg, Virginia
Shaun Morgan Headshot
Shaun Morgan

'20

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
My freshman year, I did a voice-over for an animation student, sophomore year I got to direct a show and this year, I'm going to take master classes at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
— Lani Skelley BFA ’18 (Acting)

Experience the passion and creativity of young artists on the threshold of professional success. See this season's lineup of shows.

On Stage

Faculty Spotlight

UArts Acting faculty are talented working artists who are dedicated to working closely with students, honing their craft and forming long-term mentoring relationships with Brind School students. Further, our faculty will connect you with the theater community in greater Philadelphia, as well as in New York City.

A headshot of Krista Apple, wearing a black shirt and against a gray, textured background.
Krista Apple

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Interim program director; Barrymore Award-winner, contributing writer for "American Theatre" magazine
Alex Bechtel head shot
Alex Bechtel

BFA '08

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Barrymore Award Winner, The Light Princess 2017
Bill Buddendorf head shot
Bill Buddendorf

BFA '98

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Freelance director, sound designer, singer-songwriter/recording artist

Careers & Alumni

The Acting program sets UArts graduates up for success in the world of theater, with a wide selection of possible career paths to pursue and a network of successful, experienced alumni to connect with.

Career Paths

Acting program graduates can pursue careers in many possible professional paths, including:

  • Actor
  • Talent manager
  • Theater critic
  • Theater manager
  • Educator Producer
  • Voice/acting coach
  • Broadcast talent
  • Marketing/publicity

Alumni Spotlight

UArts Acting alumni have starred in such hit TV shows as Private Practice, Law and Order, and Ugly Betty and can be seen in national and regional theater productions, including the National Black Theater Festival and the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival.

Other Acting alumni have started their own local theater companies, like Philly’s award-winning 1812 Productions, co-founded by Jennifer Childs BFA ’90 (Acting), who serves as its artistic director.

Graduates from the Acting program at UArts go on to study at places like Yale School of Drama and are the recipients of such prestigious honors as the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship and George C. Wolfe Award in Theater.

Matteo Scammell head shot
Matteo Scammell

BFA '11

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Barrymore Award-winning actor, funk/R&B musician
Head shot image of Jennifer Childs with red hair in black shirt and purple jacket
Jennifer Childs

BFA '90

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Founder of 1812 Productions, Philadelphia's top comedy theater troupe

Venues and Learning and Practice Spaces 

The Brind School is primarily located in Terra Hall at 211 S. Broad St. Spaces include seminar rooms and classrooms, as well as studios for individual voice, speech, dance, movement and acting instruction. 

We also utilize five public performance venues.

  • ArtsBank Theater: 230 seats
  • Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater: 60 seats
  • Caplan Recital Hall: 200 seats
  • Caplan Studio Theater: 90 seats
  • Levitt Auditorium: 700 seats

Brind School facilities include

  • six full-sized acting studios;
  • five dedicated private voice studios;
  • several spacious dance studios;
  • one full-sized rehearsal and dance studio in the Arts Bank building, as well as a cabaret-style space;
  • a costume shop with state-of-the-art equipment;
  • a lighting lab; and
  • a fully equipped video editing studio.

 

Center for Immersive Media 

UArts’ Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. The space includes

  • optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station; 
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and 
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about the Center for Immersive Media.

Spotlight: I Want A Country

Shifting the theater experience for actors and audiences and setting the stage for future technologically forward endeavors

Get to know the graduates of the Acting and Musical Theater programs by visiting the virtual student showcase.

Explore the Acting and Musical Theater graduate showcase

Ira Brind School of Theater Arts 2021–2022

Check out the Brind School's seasons of theater production.

Explore the 2021-2022 productions

UArts Brind School of Theater Arts on Instagram

Follow UArts' Brind School of Theater Arts on Instagram.

Explore the Brind School

Polyphone festival on Instagram

Follow Polyphone on Instagram for insights into the festival and its programming.

Explore Polyphone on Instagram

Polyphone Festival Website

The Polyphone Festival of New Musicals is an internationally recognized festival for the development of new musical theater.

Discover Polyphone Festival

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline (Feb. 15, 2022).

Spring 2023 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2022

Fall 2023 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2023

We cannot accept spring 2023 applications after Jan. 9, 2023, and cannot accept fall 2023 applications after Aug. 11, 2023.

The following materials are required for your application. 

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.
Official high school transcript

  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
  • International transcript requirements 
  • Transfer student transcript requirements
    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.
    • Official college(s)
      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 
      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 
Your portfolio
  • A portfolio is required for all Art, Design, Film and Writing programs. Your portfolio may be uploaded during the application process or via your applicant status portal after submission. You must confirm when your submission is complete via the linked electronic form before your portfolio can be reviewed for admission.
  • Learn more about portfolio requirements.
International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency.
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service.

Apply now

Scholarships and Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 98 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

About the Brind School

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is primed to nourish the individual artistic voice of each student, encouraging the development of advanced skills and an expanded point of view. Graduates of the Brind School can count on their practical experience in a thoroughly equipped and well-connected theater ecosystem to pursue careers in theater as fearless, innovative and adaptable creators. The Brind School imbues students with strong identities as innovators and citizen artists.

The Brind School is tailored for those who want to achieve and excel in performance and stagecraft. The Brind School’s faculty includes 60 instructors, the majority of which are current theater professionals. Alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, creating a powerful home base for extending students’ creative community far beyond campus.

Learn more about The Brind School of Theater Arts

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