San Francisco Acting Schools

Looking for San Francisco acting schools? Check out this growing list of San Francisco acting classes.

If you live in the Bay Area, studying acting in San Francisco will give you access to a thriving entertainment scene with hundreds of resident and visiting theater companies.

A.C.T. Conservatory

Of all the San Francisco acting schools, this Tony-award winning theater offers a prestigious MFA program, a range of short term acting classes, a summer acting program and a Young Conservatory for students between 8 and 19 years old.

The long list of successful alumni includes Elizabeth Banks, Annette Bening, Danny Glover, Denzel Washington and Neil Hopkins, to name a few (alumni of the Young Conservatory include Winona Ryder and Nicolas Cage).

MFA program: Classes and workshops include acting, scene study, script analysis, improv, theater history, classical theater, Shakespeare, voice, speech, singing, dialects, movement, Alexander Technique, physical theater, dance, mask, acrobatics and stage combat.

Studio A.C.T. offers 10-week 3 hour acting classes during evenings and weekends for students of all levels, as well as 5-week intensives. You can choose to study acting, Meisner technique, improv, Harold Pinter scene study, screen acting, voice, speech, singing, dance, stage combat, and more.

Shorter term acting classes in San Francisco are also available through the Summer Training Congress (STC), a full-time 5 to 7 week program (5 weeks of contemporary acting classes and 2 weeks of classical acting classes that can be combined).

Young Conservatory classes range from 8-week long sessions (about 2-3 hours a class) to special summer acting programs for high school students, middle school kids and children actors in grades 3-5. Young actors can study acting, voice, improv, physical theater, musical theater, cabaret, Alexander technique, directing, dance and more.

Performance opportunities:

A.C.T. is one of the San Francisco acting schools that offers a lot of opportunities for students to be on stage.

MFA students appear in several performances each year at the school’s black box theater, the Zeum theater, and other venues. Performances reflect a variety of acting styles, including classical plays, musical theater, cabaret acts, modern theater, and a touring school production of a Shakespeare play.

Last year MFA students can audition for mainstage productions at the 1,000-plus seat historic professional A.C.T. theater and take part in readings of new plays alongside company members.

STC summer students participate in a final performance.

The Young Conservatory offers a special ensemble performance class for advanced students and produces 4 public performances each year, including “A Christmas Carol”, where young actors work alongside MFA students.

Young Conservatory students can also audition first for young roles in mainstage A.C.T. productions every year.

Career preparation:

Among San Francisco acting schools, A.C.T. is known for preparing students for a career in the theater through constant interraction with the professional world of theater.

MFA actors constantly learn from professionals, interracting with company members and working with guest directors and designers.

– Graduating MFA students appear in an industry showcase in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

– MFA actors take workshops and seminars led by guest artists on the business of acting, film acting, audition techniques, and can attend Q&A’s with renowned industry names (which have included in the past Annette Bening, Tom Stoppard and Robin Williams, to name a few).

– All MFA actors graduate with an Actor’s Equity card, an important part of working professionally in the theater.

– MFA students have an opportunity to participate in the development of new works by established artists through “First Look” public staged readings, as well as network with alumni at a special weekend event.

– MFA students have full access to company rehearsals and plays and are encouraged to create an original piece in their 3rd year.

All A.C.T. conservatory classes, including the YC and Studio A.C.T., are taught by working professionals.

Studio A.C.T. offers special audition workshops, as well as audition technique classes for actors and singers.

STC students learn from A.C.T. teachers, guest professionals and company members.

Young Conservatory students learn from MFA actors and can take audition and screen acting workshops.


MFA Program: MFA in Acting or a Certificate in Acting if you don’t have a Bachelor’s Degree).

Most Studio A.C.T. classes can be taken for college credit.

Financial Aid:

90% of MFA students receive financial aid during their first year. All MFA students receive a full scholarship for their last year of study. MFA students receive payment for their teaching and professional acting work (at least 2 productions paid at current AEA rates).

Some financial aid is available for other programs.

What you’ll need to apply:

For the MFA program: Application form and fee, college transcripts (or high school transcripts if you didn’t attend college), acting resume and headshot (snapshot if no headshot), 2 letters of recommendation, a one-page essay, interview and audition (held in San Francisco, New York and Chicago in January and February with callbacks paid by this acting school in San Francisco).

For Studio A.C.T.: Completed actor questionnaire and interview to be placed in the right level class.

The STC summer program: Application form and fee, transcripts, acting resume and snapshot, 2 letters of recommendation from directors or teachers, a one-page essay, and a placement interview.

For the Young Conservatory: Fill an online application. Auditions are only required for company classes.

Acceptance rate: Of all the San Francisco acting schools, the MFA program at A.C.T. is the most competitive. Only about 8 students each year are accepted from 300 applicants on average.


SFSU Departement of Theatre Arts

Among the San Francisco acting schools, SFSU offers a BA in Drama with an emphasis in performance for actors.

Theater classes include acting, movement, voice, Shakespeare, directing, theater history, stage production and management, technical theater, theatrical design, lighting and sound, props, costume and make-up.

Electives include lyric theater, rehearsal techniques, musical theater workshops, Asian acting techniques, Yiddish theater, film acting and monologues.

Performance opportunities:

This is one of the San Francisco acting schools where students can spend a lot of time performing in public.

Aspiring actors audition and participate in up to 4 mainstage productions and 6 workshop productions a year, including unique productions of Asian theater or Yiddish theater.

Four different venues are available for performances, from a fully-equipped 700 plus seat proscenium stage to a black box theater.

There are also many opportunities to perform with the Brown Bag Theater Co., a small repertory company that puts on over 20 free shows a year in a 55-seat black box theater.

Career preparation:

All students work as crew members on theater productions.

Students can take electives on the business of acting and audition skills.

Degree: BA in Drama (emphasis in Performance for actors). The theater department also offers an MA in Drama, MFA in technical theater and the option to minor in drama.

Financial Aid: In addition to other financial aid available from San Francisco State University, the college of creative arts awards a number of scholarships to outstanding students.

What you’ll need to apply: Application form and fee and test scores. This is one of the San Francisco acting schools where no audition is required, although you may have to audition for advanced acting workshops.


Mother of Invention Acting School

Yale School of Drama M.F.A. Director Andrew Utter gives 10-week acting classes in San Francisco in addition to his LA classes.
Click here to see details about this San Francisco acting school.

Want to find more San Francisco acting schools?

Suscribe to our blog in the left column to get updates, including new listings of San Francisco acting schools, acting classes in San Francisco, San Francisco film schools and San Francisco art schools…

…or expand your search to Los Angeles acting schools.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *