Best Colleges For Performing Arts, Dance and Drama

Silhouette of Dancer illustration for Best colleges for performing arts, music and drama.

This is the ranking of the best colleges for the performing arts. These are the degree programs in physically expressive arts such as performing arts, dance, drama and theater arts. At many universities, these are grouped together in a performing arts or dramatic arts department.

50 Best Colleges for Performing Arts, Drama and Dance Majors

This is our RealRankTM ranking of the best colleges in the fields of performing arts, dance and theater arts.

1The Julliard SchoolNew YorkNY
2Yale UniversityNew HavenCT
3Carnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghPA
4University of FloridaGainesvilleFL
5University of TennesseeKnoxvilleTN
6Florida State UniversityTallahasseeFL
7Northwestern UniversityEvanstonIL
8University of California - San DiegoSan DiegoCA
9University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)Los AngelesCA
10New York University New YorkNY
11Columbia UniversityNew YorkNY
12California Institute of the ArtsSanta ClaritaCA
13Southern Methodist University (SMU)DallasTX
14Indiana UniversityBloomingtonIN
15University of TexasAustinTX
16University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesCA
17Brown UniversityProvidenceRI
18University of North CarolinaChapel HillNC
19Emory UniversityAtlantaGA
20Boise State UniversityBoiseID
21University of ConnecticutStorrsCT
22Stanford UniversityPalo AltoCA
23Harvard UniversityCambridgeMA
24University of RochesterRochesterNY
25University of IowaIowa CityIA
26University of MarylandCollege ParkMD
27California State University - FullertonFullertonCA
28University Of WisconsinMadisonWI
29University of MichiganAnn ArborMI
30Princeton UniversityPrinceton NJ
31DePaul UniversityChicagoIL
32Rutgers UniversityPiscatawayNJ
33University of Missouri - Kansas CityKansas CityMO
34University of California - BerkeleyBerkeleyCA
35Curtis Institute of MusicPhiladelphiaPA
36Pace UniversityNew YorkNY
37Louisiana State University (LSU)Baton RougeLA
38Penn StateUniversity ParkPA
39Arizona State UniversityTempeAZ
40University of AlabamaTuscaloosaAL
41Mississippi State UniversityStarkvilleMS
42University of Nebraska - LincolnLincolnNB
43University of Central Florida Orlando FL
44University of ColoradoBoulderCO
45Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondCA
46University of UtahSalt Lake CityUT
47University of MiamiCoral GablesFL
48Michigan State UniversityEast LansingMI
49University of IllinoisChampaignIL
50University of South FloridaTampaFL

You can find more information on our RealRank analyses used in creating this ranking on the About page. The underlined colleges in the list link over to the rankings profile specific to that institution. If your college is not profiled as yet, contact us using the contact form.

Have you attended any of these programs? What has been your experience at these universities?

What is a Performing Arts Major?

Performing arts is a broad field that can include all different disciplines of physical art forms and creativity. The types of majors typically offered at top performing arts colleges include the following degree programs.

  • Dance
  • Sound design
  • Directing
  • Screenwriting / Playwriting
  • Music
  • Drama
  • Music composition
  • Conducting
  • Stage and set design
  • Theater Arts, including theater management and theatrical production

Performing Arts Careers

A major in one of the performing arts opens up a wide range of career paths involving music, theater, and motion pictures. Some of these careers like acting, dancing and screenwriting attract large numbers of people with big dreams, so can be relatively difficult financially. The consequence of that is incurring college debt, with a relatively small chance of a career path that can support that expense. So, we are trying to flag that career path here so our readers can go in with appropriately adjusted expectations.

Among the career paths available are:

  • Performance:
    • Actor
    • Dancer / Stage dance / Ballet
    • Musician
    • Comedian
    • Singer
  • All aspects of theatrical and motion picture production:
    • Composer
    • Screenwriter
    • Choreographer
    • Conductor
    • Camera operator
    • Stage Designer
    • Costume Designer
    • Production Assistant
    • Producer
    • Director
    • Theater administrator
    • Teaching
    • Broadcasting presenter.

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