School of Acting


Our unique MFA program puts a contemporary spin on traditional conservatory training. At our School of Acting, you’ll learn the skills necessary to work as an actor in film and television on our five professional quality sound stages, theatre, and black box. From your first semester, you will work on camera to put your training into practice.

Partnering with writers, directors, and producers in the School of Acting in our production-oriented film school, you will have multiple opportunities to perform original material crafted with and for you. You will also learn how to write and direct your own projects. We provide abundant opportunities to act in festival-bound films, web series and PSAs.   

You will have the opportunity to work on our main stage theatre in world premiere one-act plays directed by professional directors, improv performances and one-person shows.

We help you prepare to enter the film and television industry with the creation of a professional reel, on-going practice of contemporary audition techniques, and networking skills. We facilitate your commitment to starting your professional career with the formulation of a personalized plan for the first 90 days after you graduate. 

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NxtUp Film Festival

Our annual NxtUp Film Festival is judged by professional casting directors, working producers, writers, and directors. The festival allows your work to be seen by influential industry professionals prior to graduation.  As a result of NxtUp 2020, our students were invited to audition for roles in ABC/Disney, Netflix, HBO, and Fox pilots.

Our program is run by an Oscar-winning producer and 11-time Academy Award nominee and is taught by a combination of professional actors and award-winning directors who focus on developing the strengths of each MFA actor. 

What We Teach

In our 63-unit program you will dive into training in: Film Acting and Reel Development, Alexander Technique for Camera, Stanislavski-based scene study, Meisner training, Voice & Speech, Movement, Comedy for Social Media, Character Voices for Games Animation and Cartoons, Film and TV Directing as well as electives in areas such as Voice-Over,  Screenwriting, Classical Acting and Stage Combat. 

Reel Development

In this three-semester course, you work on honing your on-camera presence, your versatility as an actor and your ability to consistently make dynamic character choices. You will then move from classrooms to sound stages. You will star in scenes that showcase your talents.

Alexander for Camera

You will learn to free your body of tension and create a range of authentic characters.

Comedy for Social Media

Using Improv and Sketch writing techniques you will create short pieces for social media to drive your brand and draw an audience.


##duet with @mattheperson Helga is matching with a tiktok celebrity so that means she’s a fashion icon now, right?##matching ##twinsss ##fashionista

♬ original sound – Matt Taylor

Student Work

Students in the graduate program have myriad opportunities to have their work viewed by casting directors and producers through their participation in festival films. They gain experience auditioning for film and television work by participating in professional quality casting sessions for these roles. We also employ our students as paid actors in scenes directed by the Motion Picture students, some of which are destined for film festivals as well. 

Academy of Art thesis films have won hundreds of awards from film festivals worldwide. Recently this work has resulted in students being seen by notable Hollywood casting directors who have auditioned them for roles at HBO, FOX, NETFLIX, and numerous other studios and networks. 

Thesis Films in Production

Behind the Scenes at the School of Acting

School of Acting Facilities

Sound Stages

We have five professional-quality sound stages, a costume shop, a set construction shop, extensive props, furniture and set dressing materials to support your professional acting experience. 

Main Stage Theatre

Our mainstage theater, home to our One Acts Festival, mainstage plays and musicals, seats an audience of 200 in the heart of San Francisco’s theater district, adjacent to Union Square

The Black Box

Our blackbox theater, in the main Schools of Entertainment building at Townsend Street in the South of Market Street, is used for incubating one person shows