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How to Study Acting in America: A Comprehensive Guide


If you’re searching for ‘how to study acting in America’ or looking for classes for acting in NYC, you’ve come to the right place. 

Pursuing an acting career in America is alluring and challenging, requiring dedication, resilience, and the right training. Formal training is crucial in honing your craft and preparing you for the competitive entertainment industry.

In this guide, we’ll explore the various paths aspiring actors can take to succeed. From undergraduate and graduate programs to conservatory and short-term workshops, we’ll cover the essential aspects of actor training. 

With a focus on the renowned Maggie Flanigan Studio, you’ll learn how our programs and expert faculty can support your journey to becoming a successful professional actor in the US.

Key Takeaways

  • Studying acting in the US offers opportunities and challenges, providing a rich cultural landscape and high-quality training for aspiring actors.
  • New York City provides numerous opportunities for networking with great actors, talent agents, and industry professionals.
  • International students can thrive in the supportive and immersive environment at the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Understanding Acting Schools and Studios

Movement classes at Maggie Flanigan Studio

There are many types of acting schools and acting studios in the US, each catering to different aspects of dramatic arts. One of the most respected institutions in NYC is the Maggie Flanigan Studio.

Known for its exceptional two-year conservatory Professional Acting Training Program (PATP), MFS offers a comprehensive conservatory approach to actor training that is comparable to the top MFA programs in the United States.

This acting program includes Meisner-focused acting classes as well as Voice, Movement, Chekhov, Cold Reading, Script Analysis, Theater History, Film History, Stage & Film Combat, Dialects, and Shakespeare, providing a well-rounded education in theater arts and film. 

Attending prestigious acting schools and studios with notable alumni also provides invaluable industry connections. These institutions offer real-world performance opportunities, allowing students to gain experience and build a professional network. 

The Maggie Flanigan Studio, with its intensive training and industry ties, ensures that students are well-equipped to excel as actors in diverse and competitive environments.

Types of Acting Training

Aspiring actors who want to study acting in the US have various training options to choose from, each designed to build their skills and prepare them for a successful career in the performing arts. 

From formal acting degree programs to conservatory training and specialized workshops, there is a path for every actor’s needs and goals.

Undergraduate and graduate programs

Undergraduate and graduate programs are very different, but each offer a structured approach to learning the craft of acting. 

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) programs, such as those at NYU Tisch School, the Juilliard School, and the Yale School of Drama, provide a solid foundation in acting, theater production, and performance studies. 

It’s important to know that these schools, and other top programs are incredibly difficult to get into. These programs take 14-16 students out of the thousands who apply. Admissions are highly selective. Also, a BFA degree and many MFA’s can cost up to $240,000 when you factor in tuition and living expenses.

These acting programs are designed to immerse acting students in various aspects of dramatic art, including acting, movement, voice, classical text, script analysis and performance.

Conservatory programs

Conservatory programs offer intensive and immersive training for those pursuing a career in acting. These acting programs build a solid foundation in acting and the performing arts, equipping students with the essential skills to pursue a professional career.

The two-year conservatory at the Maggie Flanigan Studio exemplifies this approach, offering classes in the full progression of the Meisner Technique, as well as classes in voice, movement, Chekhov, script analysis, film history, theater history, dialects, breathwork, and stage & film combat. 

This comprehensive curriculum ensures that our acting students gain practical experience and a deep understanding of how to work as an actor and artist.

Comparable to MFA acting programs at institutions like Brown University, Yale, and NYU, the Maggie Flanigan Studio’s conservatory fully prepares students for the extremely competitive acting industry. 

With a strong focus on craft, technique, and career development, these acting programs and acting classes help aspiring actors build the skills, confidence, and industry connections needed for success in theater, television, and film.

Short-term workshops and classes

Short-term workshops and classes are ideal for actors seeking to refine specific skills. These acting courses offer targeted training in areas like script analysis, movement, and voice & speech. 

Workshops can be a valuable addition to an actor’s education, providing focused instruction that complements broader training programs. Acting coaches often lead these sessions, offering their expertise to help students improve their craft.

For college students, high schoolers, and working actors, these workshops provide flexibility and specialized knowledge that can enhance performance in both theater and film.

Choosing the Right Acting School or Program

Stage and film combat training at Maggie Flanigan Studio

Selecting the right acting school or program is a crucial step for anyone aspiring to be a professional actor. There are several factors to consider to ensure the acting school or acting program aligns with your career goals and provides the necessary training and support.

Faculty expertise

Evaluating the expertise of the faculty is crucial when selecting an acting school. 

Most acting teachers are no more than frustrated actors who are pulling out notes they took from classes ten years ago. They do not look at or approach acting as an art form. Many are uninterested and lack the passion and commitment to truly shape young, aspiring artists. 

If you are looking to study acting in America, look for master teachers, those who have decades of experience teaching at the highest level of the art form. Seek an acting studio that has curated a faculty of first class artists who are passionate about the art of teaching. 

The Maggie Flanigan Studio has a reputation as having one of the most ethnically diverse and highly recognized faculty’s in the United States. Renowned acting coaches with extensive industry experience can provide valuable insights and mentorship, helping you move toward the actor you dream of becoming.

Researching the success of alumni, such as those who have become successful actors like Piper Perabo, Isha Blaaker, Jaina Lee Ortiz, or Candace Maxwell can also indicate the program’s effectiveness in launching successful professional actors.

Location and networking opportunities

Location is another key consideration when choosing an acting school. 

NYC is arguably the greatest city in the world, and has had a reputation for almost a century as the epicenter for serious, professional acting training. Being in a vibrant city like NYC can also provide numerous opportunities for networking, auditions, and exposure to diverse industries such as theater, television, and film. 

In such a dynamic setting, students have the chance to connect with many actors, directors, writers, casting directors, talent agents, and other influential figures in the industry. This kind of networking and relationship building enhances actors’ prospects for a successful career in the arts.

Engaging with the school community

Visiting potential schools, attending open houses, and speaking with current students and faculty can provide invaluable insights into the culture and support system available. It is important to see an acting studio in person, to get a feel for the space, the aesthetic, those first important impressions that can say so much about whether this is a place for you. 

At the Maggie Flanigan Studio, it is important to us that you are inspired and excited to create in our space. Everything from color to art, to each studio room has been carefully created to provide an artistic home for our students. 

For those unable to visit in person, many acting programs offer virtual tours and online Q&A sessions with faculty and students.

Engaging with the school community helps students understand the supportive environment and how it can aid their transition and growth. Connecting with alumni who can talk to you about their personal experiences while training can provide invaluable insight into whether an acting studio is the right fit for you. 

International Students: Studying Acting in the US

Studying acting in the US offers international students unique opportunities and challenges. 

The diverse cultural landscape and high-quality acting programs provide a rich learning environment for aspiring actors from around the world. However, understanding visa requirements and making cultural adjustments are essential steps in this process.

Opportunities and challenges

International students bring diverse perspectives to American acting schools, enhancing the educational experience for all. 

Programs in vibrant cities like New York City, such as those at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, offer an immersive environment ideal for theater arts and performing arts programs. NYC’s diversity and vibrant arts scene provides exposure to diverse industries, including high-quality acting lessons, along with the chance to learn from successful actors and renowned acting coaches.

However, international students must also tackle challenges such as adjusting to new cultural norms and managing the logistics of living abroad. Securing visas, finding accommodation, and adapting to a different educational system can be daunting. 

Also important is an ability to speak English well enough not to be in your head about translating from moment to moment. If you are a prospective international student, your English proficiency is vital.

Cultural adjustments, such as language barriers and understanding local customs, add to the complexity of studying in a new country.

Visa requirements

Obtaining a student visa is crucial for international students who want to study acting in the US.

Students must secure an M-1 visa for vocational or non-academic programs. This involves submitting an application, proof of financial support, and verification of English proficiency. Once accepted into a program, students receive an I-20 form, which they use to apply for the M-1 visa at their local embassy.

For those enrolling at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, the process follows similar steps. 

The studio’s international Visa Program allows students to obtain M-1 Visa status for the Professional Actor Training Program (PATP). An M-1 visa is valid for one year, with options to renew or extend if invited back for the second year. This visa includes a 30-day grace period before and after the program start and end dates for travel within the US. 

The Professional Actor Training Program is the only program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio that meets SEVIS and USCIS requirements. It’s recommended to begin the visa application process at least two months before classes start to ensure ample time for processing and obtaining the necessary documentation.

Cultural adjustments

Acclimating to different customs, building a supportive community, and overcoming language barriers are some of the challenges students may face. 

The Maggie Flanigan Studio offers resources and a welcoming environment to help international students transition smoothly. Support from faculty and peers is invaluable, aiding students in building relationships within the acting community, participating in cultural activities, and seeking guidance from experienced acting coaches. 

The studio’s New York City location provides a rich cultural landscape, enhancing the learning experience and helping international students feel at home. This robust support ensures that international students are well-prepared to succeed both academically and personally, making their experience in the US rewarding and fulfilling.

Why Choose Maggie Flanigan Studio

For international students planning to study acting in the US, selecting the right acting school can feel daunting, especially if you must apply and interview online. Make sure that you are interviewing with the owner/master teacher or artistic director of the studio. Ask questions and listen to your instincts when it comes to first impressions.   

The Maggie Flanigan Studio stands out due to its exceptional faculty, who have extensive experience in theater, television, and film. This diverse industry background provides students with a profound understanding of the craft. Students benefit from insights offered by professionals who have excelled in various fields, enhancing their learning experience.

The rigorous curriculum at Maggie Flanigan Studio ensures thorough training in all aspects of acting. The Professional Acting Training Program equips students with a well-rounded skill set that is essential for succeeding in the competitive acting field. 

Located in New York City, the studio provides ample networking opportunities with casting directors, talent agents and industry professionals, vital for career development.

The Maggie Flanigan Studio also fosters a safe, nurturing, supportive and collaborative community that encourages creativity and personal growth. This environment helps students build the confidence and connections needed for success. 

Aspiring actors will thrive in this vibrant setting, gaining exposure to the dynamic performing arts scene in NYC. Call today to learn how the Maggie Flanigan Studio can support your journey to a successful acting career.


Pursuing an acting career in America requires dedication, resilience, and the right training. From understanding various acting programs and choosing the right acting school or studio, to handling visa requirements and cultural adjustments, aspiring actors have a challenging yet rewarding journey ahead. 

The Maggie Flanigan Studio, with its exceptional faculty, rigorous curriculum, and supportive community, offers comprehensive acting classes that prepare students for success in theater arts, television, and film. 

By fostering a nurturing environment and providing invaluable industry connections, the studio helps college graduates and aspiring actors develop their craft and build successful careers. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I study acting in the USA?

Yes, you can study acting in the USA. Many prestigious acting programs and acting classes are available, including those at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, which offers comprehensive training in theater arts, television, and film. 

How do you get into acting in America?

To get into acting in America, you should start by enrolling in a reputable acting program or acting school. Participate in acting classes, build a portfolio, and seek opportunities for real-world experience. 

Networking with casting directors, talent agents, and submitting for auditions are crucial steps, and programs like those at the Maggie Flanigan Studio can provide the training and connections needed for success.

How much does it cost to study acting in the USA?

The cost of studying acting in the USA varies widely, ranging from a few hundred dollars for a one-day workshop to hundreds of thousands for an advanced BFA or MFA degree. For example, the full two-year conservatory Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) at Maggie Flanigan Studio costs $38,000. 

How long is acting school in the USA?

Acting school duration in the USA varies by program. 

Conservatory programs, such as the two-year acting program at the Maggie Flanigan Studio, offer intensive training over a shorter period, while Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees typically take four years to complete. Graduate programs, like those at MFA Pace University, usually require two to three years of study.

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