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Top Performing Arts Universities in 2022-2023

Apr 26, 2022

Best Performing Arts Colleges and Universities in the World

About Performing Arts

“Performing arts” refers to time-based creative art forms that are performed in front of an audience. They include art forms such as drama, dance, and music. The individuals who engage in the practice of performing arts are known as performing artists. Facial expressions, voice, and body language are all used in the performing arts to communicate creative fiction. Except for some film, television acting, and video musical creations, most kinds of performing arts are executed in front of a live audience.

The major performing arts categories, i.e., dance, drama, and music offer additional specialization options for students to choose from based on their interests and skills. Since the performing arts profession is highly competitive, students must possess not just the necessary skills but also a natural flair for the field. 

Skills of a Performing Artist

The primary goal of performance artists is to entertain the audience through the arts. They accomplish this by performing the craft under the direction of a creative team in order to bring the artwork to life. With their talent, artists can only go so far in this field. They need the following skills to flourish in the competitive world of performing arts.

Analytical skills: All performance artists need an analytical mind. Dancers, for example, must analyze and interpret their choreography, musicians must comprehend music, and actors must examine their roles and characters. 

Confidence: For many people, performing in front of an audience is nerve-wracking and it requires a lot of confidence. Having a confident, can-do attitude will help an artist stand out, especially during job interviews and auditions. 

Adaptability: Artists must be able to adapt their abilities to a wide variety of jobs and positions. For example, an actor may be cast as a hero/heroine in one film and a villain in another. They must be capable of juggling different roles. 

Teamwork and communication skills: As artists work as a team, they should be able to communicate effectively and readily get along with their colleagues. 

Organizational and time management skills: Most performing artists are compelled to perform on multiple projects at once, so they schedule be able to keep a track of all rehearsal schedules, travel arrangements, promotional appearances, and performance dates. Therefore, they must be exceedingly punctual and well-organized.

Self-discipline and resilience: Performing artists are expected to spend long hours for rehearsals and to offer everything they have to their jobs. That necessitates a great deal of self-discipline. Since artists have to deal with rejection and criticism regularly, they must also be resilient.

Self-networking and marketing skills: For careers in the performing arts, such as acting, music, and dance, auditions are essential. As a result, being able to advertise oneself to potential employers is critical. Also, strong networking skills are required to attend industry events, classes, and workshops to meet new people in the industry. 

Social media networking: In the current age of social media, performing artists must keep up with the latest industry trends, which necessitates social networking through social media channels.

Popular degrees for pursuing a career in Performing Arts

Rather than academics, the performing arts are usually practice-based, including a great deal of real performance. Therefore, degrees in the field of performing arts are made up of a combination of practical workshops and lectures. Some colleges offer undergraduate degrees in primary performing arts such as dancing, acting, and music, followed by specialized degrees in other art forms. While, many of these courses are also aimed at preparing students to be “triple threat” entertainers who can act, sing, and dance. 

Bachelor’s programs

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Performing Arts
  • B.A. in Dance
  • B.A. in Music
  • B.A. in Music Culture
  • B.A. in Drama
  • Bachelor’s in Music Production 
  • B.A. in Film and TV Programs

Master’s programs

  • Master of Arts 
  • Master of Performing Arts
  • Master of Choreography
  • M.A. in Communication, Media and Theater
  • M.A. in Music, Symphony Orchestra Instrument
  • M.A. in Communication, Media and Theatre
  • M.A. in Acting
  • M.A. in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities
  • M.A. in Sound Arts, Production and Design
  • M.A. in Dance
  • M.A. in Theater
  • Masters of Set Design

Specializations in Performing Arts

Students pursuing a degree in performing arts can opt for a wide variety of specializations depending on their skills and interests. Many universities offer options to be open and to enjoy variety. Students, for example, can study performing arts as part of a joint honors degree alongside another subject, such as humanities or another creative field. Following is a list of some popular specializations in this field.

  • Film acting 
  • TV acting
  • Theatre acting
  • Voice over acting 
  • Commercial acting 
  • Film production
  • Film making
  • Ballet and puppetry 
  • Dance history
  • Classical dance
  • Modern dance
  • Dance philosophy 
  • Dance production and composition
  • Recording arts technology
  • Radio and TV broadcasting
  • Film technology
  • Music composition
  • Composition and experimental sound practices
  • Classical and modern music
  • Instrumental arts
  • Opera
  • Performace and scriptwriting
  • Stand up comedy
  • Prosthetic make-up

Duration of programs in Performing Arts

Depending on the country, most bachelor’s degrees in performing arts last three or four years, whereas master’s degrees last one to two years. The following is a list of typical course durations provided by some leading colleges in the field of performing arts.   

Country Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Degree
USA and Canada 3-4 years 1-2 years
UK 3-4 years 1-2 years
Australia 3-4 years 1-2 years
Others 3-4 years 1-2 years

Career opportunities in Performing Arts

A performing arts degree is a perfect career choice for students who love being on stage and those who want to make a living by either singing, dancing, or acting. Following are some of the career opportunities for a performing artist. 

  • Actor
  • Film director 
  • Film producer
  • Dancer
  • Choreographer
  • Musician 
  • Music director 
  • Music composer
  • Broadcast presenter
  • Theatre manager
  • Theatre director
  • Dramatherapist
  • Community arts worker
  • Costume designer
  • Stage manager
  • Prop designer
  • Drama teacher 
  • Music teacher
  • Creative/content writer
  • Film journalist
  • Scriptwriter
  • Voice artist

Average income of Performing Artists

The performing arts course covers a wide range of topics including entertainment, art organization, the music industry, and other related fields. Because there are so many options, the typical income in this field varies greatly. For example, actors in Hollywood earn millions of dollars a year. The field of performing arts is extremely rewarding, and students can expect to earn a decent living in it. The following is a list of average salaries in this field as per recent statistics. 

Country Average salary in USD*/year
USA 52,550 (Source: Comparably)
Australia 49,694 (Source: Salaryexpert)
Canada 43,112 (Source: Glassdoor)
UK 41,112 (Source: Glassdoor)

*Note: All prices mentioned in the USD are for reference only. Exchange rates may vary from time to time and from country to country.

Top 50 universities in the world for Performing Arts based on world rankings (Shanghai/QS/US News):

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor Programs Master Programs
2 2 3 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
8 19 6 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
10 9 15 University of Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
11 17 12 Yale University USA Click Here Click Here
14 36 14 University of California – Los Angeles USA Click Here Click Here
27 35 30 New York University USA Click Here Click Here
32 42 23 Duke University USA Click Here Click Here
33 41 25 The University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
34 29 24 Northwestern University USA Click Here Click Here
35 27 58 The University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here
61 121 70 University of Southern California USA Click Here Click Here
69 40 28 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
76 31 56 The Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
80 55 40 Monash University Australia Click Here Click Here
95 110 65 Boston University USA Click Here Click Here
97 51 102 Carnegie Mellon University USA Click Here Click Here
101-150 60 119 Brown University USA Click Here Click Here
101-150 87 91 University of Birmingham UK Click Here Click Here
151-200 77 84 University of Glasgow UK Click Here Click Here
201-300 303 201 Griffith University Australia Click Here Click Here
201-300 214 207 Macquarie University Australia Click Here Click Here
301-400 203 247 Dartmouth College USA Click Here Click Here
301-400 211 284 University of Notre Dame USA Click Here Click Here
301-400 135 187 Lancaster University UK Click Here Click Here
301-400 267 422 University of Surrey UK Click Here Click Here
401-500 411 643 Essex UK Click Here Click Here
801-900 801-1000 840 Manchester Metropolitan University UK Click Here Click Here
801-900 308 499 Royal Holloway University of London UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA American Musical & Dramatic Academy New York USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA The Juilliard School USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Pomona College USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA California Institute of the Arts USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA University of North Carolina School of the Arts USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Barnard College USA Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Conservatoire for Dance and Drama UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Royal Conservatoire of Scotland UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Guildhall School of Music and Drama UK Click Here Click Here
NA 801-1000 1175 University of Central Lancashire UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA University of West London UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA University of Sunderland UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA University of Wales, Trinity Saint David UK Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Torrens University Australia Click Here Click Here
NA NA 1265 Federation University Australia Australia Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Sheridan College Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Centennial College Montreal Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Trinity Western University Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA Fanshawe College Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA 983 University of Regina Canada Click Here Click Here
NA NA NA University of Western Ontario Canada Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the USA for Performing Arts

The USA is home to one of the oldest film industries, i.e., Hollywood, offering a number of employment opportunities for performing artists. The USA also ranks highest among the number of colleges that offer a wide variety of undergraduate courses in performing arts as well as graduate courses in performing arts. Therefore, a lot of international students who wish to pursue the performing arts prefer to study in the USA.

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor Programs Master Programs
2 2 3 Stanford University USA Click Here Click Here
8 19 6 Columbia University USA Click Here Click Here
10 9 15 University of Chicago USA Click Here Click Here
11 17 12 Yale University USA Click Here Click Here
14 36 14 University of California – Los Angeles USA Click Here Click Here

Top universities in the UK for Performing Arts

The UK/British film industry is recognized for its creativity and professionalism and is the next big thing after Hollywood. The UK film industry is booming day by day and, recognizing this, a lot of universities in the UK are offering bachelor’s courses in performing arts and specialized master’s courses in performing arts. Students aspiring to be successful performing artists should not miss the opportunity of studying in the UK. Here is the list of top-performing arts colleges in the UK.

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor Programs Master Programs
35 27 58 The University of Manchester UK Click Here Click Here
101-150 87 91 University of Birmingham UK Click Here Click Here
151-200 77 84 University of Glasgow UK Click Here Click Here
301-400 135 187 Lancaster University UK Click Here Click Here
301-400 267 422 University of Surrey UK Click Here Click Here

Top universities in Australia for Performing Arts

Studying in Australia allows students to gain true global exposure and expand their horizons. Australian universities are recognized nationally and internationally for offering quality education. Although the number of colleges offering degrees in drama, music, and dance is small in Australia, these universities offer varied options when it comes to undergraduate programs in performing arts and graduate programs in performing arts. The following table contains a list of top Australian universities for performing arts courses. 

Shanghai Ranking QS Ranking US News Ranking University Country Bachelor Programs Master Programs
33 41 25 The University of Melbourne Australia Click Here Click Here
69 40 28 University of Sydney Australia Click Here Click Here
76 31 56 The Australian National University Australia Click Here Click Here
80 55 40 Monash University Australia Click Here Click Here
201-300 303 201 Griffith University Australia Click Here Click Here

Academic requirements for studying Performing Arts

In regards to academic requirements, certain performing arts colleges accept applicants who have studied a similar or related subject in the past. On the contrary, other performing arts schools accept students who have never studied the arts before. The majority of students are evaluated based on their performance in auditions. This audition should feature performance pieces that vary in style and tone so that the admissions officers may get a clear understanding of students’ skill sets. Here is a general list of admission requirements to some of the top-performing arts colleges around the world. 

Bachelor’s level

  • A high school diploma with a GPA of 3.0 or greater out of 4.0
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letter
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)

Master’s level

  • A bachelor’s degree in arts or relevant field with a GPA of 3.0 or greater out of 4.0
  • Academic transcripts 
  • Valid passport
  • Statement of purpose
  • Recommendation letters
  • Work experience
  • Portfolio for auditions
  • English language proficiency (TOEFL 90 or above and IELTS 6.0 and above)
Frequently Asked Questions

Fine arts are works of art that are designed to appeal to the eye and the senses. The performing arts, on the other hand, are those that are performed, such as acting, singing, or dancing.

Countries including the USA, the UK, Australia, and Canada are popular choices for international students seeking degrees and decent work chances in the performing arts.

Even colleges that offer performing arts courses must meet quality requirements imposed by accrediting agencies in each country. For instance, the minimal standards for theatre degree programs in the USA are adopted and endorsed by the American Theatre Association, the American Theatre Association Criteria Commission, and the University and College Theatre Association. 

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