Acting FAQ

1. What kind of acting students are you looking for?

We are interested in curious, passionate students who have the desire and ability to connect with the characters they play and an interest in telling stories that will affect an audience. We look for students who have the potential to benefit from training and will apply themselves to the work in their classes and rehearsals in a serious and committed way.

2. What’s the difference between the BFA and MFA training?

BFA students take a series of Liberal Arts courses; MFA students take graduate seminars in a variety of topics related to theater. However, MFA and BFA students study and work together in studio classes (voice, movement, scene study, Alexander Technique, etc.) and projects. Our acting program is unique in this, and our students express that this diversity of perspective and experience is one of its great strengths. 

Whether you apply for a BFA or MFA is completely dependent on whether or not you have a Bachelor’s degree already:

  • The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is for students who have not previously completed a four-year degree.
  • The Master of Fine Arts degree is for students who will have earned a four-year degree prior to enrolling at Juilliard.

Each entering class of 18 is comprised of 8 to 10 BFA and 8 to 10 MFA students. Some BFA students are right out of high school. However, in any given year, we might have BFA students in their 30’s and MFA students who are 22 and right out of college. 

3. What level of experience do you expect from applicants?

Students enter Juilliard from a variety of backgrounds. Some have gone to performing arts schools or majored in acting or theater; others come from a more general secondary or liberal arts education. Some are relatively new to the craft of acting. Many have been working in the profession and decide to return to school for further training.

4. What can I do to prepare?

We recognize that not all communities offer the same opportunities for an actor. However, we encourage you to engage with the arts in whatever ways you can. Auditioning for and acting in productions at school or in local theaters, whether community or professional, is, of course, great experience. But you might also read plays for pleasure and visit art galleries or go to concerts either in person or online, as well as seek out opportunities in movement or singing.

5. I am interested in musical theater. Does your program offer a major for this?

While the acting program is not specifically focused on musical theater, it provides three years of singing training beginning in the second year and also numerous courses in dance and movement. Many of our productions provide opportunities for singing and movement; in addition, in the third year, all actors perform in an evening of songs and musical numbers in our annual Cabaret. Certainly, many of our graduates have made a substantial impact professionally in the field of musical theater.

If you are more interested in classical vocal training, we encourage you to look at the Vocal Arts department at Juilliard.

6. Am I able to take classes in more than one division?

The Drama Division’s program is extremely rigorous, with classes and rehearsals from early morning to later evening. Due to the structure of the schedule, it is not possible for students to take classes in more than one division. There will, however, be multiple opportunities during your time here to exercise your abilities in dance or music, including playing instruments. 

You will also engage in interdisciplinary collaboration with students from the Dance and Music Divisions and interface with their stellar faculty.

7. Do you have any advice about the audition process and choosing pieces?  

We are interested in discovering who you are as an actor. Choose pieces that you love, characters whose journeys you would like to live in for two minutes and whose stories you want to share with us. Don’t worry about finding a monologue that is rarely done; we want to see what you bring to good writing.

You may choose characters of any gender identification.

See also our “Monologues FAQ.”

8. May I do a monologue from a film?

You may choose a contemporary monologue that comes from a screenplay or even that you have written yourself, but you should also prepare something from a published play. 

9. I’m confused about verse and prose in the classical piece.

We ask that at least one of your classical pieces come from a play by Shakespeare and that at least one of them be in verse. You may prepare two pieces by Shakespeare or two pieces in verse. However, if, for example, you choose to do a Shakespeare selection which is in prose, you should have a second piece prepared which is in verse, either by Shakespeare or another author.

10. Should I work with a coach?

It is generally a good idea to rehearse your pieces in front of someone, but it’s not necessary to hire a professional coach. In fact, more applicants suffer from over-coaching – presenting a piece as a finished performance with fixed choices rather than as a living engagement with an imaginary partner. We are looking for potential, not polish.

11. How important is the song?

Hearing you sing part of a song allows our faculty the opportunity to find out more about your vocal range and instrument. A trained singing voice is not required for admission.  In fact, not every applicant will be asked to sing. 

The important thing is to choose a song you like in which you feel free to release your voice.

12. May I accompany myself on the guitar or other instrument?

In order to create equity amongst applicants, we ask that you sing unaccompanied (a cappella).

If you come to Juilliard, you will have many opportunities to employ all your musical skills.

13. Do you accept transfer students?

We do accept quite a few students who have studied elsewhere for a period of time; however, they enter Juilliard as first-year students and complete the full four-year program, beginning in the fall. There are no January transfers.

14. Do you allow applicants who were not offered admission on their first attempt to reapply?

Yes. We welcome re-applicants and quite often have students come into the program after a second audition. A further year of training and experience can make a difference.

15. How many times may I apply?

The maximum number of application attempts is four. For example, an actor could apply twice as a BFA applicant and then return after completing an undergraduate degree to apply twice as an MFA applicant.

16. What is a day in the life of an acting student like at Juilliard?

See our Juilliard Drama – A Day in the Life video, featuring Lorenzo Jackson, a member of Group 48.

Last Updated Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, 02:32PM