Tisch Drama 101

Everything you need to know about applying, auditioning, and getting into one of the nation’s top performance programs

NYU Tisch School of the Arts main building decorated with NYU flags.

You’re going into your senior year of high school. Your friends have started talking about their Common App essays. You’re wondering who you should ask to write your letters of recommendation. You’re excited for the year ahead, and also very, very nervous. (This is totally normal.) What sets you apart from your friends is you’re pursuing a BFA in Drama. Maybe you were in a few shows in high school. Maybe you’ve been doing community theatre since you were little. Whatever the case may be, you’re about to embark on a senior year that includes academically applying as well as auditioning for as many schools as you would like.

Students on a stage performing.

First Thing’s First: Things to Know Early

At NYU, you’ll apply academically at first, and then scheduling your audition, whether that’s on NYU’s campus or at another location. I would recommend sending in your Common App as soon as possible (even if you’re applying regular decision). It takes the University about two weeks to process everything before they can reach out to you to schedule your audition.

Once Your Common App Is Submitted, Your Focus Should Shift to Audition Prep

Requirements change from year to year, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the Tisch drama website to stay as up-to-date as possible. Regardless of whether you’re auditioning for straight drama or musical theatre, choose material you love. Seriously—once you get into the room, your nerves will probably take over. But, if you lean on pieces that really speak to you, you’ll have a much easier time under pressure.

One of my favorite aspects of my NYU audition was the interview. Basically, after I performed my two monologues, my auditor sat me down and asked me a bunch of questions about why I wanted to be an artist and how I was going to change the world. I got an overwhelming sense that he wanted to get to know who I was. It was clear that he actually cared about me, and he was truly interested in everything I had to say. My NYU audition was my favorite of them all, mostly because of this. After your audition is over and your application is in, there’s nothing left to do but complete applications for other schools and wait.

Protip: Enjoy Senior Year! Have Fun with Your Friends! Take Classes That Interest You and Won’t Just Look Good on Applications! Spend Time with Your Family!

Students on a stage performing in costume. The woman in the forefront is wearing a dress and has her hands pressed to her cheeks.
Two female acting students on stage.

Flash Forward to Late April: You Just Got into NYU for Drama. You’re So Excited, You Might Be Crying, and You Have No Idea What to Do Next. This Is the Fun Part.

The easiest way to explain the drama department is to compare it to Hogwarts, just a bit bigger. There are eight studios in total, one of which you’ll be sorted into as a drama major. There is a Production and Design studio for those interested in lighting, costumes, scenic design, stage management, etc., the New Studio on Broadway, which is the only musical theatre studio, and then six straight drama schools: the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, the Atlantic Acting School, the Meisner Studio, the Experimental Theatre Wing, Playwrights Horizons Theatre School, and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

These studios are what we refer to as your primary training, where you’ll spend (at least) your first two years. After primary training, you can transfer to another studio, go abroad to drama programs in both London and Berlin, take an academic semester, or transfer to one of two advanced training studios, the Classical Studio or Stonestreet Studios Conservatory for Screen Acting and Production. The choice is really yours. You can read about each individual studio on the Tisch drama website, and I recommend looking this over before you even audition, just to get a sense of the training offered at each school.

NYU Tisch window showcasing costumes with a decal that reads, “You Belong Here!”

I hope this has answered some of the more commonly asked questions about Tisch drama. As always, feel free to reach out to the Admissions Ambassadors if you have any questions, since many of us are in the drama department and are more than happy to help!

And If All Else Fails, Remember: You’ve Got This, Superstar

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