Best Drama Schools in Australia | Top Acting Schools in Australia

Best Drama Schools in Australia

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We have always been strong advocates of classical training for actors. By this we mean a full time, comprehensive acting training typically 2.5-3 years in length. Acting is about learning the principles and then reinforcing those principles in a disciplined and organised way. That being said, acting training is a big commitment and it’s worth doing some serious research.

If you’re dedicating yourself creatively, emotionally and financially to a course, you want to make sure it’s worthwhile. That’s why we wanted to make a list of the best acting schools here in Australia to help you make the right decision.

As with any list like this, there is a level of subjectivity. We are confident this list reflects the majority of how the industry sees acting schools in Australia. The team at StageMilk is made up of graduates from most of these schools. We have taken into account graduate success, facilities, teaching staff, graduate feedback, and reputation.

All the acting schools listed here are the most reputable in Australia. You would be in a great position if you became a student at any of these institutions.

Leading Acting Schools in Australia


National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)

NIDA. NIDA is the national school for acting and with that grand title comes a grand reputation. NIDA is the training ground of many of Australia’s leading film, theatre, and TV actors. It’s the highest-funded drama school in the country and the facilities are incredibly impressive. We recently interviewed the head of acting at NIDA and he had some great insights about the school and how to audition.

Though NIDA has gone through many changes over the years, it has always remained a fantastic training institution. We are excited to see how the school develops with John Bashford at the head of the course.

Course length: 3 years

Notable Alumni: Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

WAAPA has always been nibbling at NIDA’s toes. By many industry experts, it is considered the superior of Australian drama schools and has been steadily building its reputation as the place for hot new grads. The advantage of WAAPA is that you are training in isolation. Unlike the high-pressure environment of Sydney, WAAPA is based in Mount Lawley, a quiet suburb of Perth. And not much is happening in Perth.

This isolation has a great effect on acting training. It creates a sense of community and allows young actors to play and experiment. WAAPA isn’t as well funded as NIDA, however, it has a dedicated acting staff and only accepts 18 students.

If you want to learn more about specifically auditioning for WAAPA.

Course length: 3 years

Notable Alumni: Hugh Jackman, Jai Courtney, Francis O’Connor


Actors Centre Australia (ACA)

ACA has gone through many changes over its history, including a recent relocation of the entire school to a great space in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner-west. Though it’s gone through many developments, it still remains one of Australia’s top drama schools. Headed up by Dean Carey, it offers a fantastic three-year course that is really practical and industry-focused.

ACA is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about acting schools in the country.

Course length: 3 years

Notable Alumni: Rose Byrne, Jonathan Lapaglia 


Queensland University of Technology (QUT )

QUT is the leading acting school in Queensland and again has been gaining traction over the past few years. The industry is taking a keen interest in QUT after a series of successful grads, notably Brenton Thwaites and Matt Okine. The course is incredibly practical and has a real industry focus. If you are interested in film and TV, QUT is leading the way in the amount of screen training they offer. The school has also recently had a huge upgrade and the facilities are second to none. We were blown away by QUT, and recommend all actors to add QUT to this year’s audition list.

QUT is doing particularly well in showcasing, which is an important element of any drama school training.

Course length: 3 years

Notable Alumni: Wayne Blair, Brenton Thwaites, Matt Okine

Victorian College of the Arts (VCA)

The VCA used to be widely considered the second best school in the country, but they have had a turbulent recent history. Their core acting course was filtered down by the University of Melbourne and it lost some of it’s standing in the industry.

They have since been making steps to reclaim their place in the industry.

Course length: 3 years

Notable Alumni: Vince Colosimo, Ashley Zuckerman, Alison Bell


If you are considering training at one of these institutions, it is well worth auditioning for all the schools, just for the experience. It’s a small cost for a chance at gaining a lot of experience and possibly a place at one of the best acting schools in Australia.

Do your own research and find out which schools suit you. I would recommend not being limited to schools within your state. All the schools have great communities and finding houses and making the move is not that big of a deal. I went to WAAPA at 20 and was pretty nervous, but it was the best decision I ever made.


About the Author

StageMilk Team

is made up of young professional actors and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew Hearle, Luke McMahon, Indiana Kwong, Patrick Cullen and many more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

About the Author

StageMilk Team

is made up of young professional actors and writers from around the world. This team includes Andrew Hearle, Luke McMahon, Indiana Kwong, Patrick Cullen and many more. We all work together to contribute useful articles and resources for actors at all stages in their careers.

5 responses to “Best Drama Schools in Australia”

  1. Avatar Patrick Mann says:

    There’s one more school I think deserves a mention on this list and that’s the Australian Institute of Music – Dramatic Arts (AIMDA) in Sydney, formerly the Australian Academy of Dramatic Art (AADA). There’s been a number of rising stars in both theatre and screen who have graduated from there so it definitely should receive some sort of honourable mention.

    • Andrew Hearle Andrew Hearle says:

      Hi Patrick, AIM is great and I know a bunch of awesome grads. We had to be pretty selective for this list, but thanks for the input.

  2. Avatar Roberta33 says:

    I don’t know about NIDA anymore. Whilst it has a lot of prestige to its name, everyone who’s been there or used to work there comments on how its curriculum has changed a lot and gone down hill. There was that whole controversy back around 2011 and 2012 when all of its long time staff were replaced with new people and former board member Chris Puplick wrote that essay about their teaching standards.

    • Andrew Hearle Andrew Hearle says:

      Hi Roberta, NIDA has certainly gone through a lot of changes. That said, it does still remain a great drama school. All drama schools globally are having a tough time right now. I would still be very happy to get a place at NIDA.

  3. Andrew Hearle Andrew Hearle says:

    Hi Gillian, they do definitely take students of all ages, though it does seem that drama schools are taking younger and younger students. I recommend checking out our online course:

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