The acting scene in Chicago is full of exciting artistic energy. Those with a passion for theatre will thrive here, along with people looking to find new and unique opportunities. The improv and comedy scenes in Chicago are unparalleled, making it the place to be for actors looking to entertain live audiences.
There are opportunities everywhere — so how do you seize them? It starts with hard work, persistence, and learning from the best. Taking classes at a top acting school in Chicago can be the jumpstart your acting career needs to succeed.
How we found the best acting schools in Chicago
With such a robust acting scene, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of acting schools and classes to choose from. So how did we know which ones were really the best? We did our research and looked at factors like reputation, outcome, teaching styles, and offerings. Of course, things like availability and tuition were considered too, since that’s an important part of any decision.
We hope you can use this information to make the right decision for your acting career. If you know of any other acting schools that deserve a spot on this list, let us know!
So let’s get to it. Here are the top ten acting schools in Chicago.
- Steppenwolf Theatre
The Steppenwolf Theatre is one of the nation’s premiere ensemble theatres and is in the midst of an exciting expansion. Their Steppenwolf for Young Adults program is a nationally recognized program for teen actors and audiences, putting on two professional-quality productions per season.
Experienced actors can apply for a 10-week residency program taught by members of Steppenwolf’s renowned ensemble. Here, you’ll hone your technical skills and take core classes designed to improve the emotional, physical, intellectual, and instinctual craft of acting.
Address: 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 335-1650
Tuition: $4,500 for the 10 week program
Speciality: Theatre for teens
- Green Room Studio
The Green Room Studio is Chicago’s premiere studio for on-camera training. They offer a multi-level program for adults to cumulatively build skills for success in today’s commercial, TV, and film opportunities.
They also offer a number of kids and teens programs based on age. Here, Chicago-based casting directors will help students prepare for on-camera commercial auditions with age-appropriate tactics.
All classes here are limited in size to ensure each student gets ample personalized attention. They also offer one-on-one coaching and audition taping to help you nail that upcoming audition.
Address: 1915 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 421-2774
Tuition: $425 for adult programs, $525 for kids/teens
Speciality: On-camera acting
- Filament Theatre
Filament Theatre believes in the importance of allowing children to explore themselves through storytelling and artistic expression. They also offer performances for young people with Autism or sensory sensitivities and highly subsidized field trips.
They hold a variety of camps and classes where young people not only perform ensemble-based shows, but they have the opportunity to help write and design them as well!
Address: 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (773) 270-1660
Tuition: $155-$455 per camp, depending on the session duration
Speciality: Kids’ performances and sensory-friendly performances
- Acting Studio Chicago
The Acting Studio Chicago prides itself on running classes that are challenging, small, and fun. Led by industry pros, they offer classes including a Core Program, Scene Study, On Camera, Voice Over, Classical Acting, Cold Reading, Monologue, Movement, and more. They also hold youth classes based on age and ability.
You also have the opportunity here to attend workshops with Chicago theatre and film casting directors. This studio is great for both beginners looking for a nurturing environment and experienced actors looking for a challenge.
Address: 10 W. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 527-4566
Tuition: $10-$350 per class
Speciality: Small class training
- Green Shirt Studio
Green Shirt Studio utilizes the Meisner Approach to acting. Their classes are taught by professional voice teachers, movement instructors, improv veterans, directors, on-camera actors, and casting directors who really know the industry.
In addition to their specialty classes, they also offer The Accelerated Meisner Program, a 10-week program that meets three times a week for an immersive training experience. This class is limited to ten students to ensure each one gets personalized attention.
Address: 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (773) 217-9565
Tuition: $325 per Meisner class, $1500 for The Accelerated Program
Speciality: The Sanford Meisner approach to acting
- Black Box Acting
The vision at Black Box Acting is to train new and experienced actors based on human behavior, and to create a home where actors feel like they can truly develop.
Students can take classes at Black Box Acting through The STUDIO which offers year-round classes that can be taken as your schedule allows. There’s a three level training program with evening and weekend classes available, perfect for those with a full time work or school schedule. You can also take classes via The ACADEMY, which is an intensive training program consisting of five months of rigorous conservatory training.
Address: 2625 W. North Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (323) 487-2691
Tuition:$450 per STUDIO class, $9,000 for The ACADEMY
Speciality: Conservatory training
- Chicago Actors Studio
Esteemed actors Tom Bosley, Geraldine Page, Billy Campbell, Robert Urich, Virginia Madsen, and more all got their start at the Chicago Actors Studio. They work hard to continually revamp their programs to fit the current industry, giving actors the best chance at success.
Their most common program is the 8-week Acting as a Craft course, a professional course for the serious actor. They also offer private lessons, youth acting programs, and workshops.
They offer a free introductory acting workshop periodically, so be on the lookout for the next one!
Address: 2040 N. Elston Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (773) 645-0222
Speciality: Acting as a Craft
- The Second City Theatre
The Second City Theatre started as a small cabaret theatre and grew to one of the most reputable comedy theatres in the world, with a touring company that travels globally. Notable alumni include John Belushi, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Chris Farley, Tina Fay, Mike Myers, Joan Rivers, and more.
They offer a range of kids and adult programs including beginner level programs and the unique “I Wanna Rock the Boardroom,” which helps individuals apply the skills they learn in improv to an office setting. You can also take an “Improv Test Drive” to see what classes are right for you.
They also offer online classes, just in case your acting brings you away from Chicago or one of the other training centers.
Address: 1616 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 337-3992
Tuition: $250-$975 depending on the course
Speciality: Comedy and improv
- Vagabond School of the Arts
The Vagabond School aims to be a supportive home for both artistic growth and professional training through the pillars of education, wellness, community, and volunteerism. Students not only work on their acting skills, but participate in a variety of community and volunteer-based activities as well.
Students at the Vagabond School can either receive private coaching, or take classes for on-camera, theatre, voice over, the business of acting, and more. Those not looking to commit to a multi-week course are encouraged to attend a one-day workshop for $30-$100.
Address: 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago IL
Phone: (312) 300-6508
Tuition: $275-$325 depending on the class
Speciality: Skill-centric workshops
- Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Located prominently on the famous Navy Pier, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is an icon of Chicago. Rooted in the legacy of Shakespeare and committed to innovation, this theatre is redefining what American Shakespeare theatre can be by putting on exciting plays, musicals, and international work in a unique way.
The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre offers a variety of ways for schools to get involved with Shakespeare, including the Chicago Shakespeare Slam: teams representing high schools from the area meet for a workshop and prepare/perform two pieces. There’s also the CPS Shakespeare, which encourages students to create an original Shakespeare production through a five-week intensive program.
Address: 800 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL
Phone: (312) 595-5600
Tuition: Contact for more information
If you’re looking for acting classes in Chicago, be sure to check out these places. See you on stage!