San Francisco Semester—Uniquely SF, Uniquely A.C.T.

Extensive actor training combined with theatrical and cultural immersion in heart of the city.

Are you ready for an artistic, intellectual, and personal transformation?

Embark on a study away program at one of the country’s most acclaimed professional theater companies—located in the heart of one of the world’s most culturally vibrant and diverse cities. Grounded in a rich academic curriculum, the San Francisco Semester brings young theater artists into an active, ongoing engagement with the eclectic and energetic arts community of San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Surrounded by the creative and ambitious theater students of A.C.T.’s M.F.A. Program, you’ll expand your understanding of theater as you define yourself as an artist. In the classroom and at performances across the Bay Area, you’ll explore theater from a multitude of angles—from the page to the stage, as viewer and performer, across a variety of artistic genres.

Through inspiring, experiential courses and wide-ranging artistic encounters, the San Francisco Semester will pull you into thrilling conversations about theater as an ever-evolving art form. Study in a professional setting while coming face to face with some of the boldest productions anywhere. From our 1,000-seat mainstage theater to intimate downtown spaces, there are myriad ways to experience theater in San Francisco. You’ll witness performances by the country’s most eclectic range of artists—from stalwart classics to daring devised work from off-the-grid ensembles.

At our Tony Award–winning theater company and conservatory, you’ll collaborate with some of the best artists in the industry; invigorate your imagination and creativity; experience stirring, unforgettable performances; immerse yourself in one of the country’s most thrilling cultural centers; and expand your understanding of what theater can be.

Why wait? Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to launch your future today. Who are you as an artist—and who do you want to be?

Life in San Francisco

A.C.T. is located in the heart of bustling San Francisco, a major metropolitan area brimming with cultural vitality. We’ll be your home base, but the city will be your campus as you explore its wonders, discover its artistic treasures, and make it your own. Throughout the semester, students will live at the crossroads of the cultural life of San Francisco, a gateway to the greater Bay Area—and beyond.

On a day off, the City by the Bay offers students an extraordinary range of activities—most of which are accessible by public transportation. Take a hike in Muir Woods, go sailing on the Bay, catch a baseball game, hit a jazz club, bike across the Golden Gate Bridge, check out a pop-up restaurant, or soak up paintings in local artists’ open studios.

Tucked into the beautiful landscape of Northern California, the Bay Area also offers easy access to other unforgettable adventures. Spend a day exploring wine country in nearby Napa and Sonoma valleys, head down Highway 1 to view the dramatic coastal landscape near Big Sur, or check out the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, an oceanfront amusement park that has operated continuously since 1907.


Download more information about A.C.T.'s MFA Program,
San Francisco Semester, and
Summer Training Congress.

Application Info


SFS: Fall 2020

Early-bird Deadline: 
April 17, 2020

For most serious consideration, apply by: 
May 15, 2020

Registration and Orientation:
August 28, 2020

Classes Begin:
August 31, 2020

Classes End:
December 11, 2020


Visit our SFS FAQ page or email

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Course of Study

With a focus on the practical aspects of the craft of acting and life in the professional theater, the San Francisco Semester curriculum will enhance your undergraduate study with rigorous, upper-level classes in acting styles, voice/dialects, physical theater, and devised (student-created) work. 

You’ll also dive into the rich cultural landscape of the Bay Area—home to more than 300 theater companies—with a special course designed to immerse you in this lively arts environment. From opera, dance, and symphony performances, to museum and music club outings, you’ll view and discuss a broad spectrum of cultural experiences. By the end of the semester, you’ll know San Francisco like a local insider—not a tourist. 

In addition, students will participate in master classes with associate artists and guest artists on specialized aspects of theater. Classes could include clown work with Tony Award winner Bill Irwin; Shakespeare with Stratford Festival leading lady Seanna McKenna; auditioning and the business of acting with A.C.T. Casting Director Janet Foster; and the intricacies of planning a season of plays with A.C.T. Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon.

Students also have opportunities to interact with our dynamic Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program, which is consistently ranked as one of the top five training programs in the country. Connect with M.F.A. Program actors while watching performances at A.C.T. and across San Francisco, observing rehearsals and performances, and occasionally participating in workshops and readings.

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