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The elite and prestitious graduate acting program of New York’s The Julliard School will go tuition-free beginning this fall, a massive shift in the economics of arts schooling and student opportunities.
The school announced the move today, explaining that the four-year masters program, which currently costs each student about $53,300 per year, will eliminate the tuition after having raised $15 million including key gifts from Broadway theater producers Stephanie P. McClelland and John Gore.
The fourth year of the four-year program has always been tuition free in order for the school to compete with the many three-year arts schools, but the switch to entirely tuition-free is a major change in the world of elite arts education.
In a statement, the school said this morning, “Today we announced that the Drama Division’s MFA in Acting will join Julliard’s growing list of tuition-free programs. Beginning in fall of 2024, all four years of the MFA in Acting program will be tuition-free in perpetuity.
“The milestone is thanks in large part to a matching challenge grant from Julliard trustee Stephanie P. McClelland and her husband, Carter McCleland, and a major gift from producer and owner of Broadway.com John Gore as well as gifts from the Jacques and Margo W. Kohn Foundation and others.”
The school notes that applications are currently open for the 2024-25 academic year.
Stephanie P. McClelland has an immense roster of Broadway producing credits, from 2002 Flower Drum Song and through decades of productions including, to name a sampling, This Is Our Youth, The Cripple of Innishmaan, The Color Purple, Skylight, Hello, Dolly!, Angels in America, The Waverly Gallery, Network, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hangmen, The Lehman Trilogy, Funny Girl, Leopoldstadt, Prima Facie, and the current Merrily We Roll Along.
John Gore’s output is equally impressive, with a sample of his producing credits including Chicago, Passing Strange, Hair, Memphis, Lend Me A Tenor, The Scottsboro Boys, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Jerusalem, Betrayal, Bullets Over Broadway, Dear Evan Hansen, The Band’s Visit, Angels in America, Mean Girls, The Prom, Beetlejuice, Tina, & Juliet, the current Here Lies Live and Purlie Victorious and the upcoming The Outsiders and The Wiz.
In an interview with The New York Times, actor Laura Linney, a Juilliard alumna and the vice chairwoman of the school’s board of trustees, said that the expense of an education today “is an unrealistic burden, particularly for young artists.” She added, “Members of my class were paying debt into their 40s. That doesn’t encourage young people to go into the arts.”
Juilliard is the latest institution of higher arts education to go tuitiion-free. Two years go, the Yale University School of Drama waived tuition with a a $150 million gift from David Geffen.