Juilliard Drama Department's Master of Fine Arts in Acting will become tuition free for all students beginning with the 2024-2025 academic year. All accepted students will have their tuition fully covered via scholarships for the entirety of their study.
The initiative has been funded from a matching challenge grant from producer and Juilliard trustee Stephanie P. McClelland and her husband Carter McClelland. The matching challenge was met thanks to a major gift from producer John Gore along with donations from the Jacques and Margot W. Kohn foundation and several estates. In recognition of these donations, the first-year MFA class will be known as John Gore/Broadway.com Fellows, and the third-year class will be known as McClelland Fellows.
The move places the program on the insitution's growing list of tuition-free programs, which already includes artist diplomas in jazz, music performance, opera studies, playwriting, and string quartet studies; doctor of musical arts; and historical performance programs. The school also runs a Music Advancement Program for students aged eight to 17 in the tristate area that is tuition free. As of fall 2024, approximately 26 percent of Juilliard students will not be paying any tuition. The school hopes that removing tuition costs will expand access to the institution by removing financial barriers.
"The impact of these gifts on our students’ futures—and the field—cannot be overstated," says Drama Division Dean and Director Evan Yionoulis. "Entering the profession without additional debt will allow these gifted artists the opportunity to take the kind of work, especially in the theatre, that will allow them to develop their craft and provide a stable foundation for a lifelong career."
"With this remarkable gift, Juilliard’s mission of creating great artists to thrive within and serve the arts at large has taken an enormous step forward," adds Juilliard Drama alum and board of trustees Vice Chair Laura Linney. "My gratitude to my fellow board member Stephanie McClelland and her husband, Carter; John Gore; and the Jacques and Margot W. Kohn Foundation cannot be expressed in words. They have changed the lives of generations of artists to come, and I know those artists will enrich our culture and nourish our existence with an artistic astuteness and vigor we all need and deserve."
Juilliard is one of the nation's most prestigious arts schools. Drama division alumni include Michael Arden, Christine Baranski, Danielle Brooks, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Adam Driver, Kelsey Grammer, Corey Hawkins, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Benjamin Hickey, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Kline, Joaquina Kalukango, Linney, Cleavon Little, Patti LuPone, Nancy Opel, Lee Pace, Mandy Patinkin, Wendell Pierce, Lonny Price, Sara Ramirez, Tracie Thoms, Lorraine Toussaint, Bradley Whitford, Robin Williams, and Finn Wittrock, among many others.
Juilliard is not the first drama program to go tuition free. In 2021, the Yale School of Drama, another top tier drama program, announced it was going tuition free across due to a $150 million gift from David Geffen.