Northwestern's acting sequence starts with voice and movement classes in the freshman year. At the end of freshman year, students have the opportunity to observe various acting classes and indicate their preferences for an instructor to study with beginning in the sophomore year. Once assigned, they usually stay with the same instructor and group of about 15-20 students for the next three years.
In the sophomore year the theme is “Principles of Characterization” beginning with sensory awareness and observation in the fall quarter followed by an emphasis on imagination and movement and ending with dramatic characterization in the final quarter. “Analysis and Performance” is the theme junior year with a quarter devoted to the Greeks, Shakespeare, and Chekhov each. The senior year focus is spread across a variety of topics including comedy, style, contemporary scene study, and professional aspects of being an actor as well as the opportunity to take class with a different acting faculty member for a quarter. In the Acting for Screen Module, students have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for effective performance in TV and film.
In their senior year, students can audition to perform in musical theatre and acting showcases in New York and Chicago. Industry professionals attend these showcases and receive students' headshots and resumes.