Tuition Will Now Be Free at Yale’s World-Renowned Drama School Thanks to Large Gift

David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University

University Theatre, one of the theaters used by the newly-renamed David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University. (Photo: John Phelan via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Yale University has long been renowned for its drama school. Founded in 1925, this prestigious graduate school is also a professional conservatory. Aspiring students compete for a coveted 200 spots studying everything from acting to directing to stage management. The draw is huge—the renowned likes of Meryl Streep, Angela Bassett, and Lupita Nyong’o are alumni. However, for some, the price of a private university graduate degree can be a massive impediment. A new, unprecedented gift from music and film industry mogul David Geffen will eliminate this barrier by making tuition free for all students.

After decades of success in the music, film, and theater industries, billionaire philanthropist David Geffen is giving back. This Rock & Roll Hall of Famer has worked with everyone from Elton John to Nirvana. He has guided films such as Beetlejuice and Risky Business to success as a producer, while also making his mark on Broadway by helping fund the hit shows Dreamgirls and Cats. He is known for his generous philanthropy towards a variety of causes including medical schools and the performing arts.

The gift to Yale's drama school totals $150 million, the largest of its kind to a drama school. In honor of this massive contribution, the school shall henceforth be known as the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University. This gift will be used to eliminate tuition expenses for all current and future students beginning with the forthcoming academic year. While Yale University always seeks to provide opportunities for lower income students, even partial tuition can often be a barrier. This new gift, Yale and Geffen hope, will allow the most talented performers and artists to attend no matter their background.

This monumental gift is not Geffen's first contribution to Yale's drama program. Back in the 1978–79 academic year, the music mogul taught a course entitled “The Music Industry and Arts Management” as an intro to the industry. The school hosts a professional theater, Yale Repertory Theatre, which is just now beginning to resume its regularly scheduled programming. Dean of the School, James Bundy, commented, “It is a special joy that this new era dawns as stages at Yale and across the world prepare to resume live, in-person productions…more than ever we need the healing and revelatory power of the performing arts and their special ability to transmit and celebrate the human spirit.”

With the elimination of financial barriers, aspiring artists can dream of attending the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University and becoming living legends like many who came before them.


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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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