The UCB Academy

After improv students complete our core improv classes (101, 201, 301, 401) students may wish to take courses to further their skills.

We offer classes both in Advanced Study (these are open to all students who passed their improv 401 course) as well as classes in The Academy. The Academy is 2 year program that requires students to audition before they can take classes.

Who should take classes in the UCB Academy?

UCB Academy is a program meant for improv students at the UCB Training Center who are ready for a more committed study of improvisation. Entrance into the two-year conservatory program is achieved through auditioning in front of select Training Center faculty after passing the core improv program (101-401). The goal of the UCB Academy is for our best students to work with our best teachers in a rigorous environment. Classes will cover intense scene work, new forms, further study of the Harold and will include performance classes where students are able to have much more experience on stage in front of a live audience.

The UCB Academy will be a much more competitive program then our core classes as well as our Advanced Study Program (below).

(NY Only) Academy classes will select students via a weighted lottery system, instead of the first come, first served method of our core classes. There will be no limit on how many Academy classes you can take a year.

Who should take classes in the Advanced Study Program?

The Advanced Study Improv program is a place for all students who have completed our core program to continue their studies. There will be classes to further focus and practice with both the Harold and the Game of the Scene as well as courses in new forms.

Admittance to the Advanced Study program is open to anyone who has successfully completed the core improv program with a C (conditional pass), B (pass), or A (superior) grade. There is no application process. Unlike UCB Academy, which is a two year program, Advanced Study will be open-ended. However if you take a break of 2 years without taking a class you must request placement. We may allow you to continue taking Advanced Study classes, but we almost may require you to retake 1 or more core level classes.

(NY Only) Adv Study Classes will still be filled by randomly selecting students based on a weighted lottery system. Each student will be allowed to take up to 4 Advanced Study classes per year.

How does the UCB Academy audition process work?

Once a student has successfully completed Improv 401 with a grade of Pass or Superior, they are automatically eligible to audition for UCB Academy. There will be three audition sessions. We expect these to be in Spring, Summer and Fall, but that might change. Auditions will be announced ahead of time via social media and on our message boards.

The audition format will be made clear to auditioning students ahead of time but will include essential Harold skills. Most recently the format was:
First round auditions will last about 20 minutes and follow this format:
-A suggestion.
-A short, true personal monologue off a suggestion
-Monologists are encouraged to tell stories from their adult life, rather than childhood anecdotes. Monologists will be asked to stop at 60 seconds.
-Four two person FIRST BEATS.
-Four SECOND BEATS. Second beats should be initiated by the improvisors who were in the first beat -- both improvisers from the first beat should step out for the second beat and either improviser can speak first.
-No groups games, but second beats should have an emphasis on “on-game” group support.
-We will edit all scenes.

Audition sign ups will happen via an online form accessible via the student dashboard.

What happens if I get a C (Conditional Pass) or D (repeat level) from my 401 instructor?

If you get a Repeat Level from your 401 instructor, that means they don’t think you have the basic skills to find the game of the scene and/or perform the Harold acceptably. You would need to repeat Improv 401 and get a Conditional Pass or higher to complete the core improv program.

If you get a Conditional Pass, that means your instructor assesses that you understand the basic concepts intellectually, but that you aren’t applying them in your scene work consistently. You would be allowed to take Advanced Study classes to bolster your skills. However you would need to retake 401 and get a Pass or Superior in order to audition for UCB Academy.

How many times can I audition for UCB Academy?

There is a lifetime limit of four auditions per student. If you are not granted admittance after the fourth audition, you will be able to continue to take classes in the Advanced Study program. Because there is a limit on auditions, students should be cautious and judicious with these auditions. If a student is not feeling prepared, they should consider not doing consecutive auditions and instead consider further Advanced Study classes and/or private coaching before signing up for another audition.

What classes do I need to take to be allowed to audition?

After you have qualified to audition (a pass or superior in 401), you are not required to take another class to audition. We do not want students to feel they need to keep taking the same class over and over again.

Since you can audition 4 times after completing 401 (with a B or better) you can work to improve your skills anyway you see fit. You can work outside the school with practice groups, or by forming/joining an indie team or you can choose to take classes in our Advanced Study Program. Or most likely some combination of those things. Do whatever works best for you. But you don't HAVE to take our classes between 401 and future auditions. We only want you to pay to take classes you want to take.

What about if I am on a House Improv Team at the UCB Theater?

We won’t make you audition. You will be in the program automatically. If you step down from your team or get cut then you will be treated as if you just joined the program and won’t need to audition for 2 years.

How much does the Academy cost?

Joining the Academy doesn’t cost any additional money. Classes are priced the same as all of our other classes.

What classes are part of the two-year Academy program?

There is no required courses, or built in sequence, in the Academy. You sign up for the courses you find interesting, or you think would help you increase your skills. There is no required number of classes you need to take while in the Academy, however if you choose to not take any classes that will be a consideration in our decision to readmit you into the program after 2 years (see below).

What happens at the conclusion of the two year Academy Program?

You may choose to move on from the UCB Academy at that point or you may choose to re-audition for another two years of Academy. Your academic experience will be reviewed as you re-audition and participation (or non-participation) in Academy classes will be considered in the decision to readmit a student to Academy. The idea is that students won’t remain in the program perpetually.

Am I able to take multiple 401s?

No. Once Academy launches all core improv levels are to be taken only once. These classes are building block courses and the intention is to learn those building blocks, then master the skills in elective or Advanced Study classes. Exceptions: Students who get a Repeat Level, or Conditional Pass and as always students who suspend their study at UCB for more than two years may be asked to repeat certain classes.

Will my diversity scholarship be eligible for UCB Academy classes?

Yes! Any credit you have through scholarship or work study can be applied to Academy classes or any UCB class so long as you are eligible for that class academically.

What does all of this mean in terms of auditioning for Harold/Lloyd/Mess Hall?

Requirements for auditioning for these programs are set by the UCB Theatre Artistic Directors of UCB LA and UCB NY. The artistic directors may choose to utilize this program when deciding requirements for auditioning or they may not. The UCB Training Center’s focus is creating the best program we can in comedy training.