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List of Best Musical Theatre Colleges

Best Musical Theatre Colleges

 

College is generally the first step for aspiring actors, and if you want to one day be cast in a Broadway musical, it’s critical that you choose a school that fits your aspirations. That’s why, for your convenience, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best musical theater universities in the United States. 

To begin, you need to select whether you want to pursue a BA or a BFA. 

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs need a strong commitment to the performing arts, with musical theater accounting for roughly 75% of your coursework and the other 25% reserved for other topics. 

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree, on the other hand, will bind about a third of your courses to your musical theater major, making it considerably easier to double major in something other than the performing arts. 

If you want to limit your options even more, look at the school’s audition procedures, acting skills taught, the number of student-run plays you can participate in, and whether or not there is a showcase before graduation. Also, think about the future: What percentage of recent grads work in the industry? Are there any possibilities for alumni networking? 

We compiled a list of the best musical theater universities in the United States based on these criteria and conversations with industry professionals. Each program is evaluated in three areas: the techniques and skills it teaches, the number of opportunities students have to perform, and how well it prepares students for life after graduation.

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List of Best Musical Theatre Colleges

The School of Music at the University of Michigan is one of the best in the country. 

University of Michigan is at the top of this list of the greatest musical theatre programs in the country, with an unrivaled experience in musical theatre training. 

Many of the school’s graduates have gone on to become some of Broadway’s most well-known stars. Gavin Creel, a 1998 University of Michigan graduate and Tony Award winner for the musical HELLO DOLLY! Four other Michigan musical theatre alumni performed in the same production. 

Celia Keenan-Bolger, a 2019 Tony Award winner, is also a Michigan alum. 

The University of Michigan, which is located in Ann Arbor, often recognized as America’s premier college town, offers an intensive undergraduate study program in musical theatre at one of the country’s most famous public colleges. 

The majority of musical theatre classes are held on Michigan’s North Campus. Students attend classes at the School of Music, Stamps Auditorium, the Walgreen Drama Center, the Arthur Miller Theatre, and other locations on North Campus. 

New York University is a popular tertiary institution based in New York City. 

NYU has two musical theatre programs: one in the Tisch School of the Arts and another in the Steinhardt School of the Arts. 

Both are top-of-the-line, but there are a few distinctions. 

A BMus is awarded by Steinhardt, while a BFA is awarded by Tisch. This means that Steinhardt’s curriculum has more music credits than Tisch’s, which has more acting credits. 

The Steinhardt curriculum is technically a Vocal Performance degree with a musical theatre concentration. 

Both are prestigious and admissions are quite tough. 

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Both schools have faculty who are among New York’s most distinguished professionals. They’ve performed on Broadway, in major opera houses, and all over the world. 

In terms of active performing alumni, NYU is the most well-represented school on Broadway. This is owing to the program’s exceptional training as well as the comparatively large number of alumni. 

The oldest musical theatre program in the country is at the University of Cincinnati College. It has a stellar reputation, with just approximately 20 students accepted each year out of over 1,000 applicants. 

Surprisingly, the school produces five fully staged musicals per season, which are performed on three distinct stages. 

Students learn not just how to act and sing in these musicals, but also how to dance, choreograph, produce, light, and sell their performances. 

Cincinnati grads are frequently cast on Broadway as a result of their abilities. Cincinnati is the sixth most well-represented school on Broadway this year. 

Broadway.com named a graduate of Cincinnati’s musical theatre school the Star Of The Year in 2017. Christy Altomare is a student who is best known for her role as Anastasia in the musical of the same name. 

Other alumni are now appearing in Hamilton, Cats, Waitress, and dozens of other hit productions, as of this writing. 

Berklee College of Music’s Boston Conservatory 

Before it merged with Berklee College of Music, Boston Conservatory was widely regarded as one of the best musical theatre programs in the country. 

For aspiring musical theatre artists, Boston Conservatory offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study at a conservatory-only school. Unlike the other colleges on this list, Boston Conservatory’s program focuses primarily on performance, assisting students in gaining acceptance to the best positions in their field. 

The musical theatre program at Boston Conservatory is relatively large, with 280 undergraduates enrolled, or around 70 students per class. With 75 faculty members, the student-to-faculty ratio is a very good 4:1. 

Elon University is a popular university in North Carolina. 

Elon was one of America’s great hidden gem musical theater programs a decade ago. 

Elon regularly produces some of the top talent today of any musical theater college school, and now the secret is out. 

The well-roundedness of Elon’s instructors is one of our favorite aspects of the curriculum.

Bass School of Music, Oklahoma City University 

The program in Oklahoma City is unique in that it offers a BMus rather than a BFA. 

Both degrees have similar career prospects, however the BMus is a wonderful alternative for musical theatre students who want a higher emphasis on music in terms of credit hours studied. 

Because music is such an important component of the Oklahoma City University curriculum, all students study both classical art song and operatic repertoire during their undergraduate years, making the program ideal for both experienced classical singers and aspiring musical theatre artists. 

Seniors at Oklahoma City University put on a show in New York City that is attended by top casting directors, agents, and other significant industry figures. 

Oklahoma City University is also one of the top ten colleges represented on Broadway this season. 

Ithaca College School of Music’s musical theatre program is known for its great selectivity; only about 3.5 percent of all candidates get accepted. Approximately 1,000 students auditioned for 35 positions. 

The reason for this is because Ithaca is consistently ranked in the top ten institutions in the country for musical theatre, and their alumni may be seen on Broadway and beyond. 

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Ithaca is unquestionably the best liberal arts college in the US for studying musical theatre, as most liberal arts college musical theatre programs aren’t nearly as competitive. 

Students at Ithaca participate in a Field Studies week in New York City during their senior year. Students are exposed to Ithaca College alumni working in the field during the week. Ithaca seniors, like many of the other schools featured here, host a showcase that attracts industry professionals from New York City. 

Pace University School of Performing Arts is one of the best acting and musical theatre schools in the country. 

Pace’s faculty is distinguished by the fact that they are not only “academicians,” but also working professionals who have appeared on Broadway, on television, and educated a generation of students who have excelled in their fields. 

Pace is an obvious choice for prospective musical theatre students because of its location in New York City. 

This year, nearly two dozen Pace alumni are performing in Broadway musicals, according to Playbill. 

Seniors put on a showcase at the end of their four years at Pace, inviting directors, agents, and other industry executives from NYC and LA. 

Penn State University alumnae from the School of Theatre can be found all over the place. They’re in Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Book of Mormon, 42ndStreet, and scores of other hit productions on the national stage. 

Penn State’s program is distinguished by its exceptionally small class sizes. There are just 48 students in the undergraduate musical theatre department, or around 12 per class. 

These 48 students are served by 11 faculty members, resulting in a student-to-teacher ratio of 4:1, possibly the most beneficial of all top-tier musical theatre schools. 

Because the class size is so tiny, admittance is extremely competitive; hundreds of students apply to Penn State each year, but only a small percentage are accepted. 

Carnegie Mellon University is a public research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

The Musical Theatre program at Carnegie Mellon is a conservatory-style school. Acting and Musical Theatre students follow the same acting, movement, voice, and speech curriculum. Carnegie Mellon is known for its intense education and small class sizes. Following their senior showcase, many students are cast right away. Additionally, all students in the School of Drama have a variety of study abroad options. The NIDA in Sydney, the Moscow Art Theatre, and the Drama Centre in London are all recent examples. 

Emerson College is a private college in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Emerson’s Musical Theatre department, which is located in the center of Boston, mixes traditional liberal arts courses with intensive conservatory-style training. Emerson Stage, the department’s producing organization, provides the majority of performance possibilities. Students audition for summer jobs and internships at numerous conferences during the academic year. Emerson also has two showcases for graduating seniors: one in Boston and one in New York City. 

Molloy Institution is a private college in New York City. 

The Musical Theatre Program at Molloy/CAP21, located in the center of NYC, is a hybrid of academic and conservatory training. Students spend three days a week at Molloy College studying academic and studio programs, and the other two at the newly refurbished Manhattan Center, beginning in Freshman year. Every student in the BFA program receives private voice sessions once a week throughout their training, and the faculty includes current working professionals. 

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Point Park University is another private insitution in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

The Conservatory for the Performing Arts houses Point Park’s Musical Theatre program. Students can audition for roles with Point Park University’s professional theatrical group, as well as the Conservatory Theatre Company and Playhouse Jr. (The REP). Throughout the academic year, many guest artists and industry professionals are brought in for masterclasses and seminars. Students perform in a showcase in NYC after four years of training for casting directors, agents, and other industry professionals. 

Rider University is a private university in New Jersey. 

Rider University’s Musical Theatre Program, located within an hour from New York City, produces three main stage musicals each year, directed by faculty and other visiting guest artists. Additionally, there are a number of student-run productions that take place throughout the year. All Musical Theatre majors are required to attend a weekly Musical Theatre Lab, which features presentations and workshops from a variety of directors, choreographers, guest artists, managers, casting directors, and other professionals. 

Roosevelt University is a public university in New York City 

The Musical Theatre Program at Roosevelt University provides onstage performance credit while students are enrolled. Because the university is in the heart of Chicago, students have numerous possibilities to audition for professional theaters while still in school. Their faculty includes both full-time and part-time people who are currently working in the theatre. A BFA Musical Theatre Dance Concentration is also available at Roosevelt. 

Shenandoah University is located in Shenandoah, Virginia. 

Shenandoah University’s Musical Theatre Program has recently undergone a major overhaul, with new programs such as ShenCoSkills focusing on offering first- and second-year students the tools they need for academic achievement and overall well-being. All students are eligible to audition for all conservatory performances, which include two main stage musicals and one main stage play each year. Musical theatre students can also study in New York City or London. 

Arizona State University

The Musical Theatre Curriculum at the University of Arizona is a conservatory-style program in a university setting. The core curriculum for acting, movement and speech, and performance is the same for both acting and musical theatre students. Students can also collaborate with the Arizona Theatre Company while still in school, earning Equity points. Every year, the department puts on two main stage musicals and three plays, as well as film projects and student-produced work.

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University of Michigan is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The Musical Theatre Program at the University of Michigan is frequently considered among the best in the country. They blend the rigors of a conservatory-style program with traditional liberal arts courses to produce citizens who are well-versed in their respective fields. Their program is taught by actual working professionals, and Michigan brings in a diverse group of industry experts on a regular basis. Michigan promotes an intimate working atmosphere, allowing remarkable growth, with an average class size of 23 students. Many summer stock theaters offer auditions at the University of Michigan, giving these students an advantage in their job search. Furthermore, their large list of student-run clubs provides several possibilities for performance throughout the year.

 

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