our recommended schools for acting, musical theatre, and technical THEATRE
Let’s start with the first order of business: making a realistic college list. As we are sure you know, a performing arts applicant’s college list tends to be longer than a potential marketing or business major’s list as your acceptance primarily hinges on 5 minutes in the audition room. So, be sure to make a realistic list that is organized as such:
Reach schools accept less that 5% of those that audition and typically have an incoming freshman acting or musical theatre class size of between 12 and 30 students.
Put 10 reach schools on your list.
Mid schools or ‘Middles’ or ‘targets’ or ‘fit schools’ as you will also hear them referred to accept a greater freshman class size of between 40-60 students.
Girls put 6-8 middles on your list
Boys put 5 or 6 middles on your list
Safety schools are schools where you can declare theatre, acting, or musical theatre as your major from day one without an audition. No audition required.
Put 1-2 safeties on your list
Most students are auditioning for 18-22 schools.
University of Arizona (BFA) (9 students/year)
University of Hartford, The Hartt School of Music (BFA) (25-30 students/year)
Florida State University (BM and BFA)
University of Central Florida (BFA)
Northwestern University (BA Theatre of BM Music, Musical Theatre certificate, audition at end of freshman year)
Boston Conservatory (BFA)
University of Michigan (BFA) (20 students/year)
Ithaca College (BFA)
Juilliard (BFA’s in Acting, Music, Dance, NO degree in Musical Theatre)
New York University, Tisch School of the Arts: New Studio on Broadway for Musical Theatre and Acting
New York University, Steinhardt School of Education (BM) (20-30 students/year)
Pace University (BFA)
Syracuse University (BFA) (25-30 students/year)
Elon University (BFA) (18-25 students/year)
Baldwin-Wallace College (BM) (10-12 students/year)
Otterbein College (BFA) (8 students/year)
University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music (BFA) (22-24 students/year)
Wright State University (BFA) (13 students/year)
Oklahoma City University (BM) University of Central Oklahoma (BM)
University of Oklahoma (BFA) (12 students/year)
Carnegie-Mellon University (BFA) (10 students/year)
Pennsylvania State University (BFA) (15-20 students/year)
Point Park University (BFA)
Sam Houston State University (BFA)
Texas State University (BFA)
Shenandoah Conservatory (BFA)
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School | Bristol
Central School Of Speech And Drama | London
Guildhall School Of Music & Drama | London
Italia Conti Academy Of Theatre Arts | London
London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Arts | London
Mountview Academy Of Theater Arts | London
Rose Buford’s College Of Theatre And Performance
Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art | London
Royal Conservatoire Of Scotland | Glasgow
Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama | Cardiff
California State University, Fullerton (BA, audition for freshman; BFA, audition at end of sophomore year)
University of California, Irvine (BFA)
University of California, Los Angeles (BA) (12-15 students/year)
University of Southern California (BFA Acting, Musical Theatre minor)
Savannah College of Art/Design (BFA and MFA in Performing Arts)
Millikin University (BFA)
Roosevelt University (BFA)
Ball State University (BFA)
Indiana University (BFA)
University of Evansville (BFA Acting)
Tulane University (BFA through Music Department)
Brandeis University (BA Theatre Arts, Musical Theatre track)
Emerson College (BFA) (24 students/year)
Western Michigan University (BFA)
Missouri State (BFA)
Webster University (BFA)
Montclair State University (BFA)
Rutgers (BFA and MFA in Acting)
Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University (BFA)
CAP21 Professional Musical Theatre Training Program at Molloy College
Fordham University (Performance Major, Directing Major)
Manhattan School of Music (BFA Musical Theatre)
Marymount Manhattan (Theatre or Dance degrees, Musical Theatre minor)
SUNY, Purchase (BFA in Acting, BA in Theatre Studies)
Wagner College (BA) (30 students/year)
University of North Carolina School of the Arts (BFA Theatre, Musical Theatre classes offered)
Southern Oregon University (BFA Theatre, Musical Theatre minor)
Temple University (BA Theatre, Musical Theatre emphasis/concentration)
Coastal Carolina University (BFA) (16 students/year)
Brigham Young University (BFA, Music, Dance, and Theatre)
Cornish College of the Arts (BFA Performing Arts, Musical Theatre emphasis)
Sheridan College (BAA – Bachelor of Applied Arts in Musical Theatre Performance)
University of South Alabama (BFA)
Ouachita Baptist University (BM)
California State University, Chico (BA)
California State University, Northridge (BA Theatre, Musical Theatre minor)
Santa Clara University (BA Music, Musical Theatre minor)
Metropolitan State College of Denver (BFA, audition once accepted to the college)
Western Connecticut State University (BA)
University of West Florida (BFA, audition at end of Freshman year) (10 students/year)
Brenau University (BFA, audition for scholarships)
Young Harris College (AFA – Associate of Fine Arts)
Vincennes University (AS, 2-year degree)
Friends University (BA)
Wichita State University (BFA)
Northern Kentucky University (BFA)
Western Kentucky University (BFA)
Northwestern State University (BS Theatre, Musical Theatre performance concentration)
Brandeis University (BA Theatre Arts, Musical Theatre track)
Dean College (AA, 2-year program)
University of Minnesota, Duluth (BFA, audition at end of freshman year)
University of Southern Mississippi (BFA Theatre, Musical Theatre “Professional Training” option, audition for scholarships)
University of Mississippi (BFA)
Avila University (BFA)
Stephens College (BFA, audition at end of freshman year)
Nebraska Wesleyan (BFA, audition for scholarships)
University of Nebraska (Musical Theatre minor)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (BA)
University of New Hampshire (BA, Musical Theatre minor)
Hofstra University (BFA Theatre Performance, Musical Theatre minor, audition at end of sophomore year)
Catawba College (BFA)
East Carolina University (BFA, audition at end of freshman year)
Mars Hill College (BFA)
Marietta College (BFA)
Ohio Northern University (BFA)
University of Akron (BA)
University of Tulsa (BA, Musical Theatre minor)
DeSales University (BA, audition for scholarships)
Muhlenberg College (BA Theatre, BA Music, BA Dance, can double major, audition is optional)
Northern State University (BA)
St. Edward’s University (BA, Musical Theatre concentration, audition for scholarships)
Southwestern University (BFA Theatre, Musical Theatre concentration, audition for scholarships)
Johnson State College (BA)
Christopher Newport University (BA Theatre, Musical Theatre track)
West Virginia Wesleyan College (BA, Musical Theatre minor)
Carthage College (BA Music)
recommended schools for technical theatre
CalArts, Santa Clarita, CA
Carnegie Mellon University - Pittsburgh, PA
Coastal Carolina University - Conway, SC
DePaul University - Chicago, IL
Emerson College - Boston, MA
Illinois Wesleyan University - Bloomington, IL
Ithaca College - Ithaca, NY
Kent State University - Kent, OH
Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University - New Brunswick, NJ
Missouri State University - Springfield, MO
Oklahoma City University - Oklahoma City, OK
Otterbein University - Westerville, OH
Pace University - New York, NY
SCAD - Savannah, GA
SUNY Purchase - Purchase, NY
Syracuse University - Syracuse, NY
The Pennsylvania State University - University Park, PA
University of Arizona - Tucson, AZ
University of Cincinnati - College-Conservatory of Music - Cinncinati, OH
University of Connecticut - Storrs, CT
University of Evansville, Evansville, IN
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI
University of North Carolina School of the Arts - Winston-Salem, NC
University of Oklahoma- Norman, OK
Webster Conservatory- St. Louis, MO
Wright State University- Dayton, OH
MUSICAL THEATRE PROGRAMS WITH A STRONG DANCE COMPONENT
The following information has been compiled from opinions posted by various online posters and how the schools present their own programs by telephone and website. The accuracy has not been established by more valid means.
(Perhaps not complete, but a starting point) The schools that have been reported to be strongest in dance include:
Cal State Fullerton
CCM (some disagreement about this)
Florida State University (FSU)
Oklahoma City University
Penn State (PSU)
Point Park University (PPU)
University of Michigan
University of Oklahoma (OU)
Wright State University
Otterbein has a special track for dancers called BFA in Musical Theatre with a Concentration in Dance (they also have a dance minor available). Millikin University has a dance minor you can take in addition to the MT program. Some schools which house departments of dance, as well as musical theatre programs, may be well known for their dance programs. For example, Oklahoma City University (OCU) is very strong in both musical theatre and dance, but they exist in separate schools within the university, with different faculty and facilities.
University of Arizona is well known for its dance department, but scheduling dance classes for MT majors can be difficult.
Please do not assume that because a school has a strong dance program that musical theatre majors will reap the benefits from this program. In many cases, it has little or no effect on the dance training of MT majors.
At the University of Oklahoma, there is reciprocity and overlap of the musical theatre and dance departments to the benefit of MT students.
Students report that dance for MT majors is very strong at Elon and FSU.
Advanced dancers take note: University of the Arts, while having a dance major, does not speak of dance as an important component of their MT major.
CMU and UCLA are notably lacking in the dance component. Strong dancers at CMU take classes at Point Park to keep up their skills.
Ithaca's dance has been noted to be weak, also.
Reports on Boston Conservatory’s dance training have been limited but they are known to turn out triple threats (strong dancers).
A few other points that have been made on this subject include: Point Park University has one of the hardest dance auditions, but for an advanced dancer it was still easy.
The CMU dance audition is very easy for an advanced dancer. There is no dance department at CMU, which might account for the perceived weakness in dance in CMU’s MT program.
Wright State’s MT majors are permitted to take advanced dance classes from the BFA dance program.
In many of the MT programs, advanced dancers take classes alongside students who have never studied dance. Some programs, such as Western Michigan University and Wichita State University, allow students to take higher level dance classes if qualified.
At Tisch, MT majors may not take dance classes with dance majors.
Oklahoma City University’s dance audition is not part of the actual audition, but used strictly for placement.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1.) Degree/Certificate Type:
What type of program does the school offer? Is it conservatory training or a liberal arts program? Bachelor of Arts (BFA) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree? Is musical theatre a major with distinct curriculum or is it a certificate/concentration?
2.) Curriculum Structure:
Does the curriculum cover voice, acting and dance equally or does it have a concentration in one or two areas? Are you required to complete General Education credits? Does your performance training begin immediately or do you have to wait several semesters? Does the program focus on professional training? Do you have the option to train for one or more semesters in another city (i.e. an LA campus or a sister school abroad)?
3.) Majoring/Minoring in a Related Field:
Does the program allow you to study T.V./Broadcasting, Communications, Theatre Management, etc. in addition to your performance training?
4.) Admission/Retention requirements:
Does the program require an initial audition to be accepted? Will you need to re-audition annually to remain in the program after your initial acceptance? What happens if, based on re-audition, student is told that they cannot remain in musical theatre program? Does the student need to be academically accepted to the university before they are allowed to audition for the program?
5.) Class Size and Faculty:
How many students are typically accepted into the program each year? What is the average class size? What percentage of students that are accepted actually attend? How many faculty members work in the program full time and/or part time? Are these faculty members working professionals? Are the facilities suitable to the program and are they well maintained? Can acting majors audition for musicals/MT’s audition for plays?
6.) Performance Opportunities:
Are freshman and sophomores eligible to perform in the program? How many productions are mounted each year and of what type (musicals, plays, dance pieces, cabarets, readings, etc.)? Are there any differences based on whether you are in BFA or BA program? Does the school have an affiliation with a professional theatre company?
7.) Student Life:
What does a typical daily schedule look like? Will students have rehearsals and other related obligations? What is the layout of the campus? Does the school provide housing and, if so, are the facilities well-maintained? Does the school offer meal plans and on campus medical services? Are students permitted to have a car on campus? Do you feel that the program fits with your personality, work habits, personal needs, budget, and goals as a performer?
8.) Career Development Opportunities:
Does the program help students find employment and/or internships (summer and during school year)? Is there a senior showcase and/or other opportunity for exposure? What type of showcase do they offer? (Ie. Closed industry or open invitation?) Are students required to audition for the showcase or can all graduating seniors participate? Are there large alumni bases on both coasts? Do students have networking opportunities with professionals in the field of theatre, T.V., broadcasting, etc during and after their time enrolled in the program?