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Top Schools for Musical Theater

Learn about musical theater programs, which is the study of voice, dance, performance and production. Find information about degrees and training at four leading institutions, as well as a useful list of other noteworthy colleges and universities in the United States that offer programs in musical theater.

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The most common degree option for musical theater students is the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) in Musical Theater. Qualified graduates may pursue careers as actors, producers, directors, set designers or theatrical instructors.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Acting
  • Artisanry and Craft Design
  • Playwriting and Screenwriting
  • Theatre Arts Management
  • Theatre Design and Technology
  • Theatre History, Literature and Criticism
  • Theatrical Production

School Information

The four schools profiled below include two public and two private institutions that offer Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Musical Theater programs. Each of these schools provides wide-ranging training that covers multiple aspects of musical theater, and they were all regionally or nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for 2017.

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

School highlight: The University is affiliated with the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, headed by actor Jeff Daniels.

UM's School of Music, Theatre and Dance offers a BFA in Musical Theatre. In addition to studying voice, acting, dancing and audition techniques, students learn about the career strategies that can help them succeed in the field. The musical theater program is very competitive. The University of Michigan was ranked #27 among national universities for 2017.

University of Arizona in Tucson

School highlight: The School of Theater & Television uses the Stanislavsky system to train actors.

UA offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theater through the School of Theater, Film and Television. Degree requirements include eight semesters of voice training. Each semester, students also take a dance class in the UA School of Dance. This school was ranked #60 on U.S. News & World Report's 2017 list for top public schools.

Emerson College in Boston, MA

School highlight: Emerson boasts six performance spaces, including the newly renovated Paramount Center and the 1,200-seat Cutler Majestic Theatre.

EC offers a BFA in Musical Theatre through the Department of Performing Arts. The program is designed for students seeking careers in production, performance and stage management. Students study the history of the American musical and take courses in stage production, costume design and scene construction. This school was ranked #8 among regional universities in the North for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.

Adrian College in Adrian, MI

School Highlight: Each year, students attend the regional Kennedy Center's/American College Theatre Festival where they compete for prizes and awards.

Musical theater majors at Adrian College take courses in voice, dance and acting. Dance classes include ballet, jazz and tap. Students gain experience by putting on musical theater productions, including hits like Chicago, RENT and Godspell. The school was ranked #15 among regional colleges in the Midwest for 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.

Top Musical Theater Programs

Here are some more schools with strong musical theater programs:

  • At Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY, musical theater students can study abroad at Ithaca College's London Center Drama Program.
  • Rockford College in Rockford, IL, offers multiple scholarships for performing arts and theater.
  • Located in Winchester, VA, Shenandoah University's Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre will produce three musicals for Summer 2017.
  • At Texas State University in San Marcos, Broadway professionals teach performance classes.
  • The University of Tampa in Tampa, FL, has a 1,000 seat historic theater.
  • At Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, seniors in the Musical Theatre Performance program create their own cabaret.

For students who aspire to work in musical theater, either onstage or behind the scenes, there are many schools with strong offerings in the field.

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