How to Choose a School with a Musical Theatre Program

Musical theater programs combine aspects of dance, acting and song to form entertaining dramatic performances. Hopeful musical theater students may audition to study their craft in programs at the associate, bachelor's or master's degree levels.

Musical theatre programs typically include classes in dance, acting and singing, and may also include classes in costume and set design and theatre production. Students attending school for musical theatre may want to be able to attend professional performances throughout their training years, so they should look carefully at a school's location, along with other criteria.

10 Schools with Degrees in Musical Theatre

The following list includes a number of public and private schools that offer undergraduate programs in musical theatre.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)
Emerson College Boston, MA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $41,052
American Musical and Dramatic Academy New York, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's $33,920
Otterbein College Westerville, OH 4-year, Private Bachelor's $31,624
Ball State University Muncie, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $9,498; Out-of-state $25,016
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $17,514; Out-of-state $31,346
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL 4-year, Private Bachelor's $45,724
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $11,403; Out-of-state $32,630
University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $8,197; Out-of-state $26,022
University of Colorado Boulder Boulder, CO 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $11,091; Out-of-state $34,125
Point Park University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private Bachelor's $28,250

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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School Selection Criteria

There are many factors to consider when selecting a musical theatre school.

  • Students will want to consider a school's location, and look for programs that are close to a major city or to a thriving theatre community.
  • Aspiring performers may want to evaluate their specific interests, such as film and television or vocal training, to choose a program that offers course work within the selected specialty. Some students may be interested in costume and set design and production, and may wish to choose a program that includes courses in these subjects or opportunities for hands-on experience in theatre production.
  • Students should look for musical theatre schools offering a variety of facilities and performances spaces, such as state of the art auditoriums and/or black box theatres.

Associate of Arts in Musical Theatre

This 2-year degree program is designed to prepare students for continued study in a bachelor's degree program. Required general education courses range from English and history to college algebra, and credits are transferable to most colleges and universities. A high school diploma or GED, plus an audition, are common admission requirements.

Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre

A Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre is usually a 4-year undergraduate degree program. Many schools have semi-professional theatres where students hone their performance skills throughout their years of study. Students must also take a full range of general education courses in order to qualify for the B.A. degree. These may include college-level science, math and cultural studies courses. Hopeful students must pass a demanding audition to demonstrate their singing, dancing and acting skills.

Master of Music with a Musical Theatre Emphasis

This graduate program is typically an advanced 3-semester or 2-year program that provides pre-professional training in musical theatre. Students hoping to gain admission must demonstrate working knowledge of music theory, in addition to vocal and theatrical performance. Pre-requisites vary, but typically include an undergraduate degree in music. Programs sometimes conclude with a creative performance thesis.

Many public and private colleges and universities offer musical theatre programs. Some programs offer the opportunity to concentrate on a certain performance skill, such as dance, while others have the option of focusing on production or design.

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