New York City, the home of Broadway, offers plenty of choices for studying theater, but only a handful of colleges offer degrees with concentrations in musical theater. The colleges listed below stand out for their programs and high rankings by various organizations.
New York University
NYU offers musical theater studies through its Steinhardt School Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. The Vocal Performance program provides training for a career in musical theater performance, integrating the study of voice with the study of acting. Students have performance opportunities in full productions with professional Broadway musical directors, choreographers and designers. The program culminates in a showcase for New York agents and casting directors and other professional industry contacts. NYU was rated No. 2 on College Factual's 2015 list of Top Colleges for Drama and Theater Arts. It also made College Xpress's 2015 list of Colleges with Excellent Musical Theater Programs. NYU overall was ranked in the top 50 universities in the United States by U.S. News & World Report in 2015.
Wagner College, located in the New York City borough of Staten Island, provides a broad-based liberal arts education coupled with intensive training in musical theater. A Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre with a concentration in performance is offered through the Theatre and Speech Department. The Princeton Review ranked Wagner No. 1 on its 2015 list of the 20 Best College Theater Schools. Wagner also made College Xpress's list of top musical theater programs. While Wagner is not in Manhattan, students can easily travel to Broadway after a short ride on the famous Staten Island Ferry.
AMDA and The New School
The American Musical and Dramatic Academy's New York City campus offers an integrated conservatory program providing comprehensive training in acting, musicianship and dance. While it is not a degree program, graduates of the conservatory earn credits that will transfer to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater at The New School, or at AMDA's Los Angeles campus. AMDA's program focuses on gaining performance experience, mastering audition techniques and building a successful career in the musical theater profession. AMDA's Manhattan location provides students with plenty of exposure to the Broadway experience. Backstage ranked AMDA as one of the top acting schools in New York in 2013.
Barnard College and Columbia University
The Department of Theatre at Barnard College serves as the undergraduate theatre department for Columbia University as well. The department offers only two courses in acting musical theater, but the Columbia Musical Theatre Society provides students with additional performance opportunities. The CMTS produces musical revivals, original musicals, revues and workshops. Barnard and Columbia are top-notch colleges overall. In 2015, Barnard ranked in the top 50 liberal arts colleges in the nation, and Columbia ranked No. 4 among U.S. universities, according to U.S. News & World Reports.
Marymount Manhattan College
Marymount Manhattan College offers musical theater students a four-year program with academic and performance classes, daily dance labs and weekly private voice lessons. MMC's Musical Theatre program leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre arts with a concentration in theatre performance. Performance opportunities include a yearly mainstage show as well as off-site performances in partnership with companies such as the New York Theatre Company and The National Dance Institute. MMC was featured on the College Xpress's list of top musical theater programs in 2015.
- NYU Steinhardt: Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions
- College Factual: Top Colleges for Drama and Theater Arts
- Wagner College: Theatre and Speech Department
- The Princeton Review: Best College Theater: 20 Schools
- AMDA: The Integrated Program in Acting, Dance and Music Theatre
- The New School for Public Engagement: Musical Theater BFA
- Backstage: 9 Great New York Acting Schools
- Barnard Department of Theatre: Frequently Asked Questions
Tina Richey Swanson earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications and began her career as an advertising copywriter. She has worked as a journalist, screenwriter and public relations writer. Her current writing focuses on careers, education, the entertainment industry and health and wellness topics.