If singing, dancing and acting are your passions and you want to make a living doing them, attending a musical theater school could be the best way to achieve your dream. The top musical theater schools offer opportunities to learn from professionals and provide alumni networks to help you find a job on stage when you graduate.
The CollegeXpress website has a list of colleges with the best musical theater programs in 2013. The list is drawn in part from the book “The College Finder” by educational consultant Steven Antonoff and from input from the website’s readers. The Princeton Review surveys about 333 students online from each of the more than 300 schools it ranks in various categories. Students were asked, "How do you rate your college's theater productions?" to form the basis of its ranking of the top 20 college theater programs for 2012.
Carnegie Mellon University’s acting and music theater majors enter a rigorous four-year program ending with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in drama. Students take conservatory training with core classes in acting, voice, speech and movement. Seniors have the opportunity to perform in front of 400 industry professionals at shows in New York, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. The Bachelor of Arts in theater program at Wagner College on Staten Island, New York, focuses especially on musical theater. The school offers a Summer Music Theatre Institute for interested high school students.
Indiana University-Bloomington offers a bachelor’s in musical theater. Only 10 to 14 students a year gain entry into the program. Tony Award-nominated choreographer George Pinney runs the program, and it is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Illinois Wesleyan University also offers a bachelor’s in musical theater and admits only a handful of the hundreds who apply to the program. The curriculum covers the applied skills of acting, singing and dancing, and academics like dramatic theory, history and literature. The school puts on two musicals a year. Several alumni are performing or have performed on Broadway.
Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, offers five courses devoted to musical theater, including a two-semester senior seminar that culminates in a project presentation. Other courses cover history and literature connected with musical theater, performance and opera scene study. The school offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in musical theater. Graduates can tap into the Elon Mentor Network, where more than 800 graduates can help them find jobs. Florida State University offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. Seniors in that program have the opportunity to participate in a Senior Showcase in New York City to demonstrate their talents to agents and directors.
- CollegeXpress: Pre-Broadway; Colleges with Excellent Musical Theater Programs
- Princeton Review: 2012 Best College Theaters
- Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama: Acting/Music Theatre
- Wagner College: Theatre and Speech Department
- Indiana University-Bloomington: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre
- Illinois Wesleyan University: School of Theatre Arts
- Elon University: Department of Performing Arts
- Florida State University School of Theatre
- The College Finder; Steven Antonoff
Rudy Miller has been writing professionally since 1996. Miller is a digital team leader for lehighvalleylive.com, a local news website and content provider to the Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pa. Miller holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami.