As a college audition coach, I often get asked: “What are the ‘top’ Musical Theatre Programs?” While there are many ways to categorize and select programs for this list, my take on the Top 20 Musical Theatre Programs is based on the number of students I’ve had commit to these programs.

1. Baldwin Wallace University

Located in the beautiful, quaint town of Berea, Ohio, Baldwin Wallace’s Musical Theatre Program boasts a 100% signing rate for their students at their annual New York Senior Showcase for the past 12 years. With its close proximity to Cleveland, students have the opportunity to earn Equity Membership Candidacy (EMC) points at the various regional theatres across Northern Ohio while still in school. Inviting working industry professionals for on-campus Master Classes and Workshops, Baldwin Wallace allows students (starting their Sophomore year) the opportunity to perform and receive feedback– providing critical real-world exposure and experience. 

Degree: B.M., Music Theatre

2. Boston Conservatory

Boston Conservatory’s Musical Theatre program provides rigorous training in one of the country’s most bustling theatrical landscapes. The first two years of training focus on foundational skills in all three disciplines (acting, singing, and dancing), with the last two years focused on delving deeper into advanced application and technique. Additionally, the final year consists of developing the program’s Senior Showcase that results in both an in-person event in NYC as well as a digital recording resulting in maximal reach and industry exposure. Undergraduate students also have the opportunity to work alongside candidates in the MFA Musical Theatre program.

Degree: B.F.A., Theatre: Musical Theatre

3. Carnegie Mellon University

A conservatory-style program located within a nationally-recognized university, Carnegie Mellon facilitates rigorous, individualized training through small class sizes. While sporting a 2-track program, Acting and Musical Theatre respectively, students in both tracks take the same core curriculum in acting, voice and speech, and movement. Sporting strong international relationships, study abroad opportunities at the Moscow Art Theatre or NIDA in Sydney are not uncommon for Carnegie’s first semester seniors. Many students are cast immediately following their senior showcase. 

Degree: B.F.A., Drama

4. University of Cincinnati (CCM)

Renowned as one of the nation’s first Musical Theatre programs of its kind, the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music (CCM) provides conservatory training to create thriving triple threats. With vocal training featuring technique-based private lessons coupled with “vocal coaching,” acting instruction pulling from an array of theatrical influences and dance training spanning from ballet to hip-hop, CCM students receive breadth and depth in their instruction. Bookending the program are the Freshmen and Senior Showcases, with the former produced in Cincinnati and the latter presented in NYC to an array of casting directors, agents, directors, and other industry professionals.

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theater

5. Elon University

Innovative curriculum, expert faculty and an extensive list of recent Broadway alumni (including a recent 2019 Tony Nominee) are just a few of the highlights of Elon University’s Musical Theatre program. With masterclasses featuring industry professionals, Elon graduates build up industry connections while still in school. Starting in their first semester, students have a wide range of on-stage performance opportunities which serve as a “laboratory” to practice their craft. Combining conservatory-style training with traditional liberal arts classes, Elon’s curriculum also features study abroad opportunities with destinations such as Greece and London (LAMDA)  allowing students to grow and learn in different environments. 

Degree: B.F.A., Music Theatre

6. Emerson College

Located in the heart of Boston, Emerson’s Musical Theatre program is “a dynamic cross between scholarship and rigorous studio work” as it combines traditional liberal arts courses (40%) with intense, conservatory-style training (60%) . Performing opportunities are typically found with Emerson Stage, the producing organization of the department, and can occur at one of five venues located across campus. Procuring summer performance opportunities (aka “Summer Stock”) are highly encouraged in order to help provide a real-world balance to the students’ classroom training. Furthermore, the four years of study culminate in two showcase opportunities, with one located in Boston during the spring and the other located in NYC the following fall post-graduation. 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

7. Florida State University

Resulting in the granting of either a BFA or BM degree in Music Theatre, Florida State University offers a joint program between the School of Theatre and the College of Music. Students can take advantage of a wide variety of performance opportunities throughout the year, including two mainstage musicals per season. Supplemental education via theatre-intensive study abroad opportunities in London provide opportunities for growth outside the studio. At the end of their tenure at FSU, students participate in the Senior Showcase in NYC for industry professionals to jumpstart their professional careers.

Degree(s): B.F.A., Music Theatre / B.M., Music Theatre

8. Ithaca College

Ithaca College’s Musical Theatre program is an intense, performance-driven program intended to foster the foundation and strengthen the skills needed to pursue a career in musical theatre. Featuring over 20+ hours of in-class studio instruction per week within the first two years, BFA Musical Theatre students train in singing, dancing and acting, with the latter alongside their fellow BFA Acting majors. Progress updates and performance feedback are given throughout each semester via continual assessments to keep students on track. At the end of four years, students (starting their first semester) will have had the opportunity to audition and perform in mainstage productions, take private voice lessons with expert faculty and complete a a week-long field studies experience in NYC before participating in their Senior Showcase.  

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

9. Marymount Manhattan College

Marymount Manhattan College is located in New York City, giving students access to the world’s most preeminent theatrical hotbed. MMC provides a liberal arts education coupled with intense training, such as the Daily Dance program (in which every student trains in dance five times a week). Masterclasses and guest lecturers are also part of the curriculum, with the college bringing an array of industry professionals to work with students during the school year. Performance opportunities are bountiful as they produce full musicals on campus and have Studio Workshop productions at NYC venues (e.g., the National Dance Institute, The York Theatre Company, etc.). 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

10. Molloy College/CAP21

With locations in both downtown Manhattan and upstate New York (Rockville), Molloy College/CAP21’s Musical Theatre program straddles urban and suburban campuses while providing academic rigor alongside conservatory training. Freshmen initially spend two days per week upstate and three days per week at the newly-renovated Manhattan Center before the days reverse in their last three years. Additionally, the Musical Theatre program boasts private voice lessons for every student once a week for all four years training with expert faculty ( including working professionals).

Degree: B.F.A., Theatre Arts

11. Pace University

Pace University’s Musical Theater program offers conservatory-style training in the heart of New York City. Masterclasses with industry professionals and unique course offerings such as Aerial Arts, Musical Theater Writing and Acting for TV/Film supplement the program’s core curriculum grounded in developing each of the three disciplines. The Freshman Cabaret and Senior Showcase provide opportunities to display their growth, with the latter drawing a wide range of casting directors, agents, and other industry professionals in New York.

 Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theater

12. Penn State University

Penn State’s Musical Theatre program provides “artist training for the 21st century,” in part, through offerings such as a robust Master Class Series along with the New Musicals Initiative, in which current students work with musical theatre writers in developing original work. Individualized training is supported by a team of faculty comprised of working professionals and a unique Musical Theatre Wellness Center helps students maintain mental, physical, vocal, and nutritional health. 

 Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

13. Point Park University

The Point Park University Musical Theatre program is a division of the university’s Conservatory for the Performing Arts. All housed within the Pittsburgh Playhouse, students will have the opportunity to audition for Conservatory Theatre Company and Playhouse Jr. productions, in addition to select roles with Point Park University’s professional resident theatre company, The REP. Guest artists commonly teach throughout the school year and the eight semesters culminate with a Senior Showcase in NYC for casting directors, agents, and other industry professionals. 

 Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

14. Rider University

Located an hour outside New York City, Rider University’s Musical Theatre program offers three mainstage musicals a year, each led by faculty or other working professionals from across the country. University-produced operas and student-directed works are just a few of the numerous other ways students can find themselves onstage at Rider. A weekly Musical Theatre Lab provides a source of real-world exposure for the students, where presentations and workshops by directors, choreographers, guest artists, managers, casting directors commonly occur. 

 Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

15. Roosevelt University / Chicago College of the Performing Arts (CCPA)

The Roosevelt University Musical Theatre program is a division of the university’s Chicago College of the Performing Arts. Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, one of the most recognized and active theatre cities in the country, the program guarantees onstage performance credit for their students. Additionally, their unique internship program allows students to be placed at a number of the area’s legendary regional theatres, with upperclassmen in good standing provided the opportunity to audition for productions outside the school. Roosevelt also offers a BFA Musical Theatre Dance Concentration for those looking to further dive into their dance training.

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre / B.F.A., Musical Theatre Dance

16. Shenandoah University

Located within the greater context of Shenandoah University, Shenandoah Conservatory’s recently revised Musical Theatre program presents an industry-focused approach to training in all three disciplines. ShenCoSkills, a four-semester program focusing on providing underclassmen with the tools needed to achieve academic and artistic success, is just one highlight of the new curriculum.  All students can audition for all mainstage productions at the Conservatory, including two musicals and one play, and have the opportunity to audition for the on-campus professional summer theater festival, Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre. 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

17. Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s Musical Theatre program trains students with a systematic approach to prepare them for the professional demands of a career in musical theatre. Through a partnership with Syracuse Stage, Central New York’s premiere professional theatre (LORT), Musical Theatre students have the opportunity to earn Equity Membership Candidacy (EMC) points while attending school. First-year students focus on foundational training and, beginning in their second year, may start implementing their classroom training in performance. Additionally, students may further their real-world experience in the entertainment industry through participation in the Tepper Semester, a semester-long, NYC-immersion program in their area of interest named after a SU alumnus.

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

18. Texas State University

Texas State University’s Musical Theatre program offers individual attention and training through an integrated curriculum taught entirely by Theatre department faculty  (Musical Theatre + Acting). The program boasts a wellness curriculum in addition to a series of “Business of the Business” labs designed to help students with the more logistical and practical aspects of a performance career, both of which were developed by program cofounder, Kaitlyn Hopkins. In addition, students may choose to follow a choreographer, musical director, or producer/director track, which provide supplemental curriculum in areas of interest. 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

19. University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s Musical Theatre Program offers a conservatory-style program in a university setting. Both Acting and Musical Theatre students take the same core curriculum in acting, movement and speech, and performance allowing for maximal collaboration and growth. Students can perform in mainstage productions as two musicals and three plays are mounted each year, film projects and student-produced work provide additional performance opportunities. An internship program maintained with  the Arizona Theatre Company, one of the state’s leading regional theatres (LORT), provides a real-world opportunity to test their skills and earn Equity Membership Candidacy (EMC) points while still in school. 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre

20. University of Michigan

Offering the academic rigor of a premier top public institution alongside renowned conservatory-style training, the University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program is consistently ranked among the top programs in the country. With an average class size of 23, curriculum taught by expert clinicians and working professionals alike fosters an intimate and disciplined environment. Studying primarily in the Walgreen Drama Center, students also take classes in the Dance Building and the recently expanded Earl V. Moore Music Building. Access to funding through the EXCEL program allows for a plethora of student-driven performance opportunities outside of mainstage productions. Additionally, the Musical Theatre program’s track record of excellence have established it as a critical audition destination for professional summer theatres to cast their seasons. 

Degree: B.F.A., Musical Theatre


So there you have it, that’s my list of the Top 20 College Musical Theatre programs. If you’re interested in learning more about these programs, be sure to visit our College Audition Podcast in addition to our newly released Spotlight App by clicking here! Serving primarily as a searchable database with over 750+ Acting, Theatre, and Musical Theatre programs, Spotlight consolidates critical details such as audition requirements/deadlines, financial aid resources, and both academic and artistic contact information for each program.

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