Top 10 colleges for musical theater

Updated July 20, 2017

While there are many different sources that rank colleges and universities in general, there is no formal ranking of musical theatre programs. The "Princeton Review" lists more than 50 colleges offering a musical theatre major without any particular ranking, as well as a ranking of the best college theatres. took an informal poll of college professors and acting coaches to compile a list of the best acting programs for undergraduates. When choosing a musical theatre program, you should research many different sources and consider what is most important to you, such as distance from your home and tuition costs.


The State University of New York at Purchase, the Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film is only 40 minutes away from New York City and boasts a highly competitive program. This is likely because of its intense class schedule: "Classes generally start at 8 a.m. and you'll be busy with rehearsals until 11 at night," according to

Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film Purchase College State University of New York 735 Anderson Hill Road Purchase, NY 10577 914-251-6000

The Julliard School lists Julliard School as one of the top musical theatre programs in the country. According to their website, "over 1,000 candidates apply each year for just 20 freshman spots." Located in the heart of New York City, it also is a prime spot to learn about the history of musical theatre and Broadway while tuning your craft.

The Juilliard School 60 Lincoln Center Plaza New York, NY 212-799-5000


The Rutgers Mason Gross School of Arts is noted by as one of the only fine arts programs that offers conservatory training at Shakespeare's Globe in London, England. It is a yearlong study-abroad opportunity for juniors in the program.

Mason Gross School of the Arts Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey 33 Livingston Avenue New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1959 732-932-9360

Yale University

Yale University was named by "Princeton Review" as the second "Best College Theater" in the country, based on a poll of how popular the school's theatre productions are with students. describes Yale's Theater Studies program as one that is focused more on the history of theatre.

Yale University Theater Studies 220 York Street, room 102 New Haven, CT 06511 203-432-1310

Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, in addition to being listed as one of the top 10 college theatres in the country by "Princeton Review," is also known for preparing its acting students for the stage. According to, students participate in public performances on campus and have opportunities to perform in Los Angeles and New York.

Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts 5000 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213 412-268-2349

New York University

The NYU Tisch School of Drama is well-known for training famous theatre stars, and offers an undergraduate acting program that includes "standard conservatory training and theatre study," according to The program complements its theatre courses with other liberal arts classes from New York University.

Tisch School of the Arts New York University 721 Broadway New York, NY 10003 212-998-1800

University of North Carolina School of the Arts

According to, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Drama has a program that is both classically and creatively focused, and has produced well-known alumni including Mary-Louise Parker, Jada Pinkett Smith and Terrence Mann.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts 1533 South Main Street Winston-Salem, NC 27127 336-770-3399

California Institute of the Arts lists the Los Angeles based CalArts School of Theater as a great location for students interested in movies and television and a program that promotes diversity. One of CalArts' performance venues includes the REDCAT, a state-of-the-art theatre located in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.

California Institute of the Arts 24700 McBean Parkway Valencia, CA 91355 661-255-1050

Northwestern University

Northwestern University's Theatre Department, according to the ranking on, offers a "versatile drama program that is good for students who want flexibility in constructing their own curriculum."

Northwestern University, School of Communication Theatre Department 2240 Campus Drive Evanston, IL 60208 847-491-7023

University of California, San Diego

The University of California, San Diego's Theatre and Dance program is a musical theatre program with an easier acceptance process--students only need to be accepted to UC San Diego, and not separately apply to the theatre program. According to, the program offers a "broad base of knowledge in the fine arts, supplemented with practical experience on the stage."

University of California, San Diego Theatre & Dance 9500 Gilman Drive La Jolla, CA 92093 858-534-3791

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About the Author

Liz Kynreb has been a professional writer since 2000. Her experience has ranged from writing editorials and news releases to developing strategic marketing plans and training professionals on crisis communication. Kynreb has a Bachelor of Arts in political science and journalism from The College of New Jersey and a Master of Arts in public relations from Montclair State University.