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Top 10 Musical Theater BFA Programs...Who Are They Really?

NeensMomNeensMom 305 replies2 threads Member
Not trying to start a controversy here but I know when we talk about Top 10 Programs, we all have a slightly different list. I'm interested to see where our similarities and differences lie. I'll start with mine, in order.

1. University of Michigan
2. Carnegie Mellon
3. Cincinnati Conservatory
4. NYU
5. Boston Conservatory
6. Point Park
7. Oklahoma City
8. Penn State
9. Syracuse
10. Pace

My daughter applied to 5 of these this year along with several well respected "second tier" schools.

What's your Top 10 list??
82 replies
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Replies to: Top 10 Musical Theater BFA Programs...Who Are They Really?

  • soozievtsoozievt ! 31562 replies374 threads Senior Member
    As you realize, there is no definitive list. And everyone's criteria will differ. That said, if creating a list of top MT programs, I can't imagine Ithaca or Elon not being on that list that you mention.
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  • MTDreamer01MTDreamer01 2 replies3 threads New Member
    I guess I’ll do mine!

    1 - Carnegie Mellon University
    2 - University of Michigan
    3 - Texas State University
    4 - Cincinnati Conservatory of Music
    5 - Penn State University
    6 - Elon University
    7 - Syracuse University
    8 - Boston Conservatory
    9 - Baldwin Wallace University
    10 - Point Park University
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  • TwelfthmanTwelfthman 175 replies43 threads Junior Member
    edited January 20
    I don't know if you saw the following article on the definitive list of the best musical theatre programs in the US:


    Some of the main points of the author are to focus on:

    what environment will the applicant thrive in; and
    program content and faculty fit for the applicant

    Answers to these questions will differ from individual to individual, and so each person will have their own top schools list.

    I wish there was an independent comparison of each program's content and faculty as well as accurate percentages of the alumni who work part-time and full-time as performers within the MT concentration, but I haven't found any of this analysis / comparison and statistics available anywhere.

    A third-party would have to do the comparison of each program's content and faculty (and maintain it because it's evolving / not static) -- to my knowledge, this has not been done.

    And the universities don't provide the percentage of its MT alumni who work PT and those who work FT as performers; I guess they don't because those numbers would be really bleak across the board... like worse than many batting averages.
    edited January 20
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  • NeensMomNeensMom 305 replies2 threads Member
    @Twelfthman I have seen that article before. I think it's on point, I was just curious about who CC people considered Top 10 in their books. :)
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  • soozievtsoozievt ! 31562 replies374 threads Senior Member
    I don't think Pasek and Paul are a good example, let alone an extreme example. They are working in MT after all! Their MT training at Michigan plays a part in that.

    I think an example of those who go into something entirely different after graduating a MT program, are the many who are not working in any theater related jobs. There are lots and lots of such graduates.

    By the way, in terms of Pasek and Paul not knowing they would go into creating musicals when they entered college, I can speak a bit about this from my own kid's experience. She also works professionally now at creating musicals, and would not have known that when she entered. She differs from P and P in that she still performs in musicals, both ones created by others, and the ones she creates. And she is also a singer/songwriter that is not MT genre. She has a three pronged career as she is interested in all three of these areas. In many ways, diversifying and having a varied skill set, can mean working full time in the field, which is what she does. Most people who ONLY perform in musicals, are not working consistently 52 weeks/year.
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  • LadyMjolnirLadyMjolnir 69 replies0 threads Junior Member
    I agree, a "top ten" is based on what your strengths are. If you favor dancing over acting, Point Park is up there, but if you're a better composer than dancer, maybe it's not.

    My MT student is also a Music Theory & Composition afficionado, and he prefers large cities, so his top 10 might look something like:

    1. Carnegie Mellon
    2. Baldwin Wallace
    3. UMich
    4. CCM
    5. NYU
    6. BoCo
    7. Texas State
    8. Webster
    9, 10. Roosevelt or USC maybe? I don't know

    He didn't apply to all of these, but they're highly rated schools for what he's specifically interested in, MT-wise, and they're in the larger urban areas that he likes.

    In terms of long-term employability, I'm constantly surprised at how many theatre grads I meet in what would otherwise seem like completely unrelated fields. One friend who graduated in Tech Theatre from Coastal Carolina does game design for Xbox. Another friend has a performing arts BA from UCSB and works as a business analyst at Oracle. She jokes that her theatre degree helps her pass difficult interview questions because "I learned to act like I know what they're talking about!" Both friends still audition, teach classes, or do other theatre work on the side.
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  • DemonBarberDemonBarber 4 replies0 threads New Member
    OK I’ll play. And I agree with the comments that the best program is the one that best fits your kid, etc. etc., great training is available so many different programs etc etc. This is more just fun, if I won the admissionlottery, what programs might be on my list.
    1-2-3 for “prestige”

    Texas State
    Penn State

    And could just as easily include Pace, OCU, Baldwin-Wallace

    And so many other great schools.
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  • rickle1rickle1 2431 replies21 threads Senior Member
    edited January 21
    Sorry what i meant to say re "it's all the same" is as long as you get good training, it doesn't really matter. This whole concept of top 10 doesn't imply the best training, opportunties, blah blah blah. Doesn't really work that way. Is training at CMU that much better than Point Park or FSU or Marymount or X? No way to know but I don't htink so.

    Each school references their stars working on Broadway, national tours, etc. I'm of the opinion that those kids would have similar results regardless, and perhaps even if they didn't attend a BFA (although I like the training focus of these programs - just makes it easier to put in the work.)

    Let's not forget it's really about the talent.

    I think an important ioece to consider is where your kid can become who they're supposed to be. What other opportunities exist for creative outlets? Maybe an MT kid joins a cool singing group and cuts an album. Maybe they become a lounge singer and love it. Maybe they write a student play. Maybe they get in to the business side of things. Maybe....
    edited January 21
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2240 replies14 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    I just deleted my response because I didn't want to add to people's anxieties, lol.
    edited January 22
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  • MTMom2024MTMom2024 74 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @AnxiousNovice I am wondering if anyone would be willing to name some programs that they perceive to be more competitive. It's not negative since some thrive in that environment. My son definitely favors supportive over competitive for his college experience.
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  • TexasMTDadTexasMTDad 321 replies0 threads Member
    MTMom2024 wrote: »
    @AnxiousNovice I am wondering if anyone would be willing to name some programs that they perceive to be more competitive. It's not negative since some thrive in that environment. My son definitely favors supportive over competitive for his college experience.

    Any audition school competitive. I think that most people will tell you that CCM, UM, and CMU are lottery picks. They just have so many equally-talented kids auditioning that it is the luck of being exactly what they are looking for.

    The schools that may seem to be "less competitive" are still accepting the kids who are not getting into the other schools but probably have the talent to get into them. These schools are choosing 15-30 kids out of the hundreds or even thousands who are auditioning. Every kid that auditions for the big 3 have fallback schools... many are not getting into what they believe are their "safe" schools because a truly "safe" school is one that is a non-audition school.

    You are definitely at an advantage in that you have a son, rather than a daughter. Just as many slots for boys, but fewer candidates. My son had several options that may not have been available to him if he were female.
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  • MTMom2024MTMom2024 74 replies1 threads Junior Member
    @TexasMTDad I am sorry - I actually meant the vibe/culture as being competitive versus supportive because some schools definitely have different feelings within the programs.
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  • TS0104TS0104 1257 replies30 threads Senior Member
    @MTmom2024 you would definitely want to look at which programs do cuts after freshman or sophomore year, that will definitely add to the competitive vibe that you are trying to avoid.
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