Acting Majors at schools that also offer MT

Pre-covid I visited 8 schools, and I just found my notes from one of those visits. A girl at one school told me to “avoid schools where the acting program is mostly full of kids who got redirected from MT.” At the time, I assumed it was because they might be less than enthusiastic about the program, but now I’m not sure if that’s what she meant? Recently someone said to find out about the relationship between the Acting and MT students at schools that offer both? Are these legit issues? And if they are legit, are current students usually willing to talk with prospective students about this sort of stuff? It seems like the racial justice issues have made students more willing to open up about those issues on campus, but I don’t know if it’s made students be more willing to talk about other issues.

My D is a freshman acting major at Syracuse. Acting was her first choice at SU and applied Ed. Her class is a mix of those who only applied for acting and those who applied for both . They take many of the same classes together and can audition for both plays and musicals and when casting it doesn’t matter if you are acting or mt. Actors often have leads in musicals and vice versa. Actors can take voice and dance as well . The first year is a non performance year so they form a tight bond with their class and are very encouraging of each other . My d said most of the actors are singers as well .

@PlayOn My daughter felt those were legit issues last year. This is a hard question to answer without possibly offending people, but I will try. As you read my comments please keep in mind that this is how my daughter felt about things, and I am in no means saying she is right or wrong, it is just one actor’s opinion.

One of my daughter’s criteria for applying to a school was that they did not redirect MT to Acting. Initially, she absolutely refused to consider any school that treated the acting kids as second class citizens (again, her opinion). Ideally, she wanted a school with no MT at all, but that was hard thing to find. She had grown up in the typical Triple Threat Training programs and decided she did not feel entirely comfortable around the dominant outgoing personality that was so strong in the MT kids. She knew that typical freshman BFA classes were small, and she didn’t want to be surrounded by singing kids all the time who wished they were somewhere else. She wanted a program where every kid there was extremely happy to be there, not wishing for another group. The Acting program should not be a consolation prize, or a way into the MT program after a year or two.

Her concerns were not baseless, as we knew a handful of kids who had accepted spots in acting programs (some at top ten considered schools) who were unhappy and still reaching to join MT at the school.

When researching schools we looked at how each school handled the groups. Did they combine the kids in classes? Did they share faculty? We used info on this board and on the MT one to eliminate the schools people regularly mentioned getting redirects. A few that redirected made it onto her list anyway, but she submitted those applications aware of that.

Once she had her acceptances in hand she then asked questions to each school’s current students during the accepted student Zooms. How did MT and Acting interact on campus? How did the kids feel about the way their major was treated versus the other? Do they separate performances strictly by major? Do they offer non major performance opportunities? How often do kids in the Acting program transfer to the MT program?

Good luck! If you are lucky enough to have choices at the end of this crazy process, the more knowledge you have of each program can only help you make the best decision for you.


@dramamama3, I’m glad to hear that your daughter likes Syracuse. I’ve heard good things about the relationship between Acting and MT at Syracuse, and it’s one of my top choices. I didn’t get a chance to visit campus, but IF I get in, I hope to visit.

@BFAMom2024, thank you. You’ve given me lots of great questions to ask and things to consider. I don’t know if this is also considered controversial, but did your daughter think that the “second class citizen” issue happens more when the programs have a strict separation or when the programs overlap in classes or performance opportunities? Or did she think that either type of program could have issues and it was more based on the vibe that she got from talking to students and faculty?

Look at the curriculum. Some acting programs have some dance or circus or some sort of movement. UNCSA has dance and vocal tech but many kids also supplement with private on the side. About 1/3 of the kids are MT kids who wanted the full rigorous acting curriculum. There are Montclair State acting students who minor in dance, Boston U added an MT minor to their acting major. Look where their alumni end up and see if it aligns with your goals. It really comes down to knowing what kind of training you want.

I am new to all of this and am seeing a few other postings about this too. In my mind at first I thought it was nice they get redirected to get an education regardless if they could not get through their original program. I did not see it being an issue, now I am rethinking. My son has already applied to a few schools and this is raising some concern

My S went through this process last year and this was a concern for him, too. In the end what matters most is the education/coaching from the faculty and the fit of the student. But here are some things to look for on websites and promotional information: the wording “acting conservatory” or “conservatory style”; performance season line-up; and separate audition process for Acting and MT. That said, these kids are young and can go in a lot of different directions. There are some very talented actors who are in BA programs. My S applied to a variety of programs: general theatre, BFA conservatory, and programs that are a mix. In the end you do have to trust the process. My advice is to cast a wide net in both the types of programs and program competitiveness.

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this is very helpful, thank you so much.

I was thrilled when my D broadened her perspective and began considering acting programs rather than just Musical Theater. It broadens possibilities, plus, in my mind a broad “Theater Performance” program that includes Shakespeare, Greek Tragedies, Arthur Miller, Sondheim, and Lin Manuel Miranda offers more options for artistic expression than straight MT programs.

My kid wasn’t redirected anywhere, she has been applying to both programs…in case of Syracuse she passed Acting but not MT but in most other cases (UMICH, e.g) she passed both)…but I don’t view redirecting as somehow lessening the Acting programs; I just think those programs offer a wider array of performance options so look for and can accept a larger and more diverse talent pool… And I’d rather my kid go into a program as a multifaceted actor who can also sing rather than be seen as someone limited to MT. And at every school my D is applying to that has both, stage shows are open to all so if you audition well, you are as likely to land the lead in a MT show whether you are in the MT program or not. So as others have said, look at the specific programs and chose based on what aligns to your interests and what other qualities the school has.

hi all! congratulations on all of your auditions/upcoming auditions, as it is such a taxing (but rewarding) experience! I am a freshman BFA Acting student at Missouri State, and just thought i’d hop on and answer potential questions about the program! I definitely checked college confidential all the time during my audition process, and thought i would be of some help to those of you going through the acting/mt process this year! If you have any questions about the bfa programs at Missouri State, crossover/curriculum, or just the process in general, feel free to message me!