Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.


keyboardmomkeyboardmom Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
I read the one thread regarding UCI/UCLA, but it didn't really have the info we need. Does anyone have any info comparing the two MT programs? It seems UCI is more theatre oriented, with the satellite program in NY, while UCLA is about film/television. The former seems to offer more stagetime and individual training, while UCLA has the name and reputation. Does anyone have any other insights?
Post edited by keyboardmom on

Replies to: UCI or UCLA?

  • thesbohemianthesbohemian Registered User Posts: 438 Member
    UCI has one of the better MFA Acting programs in the country, so I wouldn't count on a lot of stage time early on as an undergrad unless you're phenomenal.
  • pineapple_sushipineapple_sushi Registered User Posts: 19 New Member
    YEAH i'm also interested in learning as much about the two schools and processes as possible-UCI may be my match school, but i have so little experience in MT that im getting scared...
  • Prof. HimmelheberProf. Himmelheber Registered User Posts: 545 Member
    Don't think I'm being snobbish, but neither of these programs is a BFA (much more concentrated and intense a study than a "liberal arts" BA degree).

    UCI is not a BFA program - it is a BA with "honors" in musical theatre. I agree, it is VERY heavily weighted in opportunities to graduate students (look at how many they accept), and undergrads have to really work for any breaks there; but it is an excellent education. Robert Cohen, who wrote SOOOOO many seminal theatre texts (acting, directing, appreciation, etc.) teaches there. Superb school, just that the undergrads are paying for the grads assistantships.

    From their website:

    "The Honors in Music Theatre Program is a unique series of courses which provides advanced training in scene study, song interpretation, dance, voice, acting, audition technique, and study in the history of the American musical. Performance experiences vary from fully staged musicals to intimate revues. Honors students are introduced to Broadway performance techniques through the Advanced Music Theatre Workshop and the New York Satellite Program."


    Likewise, UCLA does not offer a BFA, but only a BA in Musical Theatre. It, too, is a grad-heavy program (look at the numbers they accept!), and as such the undergrads will have fewer opportunities onstage, and to study with senior professors. Their catalogue states:

    "The Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program electives train selected students in acting, singing, and dance for the musical theater and provide knowledge of musical theater history. The dance courses (Theater 1A, 1B, 1C) are open to all freshman Theater majors and must be taken as requisites to be considered for the program. Auditions are held during Spring Quarter of the freshman year. Junior transfer students are also eligible for consideration for admission. Additional courses provide hands-on training with professional artists and a range of performing experiences from workshops to full production...

    All entering students are admitted as Theater majors and must audition and interview at the end of their freshman year or beginning of their sophomore year for elective courses in acting,...musical theater..."

    If you are looking for a BFA in Musical Theatre program on the West Coast, check out Cal State Fullerton. The Theatre and Dance Dept. program is rated in the top 16 in the nation (Performing Arts Guide), and the BFA in Musical Theatre ranks among the biggies like CCM, NYU Tisch, Boston Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon and Emerson.

    Hope this helps.
  • keyboardmomkeyboardmom Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
    Professor, Thank you for the info on Fullerton and Irvine. I know a sophomore at Fullerton who loves it and has just started her summer job at Disneyland as Mickey Mouse!!! How incredibly fun is that? (Imagine telling your grandchildren you used to be Mickey Mouse?) One thing people on the east coast may not understand is the tremendous pressure on CA high school students to attend a UC school, rather than a state school. It is absolutely overwhelming, but is not always the best choice for everyone. They hear it since elementary school and it becomes part of the psyche. I suggested Fullerton, but my own son chose UCI....partly because of the NY satellite program. Again, that may seem like a small thing to east coasters, but to the typical southern californian NY seems like a very scary land of OZ. I love this (new to me) website and will keep you posted on UCI. They also are talking about making it an auditioned program, but who knows. I just hope my son will be happy in this incredibly tough profession.
  • Prof. HimmelheberProf. Himmelheber Registered User Posts: 545 Member
    Mom, you've got it right, there....NYC experience is a DEFINITE bonus! It will be great to study in the Musical Theatre capital of the WORLD!

    Congrats to your son!
  • MusThCCMusThCC Registered User Posts: 586 Member
    "bump" for Irishcharm - you get the picture.... I bumped pages 1-4 of the listings.... just go back and check out the rest :)
  • uclaactoruclaactor Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    So, I graduated with a B.A. in Musical Theatre from UCLA. It's a great program if you aren't married to the idea of the traditional conservatory approach. There really isn't a fair comparason between UCLA and UCI. The UCLA faculty has about 5 or 8 tony nominations between the lot, and most all of them work with both the grads and undergrads. If you want classical dance, go to UCI, but for either straight acting or musical theatre, UCLA is the best program on the west coast. I've taken classes at Emerson College, NYU CAP 21, The Boston Conservatory, Ithaca College and others. Most of the programs are very similar with subtle differences separating them. Geographical location and campus life can be as determinate a factor as the program curriculum. Hope my feedback helps. Goodluck.
  • Prof. HimmelheberProf. Himmelheber Registered User Posts: 545 Member

    Great hearing from someone within the program, and one who has successfully graduated and moved on to the "real world." Your advice is more valuable, as it is first-hand.

    A question has come up in the past regarding voice lessons - when, with whom, and how often/long they are. The website doesn't state voice lessons as one of the courses, and so I'm interested to find out about them. If they are provided, are they "unit bearing" (meaning you get credit toward the degree requirements)?

    Also, can you tell us about what your recent grads are doing in the way of work?

    Thanks, and welcome to the thread!
  • uclaactoruclaactor Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    So, here's the honest and in-depth deal on the UCLA program.

    As with most BA or BFA's in musical theatre, the first two years are spent mostly integrated with the acting students, with the only differences being that in addition to speaking voice classes, you also have one private singing lesson per week, and during some terms, a weekly or bi-weekly group lesson where ensemble material is worked on. As well, in addition to stage combat and the like, you'll also have 3 days a week of dance, rotating between the disciplines, but with a constant foundation of classical ballet. The 3rd and 4th year your acting classes are only with musical theatre majors in your track/year and some of the study is geared towards textual scenes from musicals, and the dance classes are opened up to guest classes and less ballet.

    Now, here's the real dirt on the program..... please understand that this is strictly an opinion, albeit an inside one....

    There are TWO musical theatre programs at UCLA. One within the theatre department (the relatively new "Ray Bolger" program), and one within the music department ("workshop") taught by Professor Hall. The truth is this, although the theatre department has everything in place to compete with all the other BA's and most BFA's around the country, the singular best class I ever took at UCLA (not withstanding "partying 101") was the music department's 90L taught by professor Hall. He is is honest, brutal, and caring all rolled up into one, and the setting for the class is the closest thing I've yet to see in a collegiate environment that mirrors professional classes here in nyc. Now this class is not part of a musical theatre major within the music department, but simply an elective that is open to ANYONE within the undergraduate community. Students such as Sam Harris and Susan Egan took the workshop regularly prior to the musical theatre major's existance, and while I was there, some of the strongest performers in the class were econ or psych majors, who wanted a more interdisciplinary education, but who clearly had the chops to work in the business. The theatre department quickly realized that various students (myself included, as I was part of the inagural class) were passing on theatre electives to take the workshop, but instead of trying to encorporate it into the department, have left their students having to choose between courses. Don't let this discourage you though. In some ways it's an opportunity to get instruction and feedback from a greater pool of faculty, and a chance to learn early on that this business is saturated with tough decisions. You can do both, be in the Bolger track and take the "workshop" (which would be my recommendation), and can probably fit the workshop in at least once every few quarters (ucla is on the quarter system, so there are three terms per academic year, plus two summer school sessions). "Workshop" is offered every term, with students required to re-audition for each term regardless of their previous experience in it. Some terms are spent simply studdying, and some are spent in performance.

    Perhaps the greatest thing that sets UCLA apart from other musical theatre programs is the enviroment. UCLA is the second largest public institution in the country. With over 40,000 undergraduate applicants each year, and less than 5,000 accepted, it's a pretty amazing company to keep. The campus is 15 minutes from the beach. As a alumnus, the academic weight of the degree has definitely been worth the price of admission. If you ever want to join the ranks of the business world, the degree is going to be a huge help over any of the conservatories. Which brings us back to the initial decision BA vs. BFA. If you want a small professional studio, apply to CCM, NYU, Emerson, The Boston Conservatory, Carnegie-Mellon, Ithaca, or any of the other tier 1 or tier 2 BFA's. If you want the "American College Experience", places that give you an interdisciplinary academic schedule, sports teams, greek life, and the like, then you're much better off at a UCLA, UMich, Northwestern, Indiana, UCSD, or other comparable program.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have. I spent the better part of two years researching all of these programs, and have compiled a pretty comprehensive list of what I would consider to be the top and second tier programs for the musical theatre major.

    Good luck to all of you, and hope to see you in NYC.
  • paradoxicalparadoxical Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
    UCLAactor is right that UC Irvine has a strong dance department, which offers classical conservatory training, and the MT program does take advantage of it. Ballet is required and the dance department offers comparable training in jazz and modern. These classes, as well as classes in tap, Spanish, and world dance and in musical theater choreography are taught by the faculty. One professor, who teaches "classical" modern dance to undergraduates, has performed in, choreographed, and directed Tony Award winning musicals on Broadway. He has five personal Tony nominations for choreography and direction, and has won an Emmy Award.
  • paradoxicalparadoxical Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
    UCI now offers a BFA in musical theatre with a New York satellite program. The Spring musical is open to undergraduates only--no graduate students--while the Fall musical production is open to both graduate students and undergrads. Last fall the production of West Side Story included many undergraduates in the technical crew and on stage.
  • reneemariereneemarie Registered User Posts: 44 Junior Member
    What do MT students do if they go to Fullerton for MT, but then don't make the cut after a year? What then? It seems impossible to transfer.
  • CalMTMomCalMTMom Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    CSU does not audition into BFA until end of sophomore year so it is two years not one before you know. UCI you can audition into their BFA after freshman year (depends on getting into MT 3). CSU takes about 8-10 students, UCI takes 8 into BFA annually. UCLA you have to audition into the BA in MT program to be in the program at all--they take 12.
    It is best to have a list of many schools if you want to audition into a BFA or intense BA in musical theater as a freshman and not risk it.
    Otherwise--both CSU and UCI have BA in theater degrees which you can do if you don't make it into the BFA. There are many people on Broadway and in touring productions etc that don't have BFA degrees. The issue will mostly be: do you have access and can you afford private vocal lessons if you don't get into the BFA at either school? Both CSU and UCI have dance classes and theater classes that you can take even if a BA student. (Although as a dance teacher myself --UCI dance is superior to CSU) I also know that once you get into MT 2 or 3 at UCI you can continue to take that couse up to 6 times--so you can continue studying MT even if not in the BFA-- I don't know about CSU.

    So you must decide if you want to take a risk by entering one of the non-audition freshman programs or you want to go to a place that commits to you first. This is a very difficult decision. Best of luck.
  • CCer2014CCer2014 Registered User Posts: 129 Junior Member
    UCLA takes much more than 12 for MT...because they are a state school, they do not wait list...I believe they overaccept to yield the approximate number of students they want.
  • anne1244anne1244 Registered User Posts: 267 Junior Member
    UCLA is reducing the size of both their freshman acting and MT classes this year. There will be 18 actors and 12-14 MTs.
This discussion has been closed.