Musical Theatre B.F.A.

The Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offers a Musical Theatre B.F.A. degree to students who wish to pursue a rigorous curriculum in acting, singing, and dancing. When pursuing a major in Musical Theatre, you work with faculty who are top theatre practitioners and scholars, having worked both professionally and within a university setting.

Students in the major hone their craft through an array of performance technique courses, including:

  • Musical theatre workshops
  • Acting classes
  • Training in a variety of dance techniques and styles
  • Private vocal instruction and group master classes

Students will also participate in a rich core of theatre and music classes, including:

  • Theatre history
  • Theatre design/technology
  • Music theory, skills, and history

The Musical Theatre B.F.A. training culminates in a senior showcase in New York City for casting directors, talent agents, and other theatre professionals.

The Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance also offers a B.A. in Theatre and Drama and a B.F.A. in Dance, as well as two undergraduate minors: a minor in Theatre and Drama, and a minor in Dance. Musical Theatre majors may also minor in Dance, but only one class may count towards both the major and minor.

Coursework

Getting started

Your starting point with the Musical Theatre major is the 100-level series of core classes:

  • THTR–T100 Introduction to Theatre
  • THTR–T121 Acting I for Majors
  • THTR-T125 Performance as Art and Design
  • MUS-Z111 Introduction to Music Theory
  • MUS-Z112 Introduction to Music Skills

These courses provide you with a foundational knowledge upon which you will build in your upper-level classes.

Freshmen also immediately begin work on their vocal, dance, and ensemble skills through:

  • THTR-T305 Voice for Musical Theatre
  • A dance class recommended by the Musical Theatre faculty
  • THTR-T203 Broadway Cabaret

Tracks and concentrations

All Musical Theatre students follow a similar curriculum, so there are no particular tracks or concentrations within the major. However, the 18 required hours of dance--which include musical theatre technique and dance styles, along with ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance--are customized based upon a student's background and interests, and upon faculty recommendation.

If their schedules allow, students may opt to take additional dance or acting classes. They might also choose to take an extra class in directing, playwriting, or design.

Upper level coursework

The degree requires coursework at the upper level in acting, voice, theatre design/technology, theatre history, music history, and dance. Upper-level musical theatre workshops focus upon:

  • Acting the song
  • The Great American Songbook
  • Career management skills
  • Devised theatre through solo performance

An upper-level preparatory course for the senior showcase/launch (THTR-T 401) is also required.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

While the rigors of the Musical Theatre B.F.A. make the pursuit of a second major or degree challenging, students do sometimes combine their major with minors and certificates offered by the College of Arts and Sciences or other schools at IU Bloomington.

Common minors include Media School minors, Psychology, Spanish, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Dance, Arts Management, and minors in the Kelley School of Business. Consult your Bulletin for more information on these minors.

Our students often pursue the Arts Administration certificate offered through the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Consult the academic advisor to discuss your areas of interest and potential ways to complement your coursework in the Musical Theatre degree.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Musical Theatre, you have the opportunity to work closely with award-winning faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Many of our instructors have worked on and off Broadway, on national tours, in regional theatres across the country, and on international productions.

Due to the small size of the program, Musical Theatre faculty work closely with you, both in the classroom and on stage, regularly providing feedback on your strengths and weaknesses and equipping you with strategies to grow as a student and artist.

Take advantage of the expertise of your instructors and directors to discuss your performance in classes and productions, the content of assignments, and how your courses help you work toward your goals. Your teachers will also help prepare you for your career after graduation through workshops, the senior showcase, and opportunities for professional networking.

Honors

Researching and writing a departmental honors thesis offers high-achieving students a way to deepen their command of an area of interest. Students considering an honors thesis are encouraged to develop and refine their research interests early in their study, selecting courses that will provide a strong foundation for their thesis.

Many of students choose projects with both an academic and creative component (for instance, a research paper and staging of a play or musical). Completing an honors thesis is a particularly good exercise if you are considering graduate school. Talk to your academic advisor about your ideas, potential faculty supervisors, and the steps required to begin your thesis.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Each year, Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance awards an array of departmental scholarships.

Other options for scholarships and awards include:

Students should also consult with the Office of Scholarships for additional university and non-university alternatives.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Musical Theatre BFA students have pursued internships with both arts organizations and other types of non-profit organizations and media companies. Previous Musical Theatre BFA students have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

Learn more about internships, and the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Foreign language study allows Musical Theatre majors to communicate with members of different cultures, to read and perform international theatrical works, and to travel overseas. Languages popular with our students include Spanish, French, Italian, and American Sign Language.

Below is a sampling of language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. With careful planning, Musical Theatre students may be able to participate in the following programs:

  • Acting and Directing in Great Britain Summer Program
  • Canterbury AY or Semester Program
  • Costume and Character in London Theatre Summer Program
  • London-IES Semester Program

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Musical Theatre faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

University Players is a student-run theatre organization at Indiana University dedicated to providing further opportunities in the areas of theatrical performance, production, management, and educational outreach to undergraduate students of all majors and backgrounds.

The departmental Student Advisory Board serves as a liaison between students and faculty and supports and sponsors a number of events throughout the year, including our annual Drama Prom.

Indiana Student Cinema Guild unites film producers, directors, writers, actors, and more.

Students with a passion for improvisational or sketch comedy may be interested in such performance troupes as Midnight Snack, Awkward Silence, University tWits, and All Sorts of Trouble for the Boy in the Bubble.

The Jacobs School of Music sponsors a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles in which Theatre and Drama students regularly participate.

Through the African American Arts Institute, students may participate in the African American Dance Company, African American Choral Ensemble, and IU Soul Revue.

The Performing Arts Community in Read Residence Hall brings together students interested in theatre, music, and dance. Students attend movies, operas, and theatrical productions, and annually travel to artistic hubs in the United States.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement and auditions in theatre, drama, and dance. The organizations below can help you connect with the theatre community at IU, local arts organizations in Bloomington, and more:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved at the local or national level may be interested in the following professional organizations:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more. 

Build your skills

Through the major

The Musical Theatre B.F.A. major provides students with a variety of skills and qualities that are specific to musical theatre and transferable to outside the department. Through the major you will:

  • Build technical skills in acting, singing, and dancing
  • Strengthen these skills by employing an understanding of how to integrate acting, singing, and dancing into one technique
  • Accrue a variety of performance experiences through participation in the many opportunities offered by the Department
  • Gain a knowledge of and appreciation for theatre history and theatre's social-cultural influence and impact worldwide
  • Experience theatre both academically and experientially, and enhance your understanding of the way in which theatre's many facets interrelate
  • Become an educated reader and audience member, capable of engagement with and reflection upon dramatic texts and theatrical productions
  • Build collaborative and organizational abilities
  • Develop skills for critical thinking and reading, and for research and writing
  • Hone oral and written communication and public speaking proficiency
  • Learn practical information on the business of musical theatre, in order to launch your career in the professional world 

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.

Launch your career

Plan your search

As part of the B.F.A. curriculum, students will take a musical theatre workshop devoted to auditioning and the "business of the business," to prepare them for careers after IU. In addition, in their senior year, Musical Theatre students participate in a senior showcase mounted in New York City for casting directors, talent agents, and others in the business. The entire senior year is used to prepare for the showcase, which is produced right after spring graduation.

You can also discuss your career options by making an appointment with your career coachThe Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

The job market

While it is true that employment in musical theatre can be inconsistent or competitive, Musical Theatre B.F.A. majors develop strong skill sets that make them great candidates for careers in a number of different fields. In particular, Musical Theatre majors cultivate strong verbal and written communication, teamwork skills, and public-speaking abilities.

Students with a Musical Theatre B.F.A. degree utilize these skills in a number of environments and take their education in many directions. Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors, such as the performing and fine arts, education, and non-profit and corporate sectors.

Graduates with a Musical Theatre B.F.A. degree have become professional actors, directors, designers, stage managers, arts administrators, talent agents, educators, entrepreneurs, lawyers, marketing specialists, and sales directors.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

 Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Musical Theatre faculty, the academic advisor, the career coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Many Musical Theatre B.F.A. students audition for summer stock theatres and regional companies that offer short-term contracts. Other students have utilized their transferrable skills to work in education for organizations like Teach for America.

Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships and grants are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

In addition to awarding fellowships and grants, some arts organizations offer retreats and colonies that allow artists to work creatively free of charge for a specified period of time. Most states in the U.S. also have statewide and local arts councils that may offer grants and fellowships. You can find a listing of these organizations through the National Endowment for the Arts.

Some examples of fellowship and grant opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

Students who graduate with a Musical Theatre B.F.A. may wish to pursue a variety of graduate degrees. Many choose to earn a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in acting, directing, or production design, or a Master of Arts (M.A.) or doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in theatre history and performance studies. Some students pursue advanced degrees in arts administration, business, law, or education.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate degrees in theatre or arts administration have gone into careers teaching at the university level, managing or directing theatre companies, performing professionally, and working in many other fields.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Catch up on alumni paths through Stages, the official newsletter of the Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.

Talk with Musical Theatre faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Musical Theatre B.F.A. attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests including a passion for acting, singing, and dancing, and a hunger to develop their art while integrating these disciplines. They typically also have some of the following qualities:

  • Desire for practical experience in multiple facets of theatrical production
  • Interest in reading and analyzing dramatic texts
  • Wish to study theatre history and learn about theatre's place in the cultures of various countries
  • Passion for attending, discussing, and critiquing theatrical performances
  • Willingness to cultivate skills in affiliated areas, such as directing, songwriting, choreography, and production
  • Strong personal stamina, both physically and mentally
  • Collaborative and creative spirit
  • Excellent organizational and time-management skills, with the ability to balance heavy rehearsal and class schedules

Learn more

Please note that unlike the Theatre and Drama B.A., the Musical Theatre B.F.A. requires a multi-step audition; please read the application and audition information carefully.

 

Contact the Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
thtradv@iu.edu