The Musical Theater Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program at University of the Arts in Philadelphia embraces the richness and diversity of this evolving, challenging, interdisciplinary art form that includes new and alternative forms of musical theater. You’ll get the same acting technique training as students in the Acting bachelor’s degree program in their first five semesters, and you’ll learn vocal technique, musicianship, dance, movement and musical theater performance techniques. You’ll graduate a creative, innovative, masterfully skilled artist, ready to perform, make, teach or continue studying.

As part of the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts community, you’ll study on Philadelphia’s famed Avenue of the Arts, home to the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, the Academy of Music, the Wilma Theater, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre and the Merriam Theater, and within three blocks of the Forrest Theatre, the Walnut Street Theatre and the Theatre at the Drake. You’ll gain hands-on experience by participating in the Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals, a nationally recognized festival held at UArts. Polyphone brings professional composers, librettists, directors, choreographers and music directors from the field to the Brind School to work with student casts and creative teams on musicals in progress.

You’ll have the opportunity to broaden your experience by joining interdisciplinary clubs and organizations. UArts hosts 30 clubs, through which students from all majors can nurture their creativity in a supportive environment. Musical Theater clubs include Coffee Cup Cabaret, Laughing Wild Theater Co. and Shadow Cast Club.

About the Curriculum

The Musical Theater Bachelor of Fine Arts degree program prepares students as artists in musical theater and for continued study in graduate school. Through collaboration with faculty mentors, students can advance their studies at the graduate level to develop teaching skills or launch their careers on the stage. Outside the classroom, students are able to explore the Philadelphia theater scene by attending performances on the Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia’s cultural center.

Graduates of the Musical Theater BFA degree program will demonstrate all of the competencies of the Acting major and will also:

  • effectively analyze song content and structure; identify dramatic conflict; and craft strong choices of objective, obstacle and tactic that serve both the needs of the script, score and artist’s individuality.
  • communicate authentically, specifically and expressively within the given circumstances of a song or musical scene.
  • be able to reveal both a strong sense of self and a strong sense of character in performance as the material demands.
  • be able to read and learn music independently based on a solid understanding of pitch and rhythm as well as musical form, with adequate mastery at the piano for the purpose of learning music.
  • demonstrate a dynamic, healthy and expressive singing voice that reveals the artist’s unique individuality, while technically meeting the nuanced needs of the material they sing.
  • be able to read and learn music independently, based on a solid understanding of pitch and rhythm as well as musical form, and have adequate mastery at the piano for the purpose of learning music.
  • be an articulate and expressive dancer with a technical foundation in ballet, jazz, tap and partnering; have clear understanding of the dance styles encountered in musical theater; and learn steps quickly and execute choreography in all major musical theater styles.

Sample Curriculum
Duration: four years, full time
Credits: 120 credits

Major requirements: 69 credits
Discipline history: 9 credits
Critical Studies: 33 credits
Free electives: 9 credits

First Year
Fall Semester: 15.5 credits
Ballet Dance Practice (by placement) (1.5c)
Survey of Theater Arts (3c)
Scenic & Prop Technology or Costume Technology (1c)
Acting Studio I (3c)
Music Skills I & Music Skills Lab (2c)
Musical Theater Performance: Introduction (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Writing I Placement (3c)

Spring Semester: 12.5 credits
Ballet Dance Practice (by placement) (1.5c)
Jazz Dance Practice (by placement) (1c)
Tap Dance Practice (by placement) (1c)
Acting Studio II (1c)
Music Skills II & Music Skills Lab (3c)
Musical Theater Performance: Foundation (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Writing II Placement (3c)

Second Year
Fall Semester: 16.5 credits
Ballet Dance Practice (by placement) (1.5c)
Jazz Dance Practice & Tap Dance Practice (both by placement) (2c)
Crew (1c)
Acting Studio Technique I (3c)
Music Skills III & Music Skills Lab (2c)
Musical Theater Performance: Principles of Singing Acting I (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Language & Diction for the Singing Actor (2c)
Theater History I (3c)

Spring Semester: 17.5 Credits
Jazz Dance Practice & Tap Dance Practice (both by placement) (2.5c)
Crew (1c)
Acting Studio: Technique II (3c)
Music Skills IV & Music Skills Lab (2c)
Advanced Music Skills Lab (1c)
Musical Theater Performance: Principles of Singing Acting II (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Theater History II (3c)
Science course (your choice) (3c)

Third Year
Fall Semester: 13 credits
Musical Theater Dance Repertory I (1c)
Acting Studio: Poetic Realism (3c)
Musical Theater Styles: Solos & Scenes I (2c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 13 credits
Production Hours (1c)
Composition Instruction (1c)
Musical Theater Dance Repertory II (2c)
Musical Theater Styles: Solos & Scenes II (2c)
The Singing Instrument (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year
Fall Semester: 13 credits
Business of Theater (1c)
Musical Theater Dance Auditioning (1c)
Musical Theater Performance: Professional Prep (1c)
Voice Lesson for Musical Theater (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)

Spring Semester: 16 credits
Production Hours (1c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Free elective credits can be used to:

  • take additional classes in your primary area of interest;
  • pursue or explore other creative interests in the arts; or
  • minor in one of the 23 programs that are open to all undergraduate students such as Screenwriting, MBET, Art Therapy or Business.

Critical Studies is where creative practice and critical reflection intersect. These courses provide common ground for all UArts students and offer unique forums for exchanging ideas through different critical perspectives and approaches. A broad range of interdisciplinary courses will develop and deepen your critical thinking skills, communication and research toolkits, and understanding of the history and criticism of creativity.

Learn more about Critical Studies.

Learn about transferring to UArts, including transferring credits from a program at another college.

Explore the full curriculum.

Laptop Requirement
At UArts, all first-year and transfer students are required to have laptops. Students with qualifying laptops are given access to install university-licensed software for free.

Learn about the recommended laptop specs for Musical Theater students.
See the list of free university-licensed software.

Student Profiles

Starting your first year, you’ll have numerous performance opportunities right here in the Brind School. You’ll benefit from the city’s rich theater community, whether through master classes, internships or jobs after graduation. The city of Philadelphia provides an almost endless number of opportunities for practicing your craft in more than 100 performance venues, dozens of them within walking distance of campus. You’ll take regular trips to New York City, less than two hours away, or travel abroad to immerse yourself in the international theater scene.

Sydney K Banks Headshot
Sydney K Banks


Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland
Brady Fritz headshot
Brady Fritz


Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Hometown: Bel Air, Maryland
Rose Pell Headshot Musical Theater
Rose Pell


Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Hometown: Orange County, California

Faculty Profiles

Learn from a faculty of industry professionals who’ll prepare you to step out of the classroom and into the real world. The UArts Brind School faculty is made up of accomplished actors, directors, singing coaches and choreographers—among them, a Tony Award nominee and multiple Barrymore Award winners—many of whom coach the pros as well. You’ll have the benefit of getting a firsthand, behind-the-scenes look at working in theater while making meaningful connections with experts in the field.

Click the images below to read more.

Katie Donovan Headshot
Katie Donovan

BFA '06

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Program Director; musical theatre specialist and scholar
Alex Bechtel head shot
Alex Bechtel

BFA '08

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Actor, composer, sound designer, writer, director
Charlie Gilbert
Charlie Gilbert

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Composer and lyricist whose shows have been produced in New York and Philadelphia

Brind School Musical Theater students enjoy a wide array of classes and opportunities that serve as launching points for their careers, including Business of Theater, and the option to perform in one of three showcases in New York, Los Angeles or Philadelphia. Students are able to network and collaborate with industry professionals and national and international visiting artists through the Polyphone Festival of New Musicals.

Our students have worked as interns across the Philadelphia theater scene, including but not limited to, collaborations with the Wilma Theater, the Arden Theatre Company, the Walnut Street Theatre and the Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Brind School Musical Theater alumni can be found on Broadway, in Hollywood, in London’s West End and in successful careers in every sector of the theater industry.

Click the images below to read more.

Lucas Steele facing the camera in a striped white shirt and black leather
Lucas Steele

BFA 2001

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
2017 Tony Award nominee
Sarah Bolt
Sarah Bolt

BFA '03

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Broadway productions of "Wicked" and "Sister Act"
Head shot of Rory Donovan
Rory Donovan

BFA '11

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
"Finding Neverland" and "Elf" on Broadway

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is committed to developing the individual artistic voice of each student. You will develop the skills and expanded point of view needed to graduate as a fearless, innovative and adaptable creator, ready to engage the medium and the world with a strong sense of yourself as a citizen artist.

The Brind School is tailored for those who want to head to Broadway and those who are intent on challenging the status quo. Our faculty includes numerous instructors, the majority of whom are current theater professionals. Additionally, alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, extending your creative community far beyond campus. 

We celebrate acting instruction as the focal point of training in both the Acting and Musical Theater programs, and emphasize vocal and physical training as principal support areas. Our Theater Design and Technology and Directing, Playwriting and Production programs also focus on techniques supported by extended collaborative learning opportunities in production. Opportunities abound for master classes, guest speakers, internships and apprenticeships with both nationally prominent guest artists and Philadelphia’s many professional companies.

Through its dozens of performances each year, including the annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals, the Brind School is both a school and a producing company. We present an annual season of work which includes projects led by students, faculty and renowned guest artists from the national and local theater scenes. Auditions are open to all Brind School students.

Venues, Learning and Practice Spaces 
The Brind School is primarily located in Terra Hall at 211 S. Broad St. Spaces include seminar rooms and classrooms, as well as studios for individual voice, speech, dance, movement and acting instruction. 

We also utilize five public performance venues.

  • The Arts Bank Theater is a unique, state-of-the-art performance space on Philly’s famed South Street. The building houses a 230-seat main stage, a rehearsal and dance studio, and the intimate 60-seat Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater on the first floor.
  • The Ellen and Ronald Caplan Center for the Performing Arts is located on the 16th and 17th floors of Terra Hall, overlooking the Avenue of the Arts. It includes the Caplan Recital Hall, a 200-seat space equipped with a green room and dressing room space and recording equipment, and the Caplan Studio Theater, a 90-seat black box theater.
  • The Elaine C. Levitt Auditorium is located in historic Gershman Hall. It houses 700 seats and is perfect for large concerts and performances.

Brind School facilities include

  • six full-sized acting studios,
  • five dedicated private voice studios,
  • several spacious dance studios,
  • one full-sized rehearsal and dance studio in the Arts Bank building as well as a cabaret-style space,
  • a costume shop with state-of-the-art equipment,
  • a lighting lab, and
  • a fully equipped video editing studio.

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

The following materials are required for your application. 

  • A completed application for admission
  • A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • Official transcripts 
    • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to
    • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international students.
  • A writing sample
    • Your writing sample should address one of the following questions, interpreted as you wish. There is no right or wrong answer.
      1. When and how did you discover your creativity?
      2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?
      3. How do you want your creativity to impact the future?
      4. Submit an existing piece of writing, such as an essay or class assignment, on any topic.
    • Pay attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation. There is no required word count, but we recommend a 250-word statement, which is about one double-spaced page. You can upload your sample with your application for admission, or email it to
  • An audition
    • Every student applying to the School of Dance, Music or Theater must pass an entrance audition or interview. This measures not only your creative and expressive facility, but also the level of skill you’ve acquired. You’ll be asked to select an audition or interview date when you complete your application. An application for admission must be submitted to the Office of Admissions at least two weeks before the date you request for an audition or interview. Learn more about Theater auditions and interviews
  • International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
  • Optional Materials 

For more information, visit our first-year application checklist and transfer checklist.

Apply now

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Nearly 80% of UArts undergraduate, full-time students are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account.

All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about tuition and financial aid.

Laurie Beechman Memorial Scholarship
The Laurie Beechman Memorial Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship awarded to a junior majoring in Musical Theater. This scholarship is awarded each spring. Students are first nominated by Musical Theater faculty and then must complete an audition, essay and interview. Adjudicating faculty vote anonymously to choose the recipient.

Named Scholarships
The following named scholarships are awarded to Brind School students based on merit and/or financial need. All students are automatically considered for scholarships. No separate application is required.

  • Ira Brind Scholarship
  • Ira Brind Scholarship II
  • Jac and Miriam Striezheff Lewis Scholarship
  • Russell Harrison Jr. and Friends Scholarship


The Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals is a nationally recognized festival of the emerging musical held at UArts. The festival brings professional composers, librettists, directors, choreographers and music directors from the field to the Brind School to work with student casts and creative teams on musicals in progress.

The Polyphone process supports creators of new musicals with a paid opportunity to make their work, while giving over 100 students on-the-ground training in new musical theater development.  We give adventurous new musicals time and space to develop, free from the pressures of commercial interests, producing theaters, or reviews.



Explore the 2020–2021 season.

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