Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)

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.

Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts

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.

Clubs and Organizations

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.

In 2021, UArts was named one of the top performing arts colleges in the US by the College Gazette.

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

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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)

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)

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)

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

Explore the Full Curriculum

Student Spotlight

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 Spotlight

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.

A tight closeup of Kikau Alvaro in a blue and khaki checked shirt
Kikau Alvaro

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Interim dean; award-winning director and choreographer
Jacob Brent in a blue shirt against a gray background with his arms folded over his chest
Jacob Brent

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Interim program director; 10-year career as a Broadway performer, a professional director and choreographer, and a teacher
Dave Barrus in a light gray and dark gray plaid shirt in front of a light gray brackground
Dave Barrus

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Private voice teacher; founder, private studio in Philadelphia
Alex Bechtel head shot
Alex Bechtel

BFA '08

Theater - Acting (BFA)
Actor, composer, sound designer, writer, director
A closeup of Karen Cleighton sitting in a home with a white dining table and chairs in the background
Karen Cleighton

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Barrymore Award–nominated and Broadway World–nominated choreographer
Charlie Gilbert
Charlie Gilbert

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Composer and lyricist whose shows have been produced in New York and Philadelphia
Julia Kershetsky wearing a white sleeveless shirt and standing in front of a gray backdrop
Julia Kershetsky

Actress and singer who runs Starling Voice Studio, music directs regional theater, and teaches with Collaborative Arts Project 21
Kyle Metzger with his arms crossed and wearing a blue shirt and leaning against a beige wall with a white curtain
Kyle Metzger

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Director, producer and deviser who directs and devises plays and specializes in very queer, highly theatrical storytelling.
A closeup of Mackenzie Newbury wearing a salmon colored tee shirt and standing in front of a greenish blue background
Mackenzie Newbury

Theater - Musical Theater (BFA)
Choreographer, performer, and voice coach
Jennifer Smith-Borish wearing a black shirt and standing in front of an indoor blurred background
Jennifer Smith-Borish

Ballerina with the Pennsylvania Ballet (now Philadelphia Ballet) with 12 years’ experience and a ballet instructor with 25 years’ experience

Alumni & Careers

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

About the Brind School

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is primed to nourish the individual artistic voice of each student, encouraging the development of advanced skills and an expanded point of view. Graduates of the Brind School can count on their practical experience in a thoroughly equipped and well-connected theater ecosystem to pursue careers in theater as fearless, innovative and adaptable creators. The Brind School imbues students with strong identities as innovators and citizen artists.

The Brind School is tailored for those who want to achieve and excel in performance and stagecraft. The Brind School’s faculty includes 60 instructors, the majority of which are current theater professionals. Alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, creating a powerful home base for extending students’ creative community far beyond campus.

Learn more about The Brind School of Theater Arts

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.


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.

How to Apply

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Spring 2024 priority deadline: Oct. 15, 2023

Fall 2024 priority deadline: Feb. 15, 2024

We cannot accept spring 2024 applications after Jan. 8, 2024, and cannot accept fall 2024 applications after Aug. 16, 2024.

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission
$60 nonrefundable application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code


Official high school transcript
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college transcript(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available. 

International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

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).

We encourage students to complete the FAFSA by March 15, if possible.

Many students and families have encountered technical challenges while trying to complete the FAFSA this year. If this is the case for you, continue to utilize the FAFSA support resources until your issue is resolved. UArts will ensure that all admitted students who file the FAFSA are eligible for the same institutional funding to support your costs.

Learn more

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


Frequently asked questions about the Musical Theater program. 

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What can you do with a BFA in Musical Theater?

With a BFA in Musical Theater, you can pursue various career paths in the performing arts industry. Some of those possibilities include working as a professional actor in musical theater productions, performing on Broadway or in regional theaters, touring with theater productions, working in film or TV, or becoming a theater director, choreographer, casting director or arts administrator.

Why is musical theater important?
Musical theater is important because it combines the art forms of music, acting and dance, creating a unique and immersive storytelling experience. It has the power to entertain, inspire and evoke emotion in audiences. Musical theater also serves as a platform for cultural expression and social commentary, and provides opportunities for artists to showcase their talents and create meaningful connections with audiences.

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