Columbia College Chicago

Musical Theatre Performance, BFA

You’ll enter Columbia in the Musical Theatre BA program and audition for the BFA in your first year. BFA students are strong singers, actors and dancers. They also maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and meet performance requirements.

As a BFA student, you’ll take private voice and dance instruction and will be immersed in a yearlong capstone class that explores repertoire and refines your multidisciplinary talents for the real world. You’ll perform and showcase your talent for local theatre professionals at the Senior Showcase.

Our Theatre Department produces up to 40 productions a year, and you can audition right away, which provides multiple opportunities to build your resume and apply your classroom training in performance. We’ll encourage you to audition for musicals and nonmusical productions, including original works, student-directed projects, faculty workshops and student films.

What to Expect Your First Year

After vocal and dance placement, you’ll begin specialized musical theatre courses, including an audition workshop for musical theatre.

Additionally, theatre students from all disciplines and majors come together in two first-year Theatre Foundation courses. In your first-semester Theatre Making course, we’ll explore the artistic processes of theatre making within the contemporary landscape of the discipline. You’ll be part of a small cohort of students from all backgrounds working together in a collaborative atmosphere. In your second-semester class, Performance, you’ll work with faculty to learn specific performance techniques in voice and movement.

At Columbia you’ll be on stage right away. Through our “NewStew” performance projects series, all first-year and new transfer students will audition and have the chance to participate in one of five shows created specifically for new students. 

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your senior year, you’ll be preparing to enter the industry as a professional musical theatre performer. You’ll study advanced audition techniques for musical theatre, building a comprehensive audition repertoire. You’ll also create a personal website and meet agents, union representatives and tax professionals who work for performing artists. You’ll be encouraged to intern in a professional theatre.

You’ll prepare for Columbia’s Senior Showcase, the spring show that introduces select seniors to Chicago industry professionals (directors, producers, casting professionals and theatre companies). Beyond your work in the classroom and department productions, you’ll audition for theatre companies and other outside projects as you begin your professional career. 

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Put simply, Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs generally require fewer credits within the major than Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. This means BA students have greater flexibility to include electives and minor courses of study, while BFA students follow a more focused and rigid path.

All Theatre students admitted to Columbia College Chicago start in the BA track. Eligible students will have the opportunity to audition for BFA programs during their first or second year of enrollment.

For requirements and more information about this program, visit the course catalog.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

We offer opportunities to study in New York, Los Angeles and London, and with the The Second City, the nation’s leading comedy-training center. The Musical Theatre program offers master classes with local and national guest artists. These experiences often include performers from national tours and pre-Broadway shows playing in Chicago.

Through our faculty, you’ll gain connections to the industry and will take in productions in Chicago’s downtown theatre district—located just down the street—as well as smaller community and regional performances.

What are my internship options?

Internships are strongly recommended for juniors and seniors. Internships emphasize having you in a professional theatre setting and expanding your awareness of the industry by doing behind-the-scenes work, such as administrative duties, fundraising and outreach.

We host two internship fairs each academic year, with attendees ranging from prominent theaters like Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and the Goodman to small storefronts and everything in between.

Our faculty’s strong connection to the Chicago theatre scene and their work with companies throughout the city helps us continually build internship opportunities.


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