Musical Theatre, BA

Musical Theatre, BA

Our Theatre Department produces up to 40 productions a year, providing multiple opportunities to build your resume and apply your classroom training in performance. Unlike many Musical Theatre programs, you can audition right away, and you’re encouraged to audition for nonmusical productions as well, including original works, student-directed projects, faculty workshops and student films.

You’ll develop proficiency as an actor, dancer and singer, with classes focused specifically on each skill. You’ll learn proper dance techniques in ballet, jazz, tap and musical theatre. You’ll also learn to interpret songs on stage. We emphasize collaborating on new work, giving you the chance to create with students writing musicals and librettos.

You’ll also become adept and experienced at auditioning, learn about the business side of the theatre world, and develop transferable skills applicable to many professions.

What to Expect Your First Year

After vocal and dance placement, your training begins immediately. Theatre students from all disciplines and majors come together in two first-year Theatre Foundation courses. In your first-semester Theatre Making course, you’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 performer. You’ll be encouraged to intern in a professional theatre and to audition for the Senior Showcase, in which you can exhibit your talent for an audience of local industry producers and directors.

You’ll take the class Professional Survival and How to Audition, in which you’ll learn the art of self-promotion and gain an understanding of contracts, unions and bookkeeping for performers, as well as knowledge of talent agencies and casting directors. You’ll also work on monologues and cold readings for auditions in a course that will prepare you for life as a professional performer.

You may also be completing coursework in a related minor, which can enhance your versatility and open additional employment opportunities.

Beyond your work in the classroom, you’ll continue to have numerous opportunities to audition and perform. 

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.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the 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 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 be able to 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 placing 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.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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