Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Acceptance Rate

Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

The Musical Theater program at Carnegie Mellon is an exciting and challenging way to prepare for a career onstage or behind the scenes in the Broadway, film and television industries. The task of searching for the right musical theatre school can be overly daunting and exasperating. Perhaps you are about to give up on that quest, CollegeLearners is your best bet at getting all the relevant information you need to get into Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Acceptance Rate, carnegie mellon musical theatre audition, carnegie mellon acceptance rate.

Here at CollegeLearners, we afford you a litany of information on Carnegie Mellon musical theatre audition, Carnegie Mellon musical theatre tuition, Carnegie Mellon acceptance rate and so much more.

Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Overview

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama is the first degree-granting drama institution in the United States. Founded in 1914, it is one of five schools within the Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts.

The school’s undergraduate BFA programs in acting, musical theatre, directing, design, dramaturgy, and production technology and management majors are considered to be among the top programs in undergraduate conservatory training. Its MFA offerings in directing, design, and production and technology management are also considered to be top graduate programs. The School of Drama offers 18 events every season on campus, and also presents members of its graduating class in produced showcases in New York City and Los Angeles. Many Carnegie Mellon graduates have also gone on to successful careers in Pittsburgh theatre.

The 2017, The Hollywood Reporter best undergraduate drama schools ranked Carnegie Mellon second. In 2014, The Hollywood Reporter ranked the School of Drama number three in the world amongst drama schools. In 2015, the same publication ranked the MFA program at the School of Drama number five in the world. According to Playbill, the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama has the fourth-most alumni represented in the 2015–2016 Broadway season.

Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Facilities

set construction room in the Purnell Center.

Since 2000, the Purnell Center for the Arts, specifically designed for the School of Drama, has been home to the department. The space includes:

As well as two movement/dance studios, three rehearsal studios, four design studios, a lighting lab, a sound lab, a costume shop, a scene shop, and various classrooms.

Acting/Music Theater - Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Undergraduate Admission Statistics

Each year, out of more than 3,000 applicants from across the nation six girls and six boys are accepted into the program. Carnegie Mellon’s overall acceptance rate for its School of Drama is just three percent, and it’s even most difficult to get into the musical theater program.

Carnegie-Mellon University School of Drama (Pittsburgh, PA) Perhaps the most selective musical theatre program in the country, few schools are as prestigious as CMU in musical theatre. How many are admitted? Carnegie Mellon School of Drama received almost 2,800 applications for Fall 2020. This number varies from year to year. Approximately 75 students are admitted to the School of Drama every year and 60 students enroll.

Undergraduate Programs - Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

In a blanket statement: Carnegie Mellon musical theatre summer program provides an outstanding but challenging academic environment to all of its students. On average, the class sizes range from 25-35 people, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. That being said, the academic programs here are Carnegie Mellon are extremely rigorous.

Carnegie Mellon Musical Theatre Acceptance Rate

Each year, out of more than 3,000 applicants from across the nation six girls and six boys are accepted into the program. Carnegie Mellon’s overall acceptance rate for its School of Drama is just three percent, and it’s even most difficult to get into the musical theater program.

Carnegie Mellon University majors can be found in the table below:

College/ProgramApplicationsAcceptance RateEnrolled
The Drowsy Chaperone' Transforms the Philip Chosky Theater into 1920s  Musical Spectacle - Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama

Acceptance Rates within the College of Fine Arts

College of Fine ArtsApplicationsAcceptance RateEnrolled
School of Architecture56630%69
School of Art77716%39
School of Design7417%34
School of Drama2,8333%64
School of Music81421%51

Admitted Student Averages



1. Represents the middle 50% range
2. Intercollege Programs

CFA: College of Fine Arts
DC: Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Engineering: College of Engineering
IS: Information Systems
MCS: Mellon College of Science
SCS: School of Computer Science
TPR: Tepper School of Business 

Carnegie Mellon University Schools of Drama Ranking

One half of one percent. That was the acceptance rate for the musical theatre program at Carnegie Mellon University last year — and such rates are becoming more common everywhere. In the past 10 years, college musical theatre programs have reported huge surges in applications, with some schools reporting an increase of 300 percent or more. Since the number of those accepted to each program has not risen in tandem with the number of applicants, acceptance rates have plummeted at some of the top schools.

Meet an MFA: Matt Webb | School of Drama | University of Washington

Dr. Peter Cooke, head of the Schools of Drama at Carnegie Mellon, reports that while the school’s other degree programs remain competitive, musical theatre is by far the most. In 2009, when he started at Carnegie Mellon, the entire School of Drama had 1,500 applicants. This year, that number was 3,000. Out of those thousands of applicants for the school, 2,300 were for musical theatre, and only 12 were accepted into that program: six men and six women. Of the remaining 700 for the other drama programs, 44 were accepted.

This may sound scary, but don’t lose faith. With the right amount of preparation and planning, you can still chase your dreams. The trick is to know yourself, your goals, and your options.

How to choose a music school

With the landscape becoming more competitive, students interested in applying for a college musical theatre program need to prepare for their audition earlier and more thoroughly than ever, while maintaining realistic expectations and bouncing back from disappointments.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s great to have an ‘ultimate school,’ but it’s important to know that a lot of others want that as well. It’s important to know your fit,” said Matthew Scott Campbell, assistant professor and chair of Viterbo University’s theatre and musical theatre department. Viterbo has seen an annual 10 to 15 percent increase in student applications in the past five years.

“If they do their homework, they should be able to tell which schools are a good fit,” said Victoria Bussert, director of Baldwin Wallace University’s music theatre program. Baldwin Wallace has seen an increase of more than 100 in-person auditions in the 2017-18 season from the previous year.

So, what are some things you should take into consideration to find the right school for you? Many factors go into this decision — including cost, size, and geographic location — but, first, consider what you want to do with the degree you earn. In most cases, performance-based degrees come in two forms: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Carnegie Mellon's Spring Awakening | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City  Paper

While landing a performing job will ultimately have little to do with your degree — and nearly everything to do with what happens in the audition room — knowing the difference between degrees is crucial, especially if you know the atmosphere in which you are most likely to thrive.

A B.A. is a liberal arts degree in which approximately 60 percent of your coursework will be in your general education classes: math, sciences, languages, etc. The remaining 40 percent will be focused on your major: acting, singing, dancing, etc. This degree is the most flexible, should you decide to do something other than performing as your career, since this degree comes with a large general education course load.

A B.F.A. is a performance degree in which 80 percent of your classes will be in your major and 20 in general education classes. In a conservatory setting, the numbers skew as high as 95 percent performance and five percent general education courses (perhaps only one per semester). This degree is recommended for those who desire an intense level of training. Schedules often include six days of classes and rehearsals per week, with long hours.

Note that, if you have a B.F.A., you may need to take additional classes or get a second bachelor’s before switching majors or pursuing a graduate degree in a nonperforming arts field, since these degrees typically lack the general education requirements of other degrees.

How to ace a musical theatre audition

“It starts with choosing material that you love,” Bussert said. “Then it’s critical to do the research: read the librettos, read the scripts. It shows when you understand the given circumstances and that you know the material.”

Campbell advised, “Students are investing in the program, and the program is investing in the student. We can forgive a lot of mistakes, even talent in some ways, as long as we can see a lot of work and thought has been put in to the audition and the interview.”

Sean Kelly, associate dean and director of the Theatre Conservatory at Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, agreed. “You have to be prepared. The material has to be so solid, and it has to be appropriate,” Kelly said. “Find exciting, youthful material is key. Don’t stretch yourself beyond what I would expect from a 17- to 22-year-old. Find something topical, personalized, and not overdone.”

Finding the appropriate material can be the most stressful and time-consuming part of the audition process. Throughout high school, reading or attending as many plays and musicals as you can is the best way to find material. When you do find something you think is a good fit, keep an audition materials journal, where you note the songs and monologues you like, then find the script and read it. It’s never a good idea to pull material from a monologue or songbook without having read the entire script.

How to answer audition questions

Most college department heads agree the interview is the most crucial part of the audition. Sadly, this aspect is often underestimated or even unexpected. Generally, immediately following your presentation of songs and monologues, the person behind the table invites you to sit and chat for a bit. This is an effort to get to know you better as a person.

Kelley said, “If I’m going to be spending four years with this kid, I want to know what kind of person they are.” He believes the most valuable time in the audition room is saying hello to those auditioning you, making them feel comfortable but never making them feel rushed.

Cooke is looking for well-rounded students. His advice on how to best prepare for the interview is to “see the world — go to movies, art galleries, sports events, the Olympics. Go into the world where the community comes together and celebrates something. Students who do that often have that little edge when it comes down to the final pick. I like people who have engaged in the world. I’m not so interested in people who’ve been tap dancing since they were six.”

While visiting an art gallery or attending a sporting event every week may not be financially viable for everyone, keeping up with current events won’t cost you anything and will still prepare you for any surprise interview questions. Visit the performing arts section of your local library and set a goal to read two books each month. Break out of your comfort zone and grab a book on a subject you may not know much about. Even if it’s not related to performing arts, you’ll be surprised how this new information will become valuable to you.

Suzanne Deranek of St. Mary's University spoke to Thespians about opportunities at ITF 2017.


So, why the increase in applicants? Most department heads agree on the answer. “Musical theatre is becoming more mainstream, with shows like Hamilton and televised musicals,” said Campbell. “There is just a lot more work now than there used to be,” Kelly added.

“The visibility of what’s going on in the world of entertainment is very high. Look at Glee and the phenomenon of successes on Broadway recently. There is this appetite for theatre, and young people are certainly lapping it up,” Cooke said. “It’s in the zeitgeist, and it’s a very exciting area to be in.”

As the popularity of these programs continues to grow, more colleges are adding musical theatre to their offered degrees. Valencia College, for example, now offers an associate’s degree in musical theatre. This interdisciplinary degree, the first of its kind at Valencia, will offer performance opportunities throughout the year, with two musicals, two opera theatre workshops, and a student-choreographed dance concert.

Alan Gerber, program director for the A.A. in musical theatre, noted, “The pure joy that comes from musical theatre productions is a welcome respite from the weight of the world. So, it stands to follow that more and more young aspiring performers would seek to enroll in music theatre programs to train for a career in this field.”


The increase has led many schools to rethink their audition process. They have been adding days to their audition tours and implementing new processes. Last year, for the first time, Carnegie Mellon added a prescreen video to its process, to limit the number of in-person auditions. “There simply weren’t enough slots for our faculty to see applicants. If we invite them in, they clearly have a very good shot at getting in,” Cooke said.

When Kelley began his tenure at Roosevelt in 2002, it had just one day of auditions in New York City, two days in Chicago, and one day in Los Angeles. Last year, it expanded to two days in New York, four days in Chicago, and two days in Los Angeles. It also refined the required audition materials. “We used to have two monologues and two songs for their audition. Now they just do one monologue and two contrasting songs. I can read their acting abilities from the songs,” he explains.

Campbell stresses the importance of walkup auditions at the National Unified Auditions, which take place each January and February in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. “Walkup auditions are great. We probably have seven to eight kids accepted to a program each year who didn’t know who we were until they arrived at the Unifieds. It’s like speed-dating.”

At Unifieds, some two dozen top performing arts colleges come together in one place to hold simultaneous auditions. Other colleges piggyback on the dates of Unifieds to hold their auditions, bringing the number of schools you can see over one weekend to more than 40. This is a great time- and money-saver for those auditioning. In many cases, you can get most, if not all, your auditions done by attending one or two such unified events.

Baldwin Wallace’s director has a slightly different take on the audition process. While the numbers are growing, Bussert said her school doesn’t intend to prescreen. Last year, Baldwin Wallace had 700 in-person auditions over two days in New York City and eight days on campus. She added that her school will continue to add audition days until it nears 1,000 auditions. Both of Baldwin Wallace’s music directors, its dance director, and Bussert are in the room for every audition. Monologues are done in a separate room with the B.F.A. acting director.

They resist joining Unifieds because, Bussert said, “we want the students to get to know the school. Every person who auditions is assigned a current musical theatre student. If they audition on Saturday, they are watching a master class with a New York agent or casting director. In one weekend, they can audition for vocal performance, musical theatre, and acting — if they choose to.”


For many students, auditioning for college may be the first time their talent is put to the test on a national level. They may have always gotten the lead in every high school or community show for which they have ever auditioned. Suddenly, they are in a pool with thousands of others just like them. As a first taste of the real world in many ways, this process mirrors what their experiences will be in the business, once they’re out of college. Professional performers may audition for dozens of shows before being cast in one. Your college audition can be much the same, requiring auditions with multiple colleges to find the right fit.

This process may be long and nerve-wracking, and rejection part of the road, but remember that you will grow as a performer throughout this process. And you will mature as a person. You may even make friends and business connections that last a lifetime, but you definitely will learn things you never knew both about the world and yourself.

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