Here at OnStage Blog, we spend months compiling, researching and comparing college theatre programs to come up with what we feel are the very best colleges in the country. While names like Tisch, Juilliard, Emerson and Baldwin Wallace get plenty of attention, there are a ton of schools out there with incredible programs that deserve more.
So we wanted to highlight some of these underrated programs. Whether they are programs that have amazing facilities and curriculum or have a ton of value when it comes to their cost, these are schools that are doing tremendous things in theatre that might not be known on a national level.
Remember, we're talking about schools we feel are underrated. If you don't see certain programs here, it's more than likely that they're already getting a ton of credit.
Because this list is so massive, we're going to break it down region by region using this map.
West Chester University and Brandywine Ballet offer a joint program: an undergraduate degree from WCU and a Certificate in Ballet from Brandywine Ballet. This program allows students the opportunity to pursue a University degree with a broad educational emphasis while concurrently receiving advanced ballet training, and performance opportunities in a professional setting.
9. Ramapo College of New Jersey - Mahwah, NJ
The college includes student run group Devised Theatre Ensemble, whose mission is to foster collaborative, creative, original, and ensemble-based theatrical work. The Devised Theatre Ensemble seeks to make theatre more innovative and accessible to a wide range of students who would like to explore a non-hierarchical, highly physical, and collective form of theatre. From conducting and hosting performance and theatrical workshops, to attending and discussing theatre performances, touring the spaces in which such performances take place, attending conferences and festivals, and performing original material, The Devised Theatre Ensemble will make significant contributions to the artistic and cultural life at the college.
8. Gettysburg College - Gettysburg, PA
Facilities include the Kline Theatre, 235-seat playhouse features a thrust stage (trapped) and an advanced sound and lighting system, including computer lighting memory control. Also the Lab Theatre, a 48-seat "black box" with flexible playing space can be converted for use as an arena/in the round, thrust profile, frontal, end stage, and more. Lab Theatre produces a dozen one-act plays each year, many of which are new and some of which are the work of campus playwrights staged as thesis productions
7. American University - Washington, D.C.
Recent alumni have worked at virtually every major theatre and arts organization in the DC metro area, including The Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Ford's Theatre, The Folger Shakespeare Library and Folger Consort, Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, and The National Players National Tour.
6. Hunter College, CUNY - New York, NY
Each fall semester the Hunter College Department of Theatre awards two $2,500 Robert LoBianco scholarships to undergraduate theatre majors who demonstrate both academic merit and need. Bob was active in every aspect of production in Hunter's Department of Theatre in the 1960’s. The scholarship was established by Bob's family in 1991 to honor the memory of his theatre work at Hunter College.
5. University of Maryland, Baltimore County - Baltimore, MD
The Performing Arts and Humanities Building (PAHB) provides state of the art facilities for the UMBC Departments of Theatre, Music, and Dance. The PAHB houses a 250 seat Proscenium Theatre, 125 seat Black Box Theatre, two rehearsal studios, design studios, costume shop, scene shop, dressing rooms, conference rooms and class rooms. The PAHB is a premier facility in the region, providing a home for the arts in Baltimore and UMBC.
4. James Madison University - Harrisonburg, VA
The School of Theatre and Dance produces a Mainstage season of three plays, one large-scale musical and one studio-sized musical or musical revue. In the Studio Theatre, a flexible black box space, we offer eight to ten student-produced full-length plays and musicals and a Director's Festival of approximately 15 10-minute plays. Students are also eligible to audition for paid positions in the Children's Playshop shows produced every summer. Some courses (Musical Theatre Workshop, Experimental Theatre) also culminate in Studio Theatre performances. The Playshop occasionally tours another show with separate auditions during the regular academic year. In addition, three Mainstage dance concerts and three student dance concerts in the Earlynn Miller Dance Performance Theatre are produced each year.
3. State University of New York at Fredonia - Fredonia, NY
An accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre, the Department of Theatre and Dance is housed in the newly-renovated and expanded Michael C. Rockefeller Center for the Arts. This $36 million dollar project more than tripled the Department's available teaching, rehearsal, and shop space, including three new dance studios, two new acting studios, expanded costume and scene shops, a dedicated paint shop, computer-aided drafting lab, an expanded design and drafting studio, the Costello Multipurpose Room, and a new lobby to the Center's Marvel Theatre.
2. Virginia Commonwealth University - Richmond, VA
The core of the Performance track requires eight semesters of acting, four of movement, five of voice, speech and dialects in addition to the other theatre-related classes. The fourth year concentrates on helping students launch successful careers after graduation. During the senior year, classes in the business of theatre, audition techniques, and acting for the camera prepare students for life as a professional. Theatre VCU is the only undergraduate program in the State of Virginia that produces a NYC/LA acting showcase in front of prominent casting directors and agents.
1. Adelphi University - Garden City, NY
Adelphi Theatre majors have the option of spending the first or second semester of their junior year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). LAMDA is one of the top theater programs in the United Kingdom.
The Adelphi University Performing Arts Center is home to five state-of-the-art venues: The Concert Hall, the recital hall, the Olmsted Theatre, the dance theatre and a black box theatre. Opened in 1974, the Olmsted Theatre has been Adelphi’s primary performance space for more than three decades. Equipped with a full complement of theatrical lighting, audio and video technology, the Olmsted is ideal for theatrical and dance productions.