The Top 10 Most Underrated College Theatre Programs for 2017 - South West Region

Here at OnStage, 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 already.

Because the list of massive, we're going to break it down region by region using this map. 

Today, let's cover the South West Region which includes Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. 

10. New Mexico State University - Las Cruces, NM

Offers a unique tuition plan for students who are residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming, you may enroll at NMSU at the same price as in-state tuition as part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange. 

9. Trinity University - San Antonio, TX

Facilities include the costume studio, which is equipped with 12 Bernina sewing machines, four Bernina sergers, an industrial sewing machine, an industrial hemmer, and an assortment of dress forms. It has ample storage space for fabric, notions, and accessories, as well as a costume storage "closet" with over 400 linear feet of hanging space and over 205 linear feet of shelving for storage of shoes and hats.

8. University of Denver - Denver, CO


UD offers competitive, merit-based, renewable scholarship assistance ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, spread over four years. They also provide funds for DU theatre students who study abroad, giving them an opportunity to attend theatrical performances overseas.Finally, to give theatre students a broad-based educational experience and opportunities for involvement, they offer varied course offerings, departmental productions, capstone productions, staged readings, independent student projects, guest artist workshops and professional intern partnerships.

7. Utah Valley University - Orem, UT


Students are able to take advantage of a four-week program based in the heart of London’s West End Theatre District. Students see all types of theatre—musicals, comedies, dramas, cutting-edge works, classical and contemporary pieces alike—and perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. This program, geared specifically toward theatrical text and performance, features visits to Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal National Theatre, and other professional venues, along with a side trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. Join the Theatre Study Abroad and be a part of what’s happening in the world’s preeminent theatre districts.

6. University of Central Oklahoma - Edmond, OK

Offers a unique opportunity for prospective students. Theatre Arts Drama Day is open to all high school and community college students interested in UCO Theatre Arts. Students may attend individually, with parents, or as a group. The day begins with registration and a faculty meet & greet. Next, students interested in pursuing a degree in Theatre Arts at UCO will have the opportunity to audition (Performance) and interview (Theatre Education, Design/Technology) for scholarship/tuition waiver opportunities. After the audition/interview session, they offer faculty-led workshops in our three BFA degree program areas: Performance, Design/Technology, and Theatre Education. Finally, they provide dinner for participants, as well as complimentary tickets to a Theatre Arts performance that evening in the historic Mitchell Hall theatre.

5. Texas Christian University - Fort Worth, TX


TCU is the home of the Trinity Shakespeare Festival, an Actor’s Equity professional summer repertory theatre where a dozen or so TCU students are hired each year to work side-by-side with outstanding professional actors, directors, and designers to create acclaimed Shakespeare productions that are consistently cited by DFW critics as among the best in the region.

4. Northern Arizona University - Flagstaff, AZ

Offers some great involvement opportunities for students. For instance, the AZ Playmakers, was founded in 1923, and is one of the oldest clubs on campus. AZP is also the proud sponsor of NAUghty Bits, Flagstaff´s premier improv comedy troupe. All students are welcome to join in and play as NAUghty Bits performs across Arizona for dorms, schools, conventions, and parties. Each year, AZP also sponsors a variety of events. Past events include a night of scenes, the 10-minute play festival, the picnic auction, Assassins!, and more. 

3. Colorado State University, Fort Collins - Fort Collins, CO

Facilities include the University Theatre, a 3/4 wrap around thrust theatre similar to the famous Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis.. During their first two years in the 120-credit Bachelor of Arts program, theatre students take core of courses. Following sophomore review, students are directed into one of three upper-division concentrations, performance, design and general theatre. 

2. Utah State University - Logan, UT

Home to the Lyric Repertory Company, a small professional theatre founded in 1967 by W. Vosco Call. For the past 50 years the Lyric Rep has produced musicals, dramas, mysteries, farces, comedies, and classics to the delight of audience members from Cache Valley and visitors from around the country. The Lyric Rep brings in members of Actors’ Equity Association and other professional actors and guest artists to work side by side with advanced USU theatre students.

1. Rice University - Houston, TX


Rice Theatre Program curriculum offers a solid foundation in all aspects of theatrical production from acting and directing to technology and design for students who wish to pursue a professional career in theatre or continue on to a graduate program.  Theatre courses are also open to non-majors who want to gain a greater appreciation for the art of theatre. There are two main-stage productions (one fall and one spring) and the possibility of two student showcases offered each year in Hamman Hall—a 500-seat proscenium theatre facility. Rice students have been accepted in competitive internships such as The Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and The Peter Hall Company.