The Musical Theatre major is within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

The Musical Theatre major, is a Bachelor of Arts degree program and is offered by the School of Theatre and Dance.  The Musical Theatre Program curriculum includes coursework in acting, dance, voice, musical theatre performance and audition technique, theatre and musical theatre history, technical theatre, music theory, and piano. Students develop their skills in a structured program that includes one-on-one mentorship and guidance. The School of Theatre and Dance also offers majors and minors in Theatre and Dance.  

More About the Field 

As a student in the Musical Theatre Program at JMU, you will experience one of the most active production programs of any undergraduate theatre program in the country. We believe learning is only complete when applied to production. Students have the opportunity to audition for and perform in many productions each year including a faculty or guest directed main stage musical with orchestra, a faculty or guest directed studio musical or musical revue,  and student-produced musicals. Additional performance opportunities include recitals, staged readings, and workshop productions.


Students in the Musical Theatre major are expected to meet all of the program objectives:

  1. Recognize and understand the unique and complex requirements of integrating music, theatre, and dance into a unified production.
  2. Demonstrate expertise in specific performance techniques that are unique to musical theatre production to include: vocal skills, dance skills, song interpretation skills, and other specific skills appropriate to individual needs and abilities.
  3. Acquire knowledge of the allied genres of opera, light opera, and contemporary theatrical music.
  4. Obtain knowledge of the history, literature, and analysis of musical theatre, opera and other appropriate music areas as they relate to theatrical performance.
  5. Achieve proficiency in the fundamental principles of music theory and musicianship as they pertain to music theater performance.
  6. Participate regularly in music theatre performances of various scales and styles.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Some common combinations are Art, Creative Writing, Cultural Communication, Dance English, Film Studies, Jazz Studies, Media Arts & Design Modern Foreign Languages, Music, Music Industry, and Writing.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Solid skills in singing, acting, and dance, a strong work ethic, strong collaborative skills, a positive outlook and ability to promote themselves as artists and create employment opportunities for themselves.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Artistic Director
  • Broadway Performer
  • Casting Director
  • Community Arts Developer
  • Convention Director
  • Cruise Director
  • Cruise Ship Performer
  • Drama Coach 
  • Drama Teacher
  • Educational Theatre Director
  • Film / TV Actor
  • Regional Theatre Performer
  • Stage Director
  • Storyteller
  • Studio Musician
  • Talent Agent
  • Theatre Critic
  • Theme Park Performer
  • Touring Company Performer
  • Voice Teachers / Tutors

Who Employs Graduates?

Professional Theatre Companies, Television & Motion Picture Studios, Touring Companies, Cruise Ships, Amusement and Theme Parks, Children's Theatres, Industrial Shows, College/Universities, Community Theatres, Newspapers & Magazines, Primary and Secondary Schools, Public Relations Firms, Radio Stations, Talent Agencies, and Casting Offices.

Internships and Experiential Opportunities 

Practicums are required in the musical theatre curriculums through main stage and summer productions. Theatre and Musical Theatre faculty assist students in finding and procuring internships throughout the USA in the various areas of theatre.

View our list of internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles 

Dancers and Choreographers
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators
Music Directors and Composers
Producers and Directors
Art, Drama and Music Teachers, Postsecondary
Music Therapists

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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