May 25, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Musical Theatre (B.F.A.)

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Program: Musical Theatre, B.F.A. 

Department of Theatre

College of Visual and Performing Arts

Williams Theatre 128 ~ 260-481-6551 

Program Description

Students interested in this program must audition to gain acceptance, either prior to the start of freshman year, at the end of freshman year or in the first term of sophomore year. This nationally accredited Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre requires students to develop both a broad education in Theatre Arts but also a pre-professional-level of education in concentrated studies of the performing arts.

Musical Theatre is an interdisciplinary degree that combines curricula of Theatre, Music and Dance, since a Musical Theatre performer must be proficient in all three performing arts areas. The program prepares students intent on professional careers in the performing arts either: to enter the field and begin professional employment or go on to more specialized training at the MFA level. Specifically, the degree will prepare students to enter professional theatre venues that offer Musical Theatre productions in the major urban markets nationally and internationally, as well as employment with professional touring companies, cruise ships, summer stock, and amusement parks. This program contributes to the academic offerings in Musical Theatre nationally by providing students a balance of theatre foundational studies and specialization studies in Musical Theatre.

The program also provides students exceptionally close mentorship by remaining modest in size. Students study and work one-on-one with dedicated and professionally active faculty. Students benefit from the small size of the department through opportunities to act, direct, and/or design in major productions during their entire four-year course of study, starting in the freshman year.

The student learning outcomes for the degree are as follows:
  • Conceptualize the theatre complex - Demonstrate in practice, verbally, and in writing, an understanding and appreciation for all of the practical aspects of theatre, including: Acting, Design, Directing, Stage Management, and Technical Production.
  • Apply literary analyses to distinct practice analyses - Demonstrate the ability to analyze a text to suit the needs of the specific practical areas of theatre in a classroom setting, a rehearsal setting, and in the performance arena.
  • Develop a historical timeline - Understand the major trends in the development of Western Theatre, including developments in: dramatic literary genres, practical applications in production design and technology and performance styles emerging out of various periods and locales.
  • Link theatre to its contexts - Develop a general familiarity with the various socio-political contexts out of which each period of Dramatic Literature and accompanying production practices have emerged.
  • Write critically - Be able to demonstrate familiarity with the rudiments of academic critical writing by: drafting an essay in clear thesis, body and conclusion format, focusing the essay’s argument on specific aspect(s) of a dramatic work and utilizing a combination of close-reading skills (primary source analysis) and research skills (secondary source analysis).
  • Apply rhetorical strategies - Use various rhetorical modes to demonstrate the use of critical-thinking skills (both orally and in writing) related to the academic and scholarly elements of theatre history and its various cultural contexts (including movements, practitioners and societies).
  • Transform the abstract into the concrete - Apply abstract, intellectual concepts about a work of theatre to the various practical areas of production.
  • Collaborate - Exhibit a collaborative spirit within the classroom, the production process, and the Department as a whole, by forming original ideas about a dramatic work and subsequently entering into a group collaboration process, in which one’s own concepts become part of the group’s conceptual integration process through empathetic listening and give and take of ideas.
  • Demonstrate high achievement in acting while singing - Pursue the character’s objectives and tactics while performing songs, transitioning smoothly from acting in a scene to transitioning into a song while maintaining a character’s traits and/or objectives/tactics. Students should be able to demonstrate these objectives and tactics and also articulate what those objectives and tactics are and their process towards achieving them by the time of graduation. It is expected that intellectual understanding/articulation will be acquired by the student’s midpoint in college accompanied by strong evidence of attempting to put theory into practice. The student is expected to marry theory and practice in the jury and the BFA project by the end of Junior year to the end of Senior year.
  • Reach a pre-professional level of acting training, in particular in the performance of Musical Theatre Repertoire - Progress here is documented through coursework at all four levels of acting training offered in the program. The student should be able to analyze a character’s objectives and tactics, break down those wants into a scored collection of beat shifts, and show the ability to realize that analysis vocally and physically in performance consistently during classes. Furthermore, the student should demonstrate knowledge of the various genres of dramatic literature, especially those genres forming the body of Musical Theatre Literature, by being able to perform in distinct acting styles required of those genres throughout his or her classes. Following the Acting IV course, which is centered on professional career preparation, the student should show awareness of the profession’s challenges and opportunities and form a plan for further endeavor, moving towards a professional life in the art post-graduation. Show development, through both Acting IV and Musical Theatre Vocal Styles and Repertoire, of a body of learned work that can be utilized for auditioning. While perfection throughout the various levels of the acting curriculum is not necessary, the development of a habit of mind marked by openness, curiosity, free play and professionalism regarding the acceptance of critical feedback is expected.
  • Show consistent progress towards attaining a thorough development of vocal performance skills - These skills will require a BFA student: to demonstrate accuracy of pitch, to support the breath while singing, to release unhealthy tension, to hold knowledge of one’s range and to execute sound with character-appropriate expressiveness within one’s range, to traverse through register adjustments within one’s range smoothly/with appropriate technique, to produce sound at various dynamic levels, to sing text with clear enunciation, to execute song performances in various musical styles/various singing styles, and to blend when singing in unison or in harmony with others. 
  • Show consistent progress towards attaining a thorough knowledge of musicianship, demonstrated in vocal performance by application of that knowledge - The skills in this SLO require the student to apply understanding of Music Theory to all interpretive aspects of performing a piece of vocal music. Here the student is expected to craft a unified interpretation of a song, one that is sensitive to the work’s style, the character’s desires in those moments, the specificities of all that the work is requesting of the performer through a careful analysis of the lyrics and the score, including all manner of text painting employed by the composer.
  • Show consistent progress towards attaining a thorough knowledge of basic music theory through an intermediate level of undergraduate training - The skills included in this learning outcome include the understanding of keys and scales in the Western major/minor system, intervals associated with the Western system, chords, counterpoint harmony, time divisions and rhythmic patterning, notation practices, transposition processes, terms and signs, including dynamic markings and words commonly used in Western Music to denote certain performative actions.
  • Develop basic keyboard skills in order to allow one to teach oneself one’s repertoire - The skills included in this learning outcome include knowledge of the piano and the relationship between it and the treble and bass clefs (comprising the grand staff). It also includes application of music notation to correct execution of playing repertoire on the keyboard and instrument’s pedals. Using skills acquired in theory and in class piano levels I and II, the ability to play a melody line accurately, in order to teach oneself melody lines. And the ability to play the piano accompaniment or, in the case of complex accompaniments, the skeletal structure of the piano accompaniment, so as to teach oneself one’s repertoire.
  • Acquire basic sight singing, music dictation and aural recognition skills - The ability to sight sing major and minor key intervals and simple melody lines/rhythmic patterns,. The ability to listen to and dictate major and minor key intervals and simple melodic lines/rhythmic patterns, employing correct time and key signatures, as well as correct accidentals (as, for example, in the case of key modulations). The ability to dictate simple chordal progressions, employing correct time and key signatures, as well as correct accidentals.   
  • Develop basic competency as a dancer at an intermediate level of training - Through four semesters of intermediate dance training, acquire strength and flexibility to perform in Musical Theatre dance, enrolling in both sections of Dance for Musical Theatre. Also study at least two dance techniques (chosen from Jazz, Ballet, Modern) at the intermediate level, showing discernment in the similarities and distinctions between these styles, and demonstrate both conceptual understanding of the styles of dance found commonly throughout the history of Musical Theatre and be able to execute these styles of dance at an intermediate level. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to fuse all Student Learning Outcomes into a unified performance of a major role - Students must participate in a performance of a significant role in at least one musical production no later than senior year (preferably by the end of Junior year), demonstrating competence in the application of acting, music and dance skills to the formation of a unified role. (As aforementioned, the student gains several other opportunities to perform roles in both plays and musicals during all four years, as season auditions are required for all BFA Musical Theatre students, with the expectation to accept all roles offered.)


Purdue University Fort Wayne is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

Program Delivery

All courses for this degree program are conducted on-campus.

Declaring This Major:

It is possible to declare a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre Major first semester of the freshman year, if the student has auditioned for the faculty and been accepted into the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre program prior to freshman year. To arrange an audition, the student should contact the Department of Theatre office at: 260-481-6551. Students may also enter as a Theatre B.A. major initially in freshman year and then, at the end of freshman year or end of first semester of sophomore year, audition for consideration of entry into the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. Students not accepted into this degree program by midpoint of sophomore year may petition for an audition later in the student’s progress, but granting of an audition after midpoint of sophomore year is at the discretion of the faculty. For those students not accepted into the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre or for those interested in less rigorous concentrated studies in Musical Theatre, the B.A. Theatre degree’s 18-credit concentration in Musical Theatre remains an alternative.   

General Education Requirements and Program Requirements

Theatre Majors must earn a C- or higher in all Statewide General Education core courses, a grade of C- or higher on all Theatre core courses and a grade of C- or higher in all B.F.A. Concentrated Studies courses. An overall grade point average of 2.0 or higher must be maintained throughout the pursuit of the degree.

The categories of course completion requirements collectively total 120 credits for degree completion as detailed below:

  • 1. General Education Courses: 33 credits from a specified variety of subject areas across the University’s curriculum (C- or higher required).
  • 2. Combination of Theatre Core Courses and B.F.A. Concentrated Studies Courses: 85 credits (THTR 57 cr./DANC 8 cr./MUSC 20 cr.).

To earn the B.F.A. in Musical Theatre, students must satisfy the requirements of Purdue University Fort Wayne Academic Regulations, Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct   and the College of Visual and Performing Arts College of Visual and Performing Arts  . Theatre majors must earn a C- or higher in all Statewide General Education Core courses and all Theatre Core/B.F.A. Concentrated Studies courses. There are no open electives for this program.

The BFA in Musical Theatre degree requirements also require the candidate to pass annual juries, consisting of an interview with the faculty regarding progress and a performance of a song and monologue. All B.F.A. candidates will also be required to complete one major BFA role in a Musical Theatre production in the Department, referred to as the BFA Project and for which they receive credit. Leading up to the B.F.A. role, students have many opportunities to perform in Musicals and non-Musicals annually. BFA Musical Theatre students are required to audition for all Department productions and are expected to accept all roles offered.

General Education Requirements Credits: 33

General Education Requirements  

  • A grade of C- or better is required in each course used to satisfy the Purdue Fort Wayne general education requirements. 
  • Note: DANC 39000 and THTR 32510 can count toward general education and major requirements. All other courses can only count in one area.

Theatre Core Courses Credits: 57

Dance Courses Credits: 8

Students that require dance training, in order to prepare them for Level II technique classes, may be required to audit level I classes prior to taking level II classes for the required credits. Students that come with significant dance training, may place out of level II and substitute the requirement with level III courses, if available.

Vocal Studies Credits: 7

Voice lessons are taken for a minimum of 5 semesters and may be taken for all 8 semesters as long as the student’s course plan of study is not adversely affected by denial of financial aid.

General Electives

  • Sufficient additional credits to bring the total to 120.

Total Credits: 120

Student Responsibility

You are responsible for ensuring that you satisfy all graduation requirements specified for each selected program.  Thus, it is essential that you develop a thorough understanding of the required courses, academic policies, and procedures governing your academic career.  If you cannot complete all program requirements by your stated graduation date but fail to remove those from your plan of study, the Registrar’s Office in consultation with your academic advisor will remove unmet pursuits from your plan of study. Changing curricular records during the graduation term of application may affect state or federal financial aid awards. All requests for exceptions to specific requirements must be made in writing and may be granted only by written approval from the appropriate chair or dean. 

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