Program in Music Theater

Academic Unit

Program Information

From opera to Broadway musicals to experimental music theater, the many hybrids of singing, acting, and movement are among the most historically significant, socially relevant, and artistically adventurous forms of performance. With a liberal arts education as its base, Princeton’s Certificate Program in Music Theater encourages students to explore music theater as an intensely collaborative art form, as a key component of world cultures, and as an entertainment genre that shapes and is shaped by history, economics, politics, and technology.

The Program in Music Theater encompasses Princeton’s curricular tripartite of creation, performance, and study. Students in the Program take courses in Music, Theater, and Dance, as well as related courses in other departments, taught by faculty across the university who compose, write, create, perform, and research music theater’s various forms that combine music, dance, text, and design. Additional classes are taught by guest artists. Students can create new music theater work, participate in music theater production, and/or produce new scholarship in music theater history, theory, and criticism.

Admission to the Program

The Program in Music Theater is open to juniors and seniors who are committed to music theater practice and/or scholarship. Students may begin taking courses that count toward certificate requirements in their first year at Princeton.

Program of Study and Requirements

To qualify for a program certificate, students are required to complete:

1) Five related courses

  • One course in theater
  • One course in music
  • One course in dance
  • Two courses, either academic or practice-based, the focus specificaly on a form of music theater, incuding opera, American musical theater, and experiemental music theater


2) Senior independent work

This work might take the form of creating a music theater piece: composing the music and/or writing the lyrics and/or writing the book. It might be the direction of a production, the performance of a major role, or the design or dramaturgy of a production, under the supervision of faculty and professional staff, independently, or in conjunction with another campus-producing organization. This work might be an independent scholarly paper or another music theater-oriented project.

If the student's department permits, the student might choose to complete one part of the departmental independent work (senior thesis) on a topic approved by the Program in Music Theater faculty dealing with some facet of music theater in relation to that department's subject matter.This independent work could take the form of a textual, cultural, or theoretical study; or it could be a combination of research and practical work supervised by the program faculty and the student's departmental adviser.

3) Tech hours requirement for the Program in Theater certificate. These are decided on a case by case basis depending on the Program in Theater's production needs. Students can work in the costume or scene shop, help to build a set or hang lights or locate props, stage manage, run a light or sound board, work on the run crew, or many other jobs. As a benchmark, serving as the stage manager on one production typically fulfills the  Program in Theater's tech hours.

Program in Music Theater courses (We anticipate that at least five of these course will be taught each year)

ATL 494/MUS 301: Sounding Boundaries: Interdisciplinary Alchemy in Music Theater; Making Comic Opera (Note: Various other Atelier courses focus on music theater projects)

DAN 321: Special Topics in Dance History: Choreographers on Broadway

ENG 376 / THR 376: Curious Aesthetics: 20th Century American Musical Theatre

ENG 318/ THR 310 / MUS 338: The Musical Theatre of Stephen Sondheim

GSS 365 / THR 365 / ENG 365 / AMS 365: Isn’t It Romantic? The Broadway Musical from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Sondheim

MUS 214: Projects in Vocal Performance (opera or music theatre topics)

MUS 220: The Opera

MUS 223: The Ballet

MUS 332: Monteverdi: Madrigal and Opera 1575-1650

MUS 335: Mozart’s Operas

MUS 337 / GER 302: Wagner

MUS 513: Topics in 19th and Early 20th-Century Music—Modernism in Music and Dance

THR 366 / MUS 366: Musical Theater and American Culture

THR 335 / MUS 303: The Development of the Multi-Skilled Performer

THR 334: The Nature of Theatrical Reinvention

THR 341: Acting and Directing for Musical Theater