Program of Study

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

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

1. Five related courses

  • 1 course in Theater
  • 1 course in Music
  • 1 course in Dance
  • 2 courses, either academic or practice-based, that focus specifically on a form of music theater, including opera, American musical theater, and experimental music theater. These courses need not be cross-listed with MTD (Music Theater).

Students may count courses for the music theater certificate that will be used to fulfill the requirements of the theater certificate and/or the musical performance certificate.

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. A certain number of hours of technical work on theater productions staged by the Program in Theater

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.


Instrumental and Vocal Lessons

Lessons are not required for the music theater certificate. Lessons for students who are music majors or in the certificate program for musical performance are subsidized by the Department of Music, and the Program in Music Theater will not supplement that subsidy. Support for other students will be considered on a case-by-case basis. The Department of Music has highly qualified professionals on the performance faculty who provide co-curricular studio instruction. Extra-curricular studio instruction is also offered. Special arrangements for instruction at Westminster Choir College can be made for a limited number of students through an inter-institutional exchange agreement.


Certificate of Proficiency

A student who fulfills the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receives a certificate of proficiency in music theater upon graduation.


Music Theater Courses

The following courses will satisfy the elective requirement for two courses in music theater. Additional courses may be taken as electives with approval from the program director.

  • DAN 321 Special Topics in Dance History (opera or music theater topics)
  • ENG 376/THR 376 Curious Aesthetics: 20th Century American Musical Theatre
  • 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 theater 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 310/ENG 318/MUS 338 The Musical Theatre of Stephen Sondheim: Process to Production
  • THR 322/MUS 381 Introduction to Musical Theater Writing
  • THR 334 The Nature of Theatrical Reinvention
  • THR 335/MUS 303 The Development of the Multi-Skilled Performer
  • THR 341 Acting and Directing in Musical Theater
  • THR 366/MUS 366 Musical Theater and American Culture
  • THR 400 Theatrical Design Studio 

The Princeton Atelier offers up to four courses a year. Atelier courses are onetime events built around a visiting artist’s newest work and current preoccupations. Various Atelier courses focus on music theater projects and may be used to fulfill the elective requirement.


Apply for the MTD Certificate

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a Certificate of proficiency in Music Theater upon graduation. Submit an application online.

If you have already submitted an application, you may edit/update the form to track your progress toward the Certificate in Music Theater here »