Here’s the thing about college auditions for BFA musical theatre and acting programs: It’s a big process. There seems to be this looming, dark cloud that hangs over the words “COLLEGE AUDITIONS,” and students (and parents) cringe any time it’s mentioned. But why? Well, there are several reasons:

  • There’s much preparation that comes with these auditions;
  • This audition process is unlike anything you’ll ever experience in your life;
  • The competition is fierce.

In working with students, I’ve found many misconceptions about college musical theatre auditions. Below, we’re going to discuss three things you’ve got wrong about college auditions, and three ways to set yourself up for success!


This idea comes from fear/nerves in the audition room. Whether a student is auditioning in a room full of auditors/college department heads, or a room of a few people, it can be really scary! You don’t know what is going through their mind. Your job is to perform and to perform well. Sometimes people make “thinking” faces and that can appear “mean” or “disapproving.” We have no idea what’s going on in someone’s mind, so don’t think too much into it. Go in, do your audition and do your best.

The truth is, the colleges want you to do well. They are looking for students to fit their programs just like you’re looking for a program to fit you! They’re not sitting behind the table thinking, “Ooh, I hope this student messes up on their monologue.” No way! They want you to have your best audition. If you don’t get a callback from a particular school, it means they didn’t think you would be a good fit that year for their program needs.

College musical theatre auditions are a big deal, and you do need to prepare according to the guidelines for each school and/or the Musical Theater Common Prescreen. This isn’t something that can be thrown together overnight or put together in a weekend—especially if you really want to succeed, stand out, and get into a program that is well-suited for you.


The biggest concern students have shared with me is not finding a school. They’re afraid they won’t get into a “good” theatre program. But there are so many theatre programs across the country—way more than the “Top 20” lists students find online. Are some of those schools great programs? Yes! Does it mean they are the only places you can receive quality acting or musical theatre training? No! Really, the fear is hearing “no” from all of these schools and not getting to pursue the dream anywhere.

How does one solve this problem? There isn’t a quick fix or a formula that guarantees you’ll get into a certain program. Each school is looking for students to fit their program that year. And since art is subjective, it could vary from year to year. You could be the most talented tenor in the room, but if a program is looking for basses, there’s nothing you can do. It doesn’t mean that you’re not talented. Plus, you want to be at a school where you’re wanted. While it may sound simple, the best thing you can do in an audition is go in and be you.


First, let’s identify the difference between a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and a BA (Bachelor of Arts). A BFA is a degree in musical theatre or acting, and is earned within the school of theatre at a university. (Note: some musical theatre degrees can be earned in the school of music). The courses for a BFA degree have a very specific track to follow, with some room for electives. You’ll have more degree-specific classes. While earning a BA in theatre, you’ll still study within the theatre department, but you’ll have more flexibility for electives.

The misconception about theatre degrees is that you must get a BFA in order to be successful or be a “good actor.” That isn’t true. There are plenty of programs out there that offer great BA options either in theatre or even musical theatre. Some students want the flexibility to have a BA so that they can double major. BA-seeking students can still audition for productions and are still part of the theatre department.

When you opt for a BA in theatre, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. (That really goes for any degree, too.) Know that a BFA isn’t a magical piece of paper that suddenly guarantees a job. A casting director won’t look down on you because you didn’t get a BFA.

Here’s the bottom line when it comes to the process of college musical theatre auditions: Prepare, be yourself, be open to programs that you might not have ever considered, and trust the process. It’s an adventurous ride, but if this is truly what you want to do, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be—and it will be worth it.  ♦

Laura Enstall, owner and founder of Audition Well. She helps students conquer audition fears, stand out in the audition room, and find the theatre program that’s a perfect fit. Follow Audition Well on Instagram for audition tips @auditionwell.

  • Like What You Just Read? Share It!

  • Other Related Articles You May Enjoy

    2022 Thespy Winner Brooke Gustafson

    2022 Thespy Winner Brooke Gustafson

    Costume Construction

    Sep 16, 2022

    New Costumer's Guide to Sewing

    New Costumer's Guide to Sewing

    8 Tips for Starting Out

    Sep 20, 2022

    2022 Thespy Winner Nikki Wills

    2022 Thespy Winner Nikki Wills

    Stage Management

    Sep 27, 2022