Where Broadway Stars Went to College

Where to get the training you need to shine on Broadway

The Boston Conservatory
The Boston Conservatory. The Boston Conservatory

Dreaming of Broadway fame? You're very likely going to need some post-high school training. Although a number of big-name musical stars have made it without a degree (see below), an increasingly large number of the top names in musical theater came up through a handful of top-notch undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Now, I can hardly claim to be an impartial observer here: I teach at The Boston Conservatory, which ranks among the best of these programs.

(I'd say the best, but I don't want to appear immodest.) So, I have a bit of inside info on what makes a good program. Essentially, it comes down to two things: great students and great teachers. But it also has to do with the breadth and depth of the training offered. 

Schools can vary as to their individual curricula, and in whether they have a huge endowment that allows them to invest in flashy theaters and state-of-the-art rehearsal facilities. Some of these programs are based on a conservatory model, with a primary focus on professional training, alongside a solid foundation in the liberal arts. Others focus more directly on academics, while providing strong professional training as well.

Which would work better for you? It really comes down to personal preference. Are you dead set on being on Broadway? Is professional training your primary goal? Then a conservatory program might work better for you (e.g. Carnegie-Mellon, U.

Michigan, CCM). Do you want the strongest possible academic education? Then you might be better off at a traditional liberal-arts college or university with an emphasis on performance skills (e.g. NYU, Yale, Northwestern). 

American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) - Tyne Daly, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Christopher Jackson.

Caissie Levy, Emily Padgett, Anthony Ramos, Christopher Sieber, Sarah Stiles, Marissa Jaret Winokur

American Conservatory Theater - Christopher Fitzgerald (MFA), Anika Noni Rose (MFA), Annette Bening (MFA), Denzel Washington (MFA)

Baldwin-Wallace University - Steel Burkhart, Jill Paice, Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Bennington College - Brooks Ashmanskas, Carol Channing, Tim Daly, Holland Taylor 

The Boston Conservatory - Nick Adams, Eddie Korbich, Erin Davie, Josh Grisetti, Chad Kimball, Austin Lesch, Constantine Maroulis, Anne L. Nathan, Noah Racey, Jennifer Simard, Chelsea Morgan Stock, Alysha Umphress, Bud Weber

Boston University - Jason Alexander, Dan Fogler, Brad Oscar, Julianne Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Alfre Woodard

Brown University - Kate Burton, Daveed Diggs, Laura Linney, James Naughton, John Lloyd Young

Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) - Christian Borle, Corey Cott, Josh Gad, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Megan Hilty, Chris Hoch, Telly Leung, Erin Mackey, Patina Miller, Christiane Noll, Rory O'Malley, Leslie Odom Jr., Billy Porter, Patrick Wilson

College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (CCM) - Matt Bogart, Nikki Renèe Daniels, Lisa Howard, Leslie Kritzer, Karen Olivo, Faith Prince, Betsy Wolfe, Tony Yazbeck

Duke University - Aaron Lazar, Heidi Blickenstaff, Kerry O'Malley 

Elon University - Matt Shingledecker, Taylor Trensch, Barrett Wilbert Weed 

Emerson College - Mario Cantone, Jennifer Coolidge, Andrea Martin, Henry Winkler

Florida State University - Davis Gaines, Montego Glover, Christian Delcroix, D.B. Bonds

Fordham University - Alan Alda, Patricia Clarkson, Julie White, Robert Sean Leonard, John Benjamin Hickey, Denzel Washington

The Hartt School (University of Hartford) - Phillip Boykin, Marin Ireland  

Harvard-Radcliffe - Stockard Channing, Lindsay Crouse, John Lithgow

Hofstra University - James Barbour, Peter Friedman, Julie Halston, Lainie Kazan, Tom McGowan, Christopher Walken

Indiana University Bloomington - Colin Donnell, Charles Kimbrough, Kevin Kline, Nicole Parker, Elizabeth Stanley  

Ithaca College - Kerry Butler, Matt Cavenaugh, Michelle Federer, Jeremy Jordan, Aaron Tveit

The Juilliard School - Michael Arden, Daniel Breaker, Steven Boyd, Boyd Gaines, Kelsey Grammer, Harriet Harris, Gregory Jbara, Kevin Kline, Patti Lupone, Audra McDonald, Nancy Opel, Mandy Patinkin, Alex Sharp, Phillipa Soo, Benjamin Walker

Manhattan School of Music - Harry Connick Jr., Shuler Hensley

Marymount Manhattan College - Adam Chanler-Berat, Annaleigh Ashford 

New York University - Nina Arianda, Billy Crudup (MFA), Raul Esparza, Michael C. Hall (MFA), Marcia Gay Harden (MFA), Jackie Hoffman, Adam Jacobs, Nikki M. James, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Steve Kazee (MFA), Idina Menzel, Debra Messing (MFA), Ruthie Ann Miles, Josh Radnor (MFA), Josh Segarra, Jeremy Shamos, Bobby Steggert, Jason Tam   

Northwestern University - Kate Baldwin, Craig Bierko, Jeff Blumencrantz, Zach Braff, Gregg Edelman, Brian d'Arcy James, Adam Kantor, John Cameron Mitchell, Megan Mullally, Kristine Nielsen

Oberlin College - Will Chase, Judy Kuhn, Seth Rudetsky 

Oklahoma City University - Kristin Chenoweth, Kelli O’Hara, Ron Raines

Pace University - Bradley Cooper, Eisa Davis 

Point Park University - E. Clayton Cornelius, Megan Sikora, Marcus Stevens

Princeton University - Steven Bogardus, Jarrod Spector, Brooke Shields

Rutgers University - Roger Bart, Kevin Chamberlin, Michael Esper, Okieriete Onaodowan, Sheryl Lee Ralph

SUNY Purchase - Ron Eldard, Edie Falco, Liz Larsen, Micah Stock, Stanley Tucci, Steven Weber, William Youmans

San Diego State University - Kathy Najimy, Raquel Welch 

Syracuse University - Jessie Mueller, Josh Young, Taye Diggs, Vanessa Williams 

Towson University - Charles S. Dutton, John Glover, Andy Karl 

Tufts University - Hank Azaria, Peter Gallagher, Joel Perez, Oliver Platt

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Billy Crudup, Max von Essen, Michael Cumpsty

University of North Carolina School of the Arts - Gary Beach, Jennifer Ehle, K. Todd Freeman, Tom Hulce, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Billy Magnussen, Terrence Mann, Joe Mantello, Mary-Louise Parker, Wesley Taylor, Lauren Ward

University of Michigan - Stanley Bahorek, Jenni Barber, Nick Blaemire, David Burtka, Gavin Creel, Erin Dilly, Barrett Foa, Hunter Foster, Alexander Gemignani, James Earl Jones, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Andy Mientus, Lauren Molina, A.J. Shively, Jennifer Laura Thompson 

University of Minnesota - Susan Blackwell, Tovah Feldshuh, Santino Fontana, T.R. Knight, Jessica Lange, Lenny Wolpe

University of California, Irvine - Jenn Collela, Bob Gunton, Beth Malone, Andrew Samonsky, Teal Wicks 

University of California, San Diego - Danny Burstein (MFA), Jefferson Mays (MFA) 

University of Southern California - Swoosie Kurtz, Kevin Mambo, Stark Sands, James Snyder

Vassar College - Jane Fonda, Grace Gummer, Anne Hathaway, Justin Long, Frances Sternhagen, Meryl Streep

Wagner College - Betsy Joslyn, Michelle Pawk, Janine LaManna, Randy Graff 

Webster University - Hunter Bell, Norbert Leo Butz, Michael James Scott

Wesleyan University - Lin-Manuel Miranda, Bradley Whitford, Frank Wood

Yale University - Mark Linn-Baker (MFA), Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Stephen DeRosa (MFA), Malcolm Gets, Anika Larsen, Jefferson Mays, Kristine Nielsen (MFA), David Hyde Pierce, Bryce Pinkham (MFA)

Other schools - John Cariani (Amherst College), Carolee Carmello (SUNY Albany), LaChanze (University of the Arts), Christine Ebersole (MacMurray College), James Monroe Iglehart (CalState - Hayward), Jim Parsons (MFA, University of San Diego), Will Swenson (Brigham Young University)  

Didn't graduate - Laura Benanti (NYU), Melissa Errico (Yale), Sutton Foster (Carnegie-Mellon), Marin Mazzie (Western Michigan University), Mike McGrath (Boston Conservatory), Cristin Milioti (NYU), Matthew Morrison (NYU), Donna Murphy (NYU), Jason Danieley (Southern Illinois University, University of Missouri), Laura Osnes (University of Wisconsin), Andrew Rannells (Marymount Manhattan College), Anthony Rapp (NYU) 

Didn't attend college - Stephanie J. Block, Matthew Broderick, Laura Bell Bundy, Charlotte D'Amboise, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Nathan Lane, Norm Lewis, Lea Michele, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, Sherie Rene Scott