School of Drama Audition/Portfolio FAQ

How long will my audition or portfolio review last?

We typically request four hours for an audition and one hour for an interview.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will host virtual auditions and interviews for invited applicants.  Times may vary.

How should I prepare for my School of Drama audition or interview/portfolio review?

Review the audition and portfolio review requirements by major webpage for more information.

How many students apply to the School of Drama? How many are admitted?

The School of Drama received almost 2,800 applications for Fall 2020.  This number varies from year to year. Approximately 75 students are admitted to the School of Drama every year and 60 students enroll. On average, 12 students are admitted into music theater, 12 in acting, 25-30 in design/production, 4 in directing and 7-10 in dramaturgy.

Are transfer students accepted into the School of Drama?

Yes, the admission process is identical for transfer students and incoming freshmen. For acting, music theater, directing, design, and production technology and management, transfer students are classified as freshmen in the program. For dramaturgy, if you’re transferring from another university or from one of Carnegie Mellon’s other colleges, you’ll be classified as a freshman unless you can demonstrate that you’ve completed a program equivalent to dramaturgy’s freshman year. Transfer credit will be evaluated on an individual basis.

How much of my admission to Carnegie Mellon is based on the pre-screening, audition or interview/portfolio review?

The pre-screening, audition or interview/portfolio review is the primary basis for admission consideration into the School of Drama. Your Common Application also helps the Office of Admission review your high school performance and extracurricular activities. The SAT and ACT aren't required for first-year fall 2021 applicants. As we look at these factors, we'll keep in mind that you're applying to a conservatory theater program. Admission to the School of Drama, and Carnegie Mellon as a whole, is highly selective.

Will I receive an admission decision on the day of my audition or interview/portfolio review?

No, the drama faculty committees meet to make decisions only after seeing all students audition or interview. Once decisions are made, the committees send their recommendations to the Office of Admission for further review. Students will receive an official admission decision from the Office of Admission between March 15 and April 1.

Can I take a tour of the School of Drama?

All on-campus admission events including School of Drama visits and tours are canceled until further notice to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  A virtual tour will be available on the School of Drama website later this fall.

Who are your alumni and where are they working?

As the oldest conservatory training program within a university in the United States, the School of Drama has had the privilege of training the next generation of innovators and leaders in the theater, film, television and diverse performing arts industries for over one hundred years. From composers and actors to engineers and lighting designers, School of Drama alumni have worked in film, television and theater all over the world, and many have been recognized with prestigious awards, including Academy Awards, Emmy Awards and Tony Awards.

Do the pre-screening audition monologues/songs need to be different than the live audition monologues/songs?

No, although the live audition pieces are slightly longer in length. This is highlighted in your email if you're offered a live audition. Students can use the same materials for both the pre-screening and live audition, or can present different pieces at each. The School of Drama advises that for each audition students use pieces they’re most comfortable with and prepared to present – and pieces that present the student best.

Is it possible to cancel or change my audition?

If you need to reschedule or cancel your audition, please log back into your Acceptd account and use their scheduling function to search for and reserve another open slot. If an audition/review time or date is not available when you log in, we’ve already reached capacity and we’re unable to accommodate any additional students at that time. You can find more information scheduling an audition in Acceptd here.

Is dance no longer part of the music theater audition?

Correct, the School of Drama no longer requires a dance portion for music theater auditions. Every student who enrolls in music theater at Carnegie Mellon will be evaluated on their dance skills by the dance faculty at the beginning of the fall semester and will be placed at the appropriate level in classes.

Why did you decide to remove dance from the music theater application?

Dance continues to be an essential part of our music theater training and we're making this decision due to trends in the profession. We've often accepted students who show something unique in the acting and singing auditions even when those candidates have had very limited dance experience. The dance curriculum is required of all students enrolled into the music theater option, and we know we can shape students as a music theater performer. We pride ourselves on our ability to train dancers of all levels as they progress through our music theater curriculum and graduate after four years of conservatory training.

Are you changing the music theater curriculum at Carnegie Mellon?

No changes will be made to the dance portion of the music theater curriculum. Dance has and always will continue to be a vital part of our training. Music theater students will continue to receive a focused, rigorous four-year progression of training in ballet, jazz, tap and Broadway dance styles. The curriculum allows the dance faculty the ability to divide or group students, depending on previous dance background or experience. The focus is dedicated to developing a well-rounded student who understands the origins, theories and technique of dance. The goal of this dance training is to enable the student to emerge in the profession as a viable candidate to handle the demands for Broadway, regional theater and national touring companies.

What will I study in these dance classes as a music theater student?

In ballet class, the student studies classical technique, which is the foundation of: “how to” in dance vocabulary. This technique develops muscular strength, endurance, control of body placement and alignment, a sense of aesthetics and variety of movement dynamics.

Jazz classes incorporate the strength of classical dance technique while exploring a variety of body isolations, music styles, rhythmic patterns and vocabulary not covered in ballet. The student will study a variety of contemporary styles i.e. (latin, blues, African, lyrical, hip-hop).

Tap class teaches the student to use the feet to execute a variety of percussive rhythmic patterns and become adept with the precision and dynamics of sound.

Broadway Dance Styles class provides the student opportunity to learn, and execute original choreography from noted Broadway choreographers sampling a wide range of styles from classic and current Broadway repertoire. 

Can a School of Drama student complete a double major or minor?

In short, yes (with the exception of music theater students). However, completing a double major would likely take longer than four years. If a student wishes to pursue a double major, the School of Drama major would need to be his/her primary major, and drama courses would need to be taken in sequence with no substitutions or exceptions.

Completing a minor is possible within four years, provided the minor requirements don’t conflict with drama classes. In the last two years, students have graduated with minors in Creative Writing, English, Political Science, Business Management, Gender Studies and French and Francophone studies. For music theater students, it’s more of a challenge to complete a minor as you don’t have as many opportunities to fit electives into your schedule. It’s possible, but it’d greatly depend on the minor requirements.