The School of Music, Theatre & Dance is consistently ranked as one of the top performing arts schools in the country, as compared to both conservatory and academic programs. SMTD offers the artistic excellence of conservatory training alongside rigorous scholarship and interdisciplinary experiences that can only be offered in a world-class research university. This unparalleled combination enables the School to provide real arts leadership, as we attract students and faculty who are not only masters of their art form, but also deeply invested, intellectually curious, and socially engaged as artist citizens in an expansive environment.
The School has long enjoyed a distinguished reputation and is a top choice for young scholars, musicians, composers, actors, directors, dancers, choreographers and theatre arts specialists at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. We compete at the highest level with our peer institutions, such as Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, Juilliard, Oberlin, Northwestern, Rice, and Yale, for the most talented students. We are proud to be a diversity leader among these institutions, with 11% of our student body from underrepresented groups. Additionally, among other schools and colleges at the University of Michigan, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance is the most selective unit on campus for undergraduates.
Faculty members at the School are internationally recognized artists, scholars, and pedagogues; additionally, they are in every sense a resident faculty. With 176 resident faculty, students are guaranteed a high-level of personal interaction and one-on-one learning experiences. The faculty, including several who have been recognized by Grammy nominations and awards as well as a MacArthur Genius Award and the Pulitzer Prize, comprises a comprehensive range of scholars, performers, composers, directors, choreographers, technologists, and educators. These members serve as the backbone of this remarkable school and are often the first reason students cite for choosing to study at Michigan.
Graduates of SMTD have proven successful in every area of the performing arts, from world-renowned performers to arts entrepreneurs, from respected scholars and teachers to developers and technicians of cutting-edge arts technology. SMTD has a growing list of distinguished alumni: Jessye Norman (soprano), James Earl Jones (actor), Bob James (jazz composer/musician), George Crumb (composer), Christine Lahti (actress/film director), Chip Davis (composer/musician), Michael Fabiano (tenor), Celia Keenan-Bolger (actor/singer) and Darren Criss (actor), to name only a few.
SMTD presents more than 450 concerts and performances each academic year in all disciplines, and utilizes multiple performance spaces, including Hill Auditorium, recognized as one of the country’s most acoustically excellent concert halls. In recent years, the School has launched the U-M Gershwin Initiative and George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition; the U-M El Sistema program; and a major renovation and expansion of the Earl V. Moore Building, the primary facility for music studies. In 2015, the School welcomed its new dean, Aaron Dworkin, who has implemented a number of major new initiatives to empower students with skills and opportunities to help launch careers after graduating. These include an expansive entrepreneurial and career services program (EXCEL); a new Department of Chamber Arts; an expansion of SMTD’s El Sistema program, now called Michigan Artist Citizens (MAC); and an unprecedented international chamber arts competition, run by the School, titled M-Prize.