Theatre nerd alert: Kristen Chenoweth graduated from Oklahoma City University!
Nearly half of the students at this small urban university are performing artists! Located less than 3 miles from downtown Oklahoma City, OKCU has over 50 performances in dance and theatre each year, providing students multiple opportunities to get stage and tech experience, both at school and around the community.
OKCU’s dance program is ranked top five in the nation, and offers three concentrations: performance, pedagogy and management. Your freshman year, you will receive a foundational education in all three and declare your concentration your sophomore year. This program only admits about 55 students per class, because their facilities and faculty can only accommodate about 220 students total. There is a community dance studio for the dance pedagogy students to work with local dancers.
OKCU also fields one of the top Esports programs in the country – their Esports lab is decked out with livestream facilities and dozens of computer stations.
There are two BFA acting programs – one focuses on stage and screen acting, and one is specific to on-camera acting. They’re both “narrow and deep” – this means you’ll be spending MOST of your time in acting, music and movement classes. More on these acting BFA programs here. OKCU’s musical theatre program lives in the School of Music, which offers multiple BA and BM degrees. More about the BA in Music options here. The Oklahoma Children’s Theatre is literally across the street from campus – it’s not technically connected with the university, but students here participate in many ways. Theatre design and production students staff all the shows, with lighting, costume, scenic design all done by students. They’re assigned a show the minute they walk on campus, learning on the job.
All performers take a 2-part class called Entertainment Career Prep – the first part is freshman year. The second part is spring of junior year, getting them ready to start auditioning and interviewing. OKCU pushes everyone to start getting summer entertainment jobs. Many graduates spend a few years working in the cruise ship industry, where there are nightly performances and opportunities to grow both their skills and their professional connections.
Oklahoma City University has a business program, including a degree in Theatre Innovation and Entrepreneurship – this program has more flexibility and pathways for students who want to be involved in the arts in ways other than performing. You can customize your program with a focus on pre-law, event planning. Former students work in the NBA and NFL with this degree. They only take 5-8 students each year – because they work with department administrators to individualize their program of study. They also offer a 4+1 BA/MA program, in which students can spend an additional year and earn their Master’s in either non-profit or arts leadership.
Oklahoma City University is affiliated with the Methodist church, but we promise you – this campus is welcoming. Your one required theology-related course is more likely to be based on ethics and philosophy, and no one is trying to convert you to any specific religion. Our tour guide Ryan, a theatre BFA student, told us he’s Catholic, and that religion is not emphasized here at all. One of the program directors we met with on campus is Jewish; she said that Oklahoma City and the university feel a lot like Denver, where she previously worked – very cosmopolitan. Students are required to live on campus until they’re 21 years old.
With lots of trans and non-binary students, and a huge performance population, inclusivity is a big deal here. Don’t let the fact that it’s in Oklahoma City deter you – this college has a lot to offer! Lesa and Evelyn visited in the fall of 2023. You can scroll through all of our photos below.